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“FREE REPORT – The Physical Needs of MMA” Matt “Wiggy” Wiggins 1

“FREE REPORT – The Physical Needs of MMA”

Matt “Wiggy” Wiggins



Nobody should ever attempt physical work beyond their own limitations. Some physical activities may be too strenuous in nature or even dangerous for some people to engage in safely. Because exercises of this nature are contained herein, it is essential that the reader(s) and/or user(s) of the information contained herein consult a physician PRIOR to trying, performing, or training with said exercises. The author, publisher, or anybody associated with Working Class are NOT RESPONSIBLE in any matter whatsoever for any injury which may occur as a result of reading and/or following instructions herein.

“FREE REPORT – The Physical Needs of MMA” Copyright © 2008 by Matt “Wiggy” Wiggins


No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted, or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior written permission from the publisher.



Ok, what the hell is this FREE REPORT all about?

There is A LOT of information on strength & conditioning training out there – especially on the internet.

One of the things I try to pride myself on is being fairly “down to earth”. I can't stand these people who spend so much time trying to sound intelligent that the message they're trying to convey gets totally lost in translation.

You see this a lot in the fitness industry. Hell, there is one strength coach that has a Q&A on a fairly well-known strength/athletic training website that I refuse to even read, because his dialog is full of 'two-dollar words' that have '10-cent meanings'. It drives me nuts.

And I've been told that I've got a gift of taking complex or technical ideas and concepts and putting them into simple language so that us 'regular folk' can understand them better.

So, I figured I'd take a lot of the terminology for needed concepts that gets tossed around out there, and put it into plain language. At the same time, I want to delve into how these concepts are needed for MMA, and how you can train for them.

Send It To Your Friends!!

I'm only offering this FREE REPORT to the subscribers on my newsletter list. This is sort of my way of saying “Thanks” for being a member and reading my work. You've stuck and continue to stick with me, so here is (as Bill Murray in ”

“Caddyshack” might say) “something




the effort


However, if you've got buddies that you think might enjoy or get something out

of this, then please feel free to send it on with my well-wishes. I'd be glad for

them to have it


be sure you also send a link to my kick-ass website

(Hey – you can't fault a guy for getting a shameless plug in now and then, can you? ;-)


Terminology & Concepts


Strength is essentially a measure of force – how much force can a body produce in a given range of motion. Strength can be measured in many ways, the most common being “RM”, or “rep maximum”. This is the most amount of weight you can lift for a given number of reps. So a 1RM would be the most weight you could lift once. A 3RM would be the most you could lift 3 times, etc.

There are various types of strength, which I'll get into next.

How and why strength is important to MMA should be pretty self-explanatory. There are several ways to increase strength, but the one constant is that heavy weights must be used for your given rep range.

Absolute Strength

This is actually what most folks probably think of when they think “strength”.

Absolute Strength is a measure of maximal strength

develop in a single effort, neglecting all other factors. If you can squat 450 lbs once, and I can squat 500 lbs once, I have more absolute strength than you.


much force one can

Again, the importance of absolute strength should be self-explanatory. To increase absolute strength, one must train with heavy weights in low rep ranges, with medium sets and overall volume. It is usually best to restrict (or at least minimize) other types of training (endurance, cardio, etc.) if you really want to focus on increasing absolute strength.

Relative Strength

Relative Strength is absolute strength when compared to one's bodyweight – essentially your “strength:bodyweight” ratio. I said before that if you could squat 450, and I could squat 500, that I had more absolute strength than you. However, if you can squat 450, but only weigh 185 lbs, and I can squat 500, but weigh 260 lbs, you have more relative strength than I do. I can squat more, but the ratio of my squat max to my bodyweight is less than yours is.

This is much more important in MMA than absolute strength. We know that you need to be strong, but MMA is a game of weight classes. If you can be strong for your weight, that gives you an advantage. And if when gaining strength, you can't do it without putting on weight, then you give up a possible advantage to your opponents.


Relative strength is increased in one of two ways. First, you can increase your strength the same way as mentioned for absolute strength – you just have to be sure not to add any bodyweight. More strength at the same bodyweight = higher relative strength.

The other way is to maintain your current strength level, but to lose bodyweight. The same strength at less bodyweight = higher relative strength.

Starting Strength

Starting strength (and no, I don't mean the book by strength coach Mark Rippetoe – haha) is a measure of strength when you don't have any bounce or reversal of momentum.

When squatting, you generally unrack the bar, lower, reverse, and come back up to standing again. Well, imagine setting up the rack so that you'd have to climb under the bar in the bottom position of the squat, and start the movement from there. You, more than likely, wouldn't be able to use as much weight. This would be a measure of starting strength.

