Mark Baquiran, ATT West Pines, Joins Us for Episode #80

This week we caught up with Coach Mark Baquiran from American Top Team West Pines.


In This Episode We Discuss:

  • Assessing new athletes
  • Organizing weekly training sessions
  • Workout templates
  • Importance of basic lifts
  • Coordinating with other coaches
  • and more!

Mark Baquiran is the strength coach for American Top Team West Pines, and Fight Fit Boxing and MMA. He is also an MBSC Thrive coach at Shula’s Athletic Club. Coach Baquiran is a National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu blue belt, and a USAPL competitor at 83 kg.

Stay in Touch with Mark here:

Instagram –> @scienceoverhype

Facebook –> Science Over Hype 


Full Transcription of Our Podcast with Mark Baquiran

Interview with Mark Baquiran from ATT West Pines talking about training and his coaching methods

Corey Beasley [00:00:01]: Hey guys, is Corey Beasley with fight camp conditioning and I’m on the phone with Coach Mark Baquiran and Mark, how are you doing?

Mark Baquiran [00:00:07]: I’m doing good Corey.

Corey Beasley [00:00:11]: I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to chat with us for a little bit. So Mark, for everybody that’s listening give them a little two sense of who you are and what you do?

Mark Baquiran [00:00:25]: I’m like you said, my name is Mark Baquiran I’m a strength and conditioning coach out of American top team was Pines, South Florida. I do a little bit of independent work with fight fit boxing and MMA. I’m also a MBSC threat coach at shows a political club, but cool. My primarily you primarily what? I’m sorry to interrupt. Oh I primarily like, like to work with my American top team guys.

Corey Beasley [00:01:00]: Very cool. Now, how long have you been training for?

Mark Baquiran [00:01:05]: As a coach I’ve been training for about five years now. I’ve been working with the American top 10 guys for about three.

Corey Beasley [00:01:14]: Cool. Now, how’d you get your start training?

Mark Baquiran [00:01:18]: For me personally as my introduction to the combat sports or American top team?

Corey Beasley [00:01:23]: Just as a coach in general?

Mark Baquiran [00:01:26]: Well, I was a gym rat and then my friend introduced me to mixed martial arts kind of showed me a pride fighting, started watching pride on YouTube, kind of spent a lot of time watching it and I decided to join Gracie Baha and since I was a gym rat, I figured resistance training would help me with competitions and things like that. So I decided to join the national strength and conditioning association and my passion for sports performance kind of just grew from there.

Corey Beasley [00:02:05]: That was about five years ago you started?

Mark Baquiran [00:02:08]: Well, I’ve been a personal trainer a little longer than that, but as far as focusing on MMA, sports performance, I would say I started working with combat athletes around like maybe three years ago, but personally from live sports performance, I was probably about five years ago, six years ago.

Corey Beasley [00:02:30]: Now you’re training jiu jitsu at Gracie Baha and that kind of opened the door to the combat sports world. When did you kind of start training some of the boys?

Mark Baquiran [00:02:47]: Probably like I said, three years ago, four years ago. The facility that I was with kind of partnered up with [APT] and kind of took that opportunity, actually train some of the guys over there. And then since then I’ve been involved with American top team, with a prepping for fights and jiu jitsu competitions.

Corey Beasley [00:03:12]: Very cool. Now as you were starting out, how did that all come together? You sit in there you’re rolling, you’re actually kind of a student and the facility try to just naturally to conversation working with some of the boys, giving them pointers and stuff like that or how’d that come together?

Mark Baquiran [00:03:31]: Yeah, I would attend class and at the same time I’d also say I wanted the strength coaches here at the gym. I could teach you a little bit about strength and conditioning and they were open to it, thankfully. And then once I trained a few guys, other guys started asking about strength conditioning and that’s kind of what led to my position as being their strength coach.

Corey Beasley [00:03:57]: Very cool. Now just doing that for about three years, what are some of the things that you noticed right away, some of the things that you help guys improve some of the mistakes maybe that they were making? What kind of things like that stuck out to you?

Mark Baquiran [00:04:14]: Let’s see. One thing that stuck out to me was the lack of structure. Like there was kind of really no direction of how to improve their performance on the mats or in the cage. Like they would pretty much follow things like bodybuilding magazine side routines. Which is not really the most optimal thing to do. Another thing is training these guys, not all of them are the most coordinated. Some of them never really played sports and mixed martial arts and jiu jitus where their first sport. So as far as development goes, that’s something that they were introduced to.

