Episode #51 with Dr Corey Peacock from Blackzillians

Dr. Peacock is serving a duel role for the Blackzilians as both a Performance Coach and Exercise Physiologist.  In this role, he is responsible for contributing physiological evaluations, strength & conditioning, and injury prevention.  His experience as both a Strength Coach and Sports Performance Researcher has allowed him to implement state of the art injury prevention technology and techniques within the team.  A former collegiate football player and coach, Corey graduated from Kent State University with a Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology, focusing his application in human performance.  He works closely with many Strength & Conditioning professionals from the NFL, NHL, MMA and NCAAF and is regarded as one of the top Performance Coaches and Exercise Physiologists in South Florida.


In this episode we discuss:

  • Creating a Training Schedule to Keep Athletes Healthy
  • Assessing Fighters to Discover Strengths and Weaknesses
  • Strategies for Injury Prevention
  • Monitoring Athletes Performance and Recovery
  • Communicating with Other Coaches
  • and more!

Connect with Dr. Corey Peacock


Full Transcription of Our Podcast with Dr. Corey Peacock


Corey Beasley [00:00:01]: Hey guys, is Corey Beasley with fight camp conditioning. I’m on the phone here with Dr. Corey peacock. Corey, how are you?

Corey Peacock [00:00:07]:I’m doing well. Thanks for having me.

Corey Beasley [00:00:11]: I appreciate you taking the time out after you guys practice and talking with us for sure. This is going to be an awesome conversation. So for everybody that’s listening Corey is a head performance coach, an exercise physiologist at Blackzilians and I think some of the things that those guys are doing in particular out there, the team is something that I think a lot of martial artists and coaches and athletes around the world can learn from. So Corey, give everybody an idea of kind of your background and one where you’re at?

Corey Peacock [00:00:50]:Sure. So like I said had a performance down here in Boca Raton with the Blackzilians specialize in exercise physiology and strength and conditioning. I did my graduate work with a PhD in exercise physiology and also on the side work as an assistant professor of health and human performance down here in Fort Lauderdale at Nova Southeastern University. So worked with athletes my whole life and I was a collegiate athlete and fairly new to the mixed martial arts thing. I’ve been doing this for about two years now with the Blackzilians camp started individually with detour and then it just kind of evolved into a team concept and that kind of thing. So that’s really where I’m at right now.

Corey Beasley [00:01:39]: Now I’ve talked with Jake Bonacci in the past. I think Jake’s the strength coach at Blackzilians correct?

Corey Peacock [00:01:50]:Yes. He’s our head of strength and conditioning head strength coach down here.

Corey Beasley [00:01:54]: Now. As you guys are developing that team all the pieces of the puzzle. You guys got a lot of stuff going on, so how did you kind of get introduced with those guys and start initially?

Corey Peacock [00:02:10]:Absolutely. I think it’s a really cool concept. What we have established down here. I think it’s similar to anything but you’re really going to find when you go to a professional organization like the NFL or NBA or something like that. You walk behind the door, you’re always going to have a head of strength and conditioning, which is going to be Jake’s role and then you’re going to have a head of performance which is my role. I don’t think in MMA you’re going to find this under one roof. I don’t think you’re going to find this accessible to the athletes. So I think owner Glenn Robinson kind of was open to this idea of more than anything of injury prevention. How do we start preventing injuries? Why are some of these professional organizations so successful in keeping injury rates down? And I think that’s where this role really developed. Jake and I have just created such a great dynamic working together at keeping these guys healthy. The system that we’ve kind of put into place along with the other coaches and had to be really receptive to what we’re trying to do and really buy in. I think a lot of times in mixed martial arts you find a lot of the old school coaches be fighting coaches more is better more and more. We’re going to prepare these guys. And it’s been really nice because Jake and I have introduced this idea of proper camp periodization scheduling things based on intensities basis, based on volume, based on time. And realistically head coach Henri Hooft was the first to really pick up on these things. And one thing that he’s always said and I hear him time and time again is I don’t necessarily know what those guys are doing over there with my fighters. But one thing I can tell you is come fight night they’re always healthy and I don’t have to worry. And I think that’s kind of come the biggest thing where what Jake and I have established is kind of this reliability factor that our athletes aren’t going to be hurt. Jake and I have worked together in this dynamic now for almost two years and with our UFC roster fighters, we’ve had one injury that the guys had to miss a fight and it really wasn’t outer issue anyway. It had nothing to do with muscular and body. So I think the system that we’ve created is working.

