Dewey Nielsen

March 30, 2009

Here is a quick interview i did with Dewey from a while back.

Dewey Nielsen

Dewey is a reputable and respected strength coach based in Oregon. As well as being a Strength and Conditioning expert he is also a successful mma coach and holds a brown belt in Jiu Jitsu. Having this combination makes Dewey a man we had to talk too. Read on to discover his thoughts on performance enhancement for combat Sports.

  • Dewey you run a very successful bjj/mma school. Do you offer strength training classes at your facility and how to you deal with logistic problems like varying training levels and equipment usage

All training in our facility is done with me as one on one training or group training (no more than 4 per group). In these scenarios we really don’t run into any logistic problems. Equipment usage is not an issue and true beginners will never be paired with my advanced guys.

We will be starting some group fitness classes in the next month. The classes will have a heavy metabolic emphasis. Basically it will be structured group interval training using different tools like kettlebells, dumbbells, bodyweight, etc. In this situation we will probably limit class sizes to around 10 or 12.

  • How do you warm up for a Jits class and how does this differ from schools that don’t have a coach with a background in strength and conditioning.

This is a great question. Our warm ups definitely reflect some strength and conditioning. I think traditionally you will see BJJ gyms warm guys up with some stretching, jogging and a boat load of flexion abdominal work. As a side note, BJJ/MMA guys perform WAY too much spinal flexion. Some of the best advice I could give to keep them healthy is to cut that junk out.

As far as our warm-ups go, we start with some soft-tissue work using the foam rollers (this has become a habit in our gym. Guys immediately grab a roller). From there we will spend a few minutes stretching and move right into some movement prep. Our movement prep will start with some basic lunging variations, a lot of crawling movements and then move into more specific drilling like shooting, arm bars, triangles, etc. After movement prep, our class lesson will begin.

  • Your recent article “Common Mistakes of a Mixed Martial Artist” raised some interesting points. Your opinion of long distance running goes against the opinion of many combat sport coaches. Why do you feel that low intensity cardio isn’t optimal for combat athletes.

In the article I put this as the number one mistake. The bottom line is, if a coach is giving a combat athlete LSD (long slow distance), they generally do not understand the physiological demands of combat sports. That may piss some guys off but it’s the truth. There may be some valid reasons for recovery to use LSD but other than that there is NO place for it in a program. Your body will adapt to the training stress that is place upon it. Train slow, perform slow. PERIOD! Simply ask yourself, are you going to fight at slow pace for 45 minutes? No. So why would you train that way? LSD is the kiss of death for combat athletes.

  • In your article you mentioned you used Gray cooks Functional movement screen. What does this screen assess and how does it help you enhance your athlete performance?

We screen all of our athletes using the FMS. What it shows us is mobility problems, stability problems and asymmetries in the athlete. The screen consists of 7 tests which we score between a 0 and a 3. Basically we are looking to see if they can function at a fundamental level. If they are scoring low on these tests, we know they are compensating at a more dynamic level on the mat. The FMS really helps us see common limiting factors in our sport. If we can recognize these and clean up our athlete’s movement patterns, then we are more likely to prevent non-contact and overuse injuries. Realize we can’t prevent an arm from popping in an arm bar. That’s not what we are talking about. Non-contact and overuse injuries are a big problem. BJJ/MMA guys just don’t take care of their bodies like they should. If they can avoid more injuries, that means they can train more consistently. That in itself is going to increase an athletes’ performance.

  • How do you deal with the hyperkyphotic posture you have encountered in many mma athletes?

This is like a plague among MMA athletes. It’s ironic because bad, hunch back posture is actually “good” posture in fighting. The first thing is to get the athlete aware of what good posture is. They need to understand that walking around with Neanderthal like posture is going to lead to pain and eventually injuries. Beyond that, we address soft-tissue work around the pecs, lats, t-spine and posterior shoulder. We will work a lot on t-spine mobility along with general upper body flexibility. And then we will compliment the mobility we have gained with some good scap activation exercises and rowing variations. In our strength training, we make sure that are equal in their pulling to pushing exercises. Too many guys are pushing dominant from so much bench pressing and suck at pull-ups and rows.

  • How often do you recommend that your athlete’s strength train and what is the breakdown of typical session?