Corey Beasley [00:04:56]: Now, for like a new guy walks in the door, says, Mark I’ve heard a lot of great things, I’d love to do some work with you and learn more about strength and conditioning. Somebody comes and sees you for the first time. What do you start?

Mark Baquiran [00:05:12]: Well, I’ll get to know them a little bit. I sit down with them, take out the basic information, like their weight class, their height, things like that. And then I kind of sit down with them. What do they want to achieve as a fighter? For example, like their fighting style. If they’re a striker primarily or a grappler. And if they’re a striker, do they like to do punches or they do want to be a knockout artists? Are they a jiu jitsu guy? I kind of get their fighting style and I also get what they want to achieve as far as strength and conditioning is concerned. They want to get faster. Do they want more aerobic endurance? I kind of interview them a little bit and kind of record that so that way we know where to go from there. After that interview I just take them through a workout, like a basic dynamic mobility, flexibility warm-up. And I kind of use that as my screen is to see how they move and kind of where their limitations are. I’ll take them through a skips, a bounds, jumps, shuffles, Cariocas just to see how their body moves. And then we go to the strength training and I kind of use a session as my screen and my evaluation to see what needs improvement and things like that.

Corey Beasley [00:06:34]: So you basically you’re talking to them a little bit, getting to know who they are, where they’re at, where they want to go. I’m watching them move a little bit, warming them up at the same time just kind of eyeball on, how they move, what are stiff or weak, all that type of stuff. Now do you have like a set routine? I’m pretty used to guys when they first walk in the door on the like the strength movements that you’re putting them through?

Mark Baquiran [00:07:07]: Yes I do. So basically in a majority of my program is split into three days, because that’s typically the athletes I work with is either a three day training week or a two day training week. So there’s coming from a power lifting background, I have a primarily a squat day and deadlift day and upper body pressing day. So the day athlete first comes in, I’ll take him through basic squat patterns. I have a library of progressions and regressions. Everybody starts off at the baseline. And if I’m okay with how it looks, so just make them give them a different variation. But I think it was at the basic squat, upper body push, pull and lunges.

Corey Beasley [00:07:57]: Now when you talk about, you mentioned regressions and progressions for the guys that are not familiar with that, maybe can you give us an example using this? Like, let’s just use a squat as an example?

Mark Baquiran [00:08:09]: All right. For example, like my progression regressions for a squat, my baseline would be a goblet squat where you hold a dumbbell in front of your chest and let’s say that’s the most basic squat for my library. And that kind of gives me a general idea of where an athlete is as far as what needs to be worked on. Let’s say that movement looks good, they’re stronger, they need more weight. We’ll probably add the barbell so that they could know the squad pattern a little bit more. So from the goblet squat, we have the front squads and we have a back squat and then we have a different variation of squad depending on how close they are to a fight to kind of simulate the movement more during a flight. Is that makes sense?

Corey Beasley [00:08:56]: Yeah. I mean, basically what basically what you’re doing is you’re meeting those people where they’re at their own abilities and you’re not overloading them. A lot of times people will tend to, they want to do a certain movement like a certain exercise. But they’re not qualified to do that exercise yet. So just because everybody, you don’t have to just put a bar on your back and try to squat the house, for some people they got to build up their system using those easier exercises and then progressing forward slowly over time. So that’s cool. So you got your boys, they have a squat day, they have a hinge day or deadlift day, and then an upper body push and pull. You’re splitting them up into two days a week. So that was kind of my next question is how you guys kind of organize your weeks and then as far as coordinating with the skill coaches, what good and bad experiences have you had doing that with your athletes?

Mark Baquiran [00:10:07]:
 Well for the West Pines guys. I’m always in contact with the assistant coaches, the striking coach and the head coach. So as far as communication goes, I’m always kind of in the know as far as how everybody’s feeling and what everybody’s doing. So for the West Pines guys, since it’s pretty close knit, it’s not too much of a problem. Coordinating with the coconut Creek guys, it’s a little more, everybody’s doing their own thing. I’ve had skill coaches’ kind of dictate like when the athlete is going to strength and conditioning. So for example I had a fighter that was prepping for a fight maybe three weeks away from the fight. He told the athletes to stop strength and conditioning. And so I was kind of at the will of the other coaches, but I feel like I could have done better on my part as far as actually communicating with the coach rather than being a little passive about it.