Corey Beasley [00:04:37]: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, one guy out in two years’ time, that’s unheard of. For everybody that’s listening it kind of sounds like maybe a play on words the difference between what you’re doing as a performance coach and exercise physiologist versus what Jake’s doing as just strengths coach. What are the differences? What are the roles there?

Corey Peacock [00:05:03]:I think the biggest thing is kind of our timing with the athletes. An athlete walks through the door. I’m going to be the first person that they’re introduced to. I’m going to be the first one to put my hands on them and basically assess the athletes using my physiological using my physiology background, I’m going to put them through a full body evaluation starting at something such as body composition, looking at VO2 max or aerobic capacity, anaerobic threshold. We’re going to do a movement assessment. I’m going to do some balance stuff looking for all of those things associated with risk of injury. That’s going to be the very first step of those guys that those guys get. I think we kind of take that one step further. Not only do we use that information for injury prevention and correcting certain and imbalances, but we really use that information to progress their performance. I mean, there’s so much information. It’s something like a VO2 max. I mean, it gives us a number of max, but being able to establish threshold and be able to establish recovery zones and things like that and utilize that information in their strength work and their conditioning work and their metabolic work is huge. So once they work with me in that aspect, basically what Jake and I will do is sit down with those reports or I’ll pretty much print or give those reports and say, here’s where our deficiencies lie. Now Jake, I mean he’s been in the game forever. I mean he started at extreme couture. He’s probably been a part of over 500 camps in his career at this point in time. It’s just amazing to think he’s been around for that long. So it’s such an honor and enlightening for me to sit down with him on a daily basis with that information and watch how he starts to structure programs and some of the things he’s going to do to correct those deficiencies and imbalances and things like that. And that’s where our dynamic starts in terms of the on floor strength and conditioning. We have so many roster guys, not only UFC but Bellator World Series and all of our up and comers that came that him and I really do try to split the load as much as possible.

Corey Beasley [00:07:23]: How many guys are you guys working with?

Corey Peacock [00:07:27]:We have up near 40 guys in our camp right now, so we have a ton of guys and that’s the thing. So him and I are splitting the load in terms of the strength and conditioning. So that’s kind of the capacity where we’re working at is I’m more of the here’s the evaluation, here’s what we need to do. And he’s more the programming, how do we accomplish that kind of thing. And then more or less, once we have that information, I think we kind of go a little bit deeper in our role in terms of monitoring the athletes. We use a lot of technology and I think that’s kind of more where I fit in the play, kind of keeping able to larger kind of a larger eye on the big picture of things, the volume, the trainings, how their body’s reacting to the different stresses that they’re going through throughout camp and that kind of thing. Jake and I really just find a good way to provide that information to the coaches and that kind of thing. And it’s been an awesome dynamic and like just a great learning experience for myself.

Corey Beasley [00:08:29]: Well that’s very cool. I mean, I know that at least with the MMA guys, I talked to a bunch of different coaches about this and it’s probably one of the most challenging tasks for a strength coach to navigate from a physiological standpoint, but then also with the relationships in coordinating with other coaching?

Corey Peacock [00:08:51]:Yeah, you’re exactly right. I mean it’s funny, I consider my specialty physiologists where my PhD is and if somebody wants to ask me the question to explain a MMA athlete from a physiological standpoint in terms of training, whatever the case, I can’t answer that question. My answer changes on a daily basis by some of the things that I see with these guys. And that’s where I think for me that’s why I’ve taken before this I was with football, it’s really cut and dry what the football athlete needed and it’s so diverse and I’m learning every single day and that’s why I think I love it. It’s that question you can’t answer that question. And same thing, the relationship with the coaches and that kind of thing. To be successful, to have something that has to be in place, there has to be a relationship with all coaches. And lucky enough for our camp, we’re all housed under one roof. We’re not sending our athletes out to other places. Everything is happening under one roof. And that’s been huge in being able to manage these workloads and these volumes and keeping these guys healthy.

Corey Beasley [00:09:59]: Yeah, for sure. Now you kind of alluded to before guys walk in the door you are going to walk them through that basic initial assessment, get an idea of who they are and where they’re at. And then what, what’s a typical week look like for these guys?

