What works best for a fighter? Linear or undulating periodization? Kettlebells or dumbbells? Olympic lifts from the floor or hang? What do you do for GPP? What exercises do you use to train pulsing? Did you grow a beard to look more like Ryan Reynolds (has nothing to do with this article but I do get asked that)?
I get questions like these a lot and usually my answer comes down to “it doesn’t matter”. I am not saying that undulating periodization doesn’t work or kettlebells are worthless. What I am saying is these things only matter once you are “Brilliant at the Basics”. You must first understand a few things:
What is strength?
What is endurance?
What is power?
What is power endurance?
What is speed?
What is agility?
What is mobility?
What is anaerobic and aerobic conditioning?
What are all of these things and how should we train them? Where do these components fit into a program? What order should they be trained? And the most important question, “can your athletes lift correctly”? Everything goes out the window if your athletes are performing the program with sloppy technique. What is the point of flipping tires and swinging sledge hammers (neither of which I do) if an athlete can’t squat, lunge or do a pushup with good form?
To say that the strength and conditioning world of MMA is archaic and in the dinosaur age is an understatement. Some of the things I see coaches do with world class fighters are not just uneducated but they are thoughtless, dangerous and irresponsible. MMA is a strange sport. It is one of the few sports I can think of where a professional athlete will hire one of their buddies, an internet guru, or join a fitness cult instead of hiring a professional and educated strength coach. This is something that continues to baffle me. I am very passionate about mixed martial arts and nothing would please me more than to see more educated strength coaches enter into the world of MMA.
The questions above are basic and that’s the point. The thing that separates a novice from and expert is the ability for the expert to perform the basics extremely well. This is the same thing we tell our BJJ/MMA students and coaches. Beginners always want to learn a flying armbar and spinning kick before the basics. The difference between a white belt and a black belt is being “Brilliant at the Basics”. As I grow older and more educated in fitness and martial arts, I constantly become more intrigued by the basics. Does this make me an expert? I don’t know. What I do know is that every year I feel like I know more and less at the same time. And I like that. It is very apparent that the quest of knowledge is never ending. So I guess it is safe to say that my job will never get boring.