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All the Cool Kids Do It

By Matt “Wiggy” Wiggins

(Article re-published with permission from

This article is going to be a little different than some of the ones I’ve done lately. I don’t want to talk about a training method I use, or something you can (necessarily) add into your program.

Rather, I want to talk about stuff that most other people think sucks.

Let me preface…

Everywhere in life, there are cliques. In high school, it’s the jocks and the nerds. In society, it’s the rich socialites and the blue-collar “regular folk.” In professional (American) football, it’s the Cowboys and the Redskins. In MMA, it’s BJJ and Catch Wrestling. Well, the strength & conditioning (S&C) game is no different.

You see, the problem with cliques in the S&C game is that while it might make you more popular with certain crowds, it can also cut you off from a great deal of knowledge and/or experience in things that really work. And, on the other end of the spectrum, it can almost lock you into certain styles of training that while good, prevent you from doing other things that might work just because it’s not “cool” or everybody is badmouths that style, method, exercise, or whatever.

If you’re been an MMA fan for longer than a few months, you see all the bandwagon jumping (on and off) that goes on in this sport – especially on the internet. One day, everybody says that BJ Penn is “the man” and the next day, he sucks because he didn’t put enough effort into training for a fight. One day, Sean Sherk is a hardcore athlete because of all the work and effort he puts into his training (steroid allegations aside – I’m not here to discuss that), and the next day, he sucks because all he does is conditioning – that he’s be a “good” fighter if he could bring up his submission game. The same has happened with GSP, Hughes, Shamrock, Gracie, Arlovski, Fedor, and a whole host of others.

Well, the S&C game has the same sort of bandwagon jumping. To bring up BJ Penn again, for years, people touted the effectiveness of Crossfit because BJ Penn supposedly used it. BJ was a winner, and Crossfit was a winning S&C program. Yet nobody said anything bad about Crossfit when BJ was coming into fights under-prepared, conditioning-wise. And in this past fight against Jens Pulver, where BJ looked the best he had in quite a while (again, conditioning-wise), it was highly publicized that he had hired a S&C coach for his fight prep. Nobody came out and said that Crossfit wasn’t getting the job done anymore. Funny how Crossfit was such a good program and such a big part of BJs preparation when he was winning, but nobody said anything bad about it when he was losing. How is it one way, but not the other?

The same can be said for Frank Trigg when he started using kettlebells (KBs). After Frank began to use KBs, he did a short interview in which he mentioned KBs, and said how he thought they really helped in his S&C prep. That interview ended up circulating all over the internet in a matter of days. KB enthusiasts the internet over used Trigg’s comments to further validate everything they said and believed about KBs being an effective piece of equipment. Trigg had a couple of good wins against Mayhem Miller via TKO in ICON and Kazuo Misaki in Pride 33. However, when he got KO’ed by Robbie Lawler in ICON just a few weeks later, everybody seemed to forget about his KB training. So, you mean to say that KB training was largely responsible for his wins, but had nothing to do with his losses?

I don’t have anything against Crossfit, nor against KBs – that is NOT my intention. (So don’t send me or MMA Weekly any hate mail, Ok?) I think that Crossfit and KBs are both good methods/tools of training. The problem I have is with the many fanboys that try to use successes of a particular few to validate their method or style of training.

Now, I could try and make the same case (as I’ve stated in previous articles) for bodybuilding-styled training. Matt Hughes, Sean Sherk, the Militich Fighting Systems (MFS) camp, and more have used bodybuilding-oriented training. And they’ve all become champions. Does that mean bodybuilding is the only way to go? No. Does it mean it’s the optimal way to go? Not necessarily. Did it work for those who used it? Darn right.

There are other things out there – the Bench Press, Curls, and LSD (Long Slow Distance – e.g. jogging for miles) come to mind – that are popular to criticize. Are these things “bad?” No. Are they optimal? Not necessarily. But can they be used as part of an overall, well-designed program? Sure they can.

Too many times people badmouth things just because it’s popular – because their certain clique likes to badmouth it. They don’t think of real reasons why they “badmouth” something – they just know everybody else is doing it, so they will, too. And this is bad, because people might be able to utilize these things in their own training at some point, and can’t because they let popularity and ego get in the way.

Now, can you build an effective S&C program for MMA with bodybuilding, Bench Presses, Curls, and LSD? By themselves, no way. But they can be part of overall programs. I utilize all of them in one way or another in my “Working Class Fitness – The Programs.” But guess what? I also utilize complexes, sprints, and such like Crossfit might use. I also utilize swings, snatches, and other exercises advocated by the KB community (though I use a dumbbell). And guess what? It all ends up working together.

I’m going to end the rant now. I didn’t mean to step on anybody’s toes, but if I did, then maybe you should look yourself in the mirror. Are you a fanboy who advocates one style or method, and badmouths everything else, just because your fellow fanboys do the same? If so, then maybe you should open your mind a little – you just might find something else that you can work into your overall program, and have even more success.

About the Author

Matt “Wiggy” Wiggins is a strength coach and author living in Cameron, NC. Having trained 15+ years, Wiggy is a strength moderator at, columnist for MMA Weekly, and an avid fan of Mixed Martial Arts Training. His site, Working Class, is dedicated to designing low-tech, high-result Workout Programs for fighters, athletes, and “regular joes.”


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