Not everyone can be the heavyweight champion of the world. But don’t let that keep you from learning the training and diet techniques of people like UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic.
Because if you’re looking for a way to improve the way you train and eat, there’s probably nobody in the world more qualified to give legitimate diet and training advice than an active world champion fighter.
Better yet, why not ask someone already past his mid-30s and coming off a massive win that probably solidified him as the best fighter from his weight class ever?
Miocic revealed to Heavy the six health and fitness secrets he used to climb to the top of the UFC, and now we’re sharing them all with you.
1. Every Single Thing Matters
In a world packed full of hard sells that promise big results from just one product or one type of workout, Miocic underscored the fact that the most important part of the whole health and fitness puzzle was everything combined.
“It’s a little bit of everything,” Miocic said. “My diet, my endurance training, sparring, running. I just listen to my body to make sure I’m healed up.”
Everything matters when it comes to getting and staying healthy, even for people like Miocic who make their living doing things most people would never even dream of trying.
2. Age Is Just a Number (Sort Of)
Miocic is 38. If you’re over 35, then you know from your own experience that your body starts to feel different around that age. If your older, you know that the trend keeps going until you no longer feel like the same person.
“It always is a battle,” Miocic said about growing older.
Now imagine all that going on while you’re a professional athlete.
Miocic said accepting the reality of how aging affects his body is of utmost importance. The champ doesn’t use aging as an excuse for anything but does accept the basic premise that he simply can’t do things exactly like he could during his 20s.
“I think just being really diligent with what you do, and understanding your body helps a lot,” Miocic said. “As you get older, you learn more about fitness because you’re not a spring chicken like you used to be.”
For Miocic, that means using different tools and techniques to keep his body in optimal health.
“I do a lot of pool workouts now which is great,” Miocic said. “I love the pool. The pool is amazing.”
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3. About All That Running in Those Rocky Movies
Remember all those training montages in those Rocky movies that suggested fighters like Miocic go jogging all the time?
That’s not entirely accurate.
At least, that’s not what happens in 2020. The concept of roadwork in fight sports has evolved greatly since Sylvester Stallone started making those movies and today it’s nowhere near the long and slow marathon runs that it used to be.
To that point, Miocic said his “long” runs were no more than 3 to 4 miles, and that he usually only ran once or twice a week.
On top of that, even when the champ does go for a run, Miocic said he hardly ever hits the pavement.
“I use an anti-gravity treadmill which lifts me up so I don’t put all the pressure and weight on my legs,” Miocic said. ” It makes me feel a lot lighter than I really am. It helps.”
Miocic also likes to mix things up.
“At the beginning of the week, I go hard, sometimes sprint, like a real intense workout,” Miocic said. “But by the end of the week, I do long recovery runs.”
4. Train for What You Do (Functional Training)
If you follow fight sports like MMA or boxing, you know that most of the fighters that look like they could moonlight as bodybuilders would probably be better served if that wasn’t the case.
Those guys aren’t the ones that will end up having long term success in the sport.
True to form, Miocic said he’s never really focused on what a bodybuilder or a powerlifter might do. Instead, Miocic focuses on functional training with a heavy emphasis on compound movements.
“I don’t so much do deadlifts, squats or bench,” Miocic said. “It’s more jump squats, pullups, lots of ligament strength, functional strength, stuff like that.”
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Rule #1, never skip a Monday. Rarely will you see me using any machine. Functional training, speed and balance is the name of the game! Maintaining that element of instability is what it’s all about! Bulk doesn’t equal strength, it’s the efficiency of the muscle. Train your body to become the machine 💪🏼 #SM #BYLTforthis
Miocic said he trains to fight, not to lift heavy objects or pose in front of mirrors.
“You can lift all the weights you want and be as strong as you want but if you don’t have the endurance you’re going to get tired fast,” Miocic said. “I do a lot of five-minute rounds with one type of exercise.”
So Miocic puts all sorts of different exercises together in five-minute intervals so that he can be ready to fight all five five-minute rounds every single time he defends his UFC heavyweight title.
“I do pullups. I move my feet. I work on different angles,” Miocic said.
With endurance on his mind, the champ focuses on working hard for the full five minutes but not on going all out.
“Not going crazy but just constantly working,” Miocic said. “I mostly stay steady. Easy and steady. I’m constantly moving.”
5. Fuel Your Body Like a Champ
Miocic didn’t offer any fad diet tips or outlandish eating plans. Instead, Miocic said he focused on making small but important changes to how he eats over the years, especially as he’s grown older.
“I used to overstuff myself. I used to eat as much as I could,” Miocic said. “But now I’ll eat not until I’m absolutely full. I don’t want to get overly full so I’m not tired and lazy. That’s been helping a lot.”
Miocic eats as healthy as he can, and that means he tries to stay away from junk food as much as possible.
Whenever he can replace something typically full of sugar and other harmful chemicals such as energy drinks with something like his favorite clean energy drink, Kill Cliff, that’s what he does.
Other than that, Miocic simply tries to eat clean because he wants to stay lean.
“I drink tons of water,” Miocic added.
6. Recovery Is Just as Important as Training
But probably the hardest thing to get through to most people seriously interested in health and fitness?
“Recovery is just as important as hard training,” Miocic said.
It’s almost counterintuitive. More reps and more training would seem to equal bigger and better gains, but the truth of the matter is that rest and recovery are just as vital to one’s goals as the actual exercises.
Miocic’s advice is to pay close attention to how the body feels every day.
“Sometimes, you have to back off a little bit, you know. You can hurt yourself a lot more [if you don’t].”
Miocic’s training schedule is jam-packed. He said Monday was dedicated to boxing and kickboxing. Tuesdays were all about grappling moves. Wednesdays were for pad work. Thursdays were all about MMA drills. Fridays were for working on different techniques he needed to go over again. Saturdays were wrestling and jiu-jitsu.
But sometimes even someone who needs to be an expert at all those things has a body that tells him to rest.
“By Thursday, I’m exhausted. I’m beat up. I’m sore. My coaches will sometimes tell me I’m done and to take the rest of the weekend off.”
So that’s what he does.
“On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I rest up. I eat good. I stretch out,” Miocic said.
And all those things have helped Miocic become one of the most accomplished champions in UFC history.
“It’s amazing,” Miocic said. “I must be doing something right.”
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