Strength Coach, Jason Kamens from Power MMA Joins Us for Episode #67
Jason Kamens trains at Power MMA in Arizona. Many top fighters, such as Ryan Bader, CB Dollaway and others brought Jason in to improve their strength and conditioning for the team.
In this episode we discuss:
Training at Power MMA in Phoenix, AZ
Weekly training schedule
#1 challenge w/ combat athletes
Customizing workouts for individuals
Varying intensity and volume throughout the camp
Clarifying expectations w/ athletes
Jason Kamens MS CSCS
While earning his Bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sport Science Coach Jason was able to work with athletes at UWL in all sports as part of the Strength and Conditioning Concentration with the degree program. The professors and mentors at UWL helped shape the way Jason thinks, learns, and even looks at the field of strength and conditioning. Some of the highlights were learning from such industry leaders including Dr. Carl Foster, Dr. Travis Tripplett, Dr. Jeff McBride, and Dennis Kline.
An internship at formerly Athletes’ Performance now EXOS brought Jason from Wisconsin to Arizona. The internship experience was absolutely unparalleled and further molded Jason’s mindset and philosophies regarding strength and conditioning. While interning Jason was again blessed to have phenomenal mentors including Mark Verstegen, Sue Falsone, Darcy Norman, Luke Richesson and Daryl Eto.
After the experience at Athletes’ Performance Coach Jason earned his CSCS credentials and worked independently as a trainer with clients ranging from junior athletes to professional athletes to geriatric adults and everything in between. In April of 2011 Jason began training at Power MMA & Fitness and worked into the role of Head Strength Coach for the Power MMA Fight Team. Since then he has earned his Master’ Degree in Kinesiology again with a Strength and Conditioning Concentration from AT Still University.
Over the last 6 years at Power MMA Jason has coached a multitude of fighters from the UFC, Bellator, as well as the LFA and VFC. Some of the notable fighters include Ryan Bader, CB Dollaway, Renan Barao, Kiko France, Jordon Johnson, Darrion Caldwell, Aaron Simpson, and Joe Gigliotti.
Full Transcription of Our Podcast with Jason Kamens
Interview with the Strength Coach, Jason Kamens from Power MMA talking about coaching athletes
Corey Beasley [00:00:01]: Hey guys, is Corey Beasley with fight camp conditioning. I’m on the phone here with Jason Kamens. Jason, how are you doing?
Jason Kamens [00:00:07]: Doing great, Corey, how are you doing?
Corey Beasley [00:00:09]: Doing good. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us guys. Jason is the strength and conditioning coach out at power MMA in Phoenix, Arizona, and he’s doing a lot of great things, so I’m excited to kind of pick his brain and learn more about what they’ve got going on out there. So Jason for everybody that’s listening, just give everybody a little two sense of your background and who you are and what you do out there?
Jason Kamens [00:00:35]: Thanks Corey. Well, like you said, I’m Jason Kamens. I’m originally from Wisconsin and moved out to Phoenix in 2003 to finish up my undergraduate degree in sports science. I went to the university of Wisconsin lacrosse and he did do an internship in order to finish my degree. So I found what at the time was called athlete’s performance and now is EXOS and found my internship out in Arizona. And if any of you know what the weather’s like up in Wisconsin, there was no way I was going back up to snow and cold after being out in Arizona and the nice sunshine. So I decided to stay in Arizona after I was done with my internship. Since then I’ve just been working a little bit here and there until I found these guys that are in MMA.
Corey Beasley [00:01:27]: Very cool. Now, that kind of gives us a little lead in on how you got involved with the MMA game. But how’d you get connected with those guys?
