Two-time UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir explains how he balances diet, workouts and MMA training against the backdrop of family and everyday life. Learn from a guy who’s definitely “been there, done that” so YOU can start improving your OWN program!

Frank Mir is one of the most compelling UFC heavyweights for a number of reasons, not the least of which is, after the motorcycle accident he had in 2004, he wasn’t supposed to be alive. With his twice-fractured femur and ripped knee ligaments, he also wasn’t supposed to walk again, to fight again or to win again. Yet he’s done all those things and more — perhaps the most noteworthy of which was defeating Brock Lesnar at the UFC 81 in 2008. No obstacle that landed in Frank Mir’s path seemed to matter. His life serves as a textbook example of Friedrich Nietzsche’s most famous saying: “What does not kill me, makes me stronger.”

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An examination of Frank Mir’s fight life — specifically, his MMA diet, MMA techniques and MMA workouts — can help martial artists like you improve your own MMA diet, MMA techniques and MMA workouts for a better body, better fighting and a better life overall.

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Enjoy Training to Improve Your MMA Techniques

“I’m constantly in the gym because I enjoy being a martial artist,” Frank Mir says. “Who doesn’t love to go to the gym and train if you’re into martial arts? I spend two or three days a year in an octagon with millions of people watching, and that provides me with the chance to be at the gym every other day, hanging out with my family and friends and doing what I love most.”

The Dangers of Overtraining During MMA Workouts

If you get hurt in your MMA workouts or preparing stronger MMA techniques for a big fight, chances are you’ll have to wait months for another shot. Frank Mir found that out the hard way when a shoulder injury prevented him from facing Antoni Hardonk on April 5, 2007. He wasn’t able to meet him in the octagon until August 25 — some four and a half months later.

Get the Best Martial Arts Training and MMA Techniques Coaching From Top Instructors

Frank Mir has a top-notch team that puts him through the necessary paces during his MMA workouts and training to power up his MMA techniques. He hones his wrestling skills with Mike Whitehead and Ricky Landell. Robert Drysdale has been his Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach for years. He credits Jimmy Gifford for helping him develop his boxing ability and footwork. Shawn Yarborough and Peter Pinter, one of Mark DellaGrotte’s head instructors, push him on the finer points of muay Thai. These pieces of MMA techniques training work synergistically, he says. “It’s not like I listen to one guy for half an hour by himself. All five or six guys are standing there at the same time, and whenever I enter an area of their expertise, they offer input.”

Perform Anaerobic Exercises in Your MMA Workouts

“I’m not a big proponent of heavyweights going out for a jog,” Frank Mir says. “I’ve just never been a believer in building up cardio for a fight. Fighting is very anaerobic, so that’s the type of training I do.”

Focus on Resistance Training Exercises During MMA Workouts

Frank Mir hits the free weights three to four times a week as part of his MMA workouts to strengthen his MMA techniques. “I believe they build more stabilizing muscles and balance than machines do,” he says. “You want to build up to intensely physical exercises. The more intense, the better it’ll be for you.”

Deploy Combat-Conditioning Exercises During MMA Workouts

Frank Mir says he lifts heavy during his MMA workouts for one reason: to get stronger doing movements he’ll need to perform MMA techniques in a fight. “Weighted pull-ups, for example, use muscles you’ll use in a grappling match,” he says. Similarly, he recommends jump squats to train your legs in a way that will benefit you in combat.

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Frank Mir doesn’t do specialized exercises like the biceps curl during his MMA workouts. “My biceps get exercised because I’m pulling things,” he says of his process of preparation for more powerful MMA techniques. “I grip onto something, I do a bent-over row, a power lift or a weighted pull-up. My biceps are getting trained inadvertently — that’s the natural way to do it. The body was designed through evolution to pull, push and lift things. That’s much more natural, and that’s the movement you’re going to use in a fight.”

Use Circuit-Training Exercises in Your MMA Workouts

Frank Mir likes to break up the monotony of weightlifting during his MMA workouts with circuit-training exercises like hoisting a huge tire and slamming a sledgehammer into a tractor tire. Sometimes he’ll drag a heavy weight for five minutes, give himself a one-minute break and resume the dragging, which simulates the pace and the explosiveness of MMA techniques in a fight. He varies the intensity of the drills during his MMA workouts to make sure he’s hitting his muscles and cardio from every possible angle. He might bob and weave under a rope for 45 seconds, then clean and jerk a 200-pound stone 10 times in 90 seconds. After that, he might switch back to a low-intensity exercise before finishing with something that’s super-high intensity. It’s his preferred way to simulate the chaos of fast-and-furious MMA techniques in the cage.

