Archive for the ‘Strength & Conditioning’ Category

Meditation, deep breathing and avoiding quackery

by William Wayland ~ posted July 21st, 2014

Combat athletes are prone more than any other athlete to superstitions and weird ascetic practices. Weird diets, behaviours and other practices are all pretty common among high level and amateur competitors and practitioners. I can understand why this is appealing, I have met some BJJ athletes many of whom interpret zone of optimal functioning or heightened arousal states as a near religious experience. Now we all love a good post roll endorphin glow, but you probably haven’t touched the face of Buddha. For some reason Brazilian jiujitsu has a propensity to appeal to new agey types who bring alternative practice with them. Considering the modern martial arts movement is so fixated on outing quacks, its surprising that they still get a pass in topics suck as wellness, health and sports performance.

I can’t help but shake my head when I hear a legit fitness personality and BJJ Black belt such as Steve Maxwell speak on Joe Rogan’s podcast and espouse a known pseudo science such as Ayurveda (Ayurvic medicine – Good examination on quack watch here).  I have in the past had to explain that keeping blood pH neutral via Gracie diet is physically near impossible, seeing as the body is very good at maintaining its pH levels. Another one that I think has peaked was the brief obsession with Acai that everyone seemed to have, eating Acai because you do BJJ is like chowing down on kimchi because you do taekwondo. The studies on the benefits were not particularly convincing either. While eating fresh fruit, drinking veg smoothies and doing kettlebell swings is great we have to divorce the pseudo science fluff from the legitimately beneficial stuff. What works, what is placebo and what is down right waste of time?

So toss out your tongue scraper, maybe keep your blender, but listen up because there some practices that are particularly useful.

Deep Breathing & Meditation

Eastern mysticism, Gurus and new age consciousness expanders has done much to undermine two of  the perfectly legitimate practices of meditation and deep breathing.  Western scepticism means they wind up being shelved shrugged off as new age wishy-washy crap with everything else.

First up Deep Breathing. Rickson and Kron are defiantly on to something here and its great that some BJJ practitioners do examine deep breathing practices.

There is some evidence that it can help with CNS recovery by decreasing the amount of time it takes an athlete to return to a parasympathetic state. Most combat athletes I’ve met are very sympathetic dominant types (probably why they are great at fighting), who can trigger a strong fight or flight response, but have a hard time coming down after training. I’ve had clients especially those that train in the late evening report back that they have trouble sleeping.

This fight or flight ‘high’ puts us in a state of elevated cortisol levels which is useful short term, but repeat exposure can be destructive as it eats away at the body’s recovery capacity. By performing deep breathing we can get the body back into a parasympathetic state and get cortisol back under control

Other Research has shown that it can also improve posture, improving lumber lordosis which is great if you spend time stuck in lordotic or kyphotic posture. This is particularly useful post training after heavy loading of the posterior chain. We  often perform deep breathing drills as part of recovery or in warm-up to encourage proper breathing patterns for lifting.

Mike Guadango has talked about deep breathing drills over on freak strength website, applying the method to baseball players.

Try this post workout and see how your recovery improves:

50 Belly Breaths or 5-15minutes of belly breathing after your workout

  • Supine (laying on back) with feet elevated
  • Seated
  • Seated with back against the wall
  • Prone (face down)
  • 5 seconds in 5 seconds out or 4:6

Meditation is another practice bound up in eastern mysticism. A broad term but for us its a practice that promotes relaxation. We know that stress, devastates recovery , impairs immune response and influences your perception of things like energy levels and muscle soreness. So with a proven practice like meditation it is shocking we don’t do it more. With benefits as wide ranging as improved cognitive functioning, the need for less sleep and improved recovery times. Some people take it further and claim it improves emotional states and sense of self, this is some what subjective, however research does state it improves mental health measures. While similar it does differ to deep breathing drills.

How to do it. (abbreviated from nate greens 5-minute monk)

1. Find a place with no distractions, turn off phone, computer.

2. Find a comfortable sitting position with a tall spine, cross legged, chair key is comfort.

3. Eyes Can be open or closed.

4. Focus on breathing but don’t actively try to control it.

5. Distracting thoughts will appear but push them aside and go back to focusing on breathing.

6. Focus on this process of breathing and keeping your mind free of intrusive thoughts

7. Set a timer, theres one here you can use http://www.fungie.info/bell/#

Nate suggests trying it for 5 minutes a day for a full 30 days and then gauge how you feel.  While this just one way to approach it, I personally find walking, sauna’s and steam rooms meditative. While the last two can be stressful they do allow opportunity for quiet and introspection.

In a mile a minute society people are moving but not being productive especially when you look at the average population. People have a real problem being comfortable with silence and presentness, I see this in athletes who reach for phones during rest periods, chat endlessly and look for distraction. I even see it in coaches who find a quiet gym perplexing. Stillness is something that is almost reviled and thats a shame.

