The Nick Diaz UFC Workout

Dec 12 / Build Muscle

Nick Diaz is a realist. Sure, he’s made a lot of enemies as UFC’s unhinged villain—missing pre-fight press conferences because he refuses to make nice with his opponents, flipping off the camera when it’s in his face before fights, and taunting fighters in the ring before he finishes them. But in a sport that’s barbaric to it’s core—two men, locked into a cage, unable to leave it until one inflicts enough pain on the other, all for money while drunken spectators cheer on—why is it considered “unsportsmanlike” to act like a barbarian. “Nick just hates the pretentiousness of it all. He’s not ...

Nick Diaz is a realist. Sure, he’s made a lot of enemies as UFC’s unhinged villain—missing pre-fight press conferences because he refuses to make nice with his opponents, flipping off the camera when it’s in his face before fights, and taunting fighters in the ring before he finishes them. But in a sport that’s barbaric to it’s core—two men, locked into a cage, unable to leave it until one inflicts enough pain on the other, all for money while drunken spectators cheer on—why is it considered “unsportsmanlike” to act like a barbarian.

“Nick just hates the pretentiousness of it all. He’s not down with the whole idea that you have to keep fights classy by doing pre-fight, shake-hands-and-make-nice-with-the-enemy press conferences. Let’s be honest: cage fighting isn’t classy,” says Cesar Gracie, Diaz’s trainer. “Nick understands that his opponent wants to knock his teeth out. For Nick, the fight begins when he signs the contract.”

This Saturday, February 4, Diaz fights Carlos “The Natural Born Killer” Condit for the UFC welterweight intermediary championship at the Mandalay Bay Casino and Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. UFC analysts are calling it quite possibly the most compelling and exciting match up between the two best-matched fighters that the UFC has to offer.

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The fighters couldn’t be any different. Condit specializes in powerful strikes and submission holds and grew up in a high profile, well-to-do family, while Diaz excels with street-style brawling and tireless tenacity and grew up an outsider without a father. And while both have trained their entire careers for Saturday’s battle, the real insight into why this is Nick Diaz’s fight to lose comes when you consider how each fighter spends his free time.

Condit is a laid-back family man. When he’s not at the gym, he’s spending time at home with his wife and baby boy, or eating big meals with his entire extended family. Sometimes he sneaks out to the desert around his Albuquerque home to shoot guns and B.S. with his high-school friends.

Diaz is a zealous competitor that is wholly incapable of backing down. Everything that he does is intense to the extreme. When he’s not preparing for his next fight, he’s either riding 20 to 30 miles on his road or mountain bike, swimming 2,200 meters, or going for a quick 10-mile run. In fact, Diaz competes in nearly 10 triathlons every year, often times taking first place in his age division. “His cardiovascular fitness is astounding,” says Gracie. “He has no off switch. No one trains like him, and no one is as insanely intense.”

Therein lies his edge.

In the weeks prior to Saturday’s fight, Diaz’s days were marathons. He’d wake up, go for a ride or a swim, then hit Gracie’s gym for bout after bout of 5-minute sessions of sparing, grappling, and mitt work, only to return to the gym to spar again around nine o’clock. He’d top his days off around midnight with some weight training or a 5-mile run. What fuels all of that training is the culinary extension of his intensity: Diaz eats no gluten, dairy, red or white meat, or GMO foods, and subsists only on organic fish, vegetables, nuts, and grains.

Perhaps his crazed non-stop intensity and lack of an off switch is what has given Diaz his “punk” reputation. Sure, he didn’t show up to two UFC 137 press conferences—why fake nice with a guy who wants to break your face? Sure, he dropped F-bombs on stage and called out Georges St. Pierre—he was riding high on adrenaline after defeating BJ “The Prodigy” Penn. Sure, he taunts opponents in the ring, occasionally offering them a free shot—it gets in their head, causing his foes to fight erratically. Sure, he flips off the camera when it’s in his face before fights—he’s in combat mode, readying himself to break someone.

