For Hamid, the key is work that incorporates both explosiveness and endurance without compromising either. “In MMA, there’s no rest, so Chris needs to be able to keep up his technical skill as a wrestler for five rounds," he says. "I don’t ever want to take away from Chris’ cardiovascular strength, so we’ll do moves for explosion and speed, and then in between, we’ll do something where he has to grind it out—like pushing a car or a sled.”
Technique: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, supporting a loaded barbell across your collarbone and the front of your shoulders. Cross your arms in front of you with your hands on top of the bar to secure it in place. Push your hips back and descend into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor, and then explode back to the start position.
Benefit: “Front squats engage your core more than back squats by making you fight to keep proper form,” Weidman says. “When you go to pick someone up or drive through them, they’re not leaning over your back. They’re more out in front of you, so you need to be strong in that direction.”
Technique: With a loaded barbell on the floor, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your shins nearly touching the bar. Hold the bar with a grip slightly wider than your feet. Drop your butt slightly to begin the lift, then raise the bar in a straight line until you’re standing erect.
Benefit: “This move builds the posterior chain -- the hamstrings and lower back,” Hamid says. “Anything that works those muscles will improve Chris’ overall strength, explosiveness, and the speed with which he can move around the cage and attack and defend.”
BENCH PRESS WITH BAND
Technique: Attach an elastic band to both ends of a barbell by running it under the bench. Lie flat on the bench and grasp the bar at shoulder width. Lower it to your chest, then explode up to various heights. Hamid will hold his hand at different levels, forcing Weidman to explosively touch his hand with the bar then lower it back to his chest.
Benefit: “Having the band on the bar makes me give an explosive push off my chest,” Weidman says. “And when every rep is at a different height, it helps me react to unpredictable situations. I have to focus more on what I’m doing, and I also have to keep control over the acceleration and deceleration of the bar.”
These exercises first appeared in UFC 360. Click here to subscribe to UFC 360, the official magazine of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, available now in print and digital editions. Photos by James Law.