This is an ongoing series of blog posts from guest blogger and Strength & Conditioning coach William Wayland of Powering Through, who works with UFC, Cagewarriors and other high level combat athletes based in Chelmsford, UK.

How I train ‘Lifting for the non competitve grappler’

by William Wayland ~ posted June 2nd, 2014

Last week I posted a blog post on Scramblog, which outlined my thoughts on lifting for non competitive grapplers. It proved real popular. I’ve had a few questions about how I apply the method to my own training. I’m a non competitive grappler too, being a physical preparation coach is my job which means my training has to fit around clients, consultations and desk-work. Much like my clients I perform regular break downs on myself and assess where I was, where I am and where Im going. I’d like to think im pretty strong for a natural dude with horrid mechanics for everything but deadlift. Long arms are great for pulling, crap for filling out t-shirt sleeves. At 92-94kg I deadlift 255kg, bench 155kg, back squat 205kg, front squat 160kg and clean 130kg. I have had two LCL tears on both knees, a tendency towards patellar femoral pain if I don’t stretch my hip flexors and tibialis, in the past I have subluxated my right shoulder which can flair as AC joint problems if my pressing gets out of whack with my pulling. As a side goal at the moment im striving for 270kg/600lb deadlift.

My program

I run a triphasic training variation boiled down to its simplest parts. I have just finished an above 80% block, working through its eccentric, isometric and concentric parts. The focus on this program was front squat to give my knees and back a break from heavy back squatting in the first part of the year. Im now moving on to a 80-55% lifting block or what Cal Dietz would call high force high velocity block. I think the upper end of this is probably where most ordinary folks should lift. You can make a lot of progress lifting sub-maximally at high velocities. For the 80-55% block im moving back to back squat as my main training means.

The program has two main lifting days, a conditioning day and an EMOM (not included for simplicities sake) Deadlift day. I do still follow a Bondarchuk complex type of set up. Omitted from this phase are explosive exercises. Having just finished a six week block with french contrast, I now switch to doing box jump as part of my warm-up.

Workout

Warm-up – Prehab, mobilise, foam roll etc

A) Total Body Explosive Movement

B) Lower Body Movement (Squat/Hinge)

C1) Upper Body Press (push)

C2) Upper Body Pull (pull)

D) Weak Area (brace/everything else)

Clean grip OH squats are still part of warm-up so 2012.

Day 1 

Explosive box Jumps warm-up

Lowerbody Chain Back Squat (67.5-72%) taking as many sets as needed to warm-up, paired with hip flexor prone iso’s and Pull Grip trainer Rows

Push (67.5-72%)

Weak Area Back ext, OH lat raise, Tri’s-Bi’s and Chest Support Iso’s, which is a bottom position push up hold (which covers bracing and shoulder stability)

Day 2

Extended Warm-up tea cup stuff, calf raises, pull aparts (largely shoulder health focus.)

Explosive box Jumps warm-up

Lower Body Back Squat (75-80%)

Pull Push away pull-up

Push Bench Press (75-80%)

Weak Area Ball Leg Curl, RDL, Side plank

Day 3

Litinov Sprints. I’ll usually pick 2-3 variations of the ones listed of what I feel like doing.

Now I’ve recently started getting back into doing more BJJ, in the past I’ve taken brief periods off due to work or moving and suffered the subsequent guilt that comes with not doing it. But the fire in your belly never really dies. I love lifting so I want it to complement my other pass-times. For more on triphasic training for ordinary folks check out Steve Collins excellent blog post over on Lost in Fitness

Be sure to hit me up on twitter or facebook.

This is an ongoing series of blog posts from guest blogger and Strength & Conditioning coach William Wayland of Powering Through, who works with UFC, Cagewarriors and other high level combat athletes based in Chelmsford, UK. This is a cross post from http://www.powering-through.com/2014/06/how-i-train-lifting-for-non-competitve.html

Lifting for the non competitive Grappler

by William Wayland ~ posted May 28th, 2014

Lifting for the non competitive Grappler

When we look at the conditioning and strength programs of high level grapplers, its easy to make the assumption that the way they train is surely the way you should train. What works for them must be good for me right? This piece in esquire ‘Stop working out like an olympian‘ got me thinking  Its easy to forsake basics for more advanced routines. Let’s face it most of us not going to be pan-ams, ADCC or worlds champs. A silent majority of largely recreational grappling athletes needs something else. Something that will allow us to work and play for a long time. Athletes need intensity and complexity, most people are not athletes, but giving up the notion of ‘elite’ training for one of reasonableness is hard for many and causes much anxiety. I’m guilty of giving exposure to higher level training methods, mainly because I am passionate about sharing what I do. But some of these methods may well not be right for you.

Perspective

Grappling is a contact sport and a potentially injurious one at that. Especially when the intent of the end game is causing injury to someone else. Most people spend most of their day sat down and then go zero to sixty in a grappling class. Most ordinary people have tissue quality like beef jerky and the movement capacity of a drunken tortoise beyond sitting standing and walking. Applying sudden dramatic forces to an already dysfunctional body is asking for trouble, when I talk to most grapplers they will have ‘something’ that hurts.