Our guys will generally be on two or three day programs depending on they often they are training MMA/BJJ, how close they are to competition, etc. A typical session will look like this:

Soft-tissue work (foam roll, tennis ball, etc)


Activation (glutes, scap, etc.)

Movement prep

Power/Speed (med ball, plyos, Sled, etc)

Olympic Lift

Strength (generally total body)

Conditioning (no LSD)

Depending on what phase we are in and how close they are to competition this can look a little bit different but we will still address all of these components.

  • In what ways do you train your athletes for the isometric portions of a mma/Jits fight?

In our sport, guys must address isometrics. And it’s not that hard to fit into the program. We just put an iso emphasis in during the third or forth week of a phase. We will generally use iso holds on things like split squats, pull-ups and bench press. Iso holds don’t work well on all exercises. Some lend themselves better than others.

  • Your DVD combative conditioning was one of the first DVDs aimed at the combat athlete. What did you hope to achieve with this DVD?

At the time of making the DVD, the goal was to give combat athletes tools that they could implement in their current programming. Collectively we had decided with the production group to make it very user friendly so that folks could do the program at home rather than joining a gym. Making a DVD was not the most positive experience. I hate the camera. But I’m not ruling out doing another one. It was a learning experience.

  • Has any of your training philosophy changed since the video was made? What would add or remove if you had to redo it?

The DVD is fairly old now and the thought process is even older (by the time a product comes out, there are already things you would change). Some of my views have definitely changed. There are a lot of things I would do different in remaking a video but also a lot of things that I wouldn’t. The two big ones that come to mind are that there would have been a greater emphasis on basics and simply getting people stronger. Also, we had a ton of lumbar rotation stuff that I cringe at now. But I can’t apologize for education.

  • What are the most common injuries you have come up against training combat athletes? What would you recommend to help avoid these?

Low back, knees, neck and shoulders tend to be the main injuries I see. Obviously we can’t do much for contact injuries. If a guy is doing a can-opener on your neck and it is sore the next day, there isn’t a whole lot we can do to prevent that.

With the low back, we will look at overall core stability, hip mobility and t-spine mobility. With knees we will address hip strength/stability and mobility and ankle mobility. With shoulders and necks we will look at t-spine mobility. Guys are really locked up in the t-spine. We will see that athletes generally have poor shoulder mobility due to poor t-spine mobility. I tell them the rotator cuff is a slave of the scapulae and the scap is a slave of the t-spine. A lot of things always come back to the t-spine.

  • You emphasised the importance of power endurance for mixed martial arts. How do you train this component of strength?

This is an interesting one. Athletes first need to become proficient at the basics. They need to really be dialled in on their form, because as we get into training power endurance (which is actually an oxy-moron) form can deplete quickly. Once we have a solid strength and conditioning base, we will have athletes doing power endurance circuits which will be one exercise after another with almost no rest period. The circuits will be specifically put together to mimic the fight time, rest periods and rounds (ex: 5 minute circuit with 1 minute rest). Will we combine power and strength exercises along with specific drills like shooting. There must be a logical progression to get athletes to train like this. It’s something that guys should not just jump into. If form gets too ugly, you increase the risk of injury and decrease the effects of training.

  • Static stretching has been a topic of hot debate in the strength and conditioning community. Do you recommend that your athletes stretch and what do you hope it will achieve?

Static stretching gets a bad rap and it shouldn’t. The popular statement that static stretching reduces force output has made individuals completely over-react to static stretching. Some trainers and coaches now avoid static stretching like the plague, especially the use of it before resistance training. Many world class coaches use static stretching and use it before resistance training with great results. Mike Boyle, Alwyn Cosgrove, Joe DeFranco, Martin Rooney and many others all incorporate static stretching in their program design.

You must understand that it is NEVER the modality that is the problem…….It is the misunderstanding of how to USE the modality and the misinterpretation of research.

We use static stretching all the time and you know what? We use it BEFORE resistance training. I can hear the shrieking screams now!! Look at this logically. We know that static stretching has some inhibiting qualities to it. Basically if you static stretch a muscle, that muscle will be a little more relaxed for a short duration following the stretch. This is not really a bad thing. If someone has tight pecs, I could stretch their pecs and before doing a set of Rows in order to get more scapular retraction. I could also stretch someone’s hip flexors before they do a vertical jump in order to get the hip extensors to do their job without interference of the antagonist. So, the inhibition of the muscle was exactly what I was looking for. As you can see, it is not the modality that is the problem but rather not knowing how to use the modality.