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“He’s not like that in everyday life,” says Gracie. “He’s combative before and during fights and press conferences because he’s in combat mode. His job is to do combat, and the cameras catch him while he’s working.” (Are you tough enough for MMA hottie Gina Carano? musclemorphosis.com)

If the Condit fight goes his way, Diaz’s next opponent will be Georges St-Pierre, who currently holds the welterweight championship belt, but is sidelined with an injury. That fight will determine who is the toughest of them all. And you better believe that Diaz will be at his fiercest for that fight. St-Pierre recently stated, “Nick Diaz deserves to be beat down. I’m going to put my hand on him and he’s going to be done.” (If you want to see how St-Pierre will be training, musclemorphosis.com.)

On Saturday, Diaz will leave the octagon—likely with a belt and middle fingers blazing—and return to training and “off days” filled with running, swimming, and biking. Non-stop. Full bore—sharpening his edge for his next battle, perhaps with Georges St. Pierre. In the meantime, you can gain your own edge with this workout designed around Diaz’s training. And remember, intensity is the key:

The Nick Diaz Workout
To prepare to fight Carlos Condit, Diaz focused on sparring and grappling over multiple 5-minute rounds, spaced 1 minute apart. It’s an insanely effective method that not only skyrockets his cardiovascular health, but also conditions his entire body, readying him to last far into the last round.

Replicate Diaz’s fight training with this killer UFC-specific kettlebell circuit designed by B.J. Gaddour, owner of Streamfit. Take 5 minutes to circuit through these five exercises. Do each exercise for 40 seconds, then rest for 20 seconds, and move on to the next exercise. That’s one round. Do five, resting one minute between rounds.

Kettlebell Gorilla Cleans

  • Grab two kettlebells. Let them hang between your legs, your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart with your knees slightly bent.
  • Bring the kettlebell in your left hand to the “rack” position—the kettlebell resting against your outer wrist, your forearm vertical, and your elbow bent and slightly in front of your ribs. This is the starting position.
  • Simultaneously switch the position of the kettlebells as you dip your hips up and down—the momentum will help the lower bell into the rack position. (Make sure not to fully stand or straighten your legs.)
  • Repeat in a see-saw like motion for time.

Watch kettlebell master Jason C. Brown of Kettlebell Athletics musclemorphosis.com.

The benefit: Builds endurance in your arms, shoulders, and legs in the clenched grappling position.

Kettlebell Shuffle Swings

  • Grab a kettlebell with both hands and assume a shortstop position (quarter squat, hips pushed back, spine in alignment), letting the bell hang in front of you.
  • Swing the bell between your legs and behind your hips.
  • Stand and swing it up to eye level while extending your hips and contracting your glutes.
  • With the bell at eye level, step your right foot to your left foot.
  • As the bell comes back down, step your right foot out so the bell safely passes between your legs.
  • Repeat, switching sides for time.

If you're new to kettlebells, master the most basic move with this video of musclemorphosis.com.

The benefit: This exercise takes the basic swing to the next level by boosting its cardio effects, and building your ability to quickly shift from side to side.

Kettlebell Threaded Lunges

  • Hold a kettlebell in your left hand and stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Take a big step backward with your right foot and lower your body until your left knee is bent at least 90 degrees and your right knee almost touches the floor. (Click here for musclemorphosis.com.)
  • In this “down” position, pass the kettlebell under your left leg to your right hand.
  • Push yourself back to the starting position, and repeat, switching legs for time.

The benefit: This drill helps develop the necessary hip strength and mobility needed for ground combat.

Kettlebell Mountain Climbers

  • Place a kettlebell on the ground on its side.
  • Assume a pushup position with your arms completely straight and hands on the kettlebell. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles.
  • Lift your right foot off the floor and slowly move your right knee toward your chest.
  • Return to the starting position, and repeat with your left leg.
  • Alternate back and forth for time.

The benefit: This exercise increases your stamina, and also stabilizes your core and spine, making you more solid when you are in a state of fatigue.

Kettlebell Figure Eight

  • With a kettlebell on the floor in front of you, drop into a quarter squat position, your hips back and your back straight.
  • Grab the kettlebell with both hands, your elbows inside your knees.
  • Take your left hand off of the kettlebell.
  • With your right hand, pass the kettlebell through your legs to your left hand.
  • Bring the kettlebell around your left leg, and pass it through your legs into your right hand.
  • Bring the kettlebell around your right leg, and pass it through your legs to your left had.
  • Continue for time, switching the direction that that you pass the bell after 20 seconds.

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The benefit: This exercise increases the coordination, stability, and endurance in your legs, which allows you to stay lower longer.

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