| Article Summary:
Training For Warriors
Interview With Martin Rooney, Author Of MMA's Hot New Book
When I started Pro MMA Radio just two short months ago, I got an email from a gentleman named Steven Haase about his client and friend, Martin Rooney, asking if I'd be interested in having him on the show.
I did a little research and quickly learned that Martin is one of the premiere strength and conditioning coaches in all of Mixed Martial Arts and the author of the new book, Training for Warriors, a comprehensive program for combat sports and physical fitness in general.
I was so impressed with Martin when we spoke on the phone that I approached him about doing a comprehensive monthly interview series with me where we will address the ins and outs of MMA training and nutrition.
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Pro MMA Radio is a weekly radio show devoted to bringing you the exciting world of mixed martial arts. Guests include top fighters, trainers and others from the UFC, WEC, Elite XC and other top MMA promotions.
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In the first installment of our MMA Training Series, you'll have the opportunity to get acquainted with one of the top trainers in MMA and discover the next revolution in the evolution of MMA.
[ Larry ] Martin, you are now a professional coach of pro athletes in all sports including mixed martial arts (MMA). What got you into strength and conditioning in the first place?
[ Martin ] Even from a young age I always knew that I was into performance and fitness. I've had weights in my house since I was ten years old, and fell in love with the iron from about that time. After my first canister of
Joe Weider chewable
protein wafers and a copy of
Flex Magazine, I have not missed more than 3 days in row without training since.
I began lifting with the older guys on my block and from there trained in high school with my coaches and got a javelin scholarship to college. At college I realized that not only was training going to be my calling, I could actually study it! From there, I was on the path to my current career.
[ Larry ] So what was the path from that interest in college to you becoming a strength and conditioning coach?
[ Martin ] I have been working on my career by gathering information, meeting interesting characters and traveling the world for the last 20 years. Knowing my passion was both exercise and rehabilitation, I earned 2 degrees in exercise physiology and then a masters degree in physical therapy by 1996.
In 1996, when I was an athlete competing on the US Bobsled Team, my roommate was Olympic Silver Medallist, Todd Hays. Todd was also a professional mixed martial arts fighter that had fought in Japan, and the money he raised by fighting was actually the money we used to buy the bobsled that we competed in. He was filmed in a famous documentary about the sport of mixed martial arts (Choke), and as a result of him, I became very interested in trying martial arts out for myself.
After I left the bobsled team in 1998, I moved back from Utah to New Jersey and I found out from a friend that Renzo Gracie, a member of one of the most famous fighting families in history, had moved from Brazil and opened a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy in New York City, not far from my home.
I got up the courage and began training and taking my beatings. After a number of months, I was being recognized for being very strong and athletic and Renzo himself asked if I could train him for battle. So I started training him along with hundreds of other professional athletes from many different sports at my company, the Parisi Speed School. I have been there ever since growing my craft.
[ Larry ] So how did the Training for Warriors system that you developed get its start?
[ Martin ] When Renzo and I began to train together at my Parisi Speed School, he changed his physique and was winning world titles at both Pride and ADCC. A huge fight fan and friend of Renzo's, the Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheik Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Anan took interest in what we were doing and had me flown out to Abu Dhabi to show him my training methods.
After this successful trip, he began commissioning fighters in the area to train with me. From here, the Training for Warriors system was born. I began working with hundreds of top fighters in the world and found through trial and error over time what did and did not work to produce world class performances.
Over this time, I was also named to the editorial counsel of Gracie Magazine in Brazil and continued my own martial arts training. Now 10 years later and having achieved a purple belt in jiu jitsu and a black belt in judo, which I am as proud of as any degree that I have attained.
In 2004 I wrote my first Training for Warriors text and now in 2008 released the current Training for Warriors system in a major book with Harper Collins.
[ Larry ] Now sometimes in the training industry, when people have techniques that are working, they keep them to themselves. What inspired you to write Training for Warriors?
[ Martin ] As I have heard before, anything worth doing is worth recording. This book is my testament to all of the athletes' hard work, and the lessons that we learned along the way.
I believe that an excellent way to move forward in life is to build upon the experiences of others. This book was created to help other martial athletes do just that. I am excited to get the information out, not worried someone else will have it. Simply put, when everybody shares, everybody wins.
