T Nation

The Switch from PLing Back to MMA


Sorry if this has been posted before. I originally started weight training for MMA. Eventually I joined a powerlifting gym and ended up making the shift into powerlifting. While I got much stronger, I did little to no conditioning and became terribly out of shape. Due to various reasons, I have recently decided to make the switch back to MMA and get my conditioning back up. However, after a week or two of adding in some conditioning and skill training all of my lifts have plummeted much more than I expected (for example, squat went from 355x1 to 285x2).

Currently my routine looks like this:

Monday: DE Lower/Strongman
Tuesday: ME Upper
Wednesday: Intervals + Sparring
Thursday: Rest
Friday: ME Lower + Sprints
Saturday: RE Upper
Sunday: Rest (light steady state cardio)

Should I just wait it out and see if my lifts go back up? Cut out one day of lifting and add in an extra rest day? Remove some of the running and get most of my conditioning through sparring, skill work, and strongman training? I plan to do skill work more frequently once the school year starts up again.

I don't believe nutrition is the issue because I log all of my foods and maintain macro nutrient balance that works well for my body.


You have to focus on one, you will definitely have to cut down the weight lifting volume and get used not to making gains while training MMA. You will have the "off-season" for that.


could be any number of reasons, but I must say that is a fairly significant drop off in strength. Some strength loss is going to be a given, but those numbers you posted, I'd hazard a guess your body is just adapting to the increased workload and stress from conditioning.

As for your nutrition, are you in a deficit or a surplus or what?

atm with the info you've given us, IMO just give it a few more weeks to see if your lifts come back up.


A few things:

1.) Bitchin' avatar.
2.) The 355x1 to 285x2 drop: Was this a PR vs a shitty day issue. Was 355 what you could do any day, or just that day?
3.) Am I missing the days you practice MMA, or is it just Wednesday when you spar? I ask because what I am seeing is a Westside split w/ sparring as an extra workout. If you have 4 dedicated lifting days and one dedicated martial arts training day than I don't think you so much "switched to mma" as much as added some extra work you are not used to. I couldn't very well say I am switching to powerlifting by hitting the Big 3 once a week and training something else 4 other days.
4.)If you have added martial arts/mma training where does it go in the schedule, and how long do you practice?
5.) If the 285x2 was a max on ME day, I always found my max effort stuff to rise and fall fairly regularly. It was when shit seemed heavy on DE days that I knew I was in trouble.
6.) Awesome looking hound. Bitchin avatar.


Robert A


My diet is in surplus as I'm still attempting to slowly add on a few pounds, or at least maintain my current weight.

It's possible it may have been a shitty day issue, and it was a ME day.

I plan to add in more skill work sessions as I shift my focus form GPP to SPP. Due to my location in regards to where I train I can't do that just yet. When I can, I'm most likely doing to drop the RE Upper day and add in 2-3 more sessions of skill work. More specifically, a day of boxing/kickboxing, and another day or two of ground work since that's what I suck at most.

I was just shocked with my sudden drop in strength since usually once I hit a PR I have no trouble hitting it again on a regular basis.

My primary reason for trying to get my conditioning back up, is my girlfriend wants to be able to run 2-3 miles with me. I hate steady state cardio and prefer to do intervals and sprints. I was also sick of my sudden lack of athleticism from powerlifting. I have always prefered combat sports since I did tae kwon do and boxing as a little kid so it was an easy choice what I wanted to go back to.

I have also been running .5 - 1 mile as part of my warm up usually, but I skipped it due to calf pain when I did those squats.

Glad you like my dog, Robert.

If it makes a difference, according to the 80% rep test and vertical jump test, I am fast-twitch dominant. Which makes sense since I have always had shitty endurance of any kind.



I think there are likely several things at play here. First, the PR was likely a big one and you had a bad day. How long ago was the 355? Was it set on a random week, or was their a lead up/peak/cycle before it was tested?

Second, I will reiterate that I do not think it is fair to say you have really "switched" your workout. I do not intend that at all like a criticism. I am simply trying to say you added to your workload, not substituted workload. If I am tracking you correctly your "MMA" work is done entirely on Wednesday. This is probably a big switch (your post seems to indicate that you have not trained any kind of martial art since you were "a kid"), and you only gave yourself a week or two to adapt. If I did the opposite, gave myself two weeks to adapt to an ME lower/max squat workout on Wed, what would you say if I expressed concern over my rubber legs during Friday sparring?

I am assuming that the running was in your program already. If not, then you have also added sprinting and a day of steady state cardio. That is a bunch of additional work. Give yourself a time to adapt. Conditioning is all about cumulative workload.

Side Note: I really think you should be doing some kind of MMA/technique work at least twice a week. Only working out once a week has never seemed to yield any kind of technical improvements in my experience. If you only have access to training/teachers/coaches once a week, a second day of solo practice can be huge. Even if all you do is walk through/practice what you worked on last Wednesday on an additional day, by yourself, for 30-60 minutes it will pay huge dividends, HUGE.

Accommodating this to your lifting schedule may be as simple as switching from a 7 day schedule (All days: ME upper & ME lower and DE upper & DE lower get trained once every seven days) of Mon, Tues, Fri, Sat to a 3 day a week schedule. So something like Tues, Fri, Sat...Tues to complete a "training week" for lifting and MMA training on Mon and Wed. The Westside template can still work well with this schedule modification.


Robert A


No peak or anything, just a random ME session.

Altered my set up of my strength work and added conditioning to the work load. I didn't mean it like I cold turkey switch. More like a phase shift into a different style of training.

Poor wording on my part. The most recently I did a martial arts was about a year ago.

I have a heavy bag that I have been trying to use on a semi regular basis lately. Specifically working combos, reconditioning my shins, and getting my knee and kick technique down. Unfortunately I have no where to hang it once I move (Moving to a downstairs apartment, no garage). My girlfriend is at bootcamp currently, but I'm hoping when she gets back she can do some padwork with me. She is also a interested in learning grappling, so that gives me a dummy to work ground technique with without having to muscle around too much.

For the time being, especially until I get used to the workload, I don't think I can recovery from 4 weight training sessions. At least not naturally. Still keeping a similar style of training with the ME Upper and Lower, but I'm going to cram the DE work into one day and rather than train the power lifts specifically, probably do some sort of olympic lifting with some complex or strongman medley afterwords.

Once school starts I should be able to still make one or two training sessions at my gym, but that also opens me up to the Judo and Martial Arts club on campus. They don't really have any equipment besides some mats and a stand up heavy bag and they don't always lets you go too hard, but it still some technique work and the MA club has open mat time. I can usually find at least one person who knows what they are doing. I don't have an extra pair of shin guards for a sparring partner, but I have an extra pair of boxing gloves and MMA gloves.

Other than that I should be able to add in some shadowboxing and technique work on other days. Bag work if I can find a place to hang it.