Jason Kamens [00:01:39]: So it was kind of crazy. I was a wrestler growing up, I wrestled a little bit in college. So the guys that were starting this gym were actually some former wrestlers from ASU, Aaron Simpson, Ryan Bayer and CB Dalloway. And I had not met those guys or anything. I just, I knew who they were just from being a wrestler and watching wrestling and everything. And then one of my good friends was helping coach a program over at ASU and then told me that these guys were going to be open in the gym and it just happened to be literally right across the street from my house. It couldn’t have worked out any better to be honest. So I walked over there. I had been commuting into Phoenix to a smaller, a training studio down there for the last maybe four-ish years before they had, they opened the gym here I was ready to look for somewhere a little bit closer to home. I was ready to be done commuting and everything. And so I walked over and brought them, brought them in a resume and they basically said, Hey, when do you want to start working? Well, the gym is not quite open yet, so they were in the process of opening it up and started working and just didn’t really go in with any expectations of coaching any of the MMA guys or anything. Like I said, I just wanted to start training somewhere a little bit closer to home and started talking to Aaron Simpson and found out that we knew some of the same people. He had known Luke Richardson, who was one of my mentors at my internship at EXOS, who’s now the head strength coach for the Denver Broncos. And I think Aaron was kind of trying to bust my chops and seeing who I knew and everything and then kind of came up with, I knew some of the same people and he’s like, okay. And I started talking to him a little bit about what they were doing strength wise and just put in a little bit of my two sense, just you kind of told them a little bit of what I thought they could be doing. And from there I started training with Aaron and we started training about five weeks or so out from when he fought Brad Tavarez. So that was all the way back in 2011. And shortly after that I started working with CB, Aaron liking some of the stuff that I was doing. I started working with CB shortly after that and then Ryan came a little bit later on that year. He had been working with a trainer that he had for quite some time and started to kind of see the things that I was doing with the other guys and then drifted over towards my way as well. So it was kind of fate brought us together to be honest they put this place right here across the street from my house. They walked in and the rest is kind of history.
Corey Beasley [00:04:24]: That’s good and stuff like that kind of happens for a reason, in my opinion, but it’s definitely a bonus not to be sitting your ass in the car in traffic. I don’t know how people do that every day.
Jason Kamens [00:04:37]: Oh my god. It was killing me. I mean just even the difference of overall mood, of being able to walk across the street to the gym rather than sitting in traffic for a while. It gives you a whole different perspectives to start your morning for sure.
Corey Beasley [00:04:52]: Now, Jason, when you started over there and you said you’re giving them your two cents on things that they could be doing, what are some what are some things that you noticed and not to be overly critical of what they’re doing, but literally it’s just you, people see different things. So what are some things that you did notice that they were doing that you can improve upon? And or other things that you just seen over the years just working with these guys things that they’re doing or they can improve on?
Jason Kamens [00:05:24]: One of the things I started talking to Aaron with was just, just some basic squatting stuff to be honest. He showed me a squat and I just picked a little bit of his technique out and he had mentioned some back issues while squatting. So I just brought up some other options with possibly some front squats or some goblet squats or some different variations that he could do that wasn’t just always putting the bar on his back. And definitely like the direction I was going. These guys, they’re coming from a wrestling, anybody that was a D1 wrestler knows that those guys are just grinding to a fault almost. So one of the biggest things I did with them too is the show is try to impress upon them how important recovery is and how more isn’t always going to get you more. So really trying to help organize their overall training schedule into something that would optimize for performance to be honest, when I came in there was pretty much just training here, training there, training whatever, and not a whole heck of a lot of scheduling going on. So that’s one of the things I did with the guys right away is soon as they said they had a fight, they sat down with me and we planned out what our next eight weeks was going to look like. So we planned out when they’re doing the striking, when they’re doing their strength and conditioning, when we’re adding extra conditioning sessions in, when they’re doing their wrestling, when they’re doing their sparring, so that they could just have a good picture of what the week was going to look like and then what the overall camp was going to look like. Before that, they were just kind of train here, like I said, train there and not really have a whole lot of organization or structure or how to get from here to there. I think that that’s one of the biggest things that I’ve helped them with.
Corey Beasley [00:07:17]: Yeah, to be really honest, I mean doing and talking with, I don’t know, 60 some strength coaches around the world. That seems to be the common thread across the board. What every single person says. And granted that’s from I’ve had mostly strength coaches and people that are on here talking, but a few athletes and stuff like that, now that they get a little bit older, they’re starting to understand much less just experience it. And what did they say, experience is just a bunch of good and bad decisions. We tend to learn the hard way sometimes. So that’s cool to you bring that up again. I think it’s good just to reiterate the basics and I agree. I think that’s the number one thing that a lot of these combo on all the combat sports, sports in general to be really honest, but just being able to lay out that schedule and plan things out so that these guys are just, they’re getting better not just getting round up.
