T Nation

Weights with MMA Help?


#1

I’m in need of gaining a good amount of strength as I have very little at the weight I fight at. gaining muscle mass isn’t too much of a bother to me so what would you guys recommend? a simple 5x5 workout scheme? or something else?


#2

Simple is better. As one who is unable to handle tons of lifting volume, Wendler’s 5/3/1 has been a godsend for me.


#3

Just to get context…
What are you competing in?
Are you big/small for your weight class?
Are you cutting a significant amount of weight?
Do you feel weak just in general performance, or in specific areas? (clinch only if muy Thai, wrestling for mma, etc.)

I’d make sure your technique is dialed in at all levels before turning to strength. All the strength in the world won’t save a white belt from a blackbelt, and often effectiveness depends on small details that can be easily left out in high stress performance.

If that isn’t an issue, and you are intent on your current weight class…
Big heavy movements, focused more on intensity than volume. A lot of assistance work for the posterior chain for almost any discipline. Too much volume can take away from skill work.
Look at two days a week of full body workouts, similiar to Dan John’s prescription. It would be hard to maintain more with a serious combat training schedule.
If gaining muscle isn’t an issue, increasing the amount of muscle you have while cutting enough fat that you stay in your weight class will never make you weaker.


#4

I compete in mma, ive had 10 fights now and have finally decided to drop down to 77kg weight class as I was far too small for 84kg. but I also seem quite small for 77kg but there is no way I would make 70kg as im 6ft 1. I am quite content with my strength but I know its my weak point as my technique is more than good enough (without trying to sound too big headed haha) I’ve had a few fights at 77kg now and I feel although I won I was getting man handled when it came to strength. I only cut from 80 to 77 when its fight camp so very little.


#5

There’s no other weight class choice besides a 3 kilo weight cut or 10 kilo?

Just to give background, I’ve done muy Thai for 7 years, no competitions except smokers. Doing jiu jitsu off and on, this past year has been min. once a week. Having said that, uncle was one of the first mma promoters in Oklahoma, so I’ve seen the inside of the mma world for most of my life.

The amount of professionals who fight at only a few lbs above their weight class are few and far between, and their style of fighting takes advantage of that And minimizes the risk (Frankie Edgar, Gunnar Nelson, etc.). Since your here, it doesn’t seem your in the same boat.

As such

  1. stay at your current weight class, but gain 5-6 kilos of muscle, and decrease body fat as much as possible. If your tech is solid, and u feel small and like your getting manhandled, your probably right. Keep lifting heavy after the muscle gain, and your strength levels will be much higher.

  2. find a way to make the 10 kilo weight cut. As much hell as that is, if you could get to that weight and maintain power, immediate fix…easier said than done though.


#6

I will say, power and strength in fighting are weird. I’ve always had decent lifts for my weight, but I never saw a big correlation between squat/dead maxes and submission rates/striking power. But kettle bell swings helped translate that strength to striking power, pistols greatly increased balance, and sprinting/mobility work is hands down kept me in better fighting shape during layoffs than any amount of lifting. Mostly, strength has helped save me at times when I make a mistake.
no matter how big they were, wrestlers ALWAYS manhandle me. These guys who have been wrestling since they were 2 for 20 years feel like they are made of iron. Whether it’s a muscular difference or tech difference, most ppl aren’t going to ever overcome that 20 year skill gap (unless your GSP). So I always have to be trickier and make sure to never fight them on their terms. I find when I feel like rolling/kickboxing has turned into a strength game, almost 100% of the time I realize the tactic I’m using is sub-par.


#7

Yeah unfortunately the weight classes around my weight are 84kg 77kg and 70kg such a big difference. Think I’ll take the advice and build some muscle mass and then strength train from there and cut more body fat to make 77kg should make a good difference to my game


#8

Assuming you wish to stay in your weight class, you should focus on low reps, high weight exercises because they are training the nervous system as much as building muscle. And you’re probably better off with “explosive” exercises rather than power lifting exercises. When you do push ups, can you push yourself high enough to clap your hands between push ups? I always forget what that is called.


#9

I have found weightlifting and punching power have no correlation - power is a function of technique. My lifts have never been great, but I have always been able to hit hard because I transfer my weight well. For example, when I finally learned how to shift my weight back on my hook, my power increased exponentially. No amount of weightlifting would have compensated for the lack of a slight twist in my hips.

When I see a “big” fighter - one who has developed muscle beyond what a normal fighter develops in the course of training - I just see someone who hasn’t done enough roadwork and shadowboxing.


#10

I said put on a little muscle mass and gain some more strength to help. Never did I state that it had to do with punching power as I’m fully aware that majority of punching power comes from technique. I was more referring to wresting/scramble type situations as there’s more to mma than punching power. Strength and conditioning still plays a big part in combat sports, more than people think, but yes I’m fully aware that it should never overtake your technique training


#11

And I never said you did. I was replying to the other guy.

