Just about anyone can jump into the gym and train or lift weights.
However, if you’re looking at real sustained progress, then you better have a proper training philosophy right from the jump.
My time in the UFC was marked by a steadfast commitment to training. Specifically, I was focused on setting myself apart with superior conditioning to outlast my opponents.
Throughout my career, be it in the weight room or on the treadmill, I always trained like I was a 20-year-old.
Abiding by this philosophy, my training was always intense, and I believed it played a huge role in helping me win several World Titles.
Sprinting, which involves short periods of high intensity energy is a common anaerobic exercise.
So, let’s use a sprint routine to illustrate this concept.
A true sprint on average lasts about 10-12 seconds at maximum effort.
Obviously, the longer the sprint, the lower percentage of maximum effort is expended. If I were to sprint for 30 seconds, then I could probably do so at 90% of maximum effort.
Well, then how can we calibrate a sprint to match the intensity of a 20-year old?
WEAR A HEART RATE MONITOR
By wearing a heart rate monitor is how.
Irrespective of your fitness goals, you should always aim to stay in a targeted heart rate zone that will maximize each workout.
I set my target heart rate at 180 beats per minute (bpm), which corresponds to 90% of maximum effort by a 20-year-old.
When I trained, I would get on the treadmill, sprint till I had achieved a sustained heart rate in the targeted zone of 180bpm.
Then I would hop off, and rest, letting it fall back down to 130bpm while keeping my eye on the clock.
Repeating this several times was a great way to train my cardiovascular endurance and conditioning especially approaching fight week.
When I first started, it would take say, 2 minutes for my heart rate to fall. Over time, that would slowly decrease.
TAKE DEEP BREATHS
While resting, I utilized deep breathing techniques to help bring my heart rate down faster, e.g. a 60% exhale followed by six to eight normal breaths.
Never underestimate the power of deep breathing, as my podcast guest Wim Hof expounds on the techniques he used to scale mountains in freezing temperatures and swim under ice here.
I was deliberately seeking an improvement in my rest times, i.e. the time it takes for my heart rate to drop from 180bpm to 130bpm.
When I finally needed just 60 seconds to achieve the same, it was a signal that I was ready, in fight shape and in peak physical condition.
This had practical carry over effects into the octagon. After disengaging from a scramble with my opponent in the center of the cage, I knew I was able to drop my heart rate faster.
As the rounds progressed, my superior conditioning started to have a more dramatic effect on my ability to perform in the cage versus my opponent.
You don’t need to be a fighter to experience the same benefits.
Using heart rates and rest times, you can maximize each workout and move you closer towards your fitness goals, whatever they may be.