Corey Peacock [00:10:19]:So with our typical week we’d like to kind of, and again out of camp, I think we kind of have a very generalized scab schedule in camp, it’s going to be a lot different, especially for our UFC guys. Depending on game plan, it’s depending on who they’re finding, what they’re fighting. And to be really honest with you, our coaching staff is really open to some of the things that they need to improve physically. If I tell somebody needs to work on their gas tank, the coaches are really open to that and pushing the conditioning on the mat and that kind of thing. So it really depends. But I think just in general what we really like to do, we kind of have a two/one schedule set up where we’ll hit two sessions, one session and an evening off. If we’re going to hit let’s say for instance on Monday they come in and it’s a high intensity mixed martial arts day, that evening’s probably going to be some sort of restoration work. Some sort of mobility, some sort of agility session, something like that to kind of couple that and maybe a little bit of technique to kind of refine what they went over that Monday morning, Tuesday morning would probably go with something a higher volume, lower intensity, more of a technical day. And we had Tuesday evening off, same thing, Wednesday morning would most likely be a high intensity wrestling day. Again followed with some sort of strength and conditioning work, restoration work depending on what it might be Thursday morning could be BJJ, could be strength and conditioning, could be conditioning, something like that. A little bit more volume, little bit less intensity. And typically on Friday is going to be kind of our kickboxing, high intensity striking day and what we like to do with the guys. Saturdays, something that we all very much believe in realistically from the psychological standpoint and the fact that we have the luxury of having the beach half a mile away, we get them out of the gym, they spend so much time in that gym. It’s too much time really us as coaches, as soon as practice is over, we’re trying to shove them out the door and get them home recover. But you know how the fighter is, they want to hang around, they’re going to show this technique they are going to be, and if you’re not shoving them out there, they’ll stay there all day. So Saturdays we really like to do this kind of get him out of the gym, whether it’s our track, whether it’s conditioning, whether it’s the beach, we always have something, some sort of block period for them where it might be a good block of beach work where we work some resistance brands. It might be a good block where we’ll take them out to the track and we’ll get a lot of sprint work, 400 conditioning and stuff like that. And depending on where we’re at the camp and kind of more or less where our fights are falling and that kind of thing.

Corey Beasley [00:13:08]: So I think it’s something that I’ve heard from a few people recently, but I think so many of these guys with the amount of different skill work that they’re trying to incorporate as well as strength and conditioning, a lot of guys, man, they just end up just got to go here, I got to fix this, I got to work on this, I got to do this. And I can’t tell you how many guys I’ve talked with that are training two and three times a day every day. Not to mention they’re going different places to do that which is rough.

Corey Peacock [00:13:41]:You just can’t do that. And here’s kind of been the biggest eye opener for us. I’ve kind of talked about this. We use a lot of sports science, a lot of technology and monitoring our athletes. We’re using things to look at heart rate variability, we the Omegawave and things like that. And one of our main objectives and we’ve kind of Jake and I’ve really sat down and talked about what are our, what are our two priorities, what do we have to do as coaches to keep these, got to have the most efficient camp possible the first thing has to be we have to have a healthy fighter. We know that that’s our priority. No matter what. We’re going to have an injury free fighter going in. They’re injury free, they got a chance to win. But the second thing that we’ve come up with is keeping or maintaining a heightened nervous system. I mean, keeping enough CNS heightened for that short period. So that camp period has to be our second priority. And like you said, when you start mixing all these different disciplines, Judo, BJJ, wrestling, the complexity of the movements, fried the nervous system. So that’s the biggest thing where, we are using these resting sessions as a benefit to the athlete. We’re not trying to make them weren’t taken off because we have coaches one off, we’re giving you this to recover the body. And usually with that we have some sort of modality that we’re putting in place, whether it’s a soft tissue session, whether it’s a massage, whether it’s the ice tub, whether it’s something like that. We’re doing things with these athletes outside of this during their day off to help keep the nervous system heightened but recover the body.

Corey Beasley [00:15:22]: Well. And I’ve used Omegawave and I use it with a few of my athletes as well. And I actually interviewed Tricia Sterling who is the head of Omegawave of North America. And she has a lot of cool extremes from her competing and fighting and stuff like that as well. It’s very specific towards us. I mean a lot of the things that I don’t think a lot of people know is depending on how those athletes are responding and every athlete is different and you can throw 10 guys through more same wrestling workout or the same strength and conditioning workout and have half the people react different than the then the others, everyone responding differently. So the type of recovery modalities that you’re using change depending on where that athletes at.

