So you say you want to be a fighter?


One of the questions I get asked a lot is…what do I need to do to get into fighting. Sometimes it’s people wanting to get into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Sometimes it’s Muay Thai. Sometimes it’s boxing. Most of the time though it is people wanting to take up Mixed Martial Arts.

So I thought that the first thing I’d write about is answering this question in some detail. I figured I’d outline it here first so that if people have any particular questions or comments they can make them here and I can deal with them as I am writing each individual blog post.

What I am going to do is this:

1. In my first post…I want to talk generally about fighting and what are the requirements of fighting in general.

2. In the second I want to talk about what you need to do at the outset to prepare yourself for fighting…this will cover material like your general flexibility, mobility and stability work…making sure that you are sound when you first step onto the mats, into the ring or in the cage to start training.

3. The next article I’ll talk about strength training for fight sports and the type of ‘strength’ work that is applicable to the various styles and types of fighting.

4. In the next I will do the same with conditioning work…being fit to fight…again the different fight sports take different types of fitness to excel. Not just that but different type of conditioning also change the way that you can fight those different styles.

5. The next will be a post regarding how to put all your ‘off mat’ work together into a program that optimises the time you have at your disposal to maximise your returns.

6. I want to wrap up all my thoughts on nutrition from a gaining muscle mass to losing body fat and finding your perfect weight class to fight in. I am also contemplating letting everyone in on my ‘secretz’ for weight cutting and making weight for fights. I may or may not do this…I need to think about it while I am working my way here.

7. Lastly, I’ll talk about what I think the different styles have to offer and the benefits of each of them. I figure this should keep me busy enough in my free time when I am not coaching, training or fighting myself. Sounds like a few months of work now that I look at it so stay tuned.

Once I have completed this little project I figure I might just interview some fighters in these different fighting styles that are competing at the top of the game and get some different opinions just to see what they do, what they’ve done, what they wished they’d done.

So if anyone has anything to add or questions to ask…then go for your life or you can just sit back and hopefully enjoy it as it unfolds.


Training for everything and anything

Going to go into this topic in some detail as it has become my main area of interest of late. Training as if preparing for the ‘zombie armageddon’ so to speak…and if you saw what I see daily then you’d realise that we’re not too far from that reality.

So what does being in shape for the apocalypse entail (yes, I know that I was just talking about the zombie armageddon and now I am talking about the apocalypse….but like I said…I am training now to be prepared for everything)?

Well first of all you have to be able to get around…so for me my training month involves…some running (sprints, distance and hills), some riding (my road bike and my mountain bike), some swimming (mainly just distance work), some paddling (rowing or kayaking…depending on my location).

Then there is the gym work….for me again I’ve a generalist approach to this now but I tend to focus on one thing a day…to focus on a ‘quality’ each day and I am going to discuss that in and amongst the generalist approach. Because for me now the main reason for hitting the gym…the main thing I am looking to get out of it is just keeping my body ‘fit to train’. So the gym is where I am doing my ‘prehab’, occasional rehab and most of my mobility and stability work.

The last component is my martial arts training…to this end I currently study/train Muay Thai (zombie’s like everyone else are susceptible to leg kicks), Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (having had a lot more ‘combat’ experience this past year I’ve come to realise that when fighting zombies you are very likely to end up on the ground should the fist last longer than 20 seconds…so best be prepared), Wrestling (greco and freestyle…just because I’ve never had much experience with it and because it’s there) and finally Mixed Martial Arts because I think the real ‘art’ of fighting is being able to blend styles and find appropriate solutions for the difficulties presented to you….and this is what good MMA is all about i.e being able to fight the fight on your own terms.

I’ve found over this past year that all these elements of training come together very well if the loading and frequency of training is correct and your rest and nutrition is adequate. As I’ve always said…coaching is a mixture of science and art…in that you need to have the scientific understanding of training to know what and how to do it BUT to do it well you need to have the artistic flair to be able to combine them.

So anyway…that’s the intro…I am going to break down each of the areas in more detail as well as trying to explain how to fit them all in….in the grand scheme of things.

On a more positive note…training is going well…even mine

I just basically wanted an excuse to post this video of Jonny military pressing while drunk…if you think he’s staggering a lot under this you should of seen him getting around the gym before and after.

His training is going along well besides his drunkeness. He’s testing in 3 weeks time and expect him to post some big numbers.

Just thinking now I will post vids of his squats and ‘straightbar deadlifts’ this week along with some benching from last week…not to flog a dead horse…but it does make me laugh…and I know it will make you laugh…and since it is all about tonight….and because I know that they love it when I talk about them…apparently…none of the lads I train would stand a chance in a powerlifting competition…including Jonny. There has been some great comments come out of…along the lines of…lifting in rugby is nothing but high squats and heavily spotted benches…I don’t see too much heavy spotting in this video do you?

