by Matt Wiggins – MMAWeekly.com
There is a trend with many of the programs in the strength
and conditioning (S&C) world that I’m starting to see more and more, and
that’s of the program that “does it all.”
I think we’ve been around enough by now to know that there
is no “magic program.” (If you’ve been reading my articles, you darn sure ought
to know that!) There is no one program that will add three inches to your arms
in a month, 50 pounds to your bench press in six weeks, or take four inches off
your waist in 60 days. There just is no such thing.
Well, something I’m seeing more and more of these days is
not necessarily the “magic program” (per se), but the program that “does it
all.” This program is the one that will take your 1RMs (one repetition
maximums) through the roof, greatly increase your muscular conditioning, and
give you cardio that will let you work all day long. Well, guess what? If
you’re looking for a program that “does it all,” you’re out of luck. There are
none of those, either.
Let’s take a look at mixed martial arts as a sport for a
minute. MMA is a sort of “do it all” type of activity. You have to be able to
kick, punch, elbow, knee, perform takedowns, wrestle, submit and know defense
to all of the above. And this is just a skill set – this doesn’t take
physical capability (i.e. – S&C) into the equation.
Now let’s look at a lot of MMA fighters… especially the
successful ones. Given the above listed set of skills, how many guys out there
can you say are “great” at all of them? Very few, if any.
Why not? Because it’s just too freakin’ much. Many of
today’s top fighters started out with one type of training and got into MMA
after that. Mark Coleman, Tito Ortiz, and Randy Couture are examples of
wrestlers-turned-MMA fighters. The entire Gracie clan is an example of grapplers/submission
experts-turned-MMA fighters. Mo Smith, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and Chuck
Liddell are examples of strikers-turned-MMA fighters.
Now that there are more complete MMA gyms popping up all over
the country, on down the road, we might see fighters that grow to be great in
everything, simply because they’ve been training in everything for so long.
But, in my humble opinion, that day is a ways off.
Successful fighters now are (mainly) one of two types.
There are the ones who aren’t great at everything, but very
good. They can get into just about any situation and “hang.” They aren’t the
best striker, the best wrestler, or the best at submissions, but they are good
enough to hold their own.
Or you see fighters that are great at one thing and “good
enough” at everything else. They keep the fight in the area they’re great at,
and while they might not be able to win (necessarily) much with the other
elements, they are good enough to keep the fight from going to these other
elements so that they can keep it where they want.
Chuck Liddell is a perfect example of this. He’s a
phenomenal striker, but not necessarily an expert on the ground. But he has
this uncanny ability on the ground to not be kept there – he can find a
way to get to his feet, where he is usually the formidable force. Look at his
last couple of losses (Keith Jardine and Quinton Jackson). Even though he lost,
it wasn’t because he was taken to the mat and was “out of his element.” Those
fights were lost primarily on his feet (before anything ever went to the
Bottom line is that most fighters aren’t going to be great
at everything – they’re either going to be great at one or two things and
good enough at the rest or very good at everything.
S&C is the same way.
There are a lot of programs out there that are promising to
do everything – and that’s a load of BS. No one single program will
simultaneously increase your 1RM strength, 1RM power, strength-endurance,
power-endurance, cardiovascular conditioning, muscular conditioning, etc. It
just ain’t gonna happen. You can, however, do programs that focus on increasing
one or two of these things, while doing enough work on the rest to maintain
That is how you pick your programs. Determine what your
major weak points are – and that doesn’t necessarily mean what your worst
S&C qualities are – but what holds your fighting back the most.
I’ll be doing another article on this later, but depending
on your fighting style, certain elements of S&C, while beneficial, might
not give you the most bang for your buck. For example, increased
strength/power-endurance and muscular conditioning could have much more
profound effects on a grappler’s or wrestler’s game than increased 1RM strength
or power. Figure out what you need the most work on for your fighting style and
use a program that helps you bring up that weak point.
I’ve probably said this before, but that is the reason why
when I put together “Working Class Fitness – The Programs,” I designed six
different programs. Each caters to different S&C/athletic needs. It’s not
one quasi “all-encompassing” program that supposedly does everything. Do one
and bring up those weak points while maintaining everything else. Then pick
another to bring up other weak points, while maintaining everything else. Keep
rotating this through your different weak points until all your weak points
have been raised and you are at a higher level overall.
As for these programs (and there are some VERY popular ones
out there – I’m not naming any names, but look around – you’ll find
them) that promise to make you strong as a powerlifter, as powerful as an
Olympic lifter, as fast as a sprinter, etc., well… you know the old saying
about “if they say it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.”
Train Hard, Rest Hard, Play Hard.
Matt "Wiggy" Wiggins is a strength coach and
author living in Cameron, NC. Having trained 15+ years, Wiggy is a strength
moderator at mma.tv, columnist for MMA Weekly, and an avid fan of Mixed Martial Arts Training. His site, Working
Class Fitness.com, is dedicated to designing low-tech, high-result MMA
Workouts, Navy SEAL Workouts, and programs for
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