A chainsaw is a great tool in a logger’s hands but may be extremely dangerous in a 4 year olds hands.

The most popular time to do static stretching is post workout. This is fine but it only restores tissue length back to what it was before the workout. If you are looking to improve tissue length, stretch cold…….YES COLD. In fact, most soft tissue experts will tell you that if you want a structural change in the tissue you should stretch cold. And even better is to stretch directly after soft tissue work. This is exactly what we do. Foam roll first followed by static stretching. By the time we are strength training, it has been nearly 30 minutes since we have stretched. Do you seriously think that we are going to have negative benefits on our force output 30 minutes later?

Really we could make any research support a belief. If I tested your 3RM in the bench press and then immediately tested your 5RM, you would be significantly weaker. SHAZAAM!! We just provided research that says “Strength training makes you weaker”!! I think I heard Alwyn Cosgrove say that. Kind of funny.

Dewey Nielsen

Impact Jiu-jitsu & Performance Training



Sorry to all of you whom where holding your breath waiting to see what drivel i spouted on friday only to be dissapointed by my no show.

Heres what i was upto instead.

  • Resident Evil makes me so happy
  • I am buying a house soon therefore every minute of my free time is taken up by talking about dwellings, furniture, mortgages, storage space and council tax banding. Have you ever wanted a conversation to end so much that you would consider chewing of your own arm just to get a reaction?
  • Refereed a fight show in baby eater country and got to see big willy style mccracken get his 6 professional win. 6 fights and he hasnt even been punched yet. I feel his talk of retirement may be a bit early.

So heres my delayed musings.

  1. Strength Coach podcast is ace
  2. Mike Robertsons Podcast is also ace.
  3. When i stop foam rolling for a couple of days im screwed. My movements of and all the jits and striking stuff i do well goes to shit. Note to self keep foam rolling and stretching its as important as all the other more fun stuff.
  4. EQI’s (eccentric quasi isometrics) are a great alternative to stretching see issue 50 of fighters only for more details.
  5. I will be getting my finger out this week (how did that expression come about? and what sort of orifice are we discussing? free griphouse t shirt to anyone who can tell me) im even putting my camcorder into my bag now. Yep right now….. “oh whats that my beloved PS3 you want me to murder zombies”, but i have things to do like a foam rolling article, ok maybe for a few minutes”.
  6. Megan the fox

This should be quick today folks as i have a busy schedule of reading  Marvels Secret Invasion story arc and killing everyone as Ryu in Street Fighter 4, HADOKEN indeed.

I know what your thinking, “i wish i could sit on my ass all day playing computer games and reading comic” well to balance it up I will also be getting punched in the face of some of our best facial punchers at 7pm.

1. At last i have a fight confirmed its against the Brazilian jits Blackbelt Marcello Costa in the Absolute Combat show in Edinburgh in May this show will be the biggest and best to take place in Scotland so far. Its a great vibe in the gym when everyone is competing so i am really looking forward to it. .

Dont know a whole lot about the guy but i do freaking hate Costa coffee so that will be my motivation until im creative enough to make something up about him.

2. Yes I do find it helpful to dislike opponents.

3. I relised in my putting it all together article i mentioned Activation of inhibited muscle groups, but didn’t explain this at all.

Basically when a muscle on one side of a joint is shortened it inhibits the activity of the muscle on the other side of the joint. Your hip flexors get shortened from sitting down all day and this inhibits the activity of your arse (glutes). This means your hamstrings will end up doing the work of your glutes and be more prone to overuse injury. At the very least you wont be able to shift as much weight or accelerate or whatever.

4. I know i need to put more videos up here. Heres some stuff im working on (after ive finished reading comics and dragon punching foo’s)

  • Foam Rolling Article
  • Ground and pound article
  • The high and low level double leg
  • Activation Article
  • Plyos and jump training
  • designing strength training programs

Now i have a list to work from hopefully ill get on to it.

5. I did get to spar with Rosi Sexton and she is a n awesome competitor all of us at the Griphouse wish her luck on he upcoming bout. Even though her son streaked the womens Thaiboxing class.

6. Krystal Forscutt again

Will throw up an interview i did with strength coach and BJJ coach Dewey Nielsen tomorrow.

Hello all.