Corey Peacock [00:16:12]:You’re exactly right. One of the things I said, some of the soft tissue work, and this was actually an idea that Tricia gave me as well, and it’s kind of worked is the density of the foam roller. If you want to put somebody on a foam rolling the density, the type, the grip, whatever the case might be going from a soft roller to a PVC pipe, some of those things do show our athletes are showing a different reaction, a different stimulus for the nervous system. Just little things like that and not from the biggest thing. These got all reacted differently and it’s like I said, it’s a learning process. It’s a great sport to do that because there is so much individual attention. But that’s what we’re really trying to do. We’re trying to figure out each individual athlete really understand how they’re doing. And just the more time Jake and I have had to work together in creating this system, the more in tune we’re starting to become with each of our athletes. And I mean it’s just been thus far we’ve been very successful with it.

Corey Beasley [00:17:12]: That’s awesome. So you guys are typically working with your athletes how many times a week? Two to three times a week?

Corey Peacock [00:17:18]:Yeah. In camp, we usually we’ll have two structured strength corrective restoration sessions and we’ll usually have one conditioning session outside of the gym within the week. And that’s kind of what we’re looking at in camp. I think anything more than that, and again, we’re at a point now where we’re doing more harm than good with these guys.

Corey Beasley [00:17:42]: Yeah. Now those guys come in for their sessions. What’s a typical hour look like?

Corey Peacock [00:17:48]:
Typical hour for us, strength and conditioning wise. First thing I’m going to do when we bring the guys in, we’re going to hit the foam rollers. We’re going to do some soft tissue. We’re going to do some mobility work. We’re going to hit kind of a movement prep session along with a little bit of dynamic movement mixed in without that. Within that movement prep. We’re going to do a little bit of frequency work just to stimulate the nervous system before we hit the session. Usually looking at about a 10 to 12 minute warm up before we throw them into their actual session, sessions kind of vary based on what the guys need. Similar to probably what most people are doing out there. We like to hit our power explosiveness first. Typically we’ll kind of work that with a focus list. So a lot of times we’ll, we’ll use a focus lift and we’ll kind of superset that with some sort of power explosive type movement with that. From there, we’re going to kind of superset and work the corrective stuff with our actual strength work. Realistically, in terms of the actual work amount, we’re probably looking at about another additional 25 to 30 minutes of actual strength work depending on where the athletes that we may end with a little bit of metabolic work. We may incorporate some of the metabolic work. We may just rely on simple things like our kettlebell swing or carries and that kind of thing. And to do the metabolic work and we kind of go from there. We keep them heart rate monitored. So instead of something that I think we’ve done a little bit differently is instead of using timed rest intervals, a lot of times we’ll use some of the heart rate response to the intervals and kind of let the variance in the athletes dictate the next set, dictate the next rep, the next metabolic work and whatever the case might be. And we’ll finish with some sort of cool down, typically a little bit of a stretch, whether it’s through movement and we will sent them on their way right on.

Corey Beasley [00:19:45]: Now you guys have a real unique situation out there at Blackzilians where you have every coach that those guys work with is pretty much under one roof?

Corey Peacock [00:19:59]:And it’s absolutely awesome that way. And we’ve all, I think the thing is it’s only made us all better when you look at the way that’s set up. We have our head strength coach Henri, he’s kind of our go to when we have a plan, when we have an idea and that kind of thing with the coordination schedule and those kinds of things. We have a great wrestling coach, Greg Jones out here. We have great grappling coach, Neil Melanson, and then we have another cast of guys that are sort of in and out, sort of help and have certain expertise. George Santiago, a former UFC, who UFC vet, a great BJJ guy and stuff like that. But everybody is together on a daily basis working together.

Corey Beasley [00:20:51]: Well that’s pretty rare. I mean I was talking with somebody, I think it was last week, but I mean, I don’t know that there’s another camp where everyone is actually under one roof?

Corey Peacock [00:21:03]:It’s really hard, every time we bring somebody in, when we bring a new athlete in, wherever he might come from, that’s the thing that he always says he’s traveling here, he travels there, he travels here and as much time spent traveling, thinking, driving, whatever the case might be, that’s the extra time that our athletes have to recover and do the things necessary to make sure that they’re ready for their next session.

Corey Beasley [00:21:36]: So from your experience, it’s been a couple of years you’ve had, I mean, I don’t know how ever many hundred guys probably that have been through those doors. You’re the first year guy that sees these people, these athletes that are coming through the door you’re the first line of defense, sort of speak. When you’re watching all these other guys come in from all over the world, what are some of the things that you see?

