With the retirement of Georges St-Pierre, the UFC welterweight division is wide open. It is arguably deeper than it has ever been. However, GSP’s shoes are not going to be easy to fill. These warriors need to be extremely skilled mixed martial artists, but they also require the conditioning to match. Unlike heavyweights, who can end a fight with a single punch, welterweights are better known as grinders. The fighters in this weight class have to put themselves through the grist mill in order to prepare for an equally skilled and well-conditioned opponent.
With that in mind, how does a world class welterweight approach their conditioning? Strength is extremely important to all MMA fighters and combat athletes; explosiveness is equally important; however, having the gas to keep going takes a special level of conditioning. All of the metabolic energy systems are taxed during a fight (phosphagen, glycolytic, and oxidative) .
Once the heavy strength training has been laid down early in the fight camp and the fight is approaching, the endurance training must be raised. During this phase of conditioning it is important that the fighter, or any athlete, adheres to sport specific training. In others words, heavy dead lifts and bench pressing have no place here. This is about outlasting and outworking your opponent. Grinding it out, basically. At this point in a training cycle, I am very big fan of using resistance bands at this level. The reasons are simple:
- Adaptable to MMA fighting techniques
- Multi-joint movement patterns
- Building strength without bulk
- The volume of reps can easily be increased
- Multidirectional movement patterns
- Leaver arms can be increased
- Simple to adapt to metabolic work
- Easy learning curve
- Sport specific adaptable
Our favorite pieces of equipment to use are super bands, life line bands, and something new we just discovered called True Form. True form is one of those products you wish you had for your athletes years ago (credit marvin). It’s a free flowing worn apparatus that doesn’t inhibit your movement, while adding resistance to your upper and lower body. Now we can become even more sport specific with separate resistance bands for exercises, or wear something while doing real fight techniques. This to me is a huge leap forward for training. To wear something that can add a load to fighters muscles while he is doing pad work, BJJ or actual wrestling moves is phenomenal.
Here’ s a sample workout we have devised, each with 4 drills for 35 minutes on/15 minutes off. The fighter has to either do pad work, wrestling drills, or BJJ moves with the True Form on during the entire workout. Yes, it’s sick!
- Knee in the belly band punches: Place one knee on the ball, one on the floor, and start throwing those punches.
- Pitbulls: With a heavy band wrapped around your waist, get on all fours and then crawl forward.
- Rotational smack downs: With the bands high, pull the bands from opposite shoulder to the knee and alternate sides.
- Solo tug of war: With a heavy band tied of to a post, get down in a squat position and hand over hand pull the band towards you and then let it out.
- 1 minute combos on the pads. Just throw hands with True Form on.
- Crazy pulls: With the band at a low angle, get down in a push up position. Grab the band and pull it back towards your hip (chaotic angles).
- Elbows in the guard: Lie on the floor with your legs crossed. Grab the band with one hand and as you lift your legs towards you, drive your elbow between your legs.
- Band uppercuts: With the band tied off low, grab the handles and rotate from the right to left side, throwing uppercuts.
- Thai knees with heavy bands: Put the super band around your waist in a fight stance. Now start blasting knees forward.
- Takedowns: With True Form still, 1 minute of wrestling double leg take downs.
- Resist rotation pulls: Stand with a band in front of your chest. Walk out until you feel resistance in your obliques. Now pull the band with a small slow controlled motion away from you.
- Super pled drill: Have the band at a low angle. Reach down and grab the handle in a squat position. Now, launch the band upwards as you come to a standing position.
- Band pummeling: Stand in an athletic ready stance and sit into your hips. Now, alternate the arms moving back and forth as if you were working with an opponent.
- Shoulder throws: Grab the band handles, or super band, and pull them into you as if you were doing a shoulder throw.
- And saving the best for last: With the True Form still on, alternate 1 minute of pad work, 1 minute of wrestling drills, and one minute of BJJ drills .
It looks pretty sick, and you’re right, it is. But if you want to be the UFC welterweight champion, you need to be a grinder.