In the past I have talked about posture issues I see in grapplers “Jiu jitsu and grappling athletes also usually have what’s called flexion-dominance in the lower back and pelvis.  Most training drills involve repetitive flexion at the waist causing the tightness of the hip flexors and weakness of the hip extensors. Think about how much time in a BJJ class you spend bent over or sitting, drilling hip flexion over and over.

Over time, the lower back muscles become tight while the hip flexors become shortened. This is further compounded by our habit of sitting, all the time in our day to day lives! Sitting shortens hip flexors and weakens the glutes, compounded with the flexion-dominance (active sitting, imagine sitting in guard) I mentioned earlier. Over time adaptive shortening due to sitting regularly leads to tight hip flexors.” This is an ever persistent issue that I have had clients report that they were literally unable to get out of bed in the morning after a training session, largely due to being painful through the thoracolumbar region and often lower. Another ever present issue is ‘micro trauma’, which is caused by the repeat activity, such a grabbing, pulling and twisting which applies subtle but repeated stress to tendons, joints and bones. In most situations it causes minor inflammation at a rate at which the body can overcome and adapt to. However repetitive micro trauma can develop into more serious injuries. Im sure you have all sat rubbing that bad elbow or knee while reading this.

Another consideration is age, as we age capacity for recovery drops, micro trauma accumulates, chances are you have had some sort of injury that has forced a lay off is high over your training career. As a young athlete in my early 20s I had the mentality of “why would anyone not give their training  all of their time?”  As a man in my early 30s and two torn LCL’s, sprained ankles and a subluxated shoulder later, I now appreciate what the old guys where telling me. Its important to ask yourself ‘if you knew how you would feel now, would you train how you did then?’ Key point is this; as we get older we should look to train more like bodybuilders, you know the guys in Do-rags and work boots you laugh at down the gym. We don’t care about rate of force development or high levels of strength. What we should care about is structural integrity and deceleration qualities. Hypertrophy is pretty useful for that particularly in the key areas of back, glutes and shoulders. What we need to do is build some Armour.

What strength and conditioning can do for you?

I’ve always maintained in the past that as bare minimum, you should engage in some sort of strength work that has largely injury prevention intent. To quote Dan John;

• ”Most adults need to strengthen the phasics and stretch the tonics.
• Next, deal with a lifetime of asymmetry issues.
• Finally, deal with too much sitting and not moving.”

I believe moving is one of the best correctives there is. Many people often when dealing with injury, stiffness, tightness or soreness, look at static solutions to a dynamic problems. So off they trot to a chiro, osteopath or doctor. Who will try to snap crack or medicate a problem, fixed at least temporarily. Too bad that you are still sitting like an orang-utan in the front of Ferrari while you work. You probably need to move and im not suggesting taking up yoga either. It’s a simple as this you need to do the following;

• Push
• Pull
• Hinge
• Squat
• Loaded Carry/bracing

And everything else

Its pretty simple right? Problem is most folks in the grappling community seem to gravitate towards deadlift (hinge) and Bench and Pull-ups (Push/Pull). Most start chasing the deadlift without an effective brace pattern and often they over extended or flexed and weak through the lower back. I have a collation of stories of grapplers who have gone to snap city due to rounded back deadlifting with good intentions, but as we know the road to hell is paved with those. For some reason they gravitate away from squatting, probably because most gyms lack squat racks (join a better gym) and because the technical and mobility requirements are higher than the deadlift, which at its simplest is just picking something up off the floor. Don’t get me wrong I love the deadlift I just think that there are simpler hinge variations that are better for the non competitive.

This goes for both the competitive and non competitive grappler, we need to engage in some serious armour building to make it through the sport in one peice. This requires looking at how we can develop a solid brace pattern and a solid squat pattern. Bracing is crucial as it protects the lower back, so we need to gravitate towards exercises that improve our “Human Inner tube”

Building a program

Often attempting to apply Biff Harringtons, ‘Megabolic bench and deadlift’ method that requires 4 days a week of balls out weight training while attempting to get in 2-3 BJJ sessions a week on top usually will not end well. Most popular programs are geared towards largely powerlifting or olympic weight lifting with bodyweight only and Kb enthusiasts at the fringes. Often these programs speak to the authors biases, we need to appeal to simplicity in these instances.

I’ve mentioned before how I am fond of the Bondarchuk complex. The Complex offers straight forwards planning for 2 or 3 day strength and conditioning sessions, excellent for beginners and athletes looking to maintain and build general physical preparation. Works well in 3-4 weeks training blocks before rotating exercises. If we run this complex 2 or 3 days they will be different from each other, Monday might be deadlifts and Wednesday will be Squats for example. For the non- competitive it would be fine to repeat the workout more than once a week. I’m not going to discuss percentages or sets and reps in any great detail as that would need greater scope. Muscles can’t count but you can, when choosing loading those who have been lifting for a while can feel out what feels like a good working weight. As a rule I suggest using enough to get the prescribed reps + 1/2 in the tank. When the load starts to feel easy and your velocities improve you can look to increase weight used.