This isn't as important in MMA, as you won't find many situations in which you're stretched to an extreme ROM (range of motion), and have to “muscle” your way out of it. You might have this happen if your opponent is attempting to lock a submission on you, but getting out of it should be more an issue of correct technique – not trying to muscle it out.

Starting strength can be increased by practicing movements from the “bottom position”. Like the squat mentioned above, don't start in the standing position – setup the rack so that you have to start at the bottom. Same would go for the bench press.

Many exercises start out in this position anyway – overhead presses, pullups/chins, rows, and deadlifts are all examples.

Reactive strength

Reactive strength is the strength gained from the reversal of momentum in a given movement. It's the strength that is taken out of the movement when training for/measuring starting strength.

This is much more important to MMA, because it can help dramatically increase power (more on power in a minute), and make certain movements much more effective. “Loading up” before a punch (e.g. - before throwing a right cross, you twist slightly to the right, then forcefully to the left whilst throwing the punch –


the twist to the punch “loaded up” the punch, and used reactive strength to do it), or dropping just before shooting in for a takedown are both examples where reactive strength comes into play.

Reactive strength can be developed by using short-ROM drills that are usually fast in nature. Hops, pogo jumps, etc. are all examples. Many plyometric exercises also go a long way to increasing reactive strength.


Strength-endurance is the ability to exert strength (preferably higher levels of strength) repeatedly over a given period of time.

This is the most important element of strength yet, as there is very little rest in the sport of MMA – either during the fight itself, or between rounds. Unlike other sports, you don't exert a (near) maximal effort, then get a chance to rest and recover. You might very well have to keep repeating that effort. You're going to have to have strength-endurance in order to ensure that your efforts continue to be at a high level. Everybody is strong at the beginning of the fight. Those fighters still strong at the end of the fight are the ones with an advantage.

Strength-endurance can be increased in a few fashions. Increasing your absolute strength will have a direct carryover to strength-endurance, as the more weight you can lift, the more times you should be able to lift a weight lighter than your max. For example, say your squat 1RM is 300 lbs, and you can squat 275 lbs, 10x in 3 minutes. If you increase your squat 1RM o 400 lbs, 275 lbs is now a much smaller percentage of that 1RM, meaning you should be able to squat it more times. Another example would be that the more weight you can bench press, the more pushups you should be able to do.

Because increasing 1RMs can take time fighters don't always have, I developed my “Singles & Doubles” method of training. This method is takes sets of 1-2 reps, and uses more and more weight with decreasing rest periods. You can check out my “Singles & Doubles” on my website.


Power is simply strength measured with a time component. Instead of wanting to know how much weight you can lift in a given movement, you want to know how much weight you can lift and how long it takes you to lift it. Power can be increased by either lifting more weight in the same amount of time, or the same weight in less time.

Example – a squat 1RM of 300 lbs is a measure of strength. A squat 1RM of


300 lbs performed in 2.5 seconds in a measure of power. A squat 1RM of 310 lbs performed in 2.5 seconds would be an increase in power. A squat 1RM of 300 lbs performed in 1.8 seconds would also be an increase in power. However, a squat 1RM of 310 lbs performed in 2.7 seconds would NOT be an increase in power. It would be an increase in strength, but not power (more weight was lifted, but it took more time to do it).

Power is important simply because there is nothing slow going on in the ring or cage. You can be strong as all hell, but if you're not fast, don't plan on being able to get anything accomplished. And speed can add much more than you might think to what goes on in a fight.

Try this example – put your fist against a wall and push as hard as you can. I mean really drive it into the way. Use a maximal effort. After a short rest, bring your fist back about 10 inches from the wall, and punch the wall at about 50% effort.

Which one hurt more? The second one did. That's because of the speed that was introduced.

Power can be trained a few different ways. The most common way is to use ~40- 65% of your 1RM for an exercise and move the weight as quickly as you can. 4-6 sets x 4-6 reps is usually around the norm for this kind of training.

Another way can be to follow up a near maximal lift, with a much lighter, explosive lift. Think a squat with 90%+ of your 1RM for 2-3 reps, immediately followed by jump squats.

Most associate the Olympic/”quick” lifts with power (cleans, snatches, pulls, etc.), but truth is that power can developed with any exercise – just be sure to be moving the weight as quickly as possible.


Ok, this one should be fairly self-explanatory, too.

Take the description of power above, and apply the “endurance” elements of strength-endurance above.

You now have the definition and importance of power-endurance.


Muscular Endurance

Muscular endurance is the ability of musculature to contract repeatedly (regardless of the amount of force being produced) over a given time period. For example, squatting 85% of your 1RM for 10 reps inside of three minutes would be strength-endurance. Squatting 85% of your 1RM for 10 reps – none of which lasting over 2.1 seconds) for 10 reps inside of three minutes would be power- endurance. Doing free bodyweight squats (also called “air squats”) for three minutes straight would be muscular endurance.

