Hitting your local gym over and over for half an hour of lifting followed up with 20 minutes of cardio is a waste. To elicit increased strength or endurance you need to introduce new stressors. This workout puts featherweight contender Cub Swanson
through three distinct phases tailored to increase the performance of a mixed martial artist -- and the movements will benefit you as well.
The key elements are a dynamic warm-up that primes the body, a series of movements designed for energy system development, followed by strength training employing some of the same movements Swanson uses in the Octagon.
DYNAMIC WARM-UP: JUMPING JACK SERIES
Variation A (below): Crisscross your feet and your arms.
Variation B (below): Shuffle your feet while swinging arms from thigh to overhead.
Variation C: Shuffle your feet front to back simultaneously, but this time swing arms front to back.
Perform each variation moving forward 10 yards and then backward to your starting position.
DYNAMIC WARM-UP: MOBILITY CIRCUIT
Trunk circle: Hands on hips with a flat back, move your shoulders around your hips, chest to knees, alternate direction after half of your reps.
Scorpion stretch: Keeping your chest to the floor and arms extended try to touch your heel to the back of your opposite hand. Alternate sides, be sure to have your knee elevated in the air for best stretch (below).
Burpee: Perform a standard burpee by starting from a standing position, drop to plank position lowering the hips to mimic a sprawl. Jump your feet back to your hands and jump to complete the move. Increase the workload by using only your opposite hand and foot when moving in and out of plank position.
Elbow to instep: Get into a lunge position with one foot forward and drive your elbow to your instep, stretching your hip joint and hip flexor, repeat on other side. You can remain stationary or move across the room.
DYNAMIC WARM-UP: FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENTS
Prep your system with an unloaded bar and perform the series with crisp form. Think of it as the weightlifting corollary to shadowboxing:
Overhead squat: Start with the bar overhead, wide grip. Eyes straight ahead, flat back. Squat down until thighs are parallel to floor, move slowly and be sure to maintain integrity in your spine and core. Follow up with deadlift, upright row, and front squat and clean.
ENERGY SYSTEM DEV.: AGILITY DRILL
Create a five-by-five-yard box placing three cones in front of you. Your starting point is the fourth
corner. Run a shuttle to a cone and return to your start position for one rep. Complete as many reps as you can in one minute. Add a bungee for resistance and have a partner call out cone numbers to add a reaction element.
ENERGY SYSTEM DEV.: VERSACLIMBER
Get on a VersaClimber and go for a full minute at maximum effort. Try and get as many feet as possible. Notching over 150 feet is a good start.
ENERGY SYSTEM DEV.: 300-YARD SHUTTLE
If you don’t have access to a VersaClimber, mark out a distance of 25 yards. Time yourself as you sprint back and fourth a total of six times. If your time is 1:10 or less, you’re in pretty good shape. Swanson completed the drill in 56 seconds (right).
STRENGTH: POWER CLEAN & PRESS
Start with the bar on the floor, flat back, eyes forward, in a deadlift position. Stand up and shrug the bar to your shoulders. Catch the bar by spinning your arms forward, and use your legs to cushion the landing and press the bar overhead.
ENERGY SYSTEM DEV.: HEXAGON
Mark out a hexagon on a smooth flat surface that is one-foot long on each side. Starting in the middle of the hex, jump over the line in front of you and return to the center. Work your way around the hex jumping over each line but remain facing forward the entire drill. Three full rotations is one rep.
STRENGTH: RESISTANCE BAND PUSH
Secure a resistance band to a chin-up bar, stand directly underneath and press your palm to the floor (left).
STRENGTH: JUMP PULL-UP
Squat underneath a pull-up bar and jump to the bar landing in a full hang, complete a pull-up and lower yourself until your arms are extended and drop to the floor.
STRENGTH: CLAP PUSH-UP
Explode out of a standard push-up and clap your hands and return to a starting position. You should land softly, creating minimal sound. To increase the difficulty, launch your feet of the ground as well.
STRENGTH: ROTATIONAL SLAM
Using a roped medicine ball, slam the ball from side to side as fast as you possibly can (shown below). Time how long it takes to complete 10 reps each side and try to increase your speed and power.
Perform the dynamic warm-up and move into the next phase. Perform each exercise in the energy development phase in succession to complete a single circuit. Complete two to three circuits and move on to the strength phase and continue circuit training. You should complete the last two phases in 45 minutes or less. Add circuits to each phase to increase the intensity.
Jumping Jack Series - 2 x 20 yards, forward and backwards
Mobility circuit (Trunk circle, elbow to instep, scorpion, burpees) - 1x10
Barbell Functional Movements (deadlift, upright row, front squat, clean, press,
overhead squat) - 1x10
Energy Development Circuit
Energy Development Circuit
Agility and Reaction Drill - 2-3 sets, 1 min., max reps, rest 30 seconds
Hexagon - 2-3 sets, Timed, 2 reps, rest 30 seconds
VersaClimber - 2-3 sets, 1 min., max reps, rest 90 seconds
300-Yard Shuttle - (sets optional), Timed 1 90 seconds
Clean and Press - 3-4 sets, 5 reps, load: bodyweight
Resistance Band Push - 3-4 sets, 20 reps (each side), load: varies, rest 30 seconds
Jump Pull-Up - 3-4 sets, 10 reps, load: bodyweight
Clap Push-Up - 3-4 sets, 10 reps, load: bodyweight
Rotation Slam - 3-4 sets, 10 reps (each side), load: 12 kg. ball
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These exercises originally appeared in issue 15 of UFC 360.
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Photography by James Law. Shot on location at Ezia Human Performance, eziahp.com. Cub Swanson’s apparel by Virus, virusintl.com