So after last Sundays alcohol infused awesomeness I just about feel that i can train well again. By well i mean i can get up at 6am get violated of The Doug for an hour at jiu jitsu and not cry.

1. ITS ON. The long awaited bout between Rosi “best chick fighter in the world” Sexton and my badself is on.  To help Rosi train for her upcoming bout In Bellator i agreed to the only fight i have ever ducked. If this blog is silent for a while it will be because I am sulking.

2. Here’s a tip for the coaches. When one of your less experienced guys asks you to show him rubber guard or mentions eddie bravo kick them in the face. Its a new policy we have implemented with those who still cant be arsed doing what i say or lack the ability to move their hips. If however you have a guard and have flexible hips go buck wild  rubber guard is cool.

3. Half Guard is better than closed guard for mma.

4. Hitting bags on the ground develops ground and pound power.

5. I have a new clinch position that makes it really hard to be taking down and is a great platform for kneeing the shiz outta fools. (May show it here when ive played with it more)

6. This girl was on Australlian Big Brother and got to touching a dudes wang in a bath while going walkabout in the bush down under. She now makes the sort of money that would make me consider following her career path

Wang toucher

Wang toucher

7. And heres the video of the incident.

See you next time im off to tidy my house, spar a 112kg man with tattoos on his face and hit up a pro wrestling show in cumbernauld.

Alcohol and Sports

March 11, 2009

For any of you who check out the dinky ninjas forum on you may have come across this thread by James Doolan.

“Paul’s blog should be interesting 2moro had the following texts from gazz this evening:

Me: gazz you home
Gazz: nah mate Paul’s fucked and needs baby sitting
me: what like drunk?
Gazz: yeah
Me: cool make sure he is ok
Gazz: he has only had 2 drinks
Me: Big drinks
Gazz: no bacardi breezers
Me: tell him to man up he is a disgrace to ireland
Gazz: he just pissed all over his leg
Me: Cool get a pic for his blog
Gazz: heading to a strip joint.later”

Although there was some poetic license used you get the idea. My subsequent hangover of death made me as always question my drinking habits. To this day it involves drinking alcohol very rarely but when doing so drinking until ive at least soiled myself or fallen asleep somewhere.

Looks uncomfortable

Looks uncomfortable

In an effort to curtail this behavior I started looking up the effects of alcohol on sporting performance. Not the immediate effect, as most people wouldn’t bet on a fighter who had lost the ability to speak and who’s only offense came in the form of projectile vomiting. I wanted to know the effects of binge drinking on the days and weeks after the session and how it can negatively impact training in mixed martial arts. Heres what i found with a quick pub med search.

  1. Alcohol will impair reaction time and mental acuity for up to several days after consumption. The delayed reaction time and decreased psycho motor abilities are never good for those training in combat sports. Performance will be reduced and injury risk increased.
  2. Alcohol is a powerful diuretic and dehydration decreases athletic performance. It can take days to recover from the associated disruption to electrolytes.
  3. Decreases in serum testosterone levels caused by binge drinking can lead to muscle wasting and decreases in athletic performance.
  4. The huge increase in calories taken in on a night out is not conducive to looking like a pro athlete. My two bacardi breezers would have boosted my daily calorie intake by 440kcal. If I some day I become a man and drink 10 stellas on a night out ill be hitting an extra 2200Kcal for the day not counting the extra kebab required for the way home.
  5. Alcohol has also been shown to effect sleep quality and attention span for days after a heavy drinking binge.

I havent even mentioned long term health effects like cardiac muscle atrophy, impotence, liver failure and all that other good stuff. Seems that for professional athletes drinking in moderation or completely ditching the sauce would be the sensible thing.

That being said….

Good excuse to drink yourself into a coma day March 17th

Good excuse to drink yourself into a coma day March 17th

Ok so for any of you who follow Eric Cressey’s brilliant blog at you will quickly see that i have stolen one of his ideas and barely changed the title.

This weekly blog post will give me the opportunity to brain fart new ideas and let you know what sort of antics have occurred during the week within the gym.

1. I think the isometric portion of MMA activities needs to be trained.

2. Jiu jitsu is probably the worst thing you can do to your spine and hips. Muay thai and boxing arent great for your thorasic spine. No wonder mma guys tend to look like this

Good posture for boxing is bad posture for nearly everything else

Good posture for boxing is bad posture for nearly everything else

3.  After catching Watchmen today i relise my entire career in mma and strength and conditioning is based around the fact that i want to be a superhero.