Workout
Warm-up – Prehab, mobilise, foam roll etc
A) Total Body Explosive Movement
B) Lower Body Movement (Squat/Hinge)
C1) Upper Body Press (push)
C2) Upper Body Pull (pull)
D) Weak Area (brace/everything else)

Program slots in with the idea of “big to small” in our training, biggest most neurologically demanding exercises are put first in our program. I’m in favour of a very limited movement palette, our time needs to be well used and effective rotating exercises very regularly can damage proficiency.  As for rep for the main lower body movements sets of 5-8 work well and for everything else we can look at my hypertrophy oriented rep ranges of 8-12.

Exercise Selection for the non lifter

We have our basic workout structure from Bondarchuk, now we need to choose some exercises. Below is an non-exhaustive list of movements I would recommend for the non competitive grappler.

To start we can probably leave much of the explosive movement out of our training, poor movement, injured joints and the like don’t appreciate high velocities. If you want some gentle, skips, bounding or skipping be included.

Many grappler’s are not fond of conventional barbell work and or do not have access to a fully equipped gym. Exercises of choice include the Goblet squat, which a great exercise for learning the squat pattern, holding a load anteriorly encourages people to brace but also sit their weight onto their heels.

Goat Belly Swing is another Dan John idea who describes it as “an excellent way to slow down the hinge and teach the keys to the more dynamic work: pressurized breathing, the correct feeling of the swing hip, and the abdominal tightness that insures stability.”

For the time restricted I have put these two together in a combo known as the rump wrecker.

Upper Body – Push/Pull up with a twist. For non lifters on these exercises what I like to do is emphasise the eccentric and isometric components of these movements on 2 week cycles. For 2 weeks do eccentric reps 4 secs down, 2 weeks do pauses for 4 seconds at the bottom and last two weeks do higher reps to near failure. What this encourages is more stability in the chest and back, which helps with force absorption. For the chronically tight or those with shoulder issues I like to use a 2:1 pull-to-pushing ratio with those who have significant upper body muscular imbalances, often dropping pushing completely for some folks.

Weak Area –  I often use this to really hammer the hinge pattern, bracing or extra upper back work. Timed Planks, side and reverse planks and or farmers walk to really help develop that bracing pattern. Farmers walks are terrific for helping develop shoulder packing and grip strength.

Layout – for the non competitive grappler who doesn’t do barbells.

This whole workout could be with just a med-ball or single KB. I have a high level female competitor who armed with only a pair of kettles bells does this routine twice a week.

Warm-up – Prehab, mobilise, foam roll, etc
A) Skipping      3 x 1:00
B) Goblet Squats or KB front squats 3 x 10-12
C1) Press up or Ring Push up 3 x 6 4 sec eccentrics
C2) Pull up or Ring row  3 x 8-12 4 sec eccentrics          
D) Goat belly Swing 3 x 15 paired with :30s side planks

Exercise Selection for the conventional lifter

For those of you that are comfortable with the barbell lifts there is a range of options open to you. What we are looking for is exercises with a systemic effect with little injury risk

Front Squat or Zercher Squat, for athletes and non competitive athletes front squat is top-dog, core bracing, lower spinal load and all the systemic benefits of the squat. Only reason I prefer regular back squat for athletes over front is due to higher intensities that can be achieved with back squat.

Floor Press/Bench Press or Overhead Press and Dips are all viable options. However press exercise selection is always going to problematic. Many grappler’s I meet are very internally rotated or impinged at the shoulder and often find issue with one or more of the above. Key is finding a pressing variation that is pain free. If you are pain free however have at it.

Pull-ups/Chest Supported Rows and Single Arm dumbbell work. With these  I like to emphasise eccentric and isometric muscular actions. I’m especially fond of the chest supported row as it is very targeted and eliminates a lot of cheating.

Snatch Grip Rack Pull, Snatch Grip Deadlift or Romainian deadlift. Snatch grip rack pull is one of the exercises I use to teach the deadlift. It encourages people hinge properly from the hips, load their glutes, maintain tension in the upper back and lats due to the wide grip and keep a “neutral” spine throughout the entire range of movements. We usually progress onto the Romanian deadlift or snatch grip deadlift. This is one of my favourite bullet proofing/bad habit undoer exercises.


Deadbugs, Planks, Side Planks – I use the Deadbug quite a lot in individuals that are over extended, many have read trouble maintain good pelvic control largely due to over active hip flexors. Its also great for getting everyone in a commerical gym to think you are utterly insane. Many people diss on the plank despite probably never really giving them a concerted effort, there is a reason Dr Stuart McGill recommends plank variations. You should be able to make at least 3:00 minutes, don’t complain, the record is 3 hours, 7 minutes and 15 seconds.