This is important in MMA because before you can have any elements of usable strength/power-endurance, you have to have muscular endurance.

Muscular endurance is increased either by increasing your 1RM in a given exercise (see explanation of strength-endurance) or by simply performing high-rep sets of a given exercise – usually bodyweight calisthenics.


“Cardio” refers to cardiovascular and cardio-respiratory endurance. This is basically the ability of the heart and lungs to pump fresh, oxygenated blood throughout the body. The lungs pump oxygen into the body, which in turn oxygenates the blood. The heart then has to pump that oxygenated blood throughout the body. The more efficient the heart and lungs are, the fewer times they'll have to “pump” per minute, as they'll pump more air/blood per “pump”.

Not to sound redundant, but it should be fairly obvious why this is important. Reduced fatigue (both physical and mental) is the main thing we're trying to avoid. Increased recovery (both localized and systemic, both momentary and long-term) are great benefits.

This is, of course, in addition to all the basic long-term health benefits associated with a healthy heart and lungs.

There are several ways to increase your cardio. I'll briefly go over two of the most common methods of increasing your cardio, as well as two methods that sort of “combine” the two that I have come up with and use.

LSD (Long Slow Distance) – this is a method generally used for increasing aerobic (with oxygen) conditioning. Just like the name implies, the distance covered is generally long, and the pace is slow. Think jogging for a few miles.

The benefits of LSD can be increased aerobic capacity, increased muscular endurance of the legs, less drain on the CNS, active recovery, and increased work



HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) – cardio training is made up of two components – time and intensity (how hard you work). The two are inversely

proportional. The longer you work, the easier you have to go (as with LSD). With HIIT, we hit the other end of the spectrum, by working much harder, but for

much shorter time periods.

Think sprints.

There are many methods of doing HIIT. One of the most common (and most demanding) is the “Tabata” method. Tabata was a Japanese researcher than first studied and tested the benefits of HIIT. He found that they were of more benefit than originally thought.

LSD increased aerobic (with oxygen) capacity, as the pace is slow enough that the body can continue to uptake sufficient oxygen to produce energy. However, with anaerobic (without oxygen) means that the body is working so hard that sufficient oxygen can't be had, so the body has to produce energy in the absence of oxygen.

It was thought that if LSD-styled training increased aerobic capacity (with little increase in anaerobic capacity), then HIIT-styled training would do the exact opposite. Tabata found this to not be true.

Tabata found that while anaerobic capacity was greatly increased, that there was also a corresponding increase in aerobic capacity. Though the increase wasn't as dramatic as when doing LSD-styled training, it was much more than LSD increased anaerobic capacity. It was almost like getting “2-for-1”.

Tabata also found that HIIT was superior for burning fat than LSD. While HIIT didn't burn as many calories during the workout as LSD did, it had the metabolism so “revved up”, that it continued to burn calories for hours AFTER the workout was complete. LSD, on the other hand, quit burning calories once the exercise was done. HIIT burned considerably more calories total (during and post-exercise).

(To learn more about Tabata and his studies, go a google search – there is plenty of info around the internet.)

The “Tabata” protocol involved intervals done at 100% intensity for 20 seconds, followed by a short rest period of 10 seconds. This was repeated up several times, with the common protocol being repeated 8 times.

While HIIT can be much more beneficial than LSD, it also has its downfalls. The two main ones are that it can be quite easy to overtrain whilst doing HIIT. Doing


any activity at 100% intensity can be hard on the body – both physiologically and on the CNS (Central Nervous System). It's not uncommon to burn out doing too much HIIT.

The other main drawback is that it requires an actual 100% intensity. It's quite common for folks to think they're putting in 100% intensity, when they're really not. That sort of effort is much more difficult than most folks realize, and much more difficult than most have ever done. They end up putting in much less than 100% intensity.

The problem is that they are also doing a much reduced amount of work. Remember that I said the two elements of cardio were inversely proportional – they had to be hard and short or easy and long? Well, if HIIT isn't done right, you end up with the worst of both worlds – easy and short. You get the least amount of benefit of any combination.

Density Conditioning – Density Conditioning is a method I came up with to take the popular weight training protocol of Density Training and apply it to cardio. It involves running a medium distance in a quicker and quicker time, or doing sprints of a given distance, and doing more and more of them in a given time frame.

MFD (Medium Fast Distance) – MFD is a “happy medium” between LSD and HIIT. It's not short, and it's not long. It's not easy, yet it's not 100% intensity, either. It's a medium distance, covered as quickly as you can.

To read more about Density Conditioning or MFD, please check out the following links:


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