Mixed martial arts is one of the fastest-growing sports on the planet. If you're one of the many young men hyped up to join the fighting ranks, please take pause before you rush in. Approach the sport with due respect and you won't get caught with a left cross.
If you want to compete and win at any level of MMA, you damn well better have a solid trainer in your corner. You need to train, eat and supplement with precision. Every workout, rest day, meal and recovery session must be planned and abided by.
Enter Greg Jackson, a guru who has personally trained 10 MMA world champions. His gym has the highest winning percentage (81%, Sherdog.com) in MMA.
In 2009, Fighter's Only named Jackson Best Coach and Greg Jackson Fighting Systems (run with Mike Winklejohn) was named Best Gym. So we got his insights for you to absorb -- for free.
Pro MMA Trainer Greg Jackson's MMA 101
Watch The Video - 10:36
Check out the links below and the video above to get the info you need to get up off the mat, and have the ref raise your hand after the final round.
For more great videos on MMA, MMA training, check out Bodybuilding.com or MusclePharm.com. They have everything you need.
Mixed martial arts training is an amalgamation of training techniques. There is no one thing that will prepare you for the un-ending mixture of attacks and styles used in the cage, the ring or the octagon.
A varied approach, complete with wrestling, jiu jitsu, boxing, kickboxing, weight training and even extra running/cardio will prepare you for the battle ahead.
It's not how much you train that matters, but rather how hard and how well you train.
The fighting men of the world work on every facet of MMA. They condition their bodies, but also develop skills that put pure conditioning into action. You train for a fist fight; every second, every breath matters.
"You really need to focus on exploding," Jackson said. "Olympic lifting is phenomenal. You don't really need heavy volume.
Focus on controlling and then exploding, because so much of fighting is isometric tension (where you're holding something really tense, like when you're locked in a grappling situation).
When you're trying for your takedown, you gotta explode! Holding an isometric tension exercise, then really practicing your explosion, trains your body to get used to that, before you do it in sparring."
Starting to understand why Jackson is one of the best trainers in MMA? Here is his suggested weekly schedule.
Morning: Get up, do your MMA sparring (MMA gloves) - learn a few moves, get your sparring in
Evening: Strength and Conditioning - Weightlifting, sprints on treadmill, rope slams
(we'll put an entire program together)
Skills: Kickboxing, getting technical skills you need
Evening: Jiu jitsu - on the ground. Immediately following - Cardio training
Evening: Pad Work - Give strength training a rest
Evening: Jiu Jitsu
Evening: Hard Strength and conditioning - Mountain run
1 hard session: pad work, burning it out
When you work out twice per day, six days per week, you better eat right or your tank will run dry. If you must cut weight, your diet must be as strict in the kitchen as your coach is in the gym.
- Chicken Breast (about a fist size)
- Sweet Potatoes (about a fist size)m
- Peanut Butter on top (optional)
Greg Jackson is one of the best MMA trainers in the game, and not just because he kicks your @ss in the gym.
His team takes a complete approach that includes food intake. His philosophy: Eat to perform.
"You want to have the right food in your body so you can perform the right way," Jackson said. "When you're losing weight, as you diet, your diet is going to change."
Jackson promotes eating like a bodybuilder: 6 small, clean meals per day. He won't hack out carbs like some trainers. He suggests a solid ratio of healthy foods to supply the body with energy to survive his brutal workouts.
"You're not going to get any better or any stronger if you eat one meal a day or two meals per day, even if they're giant meals … you're going to gas out," Jackson said. "Every 2 hours you eat a little something, you keep your metabolism going, which helps you burn fat, but it also keeps your energy levels up"
Eating healthy is time-consuming and energy-sucking. So Jackson suggests hiring a professional dietician to choose a plan that fits your exhaustive training schedule.
He affirms the relief of a timely cheat meal once per week, but hastens to add a warning: "You're in the grind. It is day-in and day-out if you're actually training to fight," Jackson said.
"You need a little something. You can eat what you want when you want, but you shouldn't be eating a whole pizza in camp … or like 8 milkshakes … that's ridiculous!"
He refers to a cheat meal as a "psychological anchor" you can look forward to as motivation to plunge through your workouts. To create growth in the gym, sometimes you must trick your body into reacting to your activities. The same goes for your brain, fool it with the cheat meal and it will adapt to that hope. It will accompany you through any obstacle as long as there is a goal in the end.
Athletes apply pressure not only to their opponents but also to their own body with weight, with exertion, with stress and coercion. You convince your body that it can do things it could not do before. That is growth; that is improvement; that is sports.
Mixed martial artists are elite athletes, preparing bodies fit to take a beating and outlast an opponent. To get there, they undergo intense training and sparring sessions, strict diets and ample supplement regimens. Greg Jackson's top-rated camp is driven by MusclePharm supplementation products.
Jackson puts RE-CON, a post-workout dynamo, at the top of his list. After the morning workout, his athletes take a break, but they come back in the afternoon/evening for another round of torture.
He says they must take a recovery supplement or the evening workout will basically be a waste of his time.
"It can literally make or break you within a 20-minute window," Jackson said. "Let's say you're working out, hitting pads, or whatever you are doing, then you get done working out … If you don't get that RE-CON in you, that subsequent workout will either be the best workout or the worst workout, depending if you took or did not take RE-CON."
Jackson is a believer in supplement stacking and cycling. You simply cannot take pre-workouts all year long or your body will adapt to them and they will lose their effectiveness. He said you must time it properly so when you begin your fight camp, you get on the cycle. Take a break before camp, or risk losing gains and perhaps the biggest fight of your life.