There has been some other fantastic lines…like the one that stated that apparently Jonny’s trapbar deadlift was nothing of significance as there’s little or no carry over to ‘real’ deadlifting.

Now that trapbar deadlift is very old but I think in Jonny’s defence…it went up pretty easy and more importantantly…it was only 310kgs because that was all we could strap onto it at the time. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see how much carry over he gets in competition.

Bench Arch
I was asked about arching the other day on the bench. For me it is really simple…I want to get as tight as possible to limit to as great an extent as possible any movement through out the rest of my body. I want to decrease the distance travelled by the bar as much as possible so I can maximise the loading. I want to turn every flat bench press into a decline bench press…as you can see I do this quite effectively.

If you have particular questions about benching…then be specific. The way this blog works is that you ask questions and I give you ‘my’ answers…I don’t know what you don’t know.

My training progress
I am happy at the moment…the fat is still coming off and my weight is actually climbing a little. I am banging in a lot of volume at the moment…for example today I did Day 1 in the morning and Day 2 in the evening. I was asked about how I was progressing so quickly…the main reason is because I am training my arse off. Training 3 to 4 hours a day works…especially when you eat well to support it. I will do a proper update at the end of the month but if people have particular questions then ask away.

Continuing here rather than starting a new post
I want to clear a few things up…I don’t hate powerlifting. I enjoy it like I enjoy all sports….except golf…I hate golf. I know that a lot of powerlifters and those that are involved with powerlifting read this blog…I know this because a huge number of the few friends that I have are or have been involved in powerlifting.

Anyway…I would like to have a crack at competing at some stage…not because I think I will set the world alight but because I love competing and I am very goal orientated. I want to encourage the lads that I train to compete because I think it will be good for them on lots of levels…it will give them something different to focus on other than whatever sport they happen to be competing in and because it will require them to really hone their technique.

Anyway…Sully was talking about my bench. As I said in my last update on my training…the targets I had were as follows:

Bench – 150kg
Pull Ups -12 reps
Push Ups – 50 reps
Inverted Rows – 30 reps
Trap Bar Deadlift – 200kg

Well today I had a weird sort of session…I was planning on doing some light squats and some stretching then a heap of core and prehab work because today was supposed to be a down day and I was still sore from yesterday….that didn’t actually happen….instead it went like this:

Warm Ups
Hip Mobility Work
Squats – 5 sets of 5 @ 60kg…this is where it goes off script…I felt good so I thought I’d try 5 reps @ 80kg…keep in mind I basically haven’t squatted for 2 years and have only been back squatting this last 6 weeks…the heaviest I’ve gone is 100kgs…so 80kg felt good…then I did 90kg for 5 reps. I decided to put my belt on and did 100kg for 10 reps…still good…so did another 2 sets of 10 reps @ 100kg. Then 5 reps @ 120kg, 5 reps @ 130kg, 5 reps @ 140kg, 5 reps @ 150kg, 5 reps @ 160kg…at which time thankfully a fully paid member stepped in and said you should only do singles from here…so this is my single @ 180kg.

Basically I chickened out…I was actually searching for the bottom…but like I said this is the first time I have squatted over 100kg in over 2 years…so not too unhappy…I went back to 150kg and did another 5 reps just for the craic.

Then I decided that since I wasn’t going to be able to train tomorrow as I had tomorrows DOMS already…I might as well bench as well and see how that was going.

Bench Press – 10 reps @ 60kg, 10 reps @ 70kg, 10 reps @ 80kg, 5 reps @ 90kg, 5 reps @ 100kg, 3 reps @ 120kg, 1 rep @ 130kg, 1 rep @ 140kg, 1 rep @ 150kg….which was shit…

Then had another crack at it…

This was better but still crap…still a little arse lift….didn’t get as much air as the first attempt. The thing I am happy about is that when I last tested I missed @ 145kg and am confident I will hit 150kg ‘properly’ on the 1st of July.

Finished the session with 5 sets of 8 reps on pull ups. So a completely off the wall session but felt good and it was fun… definitely progressing.

Already recieved an email…

Calling bulshit on all those squats. That didn’t take long did it. All I can say is that the gym was pretty full and there were actually quite a few witnesses and have a good few of the sets on video so I will post some more.

These are not instructional videos by the way….and the form is not great…but in my defence I’ve been back training for less than 2 months and this is the first time I’ve squatted anything over body weight…I will keep posting though and we’ll see if the load and form improves.