Extra’s – My suggested extras would be band pull-apart variations, no monies and shoulder dislocations. Arm work would also be something you could finish with.

Conditioning As a recreational player you can probably get away with deriving fitness from actually performing your grappling sessions. If you find your conditioning isn’t up to snuff you can then look to add in conditioning as a finisher after training sessions

Layout – for the non competitive grappler who does do barbells.

Day 1

Warm-up – Prehab, mobilise, foam roll etc
A) Skipping     3 x 1:00
B) Front Squats 3 x 6-10 (+warm-up sets)
C1) Bench Press 3 x 8
C2) Chest Supported Row  4 x 10-15
D) Snatch Grip Rack Pulls 4 x 8-10 paired with Planks 1:00 x 3

Extras) Thick Curls

Day 2

A) Bounds 3 x 5
B) Snatch Grip Deadlift 3 x 6-10 (+warm-up sets)
C1) Over Head Press 3 x 8
C2) Pull-ups  4 x 10-15
D) Zercher Squats 3 x 8-12 paired with deadbugs

Extras) Side Planks

There is no reason why you can’t meld elements from the barbell free workout with barbell work either.

Pretty straight forwards I hope and that is precisely the point. Some of the best workouts I’ve had have included nothing more than performing the hinge/squat combo, a few sets of pull-ups and dips. The other aspect I will touch on is developing a consistent recovery routine. Progression for the non-competitive athlete is simple. As soon as it starts getting easy, start to adjust loading, sets reps and or adjusting tempo which is a very powerful way of adjusting parameters. Just remember it doesn’t have to be complicated.

This is an ongoing series of articles from guest blogger and Strength & Conditioning coach William Wayland of Powering Through, who works with UFC, Cagewarriors and other high level combat athletes based in Chelmsford, UK.

 

 

More Exercise Variations for Grapplers and MMA fighters : Peaking Focus

by William Wayland ~ posted April 23rd, 2014

Scramblers do you need a little variety in your workout? Got a big competition coming soon? Sick of front squatting every session? (if you are not already you probably should be) When it comes to getting MMA fighters and Grapplers ready for action we employ a few common variations to try and get a little more out of them while keeping technical burden low especially when peaking requires so much from fighters. The key thing about peaking is aiming for higher velocities rather than high force. Give these variations a go. We perform most of this work for 3-4 sets of 6 reps at around 20-55% loading.

Sled/Prowler High Pull, we use this high pull variation for peaking for rapid hip action, no eccentric means its less stressful than snatch grip high pull work we use during out heavier lifting phases. We always try aim for fight-weight or more on this exercise.

Staggered Stance Zercher Good Morning, these kick your ass literally, require a huge degree of bracing which is rough on the core, plus it really targets the hamstring glute complex on the extended leg.

Depth drop clusters, currently a favourtie for peaking just as little as 20% of your 1 rep max is needed for high power outputs.

 Kneeling Jump Clusters, the very springy Craig Powell doesn’t have more than one box at his regular gym so he performs kneeling jumps to box jumps, the kneeling start encourages quickness and the replicates a depth drop effect. More on that here.

Light French Contrast, (original method discussed here)this is a peaking variation we use in the springiest of our athletes. Once you have exhausted the options box jumps, depth drops and other methods offer you, you can look to employ this. Conventional french contrast asks for 80% loading, but for peaking we want very high velocities so we can look at much lighter loads.


This is an ongoing series of articles from guest blogger and Strength & Conditioning coach William Wayland of Powering Through, who works with UFC, Cagewarriors and other high level combat athletes based in Chelmsford, UK.

Powerful Potentiation Clusters

by William Wayland ~ posted March 11th, 2014

Scramblers, We all want to be more powerful and there are many methods to acquire improved rate of force development, I have mentioned in the past approaches like french contrast  this method how ever is hard! And to be honest is a method best used with stronger and upper intermediate athletes. Drop off in movement due to fatigue becomes increasingly problematic as sets and reps progress. Borrowing from Cal Dietz and Dennis Adsit I started to apply High Velocity Potentiation Clusters to my athletes for peaking and power improvement purposes.

“High Velocity Potentiation Clusters.  These High Velocity Potentiation Clusters typically involve a single, high velocity rep of an exercise in the below 80% 1RM range, followed immediately by an unweighted, max effort plyometric that mimics the same movement.  After resting for 15-20 seconds the pair of exercises is repeated for between six and eight reps.”

The theory is that loading a movement prior to an explosive activity has an excitory effect on the nervous system and increases motor unit recruitment in a phenomenon know as PAP (post activation potentiation). Clusters allow for some ATP-CP recovery which allows athletes to perform more reps with great speed and quality at sub maximal loads.