Had mad camel toe throughout the movie

Had mad camel toe throughout the movie

4. Myself and Alan Love have come up with a new game. Its called Loki. Apparently Loki was a bit of a dick. The premise is that you enter a room where respectable people are gathered and say something horrible or cause some other mischief. Brick is current champion by writing “jizz on a baby” with hils fridge magnets.

5. I love the fact that i can say the most hurtful and abusive things to my friends and they dont seem to give a jobby.

Awesome abuse thread

Next post will be on foam rolling.

Putting it all together

March 4, 2009

For years now mixed martial artists have shunned strength training and focused primarily on cardio intensive supplementary training. When we did pick up a barbell it was usually to do several minutes of thrusters, snatches or cleans i.e. more cardio.

When guys did manage to find time to resistance train they usually followed the advice of their bodybuilding friend. By doing  assisted barbell curls in the power rack and other wanky things that make an athlete want to put a kettlebell through their faces.

Get out of my fecking power rack, rarrrgh

Get out of my fecking power rack, rarrrgh

Athletic training for mma is not the same as power lifting, bodybuilding or even Olympic lifting.  As such we can take the good aspects from these sports and ignore what is not needed or potentially harmful. While adding in some of the stuff we have picked up from the physiotherapists to promote longevity and avoid injuries.

Here is an insight into my current philosophy with regards to workout structure.

1. Foam Roll

Walk in the gym pick up a roller, med ball or soft ball and violate your sore spots.  Foam rolling and regular massage is up there with Guitar Hero, free internet porn sites and bullying Bam in a list of things that i cant do without. If you arent actively dealing with your soft tissue problems (bits of your muscle that hurt when poked) then you are being a massive douche.


Some of your muscles don’t work the way they should. Others are taking over their jobs. This will probably end up hurting you and at the very least you arent going to be as athletic as you deserve to be.

3.Dynamic Mobility and Corrective Exercise

Here we ensure you have the range of motion and stability required to preform everything we hope to do during the rest of the workout.

This is the time when ill throw in some drills to deal with postural problems and assymetries.

4.Jump Training and Med Ball Work

I really like this stuff. We progress from simple jumps, hops and bounds into depth jumps and altitude landings. This is usually super setted with a launching a medball into a wall several hundred times.

All this in the name of developing man crushing explosive power. What fighter couldn’t benefit from being more explosive?

5.Olympic Lifts and Variants

Want to get a randleman style suplex on your highlight reel? Start training in activities that use explosive triple extension. Hang cleans, swings, jump squats, one arm snatches all improve your ability to exert your force on an opponent quickly and violently, which is mad fun.

6.Strength and Core training

Wanna do 9 sets of chest and biceps on a Monday? As athletes we should be training movement patterns and let the muscles do their own thing. This is much more than finding the biggest weight you can find and having someone deadlift it of your chest all the while screaming “its all you brah?”.

How many of us out there have experimented with tempo, isometric contraction, unilateral lifts or eccentric training. All this has a place in athletic development

I usually superset in some core work with strength exercise as i wont do them otherwise.


Make sure its not going to injury you, make it disgustingly hard and make it short. Kettlebells, bodyweight circuits, treadmill sprints, big feck off hills stuff like that.

A workout like this may take me 1hr30mins to 2 hrs so for those not blessed with baws all to do on a daily basis but train and blog post you may need to omit some of these sections.

I will be going into more detail on all of this in the future stay tunned in the mean time here’s Jessice Biel’s Tongue

Shes getting the twins out in her next film

Shes getting the twins out in her next film

Where I rob my ideas!

March 3, 2009

Let me begin by giving you an insight into my typical morning. First of all i crawl out of bed, switch on my PC, grab a shower and other things beginning with S, play about with a foam roller and then check out the latest blogs in my Google reader.

Heres a list of some of the ones im reading at the moment and steal from on a regular basis.

Absolute Gold Fitness

Conditioning Research

Eric Cressey

IOL Strength and Conditioning

Mike Boyle

Mike Robertson

Rosi Sexton

Dewey Nielsen

And before i forget

that outfit matches my gold txedo

that outfit matches my gold txedo

No ones ever got dumber reading something, except maybe heat magazine.

Proper blog post tomorrow