Your initial question was totally valid.


#12

What? My first advice was to dial in tech, and that striking power didn’t correlate with weightlifting.
Having said that, MMA involves much more than just punching. A significant strength and size deficit can be an issue if someone chooses to put u against the fence, or wrestle fuck u, or make you bear there weight during grappling exchanges. A significant weight and strength disadvantage in general, as he was saying, could definently be a problem even with solid technical skills.


#13

I would try a power to the people style approach. No 5,3,1. Just pick 5 exercises (pullup, dip, deadlift, oh press, abs) and train them low rep (<5) and with long rests. For strenght rest as long as possible. Nothing near failure. Always leave 3 reps in the tank. Add weight wen things get easy. For those five exercises 2x5 each day for 3-5 days a week is perfect. When only training two times a week I would increase the working sets to 5x5 of 8x3reps.


#14

Dude I wasn’t arguing with you. Just adding my two cents. We’re on the same page.

Jesus, you guys leave your reading comprehension home today?


#15

Well… replying generally merits a response, so I assumed you were taking offense as our purpose was to provide insight into a particular issue.
Sorry for being bellicose, editing philosophy papers, minds on the argumentative side.


#16

Well, I’m actually going to disagree and argue that increased strength does in fact increase punching power, regardless of the level of technique. People try to make punching out to be some mystical thing that is unaffected by the muscular system when in fact it’s just a kinetic chaining of movements and skeletal muscular actions leading up to an impact force at the end.

The more powerfully your agonistic muscles can fire, in the correct sequence, while simultaneously turning off your antagonistic muscles, the more powerfully/fast your are going to move. And, because an impact is a collision in which you come into contact with another mass, there is going to be resistance at the point of impact in any strike. Yes, you can maximize leverage under perfect conditions, but even then you must have the requisite muscular strength of absorb the rebound force your encounter and, if you really want devastating power, must be able to continue driving through that mass/rebound force.

Now, that’s not to say that strength will improve power more efficiently than technique, it won’t. Maximizing leverage, kinetic linkage, and relaxed explosiveness (since kinetic energy is ultimately more dependent on speed than on mass) alone can literally double a person’s striking power in a single training session (if done correctly); pretty much impossible to duplicate in the same time frame with strength gains. The issues of accuracy, timing, and judgement of distance also play critical roles in the effectiveness of a punch.

Because of this, I would generally place technical/mechanical training as first priority; then developing the attributes of Judgement, Speed, Timing, Accuracy, and Rhythm second; then conditioning work (anaerobic and aerobic endurance) third; and strength/power 4th in regards to applied punching power. Again, that’s not because gaining strength won’t increase power, but more so because unless you are talking about simply throwing the hardest punch possible once, on a stationary target, focusing on those other attributes will give you a greater return on investment for your time spent on them.

Maximal strength training is to combat athletes what dietary supplements are to physique athletes, a nice and useful supplemental tool, but not meant to replace the foundational elements of a solid training regime.


#17

I agree completely here and have to second this. Skill training comes first and stick to high intensity sets (not more than 5 reps) provided you have some lifting experience. If you’re new to weight lifting, stay more in the 5-6 rep range because your nervous system isn’t ready for a 2 rep max set.


#18

Let me put it this way… at similiar sizes, a guy training boxing 6 days a week will destroy you at 3x a week even if you squat 200 lbs more lol. Wether or not there’s an arbitrary increase in striking power, my conjecture is it will never be a significant increase, and more importantly, it is always an inferior method to increase striking power when u can, ya know, strike.

I agree in MMA strength is a very important component.


#19

Yes, I think it’s fairly obvious that the person who spends all their time doing a given activity is going to usually be better at that activity than someone who has not spent any time doing so. That’s not really an accurate comparison though.

Let’s say we have 2 people who train boxing 6x per week, have been training for the same period of time, are about the same age, but one can squat 200 lbs more at the same weight. Now you are going to likely have a noticeable and significant power discrepancy between the two and, although power is not necessarily the deciding factor in who wins a boxing match, it certainly doesn’t hurt and can in fact be what determines the winner.

Again, strength training should not take precedence over skill training or even conditioning (anaerobic and aerobic endurance), but, given the extra time/resources it can be a useful supplement to striking training (and yes, even more so for MMA training) and can increase striking power.


#20

Sento and I respectfully disagree on this topic.

Sento builds his argument around the “all things being equal, the stronger guy wins” theory. But all things are never equal - especially not skill. And the amount of time and effort an athlete needs to dedicate to significantly out-squat his opponent could have been used on honing the craft. In fighting, the skill gap is far more important than the strength gap - far, far, far more important.

Strength training is a pleasant addition you fit in when you can - once or twice a week, a couple of big compound lifts and some farmer’s walks. Maybe some explosive movements too.

But doing more than that is wasting precious resources on an unworthy goal.