Most people have no real idea what goes on in a typical training camp unless they’ve actually been a part of one themselves. Former Dream featherweight world champion Bibiano Fernandes and Tim Boetsch have been training with us for the last several weeks in preparation for their upcoming fights. Bibiano will be fighting in the Dream bantamweight tournament and Tim Boetsch will be fighting Nick Ring coming up in a few weeks in UFC 135. I wanted to give everyone an inside look at what a typical day of training looks like for them just so they can appreciate how much hard work goes into getting ready to fight.
The Training Day Gets Started
Tim and Bibiano’s first training session of the day begins at 11am in my gym and it starts with an Omegawave evaluation to see how well they are recovered from their previous training. I also ask them both how they are feeling as well and they tell me whether they feel tired or ready to go, how their sleep the previous night was, any aches and pains they may have, etc.
From there, it’s time to start training and both spend about 15-20 minutes getting warmed up by doing some basic cardiovascular work to get the blood flowing along with some simple joint mobility work to loosen everything up. I also had them do some accessory work with the sled for their hips as well.
As both Tim and Bibiano are just a few weeks away from their fights, we’re at an intensive phase of training in both of their programs and both of them are primarily using high intensity intervals and a good volume of their training volume is MMA specific conditioning work. On this particular day, Tim’s program called for him to do 15 tempo runs of 12s @ 70% followed by 60s of rest while Bibiano was doing high resistance intervals with the sled loaded up to 100lbs for 6s on and 60s off.
At this stage in the game, one of the biggest things I’m looking for is how high their heart rates get during the training period and how quickly they drop during the rest interval. This tells me a lot about their overall conditioning level and where they’re at. Both Tim and Bibiano’s heart rates are dropping very well – the other day Bibiano’s dropped from 186 down to 126 in a minute – so this is a good sign and let’s me know that they are on the right track.
Following the conditioning work, I had Bibiano perform a low volume of some general strength/power work including squats, pull-ups, box jumps and med ball throws while Tim focused on upper body accessory strength work only. Although a lot of coaches may typically prefer to do the strength work before the conditioning work, there’s some very specific and important reasons that conditioning work needs to be performed before the strength work at this stage, which is something I’ll be discussing in some future articles.
To finish things off, both Tim and Bibiano performed some work for the neck and core and then did a cool down. By the time they left the gym, it was about 12:30-12:45pm and since they had to be back in the gym at 6pm for more training, they went home to get in some food, relax and take a nap before returning to the gym later in the day.
Training Round Two
At 5:45pm both Tim and Bibiano came back to the gym for their second training session of the day. With five hours of rest between the two sessions, both had enough time to recover and get ready to focus on the MMA training that they’d be doing during this workout. One of the most important parts of making sure fighters can handle training twice a day and recover from it is their nutrition.
It’s absolutely vital to make sure they get in enough calories to restore glycogen levels and enough fluids to stay hydrated. One of the obvious challenges that goes along with this, however, is that this is just Tim’s second fight at 185lbs and Bibiano will be dropping down to 135lbs for the first time. This makes it even more important that their nutrition is carefully monitored because too few calories and they won’t recover as well and can’t train as hard, and too many calories and they’ll end up having to cut too much weight and risk fighting poorly because of it.This is just one of the many difficult challenges presented by a sport like MMA.
The MMA training session at AMC Pankration was about 2 and a half hours long and mostly focused on technical drilling before concluding with about 30 minutes of some moderate intensity sparring. As you can see from the video, Tim and Bibiano were not going 100% in the sparring and they weren’t trying to kill each other, they were just getting in some quality work.
This is something I think a lot of younger and less experienced fighters need to learn. Far too many fighters think sparring is just an excuse to throw as hard as you can, rather than as an opportunity to put together your skills and work on getting better. This approach typically leads to fighters eventually getting hurt and their skills never really improve beyond a certain point. They never really learn how to train to get better and instead they just go in the gym day in and day out and throw as hard as they can.
Fortunately, with one of the very best MMA coaches in the world running things at AMC, that’s not something that fighters that train with us do and Tim and Bibiano know how to train and can work together effectively, despite being from completely different weight classes.
Another Training Day in the Books
After finishing up the second training session for the day, it was time for them both to head home, get something to eat and then get as much sleep as possible before coming back to train with me again at 11am the next day. In total, they put in about three and a half to four hours of solid work for the day.
Our typical schedule for training camps includes 3 days of two training sessions and 3 days of just one session, but of course that’s just the blueprint and we change it as we go through it based on how the fighters are recovering and what they need.
Training twice a day is not easy, even NFL and other professional teams only do it for a very limited time before the season starts, but in my experience the MMA guys train much harder than the majority of other professional athletes. There is simply no time to be lazy and it’s difficult to get in all the work that needs to be done to get ready for a fight without putting in several hours of training a day. Some fighters try to cram everything into just one session, but I think the quality of work is simply much higher and there are a lot of benefits to breaking things into two sessions for a good portion of the time.
With just a few weeks to go until both of them square up against their opponent and fight until the referee stops it or the bell rings, this is an especially difficult phase of training for both Bibiano and Tim, but both are doing extremely well and their conditioning is improving quickly. Neither fighter has been plagued by any real injuries and their camps are going well. I’ll be posting more in the upcoming weeks on their trainings so stay tuned for more coming soon!