Jason Kamens [00:08:23]: Exactly. And I think one of the biggest differences between other sports, like you mentioned and MMA, is those other sports have a huge structure of people behind their teams. So those guys are the ones laying out the structure. When they come in and everybody gets a welcome packet, it’s my list. You just go to your practice, you do everything in MMA it’s so much more individualized with these guys not making a whole heck of a lot of money and it’s hard to try to get them to do, okay, you’ve got to be at this practice at that, this practice at that time, this practice at that time. So I’m just trying to help them show what a professional athlete really is supposed to be training like.
Corey Beasley [00:09:05]: Yeah. Now when you guys are laying out a week, give us an idea of just a general idea when you’re kind of planning out a week some of the thought processes that you guys are having, how many times a day are they training that type of stuff?
Jason Kamens [00:09:22]: Well, we have a blueprint structure of when our team practices and everything are, but I try to make it as individually specific as possible as well. So that meaning that whatever the individual needs to work on maybe in the weight room or on the mats, whether it’s for them improving themselves, bringing up other skills or if it’s specific things needed for their next fight, I try to throw in as much individualization as possible. And this has been a process. Like I said, I’ve been with these guys in 2011 and like you said, that experience and learned some stuff and some stuff didn’t work and some stuff does work. So I’ve been kind of compiling them in your over the last years of seeing these guys. So we generally try to start out the week, not absolutely crushing them first thing. So they want to come in and we have team practices every morning and every afternoon that these guys can come to. So the team practice in the morning on Mondays, generally a little bit more of a light work using some technique and just getting their day started more than anything. And then they’ll come in in the afternoon and then spar on a Monday afternoon. So that day or they’re woken up, but they’re still fresh from the weekend so they can get a good spar in. And Tuesdays is when I get to come in there and they do some strength training with me in the morning and then some technical practice after that, some more techniques stuff in the afternoon. And that’s when we can start breaking up into some individuality as well where guys are working on different techniques that they may need to improve on or a skill specific for their fight like I said. Wednesdays are generally are more of our light day recovery type day. So some of the guys that have full time jobs still that are working they don’t necessarily get the luxury of a full recovery type day. So they still have a practice in the afternoon. But the guys that are fulltime fighters generally would give them the afternoon off so they can go float or get outside or get a massage or whatever it is that further recovery techniques for the day. Thursday come back in I do some Olympic lifting technique work with anybody that wants a little extra help with that on Thursday morning. So it’s a lighter lifting day, lighter intensity lifting day and then again two practices that day. And the second practice is a spar again, so they’re more than likely nice and fresh from their Wednesday off so they can get a good spar in. Friday mornings is another, is a kind of my more volume and high intensity strength workouts and does at the end of the week not going to kill them. I can push them pretty hard because they don’t have a lot of technical work after that then so I can kind of push them. The guys that are that are fulltime fighters are getting that Friday afternoon again for some recovery stuff and regeneration and then everybody comes back on Saturday morning and they have a light team practice and then we do a big group conditioning work after that. Sometimes in the parks, sometimes at the track, sometimes we’ll do a strong man Saturday in the gym. It just kind of really depends on how many guys we have at the time and what the weather’s like for us generally pretty nice. That’s something we’ve worked on for a long time to try to really perfect and get the most performance possible out of everybody.
Corey Beasley [00:12:54]: Yeah. Now when you’re talking about an individual day so you’re seeing those guys in the morning before their skill session. So obviously you’re taxing those guys a little bit before they go in and work. And they’re doing more of a skill session, right? You’re separating as the sparring sessions and stuff like that so that they’re fresh responding, which is important. But you are doing a little bit of work before they do their skill sessions. So when they walk in the door, what the typical session look like?