If you want to see what the new gym looks like!
You have to go and check this out Barry’s blog…he has video of the gym up.

Day 36-42

Going to attempt to make this a good training week. Didn’t get off to a good start yesterday. I was basically stuck at the computer working from when I woke till 11pm last night and hardly had a chance to answer mail or annoy people on the interweb…and I always try to make time for that…no matter how busy I am.

This week is basically about maintenance…I want to maintain my weight at or around 110kg and keep the off mat portion of my training on track. I feel great at the moment and am looking forward to the Christmas and New Year period being over and everything getting back to normal in the New Year.

I’ll be doing some testing between Christmas and New Years as well so we’ll see where I’m at then.

Rest Day…too much work to do and not enough time to do it.

I weighed in tonight…109.6kg…and yes…I had a witness. Pretty happy that I’ve been able to maintain and manage my body weight so close to where I wanted it.

Bike – 25 mins
Ab Circuit:
Hanging Leg Raises – 3×10
JF Laterals – 3×10 each side

Standing Ab Pulldowns – 3×10
KB Side Rolls – 3×10 each side
Ab Roll Outs – 3×10
1A Horizontal Band Pull-A-Parts – 3×10
1B Vertical Band Pull-A-Parts – 3×10
2A Pull Up + Curl – 5×4’s
2B Elevated Push Ups + Knee Raises – 5×8’s

Bike – 20 mins

Went to the gym…warm up…started my session and just felt like crap so stopped. Did a bit but nothing worth mentioning really.


Note: It’s Christmas morning and I feel like absolute crap. I think I’ve managed to work myself into the ground…I blame my non existent job and the long hours I’ve not been working…I had a bit of a cough yesterday…but today I am properly sick…the cough, congestion and I have the ‘sickness sweats’ so no training today. Going to spend my Christmas day sleeping I think in the hope that the rest will have me sorted out.

I am having a prolonged near death experience…no sleep due to hacking cough…constantly alternating between chills and full body sweating…along with soreness in every joint in my body. Not the Christmas and New Year period I was looking forward to.

Still sick as a dog but managed to drag my carcass to work. Thankfully stumbled onto the right combination of over the counter medications after going through cough syrups like it was some sort of wine tasting…my personal recommendation is Benylin 4Flu Tablets stacked with Nurofen Plus tablets…a fantastic oral only cycle.

No longer feel like I am on my death bed. The medication I’m taking has worked a treat. Not coughing anywhere near as much and when I do cough I no longer feel like my head is going to explode.

I think it is going to be a few more days before I am back ready to train.

A quick update on the lack of updates

Apologies for not being in a position to post anything of late for you all to waste your time reading. Normal service will resume shortly I promise.

I’ve had too much work to do of late and not enough time to do it…and I know you all believe me when I say that because people should know full well by now that there is nothing I like better than wasting my time updating my blog and generally annoying people on the interweb.

In the news this week:
1. I weighed in last Tuesday at 109.8kg…not that it’s news but I forgot to put that in my diary at the time.
2. Haven’t trained as well as I would have liked this week but that was unavoidable.
3. Everyone else has trained pretty well…next week things should be quieter work wise so I am planning on doing a bit of an update of where people are at.
4. ROK is still not dead or injured.

I should of got her to hold a newspaper while she was doing these.
5. The weekend presentation/coaching extravaganza is coming together quite well and as I said I will name a date and set it in concrete before Xmas.

I have to get back to work so more news on everything and anything in the not too distant future.

Day 28-35

Had an easy week last week to allow a few niggles to clear up. This week is going to be a much heavier week training wise. I am going to do a lot more ‘off mat’ conditioning work this week.

I’ll weigh in tonight at training and report back and let you know how my weight is going…like I said…I want to stay at or around 110kg until the new year. Just to give my body a bit of a chance to adjust. I’ll drop from 110kg to 105kg in January and then stick at or around 105kg for 2 weeks. I then want to drop to 100kg in the 6 weeks to follow. So…my target is to be walking around at 100kg by the end of March. I think that would be pretty close to my ‘optimal’ fighting weight. We’ll see how close I get to that target on the 1st of April.

Training Log
Bike – 25 min…average HR 145bpm.
Bike – 25 min…average HR 132bpm.

No MMA training tonight…I had a crash on my BICYCLE…I am highlighting the word bicycle because whenever I tell people I crashed my bike they think that I must be like Bruce Willis’s character David Dunn in Unbreakable. Anyway…thankfully nothing is broken but my water bottle…I just lost a good bit of skin and a bit of a chunk out of my hip…it’ll be fine though. Won’t keep me from training tomorrow.