[ Larry ] I see on the cover of the book you were also the trainer for the IFL World Team Champion NY Pitbulls. What kind of insights have you developed by working with the Pitbulls?
[ Martin ] By working with the team, I have been better able to individualize training for many different athletes. Since the team had members of different weights, styles and training ages, I had to create different routines around them. These workouts were balanced around their schedules when they have upcoming fights. This challenge has only made me, and the book, better.
[ Larry ] I understand that since the release of the book you are also busy teaching warrior workshops around the world. What do you cover in your workshops?
[ Martin ] At the TFW seminars, which can last anywhere from 1 to 3 days, I cover most of the concepts that are outlined in the book. These concepts range from mental preparation, physical training, weight manipulation and nutrition for fighting.
The seminars are broken down into sections of lecture and actual hands on training so that the athletes can both understand and experience my training system. I just returned from Finland and Mexico as well as sites in the US and they were all awesome experiences of training and sharing.
[ Larry ] That sounds great Martin. Now let's get to some mma training ideas. I have heard that the typical amateur martial artist may only have three hours or so to lift weights, run or whatever else they decide to do for strength and conditioning. If that's all the time they have, what would you recommend they focus on?
[ Martin ] The athlete could get in 3 workouts. I would spread them Mon/Wed/Fri during the week and then have the athlete address their most glaring weakness (
If strength is the limitation, 2 of the workouts would focus there and one on endurance or vice versa. This way, the amateur athlete can still make progress in their personal fitness and fit the training into their schedule. All of the potential exercises are contained in my new book.
Click Image To Enlarge.
Coaching Ricardo Almeida, Renzo Gracie, Kyra Gracie &
Marcio Feitosa In Heart Rate Variability During Training.
[ Larry ] Besides these exercises in your book, you describe in the evolution chapter how mixed martial artists are all becoming technically well rounded. As a result, how pivotal do you think the strength and conditioning of a fighter is?
[ Martin ] I believe that physical training is the next revolution in the evolution of MMA. That hypothesis is the impetus behind the Training for Warriors book. I wanted to open everyone's eyes to the fact that the days of being that overweight guy, or the guy that's not exactly in shape and really technical, are over.
You've got to be an incredible athlete, and you've got to be incredibly technical. There's a constant battle now for these MMA athletes to have both, and that's the ultimate challenge. To be a top fighter now, you can't just be good at Jiu-Jitsu, or just good at wrestling, or just a good striker.
Everyone also knows that you can't be out of shape and you can't run out of gas in one round. So this proves that you've got to not only have the physical preparation, but another part that we can touch on, is that you've also got to have incredible mental preparation too, and that's an area that I've not only addressed in the book, but it's something that I help with for a lot of the fighters.
To answer succinctly, without great physical conditioning a fighter wont have confidence, and without physical
strength he may not be able to execute or ward off the techniques. So without a doubt, strength and conditioning is not just pivotal, it is critical.
[ Larry ] What do you think is more important to the fighter then Martin, physical strength or cardiovascular conditioning?
[ Martin ] I think they are both important Larry, and interestingly, they both rely on one another. Even though you ultimately have to be ready to go 5-five minute rounds if you're in a championship fight, at the same time, you've got to be prepared for where so many of the fights can end - in ten to thirty seconds - which happens all the time.
So you've got to be able to be strong, explosive, and incredible attacking your opponent, but you've also got to be able to rest, recover and repeat that over and over and over again with great endurance.
What we call that in the fight game is "fight architecture," where you've got to be able to orchestrate that explosion or those sprints, but you must be able to do them for a long time. The guy that is strong and can explode - but he can only do that for 30 seconds and then gasses is in trouble. Even though he might have been the more technical fighter, it shows that physical and mental conditioning was the reason for defeat.
I devoted an entire chapter in my book to the subject called "Hurricane Training." This is a type of strength and endurance training that revolves around repetitive sprints and lifting weights in a systematic approach. Today's fighter must have a combination of both strength and endurance to survive.
