Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Training MMA athletes

Mike Robertson's newsletter for this week features an interview with Dewey Nielson. Mr. Nielson trains some MMA athletes, and he's got a few excellent points about training them in the gym.

If you've got any interest in training MMA athletes, or training as one, it is worth reading the interview. A couple points really struck home with me:

"You never know how an MMA athlete is going to feel when they walk through the door. Over training is so easy. This is a big mistake that many coaches make.[...]Many of these guys will work until you tell them to stop. This isn’t always the best thing though." (quote from Dewey Nielson)

That's very true in my case, and I have seen it reflected in other fighters. The tendency is to gut it out and keep going in any training activity. You have to suck it up and keep going in a fight, so it is hard to know when to stop pushing the Prowler, dragging the sled, going for one more set or rep...but really, you're pushing too hard and need to stop.

He later goes on to say

"Most MMA/BJJ athletes are new to training. I am sure you see it all the time, even if they have lifted weights for many years, most likely they have been lifting weights WRONG for many years." (quote from Dewey Nielson)

This is also very true. Many MMA athletes have no idea how to train in the weight room. They've never been shown how, never made an extensive personal study. Even those that have done so may have learned how to bodybuild, or "do the machines," or been taught that slow cardio is the way to prepare for a fight. Just because you're trained in one sport doesn't mean you are trained in another. Pile this on top of the many injuries a competitive MMA athlete will have, and you have a recipe for disaster. A tired, potentially overtrained athlete, with many injuries, doing the wrong exercises incorrectly...

Nothing good can come of that.

Mr. Nielson makes a good point - fighters still need to be taught the basics. They may excel at some of them because of their prior training. But it's important to get back to basics and ensure they're doing non-injurious training. MMA athletes will get hurt enough, even with the best preventative exercises and strengthening. They don't need to add to it in the gym.

The entire interview is worth reading, so please check it out. I'd also recommend subscribing to Mike Robertson's newsletter. It is always full of useful information about training, and interviews with intelligent and knowledgeable trainers.


  1. Most martial arts instructors (in my somewhat limited experience) emphasize a "go til you drop" philosophy, not just for testing or for fights, but in everyday training. I never heard of the concept of overtraining during all my years in taekwondo! Preparing for testing I would train 2-3 hours a day, 6 days per week for the last 4-6 weeks. And I prided myself in always being in the first class after my testing. No wonder I felt worn out sometimes!

  2. Yes, that's very common. Go, go, go. You may be able to get away with it in a dojo, but not in a gym. You can't just deadlift till you drop and then deadlift some more.

    And if you're deliberately trying to avoid training to failure, you've got to make that clear. My coach has had to stop me a few times, because I get so caught up in "getting my reps." I forget that the goal is to stimulate, not annihilate.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...