Bike – 24.30 min…average HR 150bpm.
Rower – Warm Up 4x500m with 1 min recovery.
Lower Body Mobility and Flexibility work.
Rower – 3x4min intervals with 1 min recovery…1159m, 1102m, 1108m.
Bike – 36 min…average 136bpm.
Bike – 24.45 min average HR 135bpm.
Bike – 34.15…average HR 140bpm.
MMA Training – 2.5hrs.
Bike – 21.30…average HR 135bpm.
Run – 4min42sec – average HR 160bpm.

Had a great days training today…the only issue was the fact that we focused on left leg kicks and training tonight so I was kicked in and on my right side all night which happened to be the side that I smashed up yesterday when I had my fall and slide on the tarmac off my bicycle…will have an easier day tomorrow and then a heavier day on Thursday.

Bike – 27 min…average HR 136bpm.
Bike – 17.30 min…average HR 123bpm.

Bike – 24 min…average HR 148bpm.
Bike – 23 min…average HR 116bpm.

Bike – 27 min…average HR 146bpm.
Warmed Up…did some hip mobility work.
Front Squats – 2 warm up sets of 8 reps with 50kg then 5 work sets of 5 reps at 90kg.
DB RDL’s – 3 sets of 12 reps with 80kg.
Hi-Lo Woodchoppers – 3 sets of 12 reps on each side with 100lbs.
Trying to remember what I did here…I’ll have to ask Damian as I forget.
Push Ups – 5 sets of my poor poor max with 2 mins between efforts.
Inverted Rows – 1 set of 15 reps and 4 sets of 10 reps.
Lo-Hi Woodchoppers – 3 sets of 12 reps on each side with 100lbs.
Bike – 20 min…average HR 132bpm.

Had an easy day today did a few rounds punching others and being punched.

Good session today…didn’t take the details down as I went…it was really just a maintenance session comprising of a good warm up, some mobility work, then an ab/trunk circuit of about 6 exercises, some lat pulldowns and push ups, high rep RDL’s, calf raises, cable bicep and tricep work then finished with some rowing intervals and stretching.

Really just keeping things ticking over with my own training while I’m busy with work at the moment. Things are quiet fight training wise over the Xmas/New Years break but I’m going to go to all the sessions that are on. Looking forward to getting back into a regular schedule in the New Year already.

MMA and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

There is a great deal of synergy between MMA and riding a motorcycle. What got me thinking about this was a friend expressing their concern for me with regard to my involvement in MMA. Let me just put something’s into perspective here…I spend most of my time traveling day in and day out riding this:

It weighs about the same as much as my max bench…as in…not very much…and puts out about 150hp at the back wheel through a patch of rubber not much bigger than a postage stamp. Compare this to your average car weighing nearly 2 tonnes and with even less power than my bike…and think about what it’s like trying to control that car when it is wet and greasy on the road…let alone icy.

Then consider that in Ireland I spend most of my time riding in the wet and at this time of year that wet often turns to ice and you have a certain amount of this going on:

I won’t go on about it suffice to say that after riding my bike in Dublin…which has the worst drivers in general of any city in which I have ever lived or ridden in my entire life…in all different weather conditions which on the majority of occasions are generally the worst imaginable especially in the winter months…NOTHING about MMA scares me in the slightest…nothing about anything for that matter scares me in the slightest…my days riding here in Dublin are just a series of near death experiences strung together by periods of screaming expletives inside my helmet.

The synergies are many though…like the fact that I get the crap kicked, punched and strangled out of me for hours then thankfully get to jump on my bike and ride home in freezing temperatures which is just like having a 30 minute ice bath after training…very handy.

I’ve also noticed my helmet provides a very good indicator of the head injuries sustained in training. My helmet is an expensive one and if you are not a motorcyclist you might not know this but the helmet eventually conforms to your head and face after you have been wearing it for a few weeks and you’ve got through the period of riding around feeling like you have your head in a vice. I noticed riding home last night that my jaw wasn’t sitting quite right in my helmet…which reminded me to thank Jonny for kneeing me right on the point of my jaw in during training last night.

In other news:
I am going to try to stay at 110kg for the next 2 weeks before losing another 5kg of fat in January. I actually noticed when I was having my skinfolds done the other day that the amount of fat I’ve dropped is noticeable with regard to the ‘looseness’ of my skin…to the extent that the person actually doing the skinfolds and the person observing both remarked upon it. I think I just need to give my epidermis a chance to adjust somewhat…I’ve dropped 7.2kg or 16lbs in a month. I don’t have any real rush to drop the weight so if I can do it without making a mess of my body I figure I should. So I am going to weigh in each Monday for the rest of this month at or around 110kg.