Corey Beasley [00:11:06]: Well, I mean, that type of stuff happens from my experience at least. It’s in some a lot of times it takes time to earn their trust and to develop a relationship with those guys. And a lot of times we’re the new guy in that camp. And in that scenario, that relationship and if we ask them to, eliminate one or two of their skill sessions each week to having that for being replaced with a strength and conditioning session, they can stir the pot and put some people off. They don’t understand the plan to say the least.

Mark Baquiran [00:11:51]: I feel like skill coaches just needs to see and need to know that their athlete is in good hands. And once that happens, then that’s where the trust is built

Corey Beasley [00:12:02]: For sure. Yeah, absolutely. And when they see that there’s actually a plan of attack there’s some rhyme and reason to what you’re doing and understand how that supports what they’re doing as a skill coach. I think it helps a ton. So you got them assessed, you got an idea who they are and where they’re at, where they want to go. You’re seeing them two or three days a week, you’re working on a variety of different lifts to get them strong, just head to toe. What’s a typical session look like? I mean, they’re walking in the door and I’m imagining you see him for about an hour and a half, something like that?

Mark Baquiran [00:12:46]: So a typical day kind of look like, we warm up, we formal a little bit, do some dynamic warm-ups, dynamic stretching, and then we do a little bit warm up for the heavy squatting. We’ll do a couple of sets of squat just to kind of get acclimated to having heavyweights from the back. And then we get into the working sets. As far as the working sets go, I kind of base my programming off of a complex training. So we’ll have a heavy squat. We’ll take a break during the break. Let me backtrack a little bit. I combine heavy strength training with plyometric exercises and you do need to rest between the strength exercise and the metric exercise to kind of reap the benefits of organizing that way. So instead of just hanging around and just not doing anything during the rest times, I do like core stability exercises. Maybe some kind of flexibility, drill or corrective depending on who the athlete is. So I would have like a regular circuit would look like a heavy back squat, maybe a chop or a lift, then some kind of a box jump variation. And then maybe another echo Suitcase Carry or some kind of Carry, a loaded Carry. And then same concept would go to like the dead lift day. You would have like a deadlift some kind of a stability exercise, this time of horizontal jump and then to another core stability exercise. So it’s kind of organized in that way.

Corey Beasley [00:14:33]: So you’re keeping them busy throughout the hour, but the intensity is very throughout the hour not to just run those guys into the ground.

Mark Baquiran [00:14:42]: Yeah. As we get closer to a flight though, that’s when the conditioning kicks in and then it does get a little more intense.

Corey Beasley [00:14:54]: How so? Can you give us an example?

Mark Baquiran [00:14:57]: Let’s see. I typically, ideally I would like to know how many months out from a fight we are, but typically I program things month to month basis. So let’s say we’re eight weeks out. That month that starts the eight weeks I’ll kind of transition to density certainty and kind of use us some of Joel Jamieson’s concepts for his conditioning, like cardiac power intervals explosive repeats, electric power intervals, things like that. Those are going to be incorporated once we’re eight weeks out from a fight.

Corey Beasley [00:15:36]: Very cool. Now from your experience, I know doing this for as long as you’ve been doing it you have some good experience. You’ve had your hands in working with quite a few guys. What are some mistakes that you’ve made? Like things that you’re like, man, I should’ve changed that up or do differently or whatever we’ve all made mistakes, but what are some things that you’ve done that I’ve kind of tweaked or changed over the last year or two?

Mark Baquiran [00:16:07]: So since I am a power lifter as well I have a bias to lift heavy, heavy all the time and not really conducive for MMA fighters when they’re always going to skill practice, sparring and then they’re doing conditioning and strength training. So let’s say the fatigue levels and aches and pains were a little high when I was training like that. So I kind of have to switch that up a little bit and figure out a way how to manage fatigue better.

Corey Beasley [00:16:39]: So you had to adjust a few things and manipulate the variables a bit.

Mark Baquiran [00:16:44]: That was the biggest thing. And that’s when I started to incorporate like a tracking how athletes feel RPE for each set, things like that. Just so I have a better idea and understanding of where the athlete is at the time.

Corey Beasley [00:16:57]: Yeah. Now, when you say RPE what does that mean?