Jason Kamens [00:13:29]: A typical session with me. So I get the guys and I tried to, we have some females so guys and gals and I tried to impress upon them the importance of foam rolling and stretching and everything. So generally the guys come in and we have a little turf area where just kind of meet and greet time, where everybody’s chatting a little bit and foam rolling and stretching, just kind of getting ready for the workout. I try to write the workout on a big board for the day and generally there’s anywhere from two to three, four different workouts on their depending on who’s where in camp. So that’s where I try to keep the individuality so that I do different things depending on who it is, depending on what time in camp it is. So not everybody’s going to be doing the same strength workout. So I’ll get those workouts up on the board for them. I explain everything. I kind of want to see any questions or anything like that at the start. And then we get started after that with some dynamic type stretches, movement prep stuff all the basic stuff. I’m sure you’ve heard before, crawling and lunging and twisting and all that good stuff. And then ending on the day, I read these guys had the benefit of being in here all the time with them. So I get to see him twice a day, every day so I get a good idea of body language and communication with everybody and seeing how they are for that session. So sometimes depending on where they’re at, I’m feeling wise if they’re tired, if they’re dragging us and people are hurt, I may have to modify things right from the start. Sometimes I will just throw in a couple of ladder drills or some hurdle work, something like that to wake everybody up that doesn’t work. Still might have to modify something. But generally that works pretty good. Get everybody moving since it is my session is the first one in the morning for them as well. So we’ll get everybody woke up, get everybody moving, and then generally you’ll do like a warm up type circuit where it almost primes the muscles that we are going to be using the day or primes the movements that we’re going to be using for the day. So if it’s a squat type day, we might be doing some single leg stability squat stuff to get them moving. If we’re doing some pull-ups, get some shoulder blade activation stuff in that first circuit and everybody gets their stations and goes through that. Sometimes I have up to 15 people on the floor training at the same time. So I’m keeping the structure that really helps. From there, then we move on to our big movements of the day. We do all the stuff that we should be doing, squatting, dead, lifting, some Olympic lifting, hip rusting, and just really depends on the day. Like I said, my Tuesdays are going to be not quite as high intensity as the Fridays are. Because on Tuesday, I know they still have eight more practices to do before the end of the week before they get to my strength session. So I want to make sure that they are still getting all the work they need in on the technical aspect as well. But then Fridays we go pretty, pretty hard. That’s generally going to be like our dead lift day where we’re taxing the body a little bit more taxing than neurosystem a little bit more and just because they have a little bit longer to recover before their next big spar session. So nothing too crazy I stick to a lot of the basics and it works really well.
Corey Beasley [00:16:59]: Yeah. So I think it’s kind of cool that you’re mixing different intensities and different types of workouts in throughout the week. Which seems to be a pretty, I’m hearing more and more people talk about that. Versus do in the real traditional period ice blocks where we’re focusing on one specific quality for maybe three weeks, six weeks, something like that. We’re just trying you’re texting them the energy system development like you said on Saturday more about a real hard strength workout on Friday a little bit more explosive type work and then less intense during the middle and the early in the week. So how did you kind of organize that with as far as organizing with other coaches, the skill guys, all that?
Jason Kamens [00:17:55]: So with our new head coaches he is actually an understudy of Andre Petronis and he was running down in Brazil before we got him up here. And we have a great relationship already and we see eye to eye. So we actually sat down and we had a schedule before that and when he came in, we changed it just a little bit to make those tweaks to really get the sparring to be the highlight almost of these guys so that they’re super fresh for that sparring. And we talk to three times, four times every single day about how guys are doing about the schedule and moving stuff around if we need to about when the guys are getting in there, extra individual work as well. So it’s really been a great partnership so far and I think that he is a guy that has no ego and ultimately wants to get these guys hand raised and he’s going to take input in and really apply it to make our program better. He’s coming from Brazil where one of his girls, Claudia she just she did like a 17 week camp or something like that for her last Joanna fight. And this is crazy. So he was ready for a new perspective in the first place and he sees how the guys are performing. And like I said, it works out pretty well. I’m getting into that a little further. I actually went to grad school and got my masters about just about half a year ago now. I finished up and I got to basically learn all my masters’ stuff and experience it all at the same time and put it into work with the team. It was pretty amazing experience for me to be able to go to school, learn all this stuff and then immediately apply it. It was absolutely phenomenal. So I took bits and pieces from all the great teachers I had in grad school and tried to help really put this program at the highest level we possibly can have it.
Corey Beasley [00:20:19]: So basically a lot of people will say, they want to they want to go hard or go home, like you said, they think more is better. They want to grind it out, give it like exhausting, conditioning workouts on a daily basis or at least several times a week. And then they have their skill stuff and they’re not drilling as much maybe they want to go live, then want a sport and they want to do all this stuff. So have you noticed a huge impact with the guys as far as varying those intensity levels and actually planning out their camps? What have you noticed most with them?
