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If you’ve watched any of Nick Diaz’s fights in the last few years it almost seems like he never gets tired. In fact he seems to get more energy as the fight wears on. If you saw how he outworked BJ Penn at UFC 137 you will understand what I mean.

The first round was fairly even with both competitors getting their fair share of the exchanges. But I would have given the first round to Penn. The problem with fighting Diaz is his opponents can only keep up with his relentless pace for so long before they start to gas and slow down. Once this happened to Penn in the second round it was basically a free for all for Diaz. Diaz was out striking Penn from the second round until the end of the fight. I have never seen BJ Penn look like that after a fight. He didn’t even look like that after fighting Jon Fitch or St. Pierre and they are both bigger and stronger than Diaz. I have a lot of respect for Penn coming out for the third round because he looked like his corner should have thrown in the towel and stopped the fight.

nick diaz cardio

Nick Diaz Cardio

How does he do this you may be asking. Well I’ve done some research and this is what I’ve found. Nick competes in Iron Man races and Triathlons. Whatever your feelings are about the guy you have to tip your hat to him to be willing to take his conditioning to the next level. From what he puts himself though before a fight it is clear he is extremely passionate about his health and fitness. Running these sort of races isn’t something for the feint of heart, it takes months of preparation and you need to be able to ignore that voice in your head that tells you to quit when you feel exhausted.

Nick Diaz Triathlon

Nick Diaz Mid Triathlon

Diaz recently participated in the 30th annual Donner Lake Triathlon in Truckee, California, finishing an impressive 36th out of 292 entrants. The race comprises of a 1.5 kilometre swim. A 40 k bike ride and finally a 6.5 mile run. Diaz completed the course in 2 hours, 46 minutes and 20.4 seconds.

Diaz has long been a triathlon competitor and credits that for his reputation as one of the fittest athletes in Mixed Martial Arts. In fact in a recent interview he stated.

“Fighting is 90 percent mental, and knowing that 15 minutes or 25 minutes are no problem can help you sustain that mental advantage over your opponent,” he said. “What’s 25 minutes when I’ve been pushing 80 percent of my maximum aerobic threshold for three hours?”

The below video actually shows Nick right before competing in a triathlon and he explains why he has such good cardio & endurance. Most of it he puts down to swimming as a child.

A lot of MMA coaches state that distance running is useless for Mixed Martial Arts and we should instead concentrate on sprinting. I think Nick Diaz makes a good case for that statement being a load of crap. No doubt sprints help your body develop the ability to have quick, controlled bursts of energy, but distance running definitely has its place. I have used distance running to help my weight loss. But I have also noticed a big improvement in my cardio for Brazilina Jiu-Jitsu and Grappling. When my team mates are all breathing heavily and out of breath I still feel fine. Doing GSP’s RushFit series has also improved my cardio dramatically.

Here is an example workout that I have created which will go a long way to increasing your cardio and endurance.

Simple Cardio Workout

  1. Start off with a 5k run. This will fill your muscles with lactic acid and start to tire you out
  2. 5 rounds of 1 minute sprints (add a hill incline for some extra difficulty if you feel the need)
  3. 30 Burpees

The goal is to try and complete this workout as quickly as you can. Over a period of time you should see that your cardio is increasing because this workout will start getting easier and you will not feel as tired after completing it and subsequently you start to finish it in a shorter time.

If you find that you can’t get through the entire workout when you first start doing it, do not worry. Just complete as much of it as you can. Eventually you will be able to do it all from start to finish.

If you are lucky enough to own a gym membership with access to a swimming pool you can substitute the sprints for 10 minutes of swimming laps of the pool as quickly as you can. I don’t have a gym membership any more so I make do with running. On a side note both running and swimming are great for weight loss. Swimming is probably the most effective of the two. I have a friend who managed to loose 20 pounds or 1.6 stone just by going swimming 3 times a week without making any serious dietary changes. It really helps burn the fat and speed up a persons metabolic rate.

The reason I’ve added Burpees into the mix is because in Mixed Martial Arts the most tiring aspect from my own experience is the switching levels between standing and being on the ground and getting back up to my feet again. Doing this multiple times in a five minute round really tires guys out. That is what really takes it out of me so I added those in for good measure. Don’t hate me, I hate them as well!

This workout will not give you Nick Diaz levels of cardio but it will go a long way to improving it. To get the same sort of cardio as Nick you are going to have to start distance running and maybe entering some races like he does. When you have the endurance to run a 2 hour race at 60-80% of your fastest pace you will find that the three five minute rounds of an MMA fight a complete breeze in comparison.

If you want to increase your endurance and cardio Nick makes a good case for distance running and swimming being the ways to go. Don’t be scared homie!

As always if you have any questions please feel free to leave me a comment. Thanks for reading cheers!

You may have never heard of this ab exercise before but I have found it to be one of if not the most effective abdominal exercise out there. Not only does it strengthen the core muscles it also strengthens all of core muscles: the back, hips, buttocks, etc. Ignore the guy in the video just try to do 3 sets of 1 minute for your first month or so until you start to find it easy and then ramp it up a bit to make it more challenging (say 3 sets of 1:30).

Don’t let your hips or back sag because you won’t be getting any benefit from that workout, you need to keep your back completely straight.

  1. - Start by lying face down on the ground or use an exercise mat.
  2. - Place your elbows and forearms underneath your chest.
  3. - Prop yourself up to form a bridge using your toes and forearms.

Using Kettlebells to improve muscular endurance is a great way to train for MMA. Doing high rep sets of Kettlebell swings, snatches, and cleans is an excellent way to build strength, burn fat and increase your conditioning. You can burn up to 25 calories a minute by doing a Kettlebell workout, it is an extremely efficient way to burn fat and speed up your metabolic rate if you are just looking to loose weight or tone up your stomach. Each kettlebell exercise is followed by one minute of skipping. Total workout time 20 minutes.

1:00 Kettlebell around the body (warm up)
1:00 Skipping interval 1
1:00 2 Arm kettlebell swings
1:00 Skipping interval 2
1:00 1 Arm kettlebell swings right
1:00 Skipping interval 3
1:00 1 Arm kettlebell swings left
1:00 Skipping interval 4
1:00 1 Arm clean and press right
1:00 Skipping interval 5
1:00 1 Arm clean and press left
1:00 Skipping interval 6
1:00 1 Arm high pull right
1:00 Skipping interval 7
1:00 1 Arm high pull left
1:00 Skipping interval 8
1:00 1 Arm snatch right
1:00 Skipping interval 9
1:00 1 Arm snatch left
1:00 Skipping interval 10
Total time 20 minutes

Demian Maia training for his UFC 112 fight. In the video he trains Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) with with Xande Ribeiro, training boxing / kickboxing and then does strength and conditioning with Rafael Alejarra.

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