Potentiation clusters are best used with compound movements such as power clean, snatch, high pull, front/back squat, hex bar deadlift. Below are a few examples of potentiation clusters in action.

Power based potentiation Back Squat Clusters

Peaking based potentiation Back Squat Clusters

Snatch High Pull Sled high Pull (with scramble grip trainers) Cluster

I generally use clusters after heavy lifting cycles, it allows athletes to tap into all that latent power and apply all that hard earned strength in an athletic fashion. I generally load my athletes between 60-75% of their max on back squat for power work and between 35-60% for peaking. What you use depends on the athletes level of development and what their strength base it like.

This is an ongoing series of articles from guest blogger and Strength & Conditioning coach William Wayland of Powering Through, who works with UFC, Cagewarriors and other high level combat athletes based in Chelmsford, UK.

Mike Dolce London Seminar

by William Wayland ~ posted February 10th, 2014

On Sunday the 9th of February I attended the first Mike Dolce “Dolce Diet Seminar” at Westminster University. Mike Dolce’s name is ubiquitous with weight cutting and the ‘Dolce Diet’ which he has created and proliferated throughout the MMA universe. He boasts a dizzying collection of the worlds best fighters, Chael Sonnen, Daniel Cormier, Vitor Belfort, Rhonda Rousey, Michael Bisping and one of the athletes I work with Luke Barnatt.

After being introduced by Luke the man himself discussed his beginnings and his switch from a job from which he could see himself being miserable in the long term, risking everything to work a stint at team quest pulling odd jobs such as cleaning the gym in addition to organising their S&C and nutrition. This was back in the days when even top MMA talent struggled for money let alone their coaching staff. His point was if you want anything, you must work for it and its this work ethic and accountability that underpins the Dolce Diet and his approach.

Dolce went over the key points of his diet in his seminar.

1. Water Intake is crucial. 1 Gallon a day at least for us UK folk that’s roughly 4.5 litres.
2. Consume earth grown nutritients. This includes plenty of carbs also, he was disparaging of the ‘Paleo Diet’ claiming that it was not “sustainable” in the long term. A key idea that permeates the diet.
3. Eat every 2-4 hours with fluctuations in calorific needs.
4. Eat until Satisfied not until full
5. Accountability and Personal responsibility are crucial, be honest with yourself, you know when you are messing up!
6. Sleep at least 6-9 hours, this has some individual variance find what works for you.
7.Stress Management is crucial, take time to yourself, learn to breathe effectively. This ties into the holistic of idea of organising yourself to keep stressors minimised.

He then went on to discuss goal setting. You must learn to overcome short termism set yourself specific goals and apply what Dolce calls action steps. How, When and What. How will you achieve it, when will you achieve, what are you going to do to get there. Dolce suggested setting goals every morning and acting on them rapidly. He described that achieving goals is like climbing rungs on a ladder, once you get to the top, look towards climbing your next figurative ladder.

There was a Q&A at the end that covered some interesting points.

Calorie counting is out, on the Dolce Diet alot of emphasis is placed on apperance (if that’s what matters) and how the diet makes you feel. He argues that calorific expenditure varies from day to day so establishing what you need should be a more holistic process rather than playing a numbers game.

Dolce Suggests to make the most of carbohydrates in the morning and post workout.

Dolce was fairly disparaging of Paleo and Crossfit, claiming that they are not sustainable long term training or dietary methods.

Supplements should be just that, when everything else is dialled in then consider supplementation do not supplement poor dietary habits.

Supplement companies are inherently after money rather than having your well being at heart.

Dolce Suggests using 3 weeks as a marker for success in training, as a means to change stimulus and a means to measure if what you doing is working or not.

Closing thoughts.

Mike Dolce is a really engaging speaker with plenty of insight into MMA at the highest level, his story about sitting in the bathroom while Vitor Belfort was baptised in the bath tub and his sudden awareness of going from where he was to where his now was touching. Mike’s approach is one of common sense and self awareness. Too many people push through their personal and dietary habits on auto pilot. Mikes passion for trying to snap people out their apathy and poor self efficacy is evident. The crucial point being he is in the business of helping people do better. I found my self nodding in agreement.

That is not to say we agree on everything, Mike isn’t fond of squatting for fighters where as I am, arguing that its rough on shoulder girdle and prefers bodyweight and dumbbell based squatting. He prefers deadlifts as a main movement where as I don’t for advanced athletes. But thats part of being an expert, we cannot always agree on everything.

Mike was in the UK to launch UFCfit, so this seminar was largely an opportunistic one being in the right place at the right time, he does plan to do more in the future in the UK so I would suggest keeping your attention to https://twitter.com/TheDolceDiet and https://twitter.com/LukeBarnatt for future information.