Jason Kamens [00:21:01]: I noticed them feeling better when it comes to fight time to be honest we like you had just said that just keep going hard and don’t know when to push, when to pull, what to go hard on. You know how hard to go on what they just didn’t know the why. You know these guys, these guys, they’ll, they’ll work until they can’t work anymore and we need to be the guys that are telling them, let’s push as hard as we can on this day on this, but we got to make sure that we’re doing, maybe this temple run isn’t going to be absolutely exhausting. We want to make sure we’re staying more in this heart rate range, so part of putting the whole program together in my eyes is educating these guys on why they’re doing it this way as well. So I encourage questions that more questions the guys ask the better I can be an explaining why we’re doing what we’re doing as well. And by having that feedback and that interaction with the team and coaches and everybody being on the same page, everybody feels good mentally about what they’re doing. And that’s coming out in their physical performances as well.
Corey Beasley [00:22:14]: Yeah, for sure. I mean it’s great to hear that you got that organization the guys have clear expectations on what they need to do each day. And it sounds like, I mean, you’ve got quality buy-in, which is huge as far as, I’m concerned with getting guys to really believe in what they’re doing and trust the coaches that are helping them.
Jason Kamens [00:22:39]: That’s the truth. I read an article just a month or so ago talking about the best supplements that you could ever have, is belief in what you’re doing it’s going to be more for you. So that’s definitely a big part of what I tried to do is educate these guys on the wise and the house of everything.
Corey Beasley [00:22:58]: That’s awesome. So as far as that goes with different guys, I know different workouts will tax guys in different ways, their body’s response to maybe that workout will be different. Yours might be different than mine, so on and so forth. So do you use and I know you mentioned heart rate monitoring their heart rates and stuff like that. What technology do you use to monitor the guys throughout the week?
Jason Kamens [00:23:26]: Honestly I don’t use a whole heck of a lot of technology. I don’t have access to a whole heck of a lot of it. So basically my eyes and my ears are huge for me because like I said, I see these guys all day, every day. This is where I am, we have our facility where its strength is on one side of the wall and right over on the other side is where they practice all the time. So getting to know the guys and learning about how they act when they’re super fatigued or when they’re tired or if they’re just mentally tired that day, whatever it is. I think it’s going to do more for you than all the technology in the world. It’s just really getting to know the guys and figuring them out and seeing what makes them tick, how to push them, how they respond from certain workouts and has done wonders for me. It really has. I mean, by no means am I discounting any of the technology, but it’s far as what I do. Just the constant interaction has done, has done wonders for me.
Corey Beasley [00:24:36]: Now you guys have everything under one roof, correct?
Jason Kamens [00:24:41]: We do, we have like 27,000 square feet of mats and barbells and turf and bags and we’ve got a huge cage right in the middle of the place. So it’s a one stop shop, you can come here and do everything. So again, I’ve been lucky to be here and to be able to see everything that goes into their training behind the scenes as well, to really set up a complimentary system with the strength and conditioning to what they’re doing already as far as that.
Corey Beasley [00:25:21]: Well, I mean, like we were talking about before, just talking with all these different coaches, I think just creating that schedule is number one. And everybody says it. Just getting these guys in organized plan of attack. Then number two, having your eyeballs like you being there all day is a humongous advantage. And being able to communicate with those coaches consistently and building trust with the coaches and the athletes. It’s very rare. I would probably say that, I mean, how many places in the United States have everything under one roof?
Jason Kamens [00:26:00]: Yeah, not many, that’s for sure. And not to mention everything under one roof, but with cohesion as well, like having everybody still on the same page and not egos taken over or anything. So like I said, we have a good thing going here and everybody checks their ego at the door and everybody just wants to get better. And I mean, you give me athletes that want to get better. I’m going to help you get better, that’s for sure.
Corey Beasley [00:26:30]: Very cool. Jason, it sounds like you’re doing some great stuff out there. For anybody that wants to learn more about what you’re doing, what’s the best way for them to get in touch with you?
Jason Kamens [00:26:45]: You can put my email on there, but I do have Instagram and Facebook and Twitter and all that stuff. I am not the best at putting stuff up or explaining things in a super technical way. I’m definitely more of a coach than a scientist, but they can find me on there. It’s Jason Kamens on Twitter and Instagram and I try to put up some stuff that I’m doing with the team and the guys and some of the other junior athletes that I work with in here, so they can find me through there. And then also [email protected] is my email. Feel free to email me anytime.
Corey Beasley [00:27:26]: Cool. And guys, I’ll put those links down below the podcast here so you guys can access it. But Jason, thanks again man. I appreciate it and we’ll talk to you soon.
Jason Kamens [00:27:37]: Sounds good, Corey. I appreciate it. Thank you.
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