Corey Peacock [00:22:01]:I will say this, if there’s one general observation comment and thing that I guess I can see it. It’s so strange and it’s such a weird characteristic. But the first thing and probably the most important thing that I see is rotational ability. Whether that’s anti-rotation looking at them through an FMS screening or just looking at general rotation. It’s such a weird variable and it’s something that I never thought it would be such a huge dictator of performance. But out of anything that I’ve measure that has shown the strongest statistical correlation to fighters being at that UFC Bellator world series level compared to those fighters that aren’t, it’s such a strange thing, but I guess I get it. I mean, when you think about the sport and you think about striking, you think about moving in, that kind of thing, that rotational ability is just such an underlying fact. And for me, I would’ve never even thought about that until I started really running the data and that kind of thing and looking at this, but some other really common things that I think we typically see you usually see a lot of imbalance issues where a lot of people are very fraught dominant and things that you need to correct with the sport. These guys, they spend so much time moving forward, hands in front of their face and that kind of thing that it’s just typical that you see those kinds of movement patterns and those deficiencies in their actual movement. The one thing I will say that’s just so surprising to me when out of all those guys you bring in to the door and not surprising now that I’m around the sports as much, but mean these guys have to be the most talented group of athletes in the world to be able to do and take on everything that they can take on and perform at that level. Like, for me, it’s so incredible the amount of neural information that they can register and perform and output and it’s just so reactive and that kind of thing. It’s crazy to me.

Corey Beasley [00:24:16]: Yeah, it is. There’s a lot going on. So Corey from your experience in working with those guys for a couple of years, you’ve seen a lot of these guys come through the door for other coaches and athletes that are out there. What’s a little bit of advice that you could give people that are listening and that they can apply to their schedules or their training schedules, their workouts all that type of stuff that maybe helps give them a little bit more direction. Help them perform better, help them reduce injuries, all that type of stuff.

Corey Peacock [00:24:56]: One thing and this is going to be the most generic statement, but people hear it all the time. Less is sometimes more is sometimes less. Stick to what you are, your role is a strength and conditioning coach. And what I mean by that is I know how the fighters are and I know the way some of them think and it takes a while for them to buy it. For instance, when I first started working with these guys, I did right by what I know and I know how to do and program and with the strength and conditioning. And a lot of the guys were saying, okay, well why aren’t we putting the myths on why aren’t we putting the small gloves on? Why aren’t we using the Bosu ball? Why aren’t we pounding the bags out? And I think that just comes from all the history of, I don’t know if it’s catering to the athlete or just maybe at the time that’s what strength coaches thought was the best way to train MMA. And it’s just, you have to remember that you are the strength and conditioning coach and you’re not a fight coach and MMA coach that kind of thing. And that’s the biggest advice I can give to everybody. Let your strength and conditioning be your strength and conditioning and let your MMA be your MMA and you’re going to be so much more successful in your athletes’ performance. Give your other coaches the best athlete possible. And that’s when the results are going to come from. And I think that’s once the fighter started feeling the carry over, whether it be the strength in their hips, their ability to shoot a double leg, their stamina, those kinds of things, that’s where you start to see and gain the trust of these athletes and that kind of thing. So keep it simple, do what you do best and just be a strength and conditioning coach or performance coach and you’ll be a lot more successful.

Corey Beasley [00:26:57]: So for everybody is listening. Corey, what’s the best way for people to reach out if they’re wanting to learn more about what you’re doing and stay in touch?

Corey Peacock [00:27:04]:I always give everybody my email because the more people that reach out to me, the better I’m going to be able to learn from you guys, answer questions and that kind of thing. So anybody that has any ideas, I’m always learning through these exchanges. So it’s going to be C as in Corey and then [email protected] That would be the easiest way to reach me. If you wanted to use social media as well. You could follow me at Dr.Cpeacock would be my handle and that’s going to be Instagram and Twitter, you can watch what we’re doing here with the black zillions and by all means, contact me through there. Anything you need, I’m always here to learn, always here to give advice. And the biggest thing is just making the sport better, improving the sport any way we possibly can.

Corey Beasley [00:27:51]:That’s awesome man. Well, Corey, thank you so much for sharing. There’s a ton of information on there and I hope everybody appreciates you. What you doing out there in Blackzilians. I know you guys got a ton of stuff coming up and I wish you guys nothing but the best.

Corey Peacock [00:28:08]:That’s awesome. I appreciate it. Thanks so much.