This is an ongoing series of articles from guest blogger and Strength & Conditioning coach William Wayland of Powering Through, who offers online training planning for tournament peaking for MMA, Nogi and BJJ

Triphasic Training For MMA

by William Wayland ~ posted February 4th, 2014

Happy February Scramblers I thought I would give you an insight into the method I use with the pro athletes I work with. The principles of this method helped me take a number of training methods and apply them subsequently and coherently. And the results my athletes have had are pretty impressive. This is not a program for beginners I’ll be honest. Joe Bonyai does a better job of explaining how you might apply it to untrained athletes. Any questions head over to my facebook or twitter. Keep on Scramblin! – William

This is an ongoing series of articles from guest blogger and Strength & Conditioning coach William Wayland of Powering Through, who offers online training planning for tournament peaking for MMA, Nogi and BJJ

Define your year

by William Wayland ~ posted January 15th, 2014

Almost every day I see the year ahead, not for myself but for the athletes I work with, I’m forever pulling up their year planners to see where on schedule we are. When you realise that there are only 52 weeks in a year myself, calender makers and other time lords tut and stroke our chins. Mainly because we see that 52 weeks is hardly any time at all. How does anyone get anything done! Looking at it from an athletic preparation perspective it is a markedly short time. The peak athletic age for most sports is between 25-35 that’s 520 weeks within which to get the most out of your self. That’s 12480 hours or roughly double the amount of time Matthew Benyon has spent playing Day Z.

Too often its a case of ‘Jumping Helio’s only 4 weeks until the Llanfairpwllgwyngyll BJJ open guess I better do some strength and conditioning’ – Joey Blue belt. So Joey does a few circuits a couple of deadlifts and prays on the day he doesn’t gas or get drawn against the hulk. MMA fighters on the other hand on the amateur level have a habit throwing 6-8 weeks  out as a common preparation metric, with these types I still use the fast and frugal peaking tree. The key is this formulate a plan that either has the specific dates or the dates you expect/looking for competition on. Most BJJ events have fixed dates planned well in advance, the UFC and Cage warriors for instance have a 3-6 month lag time that allow for preparation. When BJJ or MMA fighters come to me with specific dates for a year or me that makes the job of planning much easier. I always try and have a rough year planner (Macro) so I know what the athletes are doing that week. I’ll plan their blocks a few weeks or a month or more in advance, so that the individual workouts (micro) can be adapted to changing circumstances. Sometimes even on the fly on the day if someone took too many leg kicks the night before.

BJJ purple belt and gratuitious surfing selfie photographer Cristiano Del Giacco had a busy year last year including 3 weeks at ATOS lucky devil.

Designing a strength and conditioning program can be a complex process, but there are plenty of resources (possibly too many) telling you just how to do that. An awful lot needs to be considered, energy systems, muscles, injury risk, athlete individuality, peaking, specificity and ton of cool acronyms they teach on sports science courses. But this is all for nought if you do not know when you will be competing and how much preparation to take, have a structure simply makes things easier in terms of managing the amount of stress you apply to yourself. Many often worry about planning but do not actually plan anything. This may seem like a simple appeal but you would be surprised the amount of people that enter into many an enterprise with no prior planning. Sit down (possibly with your coach) google ‘year planner’ pick out those competition dates and get to work.

This is an ongoing series of articles from guest blogger and Strength & Conditioning coach William Wayland of Powering Through, who offers online training planning for tournament peaking for MMA, Nogi and BJJ

Coffee and Chokes

by William Wayland ~ posted December 6th, 2013

Ah Coffee, apparently 75% of Americans drink the stuff, we Brits are still very much addicted to tea, but coffee culture has taken hold here is not going to let go anytime soon! Both tea and coffee share a commonality: the substance caffeine. A white crystalline xanthine alkaloid that is a psychoactive stimulant, caffeine, found in varying quantities in the beans, leaves, and fruit of some plants. And humans for the longest time have been using it as convenient ‘boost’ for millennia. It’s been studied extensively,  alertness, cognitive and cancer fighting properties are all benefits.

To celebrate the release of Scramble’s Coffee and Chokes rashguard we have put together a caffeine themed post for you guys!

The International Olympic Committee for sometime listed caffeine as a restricted drug. However it the banned amount you would need to drink 8-10 regular cups of coffee. In 2004 WADA took it off the banned list, it is simply unfeasible to consume so much caffeine and not have crippling side effects. A study performed testing 3,6,9 mg/kg of bodyweight showed that doses about 6mg/kg of bodyweight are just not worth the side effects! So for you coffee consumers anything over 300mg would be a waste. So how much is in your cup?

Whats in my cup?

Cup of coffee ranges from 80-220mg depending on size

Large americano from a typical coffee chain 360mg

Cup of Tea 40-60mg

Cola 34mg

Red Bovine flight enabling drink 80mg

Caffine tablet proplus etc 100mg

Once in the brain, the principal mode of action is as a non-selective antagonist of adenosine receptors. Caffeine activates noradrenaline neurons and serotonin neurons. Caffeine also is a diuretic, this means it makes a person make more urine (the waste liquid a person makes). Caffeine is absorbed by the stomach and small intestine within 30-45 minutes. In healthy adults, caffeine’s half-life is approximately 4.9 hours. Consuming 1000-1500mg a day (I’m looking at you Scramble head honchos) constitutes caffeinism. Effectively caffeine addiction, those of you who are serious mud jockey’s will know all too well the monkey on your back when you miss your morning cup! Which brings me on to side effects.

