Reading about a guy that changed his training from bodybuilding type of workouts to MMA/strength/conditioning workouts, made me think about myself and how my training evolved throughout the years. There was a time when I was a teenager and I did mostly classic bodybuilding workouts. I mean what could I do ? I was stunned by how my bodybuilding idols looked. I wanted to look like them – huge, ripped and vascular. Over the years my picture of how I am supposed to look and work out really changed.
Don’t get me wrong, I still pursue that lean and muscular look. It’s just that functional strength, conditioning and good health are more important to me nowadays than carrying huge muscle mass and feeling my muscles “swollen”. Some people can’t understand this. It usually happens when I’m at the gym and I get reactions like “why do you lift so heavy for 5 reps when you can lift lighter weight for 10-12 reps? You can gain more weight that way and the “pump” is incredible” or “why do you do the standing shoulder press when you can control more weight on the seated press”.
Like I said there were times when all I had interest in, was, to look like a bodybuilder. Today I consider myself an athlete an I train like one. I still do bodybuilding workouts from time to time just to break a plateau or change the things a bit, but mostly here’s what i do.
1. Upper/Lower Split or Full body workouts
I’m talking about compound exercises, not cables or pushups or burpees. I’m talking about a full body workout where you rotate squats, cleans and presses, bench presses and deadlifts. Try to add some unconventional exercises to the mix too, such as sandbag overhead presses, sandbag squats, tire flipping etc.You can add the bodyweight exercises to “finish” the job. How does this sound for a pump ? Doing full body, heavy workouts not only will make you gasp for air, it will also increase your metabolism and help you burn fat hours after the workout is over.
2. Stay away from the machines
When doing a machine workout you don’t use your stabilizing muscles and core muscles. Doing a free weights workout will help you build a good six-pack and a core that will keep your spine stable and safe during a large diapason of movements.
3. Train for strength and explosiveness
Instead of doing slow reps, try doing slow negative and explosive-fast positive. You will increase strength and recruit your fast twitch muscle fibers – the ones that are responsible for strength and explosive movements.
4. I avoid long, low intensity cardio sessions
If I do low intensity cardio, it’s mostly for relaxation and health. For fat loss I prefer high intensity sessions like sprints, running on stairs, prowler or sledge sessions.These sessions usually last only 15 minutes and do a lot better job than low intensity cardio.
5. Last but not least, work on your hips
Didn’t you hear that your power comes mostly from your hips? In many sports such as MMA, boxing, athletics etc, the hips play a huge role. Having strong hips means having more overall power. Try to concentrate on doing deadlifts and squats as your main lifts in the program. On the other hand exercises like the kettlebell swing will improve your hip mobility.