by Matt Wiggins – MMAWeekly.com

All the “Cool Kids” Do It

This article is going to be a little
different than some of the ones I’ve done lately. I don’t want to talk about a
training method I use, or something you can (necessarily) add into your

Rather, I want to talk about stuff
that most other people think sucks.

Let me preface…

Everywhere in life, there are
cliques. In high school, it’s the jocks and the nerds. In society, it’s the
rich socialites and the blue-collar “regular folk.” In professional (American)
football, it’s the Cowboys and the Redskins. In MMA, it’s BJJ and Catch
Wrestling. Well, the strength & conditioning (S&C) game is no

You see, the problem with cliques in
the S&C game is that while it might make you more popular with certain
crowds, it can also cut you off from a great deal of knowledge and/or
experience in things that really work.

And, on the other end of the
spectrum, it can almost lock you into certain styles of training that while
good, prevent you from doing other things that might work just because it’s not
“cool” or everybody badmouths that style, method, exercise, or whatever.

If you’re been an MMA fan for longer
than a few months, you see all the bandwagon jumping (on and off) that goes on
in this sport – especially on the internet. One day, everybody says that
BJ Penn is “the man” and the next day, he sucks because he didn’t put enough
effort into training for a fight. One day, Sean Sherk is a hardcore athlete
because of all the work and effort he puts into his training (steroid
allegations aside – I’m not here to discuss that), and the next day, he
sucks because all he does is conditioning – that he’d be a “good” fighter
if he could bring up his submission game. The same has happened with GSP, Hughes,
Shamrock, Gracie, Arlovski, Fedor, and a whole host of others.

Well, the S&C game has the same
sort of bandwagon jumping. To bring up BJ Penn again, for years, people touted
the effectiveness of CrossFit because BJ Penn supposedly used it. BJ was a winner
and CrossFit was a winning S&C program. Yet, nobody said anything bad about
CrossFit when BJ was coming into fights under-prepared, conditioning-wise.

And in this past fight against Jens
Pulver, where BJ looked the best he had in quite a while (again,
conditioning-wise), it was highly publicized that he had hired an S&C coach
for his fight prep. Nobody came out and said that CrossFit wasn’t getting the
job done anymore. Funny how CrossFit was such a good program and such a big
part of BJ’s preparation when he was winning, but nobody said anything bad
about it when he was losing. How is it one way, but not the other?

The same can be said for Frank Trigg
when he started using kettlebells (KBs). After Frank began to use KBs, he did
a short interview in which he mentioned KBs and said how he thought they really
helped in his S&C prep. That interview ended up circulating all over the
internet in a matter of days. KB enthusiasts the internet over used Trigg’s
comments to further validate everything they said and believed about KBs being
an effective piece of equipment.

Trigg had a couple of good wins
against Mayhem Miller via TKO in ICON and Kazuo Misaki in Pride 33. However, when
he got knocked out by Robbie Lawler just a few weeks later, everybody seemed to
forget about his KB training. So, you mean to say that KB training was largely
responsible for his wins, but had nothing to do with his losses?

I don’t have anything against CrossFit,
nor against KBs – that is NOT my intention. (So don’t send me or MMAWeekly
any hate mail, okay?) I think that CrossFit and KBs are both good
methods/tools of training. The problem I have is with the many “fan boys” that
try to use successes of a particular few to validate their method or style of

Now, I could try and make the same
case (as I’ve stated in previous articles) for bodybuilding-styled training.
Matt Hughes, Sean Sherk, the Militich Fighting Systems (MFS) camp, and more
have used bodybuilding-oriented training. And they’ve all become champions.

Does that mean bodybuilding is the
only way to go? No. Does it mean it’s the optimal way to go? Not
necessarily. Did it work for those who used it? Darn right.

There are other things out there –
the Bench Press, Curls, and LSD (Long Slow Distance – e.g. jogging for
miles) come to mind – that are popular to criticize.

Are these things “bad?” No. Are
they optimal? Not necessarily. But can they be used as part of an overall, well-designed
program? Sure they can.

Too many times people badmouth
things just because it’s popular – because their certain clique likes to
badmouth it. They don’t think of real reasons why they “badmouth” something –
they just know everybody else is doing it, so they will, too. And this is bad,
because people might be able to utilize these things in their own training at
some point and can’t because they let popularity and ego get in the way.

Now, can you build an effective
S&C program for MMA with bodybuilding, Bench Presses, Curls, and LSD? By
themselves, no way. But they can be part of overall programs. I utilize all
of them in one way or another in my “Working Class Fitness – The

But guess what? I also utilize
complexes, sprints, and such like CrossFit might use. I also utilize swings,
snatches, and other exercises advocated by the KB community (though I use a
dumbbell). And guess what? It all ends up working together.

I’m going to end the rant now. I
didn’t mean to step on anybody’s toes, but if I did, then maybe you should look
yourself in the mirror.

Are you a fan boy who advocates one
style or method and badmouths everything else, just because your fellow fan boys
do the same? If so, then maybe you should open your mind a little – you
just might find something else that you can work into your overall program, and
have even more success.

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
, Navy SEAL Workouts, and programs for
"regular joes."

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