Saturday, March 17, 2007

UFC Legend Randy Couture is 43 ... And In Way Better Shape Than Guys Half His Age (How Does He Do It?)

UPDATED 3/25/2009: Now with Video!

I recently had the amazing opportunity to attend a seminar conducted by UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture. I was also lucky enough to have the best seat in the house - directly in front of the champ himself. Technically, he wasn't champ at the time... The seminar took place at the Arnold Fitness Weekend in Columbus, Ohio. It was the day before UFC 68 - where the 43 year-old Couture, fresh out of retirement, would completely dominate the 6'8", 270 lb Tim Sylvia to become champ. The guy really is an amazing athlete and competitor. Even at 43, he's in world class shape. So how does he do it? Well Randy was kind enough to share several elements of his training regimen. In this post I'm going to share with you one of those elements, the Metabolic Conditioning routine.

Randy Couture speaks at Arnold Fitness Weekend 2007

Randy Couture speaks at Arnold Fitness Weekend 2007

"Metabolic conditioning" is a method of strength training that adequately taxes both the body's musculature and cardiovascular system. This allows an athlete to train for both cardiovascular and strength endurance without sacrificing muscle. Here's Randy Couture's metabolic conditioning routine:

What you need:
A stopwatch or timer, a barbell, some plates, and a place to stand. (dumbbells may be substituted)

Exercises in this routine:
1) Bent-Over Row
2) Upright Row
3) Military Press
4) Good Morning
5) Lunge Squat (Left and Right)
6) Squat + Push Press (I'll try to get pics up)
From a starting squat position with the bar resting on your shoulders, squat down to "basement." As you begin, drive upward and push the weight up off the shoulders such that at the top of the squat the bar is locked-out overhead. With the bar locked out, lower the weight to your shoulders but do so in a seamless-fashion so you immediately drop into low squat position.
7) Romanian Deadlift

How much weight to use:
Find your 10 rep max for the Upright Row using strict form. This will be the final weight used. For set 1, use about 70% of the final weight. For set 2, use about 85% of the final weight. For sets 3-6 use the full final weight.

The routine:
Stand in front of the bar loaded with 70% of your final weight. Start timing. Grab the bar and perform the following in succession, with no rest between exercises:
10 x Bent over row
10 x Upright row
10 x Military Press
10 x Good Morning
10 x Lunge Squat Left
10 x Lunge Squat Right
10 x Squat + Push Press
10 x Romanian Deadlift

That's set one finished. 80 total reps. No rest.

Now change the weights. For set 2 we use 85% of the final weight. Only rest as much as is absolutely necessary - you'll know by how you feel. Repeat the above.

Now bring the bar up to its final weight. Perform 4 more sets. Again, only rest as much as is necessary between sets.

When you've completed all 6 sets, stop the timer and record your time.

Next time try to beat your previous time, but always be careful to keep your form as strict as possible to avoid injury.

Depending on your current level of conditioning, you may want to start with a goal of three or four complete sets, instead of the full six sets. Once you are able to complete that without puking ;) add the fifth, then the sixth...

Randy does this routine twice a week. He also shared with us his twice-a-week plyometric routine, and his twice-a-week cardio interval routine. Six workouts a week for conditioning - that's in addition to his MMA-specific training which he also works on six days a week.

Thanks to for the exercise demonstrations.


Adam said...

Sorry if this post is late. I just got done reading Effective Strength Training (2001) by Doug Brooks; it is the International Weightlifting Association 2001 textbook. Based on my reading, I noticed that a lot of the exercises that Couture does add a lot of risk. Some examples: the bent-over row needlessly taxes the spine; the upright row and good morning are pretty universally maligned by orthopedics and people of that nature. I'm surprised, having read Effective Strength Training, that these taboo and risky (more risky than usual) exercises would feature predominately in Couture's workout.

Jason Glassbrook, CFT said...

Mixed Martial Arts needlessly taxes the spine as well! :) Remember, Adam that in Randy's routine these exercises are all done with a very low load -- it is a conditioning circuit, not a strength routine. The bent-over row has been a staple of bodybuilding and conditioning for years - just as with deadlifts, good mornings, etc., but the proper biomechanics of these exercises must be taught to the beginner, done with a safe and appropriate load progression, and not overused. There are many exercises that are not beginner-appropriate. Sometimes inflexibility, severe lack of neuro muscular adaptation to exercise, and muscular imbalances make certain exercises inappropriate. Over time, when the client is ready, these exercises can be safely introduced as required. As trainers we always need to program our clients according to the laws of specificity and individual differences.