Mark Baquiran [00:17:05]: RPE is rate of perceived exertion. So kind of I give the athlete, let’s say a heavy back squat and ask him on a scale of one to 10, how difficult was that set? And let’s say he feels like it was a seven pretty easy, probably had maybe three reps in him, three reps more to do for that, for that weight. I’ll probably think he’s in good shape for the intensity and maybe increase the mode if he felt that it was a nine, I want to back off a little bit just to keep it moderate and not so intense.

Corey Beasley [00:17:39]: So just your way of kind subjectively monitoring where your guys are at. So now when you’re talking kind of an eight weeks to eight weeks out or so and changing things up from that. So you’re basically doing a basic overall strength training plan when those guys are out of camp, so to speak or they don’t have a fight date once they get about eight weeks in their transitioning things a bit and doing some different intervals and some different types of strength training. So organizing, changing up the variables a bit to focus a little bit more on conditioning. Am I right?

Mark Baquiran [00:18:25]: Correct.

Corey Beasley [00:18:27]: And then once we get about four weeks in or so, what changes again?

Mark Baquiran [00:18:33]: We start adding a little bit more sparring or using fight drills and sparring into the conditioning. So for example instead of shuttle runs I’ll have like power punches and take downs instead for a minute rather than shuttle runs. And also some exercise variations change. Like instead of a back squat, we’ll go to a searcher squats to kind of simulate mechanics a little more to wrestling and take downs and things like that.

Corey Beasley [00:19:10]: Now you start to incorporate more of those sports specific drills in your conditioning. Is that something that you coordinate with the skill coaches about or are they present are they there?

Mark Baquiran [00:19:27]: Usually I train three to four guys at a time. So when it comes to the skill conditioning, I kind of have them work together. So in that sense they’re form and technique using sloppy during the training.

Corey Beasley [00:19:49]: Yeah. Having those guys partner up. I mean, it’s something they do every day, so that’s good. Now as they get closer to the fight a lot of guys are dieting, they have traditionally like their skill practices become more intense mentally, they’re a little bit more focused and anxious maybe. What changes those last few weeks?

Mark Baquiran [00:20:16]: Well, I am more intense as far as the gathering information and how they feel. I do coordinate with the striking coaches and the MMA coaches to kind of see when they’re going to get sharp things and when sparring sessions are going to be intense. And then like I said, I kind of use the RPE scale to kind of gauge how intense things are.

Corey Beasley [00:20:41]: Have a guy comes in and every capability is a little bit different right? So when somebody come in and say coach, I’m fried or tired, how do you differentiate between changing up the workout completely or just adjusting things on the fly depending on how they feeling. How do you kind of gauge that?

Mark Baquiran [00:21:11]: I kind of see how the movement mechanics aren’t if they’re fried, typically the athlete would kind of tell me ahead of time. So that kind of gives me a chance to kind of change the program a little bit. As far as conditioning side goes, we’ll probably do something light not necessarily light, but a moderate intensity certainly with like medicine ball throws some kind of ladder drills or something not as intense on the nervous system. Then like strength training or like high intensity aerobic training. But ideally I do tell the athletes to tell me ahead of time how they’re feeling coming into the session so that way we can kind of adjust it.

Corey Beasley [00:21:53]: Cool. So your role kind of as a strength coach, not as these guys are getting in the last couple of weeks you coordinating a lot more with the coaches. You keep in a real close eye on how your athletes are recovering in between sessions and stuff. What else changes that last week or so? Are you, are you around, are you helping them out? A lot of times they’re traveling and stuff like that. Are you with them or is it just something that you kind of maybe give them homework and do at a distance?

Mark Baquiran [00:22:28]: During the week coming up to the training, I’m typically out of the picture. I kind of have the striking coach and the jiu jitus coach kind of take over for the week coming up to it. I do give the athletes a little bit of homework, just like, light aerobic exercises to do and guidelines to make sure that they’re feeling good.

Corey Beasley [00:22:50]: Good stuff. Well, Mark, for people that are listening that want to get a little bit more information and learn more about what you’re doing, what’s the best way for them to connect with you?

Mark Baquiran [00:23:04]: They can reach me on Instagram @scienceoverhype. That’s my handle. And you can also reach me on Facebook. I have a Facebook page, science over hype as well.

Corey Beasley [00:23:16]: Perfect. All right, cool guys, I will put those links down below it up podcast. So if you listen and just look down below and you’ll be able to click on those. And Mark, thank you so much for sharing with us and chatting with us for a little bit. We appreciate it.

Mark Baquiran [00:23:31]: It’s my pleasure, Corey. Thank you very much.