Make Your MMA Diet Like a Cave-Man Diet

Frank Mir once said that when he’s training for the next display of his MMA techniques in the cage, he likes his MMA diet to mimic that of a cave man. In other words, his MMA diet minimizes his intake of processed foods. “I don’t do that quite as much as I did before because my weight is more in control,” he says. “Eating that strict makes you more lean, and it’s difficult for someone with my frame to carry the weight that I’d like to. “But for the most part, we’ve decided as a family that we won’t eat a lot of processed foods. In my house, we don’t have bags of potato chips and soda. If you open the fridge, there’s orange juice, water and organic milk. We do eat breads — the hard breads, stone-ground wheat. Pretty much nothing you would pop in a microwave is going to be in my home.”

Find Healthy Foods to Eat for Your MMA Diet

“A lot of health problems you see — heart problems, liver problems, weight problems and diabetes— [come from] not eating healthy,” he says. “Get 100 people who eat right and 100 people who eat garbage, and the 100 who eat garbage are going to be the ones at the hospital. There are times I’ll enjoy a pizza with the family, but we don’t eat fast food every day.”

The Benefits of Fish Oil in One's MMA Diet

“Nutrabolics, a Canadian company, ships me my supplements, and I use them extensively,” Frank Mir says of his MMA diet. “The only thing they don’t have that I use is fish oil — I’m pretty big on that just because of cholesterol. I’ve always tried to pay attention to cholesterol because of my father being from Cuba. He works out and takes good care of himself, but he has an issue with cholesterol. The doctor explained to him that he has a genetic predisposition, and I inherited that.”

Protein Shake Supplements in Frank Mir's MMA Diet

“I’m big on protein,” Frank Mir says. “Every time I sit down to eat, I make sure it’s in the majority of my food. We eat a lot of chicken and fish, but every once in a while, I have to have some red meat — once every two weeks, I’ll get a nice steak in my system.” Most of the protein in Frank Mir's MMA diet comes from lighter sources, he says. “I supplement with protein shakes — two a day to make sure I cover my bases. If you go without protein, you can break your muscles down and start feeding off them. That’s not a good thing. You want to keep your muscles fueled properly so your training is more productive.”

Whey Protein Isolate in Frank Mir's MMA Diet

“I’ve always been a big whey user, the double-filtered isolate,” Frank Mir says of his MMA diet. “It’s easy to mix, and I don’t have any problems digesting it. I drink a gallon of milk a day, so I get a lot of protein through that, also.”

Frank Mir’s First Leap Into a Public Show of His MMA Techniques

Frank Mir put his MMA techniques to use publicly for the first time when he was 21. “It scared me,” he recalls. “The idea of combat with another human being was terrifying, and I didn’t want it to be something that paralyzed my decision-making skills. It’s annoying when something has such control over you.” His solution was to leap into the lion’s den. “When I was walking down to my first fight, I could hear my heart beating,” he remembers. “I couldn’t even swallow — I stuck the mouthpiece in and almost vomited because I was so cottonmouthed. You couldn’t even tell the color of my eyes because they were so dilated.” Now when he walks down the aisle and into the octagon to bring his MMA techniques to bear, he’s as cool as a cucumber. “I almost have to ask somebody to make me mad,” he says. “I felt bad about the Cheick Kongo fight because you could see me yawning as they announced my name. I didn’t mean it as a sneer — I really was that relaxed.”

How to Cut Fat From Your MMA Workouts

If you think right and train for better MMA techniques the right way, there’s no reason to spend eight hours a day in the gym or the dojo, Frank Mir says in regard to MMA workouts. “How much can you really accomplish? You warm up, cool down, strategize, talk between sets and rounds. Once you break it all down, you’re really only working out for 40 minutes. Cut the fat off your workouts. If you’re not being productive, go home and spend time with your wife and kids.” More About Frank Mir:
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