The Sides
As with any ergogenic aid often, excess or dependence is always amounts to a bad experience. I’ve worked with athletes in the past who on top of their training, consume 6-8 cups of coffee a day resulting on adrenal glands that I’m sure probably resembled raisins. Many of you have probably experienced jitters, sleeplessness. But more serious side effects involved GI problems, dizziness, high blood pressure, nausea, cramping. And in total excess, zig zagging lights and ringing in the ears. Extreme overdose can result in death dose needed would be 14000mg. Or around 39 large americano’s.

What can it do for me?

Things to know for the athlete

Consumption of caffeine does not eliminate the need for sleep; it only temporarily reduces the sensation of being tired

Studies have shown improvement in endurance sports ranging from 7-50% with doses as high as 630mg

Has been shown to increase glycogen storage post exercise up to 60%

Has been shown to improve memory tasks

The ingestion of caffeine will increase the level of circulating fatty acids in the bloodstream, which permits these fat stores to be oxidized, or burned, as fuel

Ingestion of 400mg of caffeine can prevent delayed onset of muscle soreness in resistance trained men

Pallarés JG, Fernández-Elías VE, Ortega JF, Muñoz G, Muñoz-Guerra J, Mora-Rodríguez R. (2013) Neuromuscular Responses to Incremental Caffeine Doses: Performance and Side Effects. Med Sci Sports Exerc.
Hurley CF, Hatfield DL, Riebe DA. (2013) The effect of caffeine ingestion on delayed onset muscle soreness. J Strength Cond Res.

Practical usage

Caffeine usage can be benefical to an athlete or anyone looking for a boost when they feel like they are flagging. My personal recommendations are, do not consume any after 3pm, do not use caffeine to make up for poor nutritional habits. Anything greater than 300mgs is a waste of time. It can be useful all a weight cutting aid two fold, 1 because it is an diuretic and 2 because of the energy boost and fat burning qualities. However be aware of the negative effects on blood pressure and hydration. If used sparingly you can get more out of caffeine supplementation.

One way I recommend using it for tired athletes is drinking it prior to a 20 minute nap, set an alarm and then get up, the nap should make you feel restful by which point the caffeine should start kicking in. Selective usage for those of you that have to resistance train very early in the morning maybe useful, as it has been shown to make morning strength levels comparable to afternoon levels (mainly due to hormonal and structural changes that take place during the day. So go on and get your coffee and choke (lift) on.

Pro Fighter Sean Carter knows the value of a power nap!
This is an ongoing series of articles from guest blogger and Strength & Conditioning coach William Wayland of Powering Through.

Luke Barnatt wins in the UFC, a few tips for being long and strong

by William Wayland ~ posted October 29th, 2013

Luke enquires where he can get such a cool hat, t-shirt and beard from

Firstly huge congrats to Luke Barnatt who picked up an impressive win over tough texan Andrew Craig. After flooring Craig twice, Luke managed to pull out a tight rear naked choke for the win. Luke surprised critics and viewers with a display of power a 6’6 guy at middleweight would normally struggle to do. We here at Migym.com and Powering-through are immensely proud and look to help Luke keep improving. For an insight into our training see the video Matt posted last month when BTSport came to visit.

Tall athletes get short shrift, they can dunk, triangle us with ease and look at our balding spots and laugh. But when it comes to  power and strength they pulled the short straw. Longer limbed lifters have greater distance over which to apply force, for the uncoordinated this a real struggle, most tall guys give up on lifting before they have even started. To paraphase Lee Boyce (a tall strength coach himself) “Long muscle bellies and gigantic lever arms means there’s the potential for a LOT of force to be created”. For taller athletes there a few simple things we do to try and improve weight room ability.

Squat Wide Squatting wide and or on to something is incredible useful for taller athletes. This shortens the range of motion and allows you to open your hips up. There is also no shame having to squat on to a box, get the pattern down first then drop the box out in the future.

Use Eccentrics and Isometrics
Isometrics and eccentrics help tall athletes build stability in those deep positions where they really struggle. This also helps with force absorption and technical practice, if your focusing on doing something slowly, form has to be very tight. So drop the weight and slow everything down. Being explosive can come later!

Use Oscillatory training One method I employing in peaking these days is the oscillatory method. It helps improve force production through anatgonistic inhibition and improved intramuscular coordination. For more on this take a look at the work of Cal Dietz at the university of Minnesota

So for those of you 6’2 and above (im calling anything over that tall) hopefully this will help you be longer and stronger.

This is an ongoing series of articles from guest blogger and Strength & Conditioning coach William Wayland of Powering Through.