[ Larry ] Many people might think that current mixed martial artists are training 8 hours a day on physical training. Your Training for Warriors program suggests only four days of physical training in addition to all the technical work for MMA, Can you elaborate on that?
[ Martin ] I advocate a 4-day split because it allows for recovery which leads to progress. One day is upper body and one day is lower body, then there are two Hurricane days, which are total body workouts for strength and endurance.
When people ask me about endless hours of training, I believe a lot of the fighters like to put on their tie before they've put on their shirt. What happens is that these guys go overboard, doing long sessions of advanced training, but they didn't build the base. The end result is overtraining or glaring weaknesses that they never address.
The two strength days are base-building days (for strength you must always be building that contractile strength) Then, there are two days that are full body - the Hurricane days, which are a form of
running, a form of lifting, but it's using the entire body.
So to answer that question, I believe in what we call "Pendulum Training," where we don't just work on one attribute (
endurance) at a time for weeks. It's not like, hey, let's work strength for eight weeks, and now we'll work speed for eight weeks. We're working it all every week, but we're focusing more on certain aspects on separate days.
[ Larry ] You have been working with the Gracie family for a long time. What has this experience been like?
[ Martin ] Being around this family has led to many of the greatest experiences and lessons in my life. I have been welcomed in by so many members and have traveled the world with them through both the good times and the bad.
During this span, I have learned great lessons in discipline, courage, honor, loyalty, benevolence and integrity. Without these lessons and this family, I would surely not be the man I am today and would definitely not have been about to produce the new book.
[ Larry ] What are the missing links for JJ players and grapplers in general?
[ Martin ] Well, that depends on the level of the athlete both technically and physically. For instance, jiu jitsu was an art developed for a smaller man to defeat a bigger, stronger one with technique. Due to this fact, some JJ players and now grapplers often sacrifice their physical abilities to work on technical skill.
In today's day and age of competition, however, both technique and physical abilities are a must. Specifically, most of these athletes do not concentrate enough on lower body, core and endurance training. Nutrition is always a little poor as well.
[ Larry ] Is there an intended audience for Training for Warriors? The book has some high level stuff.
[ Martin ] Without a doubt, it's anybody that's in any kind of combat sport, but I also believe the book can be for anyone interested in taking their personal fitness to another level.
So if you're into MMA, without a doubt, this book is for you, but there is tons for other sports too. Think of the book as an advanced fitness text which uses MMA as the vehicle to deliver the information.
MMA Fighting Articles:
If you're into football - which I still consider combat - or basketball, or any sport where there's contact, if you can get stronger or faster, you'd be better at it, and that's pretty much every sport, there's gonna be something in there for you.
[ Larry ] I also see you have a community website. Can you end by telling us about that?
[ Martin ] Yes, I'm really excited about it. The best way to describe it is that it is like a
MySpace rolled into one for warriors. There are thousands of videos, photos, and members as well as blogs and forums.
It's just exploding with the response of people that are on there. I welcome everybody to check it out, get on and start sharing information - that's what it's about, because what I really believe, and what I've learned from martial arts is when everybody shares, everybody wins.
I guarantee that if you go there and look through those videos, there are some unbelievable moves taught by the best guys in the world, famous matches and famous knockouts, and so many cool things. It's a potpourri for anyone interested in the fight game.
Click Image To Enlarge.
Me, Ricardo Almeida, Chris Ligori & Tom DeBlass
After Hurricane Training Before His Last Fight.
Whether you're a warrior or just want to be one, I think it's something for everyone to go check it out at
www.trainingforwarriors.com. Todd Hays (who I mentioned before, from the movie "Choke") and I have maintained a friendship and he helped to create it.
[ Larry ] I'm sure a lot of our visitors will check it out. Thanks for taking the time to get this MMA series started with us and we'll look forward to next month's feature.
[ Martin ] Sounds great, Larry. I look forward to it.
Martin Rooney is the author of Training for Warriors: The Ultimate Mixed Martial Arts Workout.
Martin is also the conditioning coach for Team Renzo Gracie, and writer for Gracie Magazine. He has trained champion fighters for the UFC, IFL, Pride, ADCC and Olympics. You can visit his "Training for Warriors" blog and warrior community at www.trainingforwarriors.com.