3 MMA Conditioning Strategies Used by UFC Standouts and XFC Champions
by Nathan Hoffmeister
For our last training camp leading up to our UFC fight, I was searching for new ways to elevate our fighters hear rate and be able to take their conditioning to a new level. Over the years I have experimented with the usual ways of conditioning. At times I have used circuit-based exercises to challenge the fighter with little roadwork. Then came the phase of adding roadwork and scaling back the circuits.
In the end no matter what method I used we were always ready for fights. Here recently I have tried a few different ideas in the mix and they have gained positive rewards. For a while, the Airdyne bike was the devil. It burns the legs, shoulders and the lungs but just like any athlete over time you find ways to cruise and not always push yourself. Recently I have started to challenge my fighters with calories. This makes the exercises mentally as challenging as physically. The fighters know they are not getting off the bike until the calorie mark is met and to just make it a little more challenging I usually will add a time limit as a goal. I am going to layout three different methods that I have used lately to increase the conditioning capacity of my fighters.
Recently I have started to challenge my fighters with calories. This makes the exercises mentally as challenging as physically. The fighters know they are not getting off the bike until the calorie mark is met and to just make it a little more challenging I usually will add a time limit as a goal. The following are a few ways I have used the calories as a method of conditioning for my fighters.
1) This first method is based off a 8 week camp and each week the amount of calories expended during the session increases. These were benchmark goals I came up with based off the initial test run. The set up is based off 5 min. non stop work on the AirDyne bike. The first time I did this with my fighter, 65 calories were burned in the total of 5 mins. This is where we started, after this ride the following week I gave a goal of increase of 3 to 4 calories a week.
Below, I will break down the 8-week goals. This type of plan can be modified anyway needed to fit the person that is working.
- Week 1- 68 calories
- Week 2- 72 calories
- Week 3- 76calories
- Week 4- 81 calories
- Week 5- 86 calories
- Week 6- 91 calories
- Week 7- 96 calories
- Week 8- 100 calories
2) The second style of training that I started using also involves the AirDyne and calories. This type of circuit can be used with one or two fighters per one bike. The work to rest ratio is 1:1. The fighter will hop on the bike and ride the desired amount of calories as fast as they can. The goal is to hit the time that is in place. The times can be modified based off the needs of the individual performing the rounds. Below is the break down of calories and the timed goals:
- 50 calories 3:30
- 40 calories 2:45-3:00
- 30 calories 2:00-2:15
- 20 calories 1:15-1:30
- 10 calories- 30-45 seconds
You can perform this style of conditioning from the heavy amount of calories to the lightest or vice versus.
3) The last form of conditioning is one that I started to use to ensure that the fighters would have the capacity to go extended rounds if needed. It’s a simple form of conditioning, six rounds of five minute running with two min of recovery. The good part of this type of conditioning is that there are many variations that can be used. The treadmill is set anywhere from 2-3.5% incline and the speed can vary based off the athlete. Each week the speed of each minute starts to vary and again this is where you can play around with it and challenge the person running. Below is the breakdown of a 8 week camp:
- Week 1- 7 mph all bouts
- Week 2- 8 mph, 8 mph, 7 mph, 7 mph, 7 mph, 7 mph
- Week 3- 8 mph, 8mph, 8mph,7 mph, 7mph,7 mph
- Week 4- 9 mph, 7 mph, 8 mph, 10 mph, 8 mph, 7 mph
- Week 5- 8mph, 8mph, 8mph,8 mph,7 mph, 7mph
- Week 6- 8 mph, 8mph, 8mph, 8mph, 8mph, 7 mph
- Week 7- all 8 mph
Week 8- either deload or 9 mph, 9 mph, 9 mph, 8 mph, 8 mph, 8mph
As you can see each minute has the MPH indicated. In week 4 you can see the temp changes to mix up the conditioning and is set to simulate hill style running.
In closing, these are just a few of the new styles of conditioning that I have started to implement once a week with my fighters to enhance there conditioning and performance in the cage. Each athlete is different so any modification can be made to better fit the needs of that athlete. As always stay hungry and humble.
Be sure to watch Ovince Saint Preux vs Ryan Bader on the main event at UFC Fight Night August 16th.
Nathan Hoffmeister is the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Christian Academy Knoxville in Knoxville Tennessee. He currently works with a variety of fighters and athletes, most notably UFC standout, Ovince Saint Preux and XFC champ, Scott Holztman.