BritMMA.co.uk are delighted to announce the addition of an exciting new columnist to the website. Matthew Palfrey will be writing articles on Strength and Conditioning, which will be viewable every other Tuesday on a biweekly basis. As an introductory article, Matthew answered some questions explaining who he is and his areas of expertise.
Q: Hi Matt. For those who don't know, who are you and what do you do?
A: Hi Dean, I’m Matt Palfrey and I predominantly work as a Strength &
Conditioning coach. I also own and run MMA Nutrition UK, specialist Sports
Nutrition company that makes supplements for MMA athletes
(www.mmanutritionuk.com). I have degrees in Sports Science and Biomechanics, and have been working in the industry for around twelve years.
Q: How long have you been involved in MMA? Do you have an MMA/combat sports background yourself?
A: I’ve only recently started working with MMA athletes as a Strength &
Conditioning (S&C) coach, but have been following MMA from the early days. I
became a fan of the early Vale Tudo competitions in the 90’s and have
followed UFC and Pride (RIP) since. As a strength and conditioning coach
there is great scope for me in MMA – it’s such a varied sport that a good
quality S&C programme really does work wonders.
I was a martial artist in my younger days but now I stick strictly to
Q: Which fighters have you worked with and have you seen improvements in
their all round fitness due to your work?
A: As I said, I’ve only recently started working with MMA Athletes, but I’ve
been coaching professional athletes for around eight years. I’m now working with Wes Murch, of The Ultimate Fighter Season 8, and the team at Olympians MMA in Bristol.
The great thing about a broad approach to S&C programming is that it can
work on many levels – a well constructed programme can of course improve
strength and conditioning, but it can also help reduce injury, speed up skill
development and increase a fighter’s longevity among other things.
Q: Have you got a certain 'philosophy' to your strength and conditioning
A: There is a distinct lack of quality S&C coaches in British MMA, and I think
that needs to change in order for the sport to continue to grow in this
country. Every club needs to have an s&c coach on their staff list – and I
don’t just mean an instructor that takes the fitness sessions but a
qualified S&C coach who understands the needs of fighters.
My philosophy is, surprisingly, that strength and conditioning will not make
you a better fighter. A well developed S&C programme will allow you to train
to become a better fighter, and that’s a really important distinction to
make. My job is to get people to that level where they have no weaknesses in
their physical game and they are able to train at an elite level. I think
too many people have this blinkered view that S&C will build muscle whereas
sparring will make you a better fighter, and thus we have lots of people who
pay little attention to it.
I think that the internet has done much for opening people’s eyes to
different training techniques for MMA. However, the biggest problem I see is
people following programmes that aren’t designed for them and performing
movements with poor technique. This is where the coaching comes in.
There’s also a disturbing trend in MMA where most of the S&C work is
bracketed into five minute rounds. Though this is appropriate in some cases
and in moderation, people should be improving competence across a range of
work/rest ratios. Over the course of your average fight there will be a
variety of peaks in work output. These will range from maximal effort power
movements under load (e.g. a takedown) to consistent aerobic/muscular
endurance work over a full five minutes. My coaching reflects this demand.
Q: How important is it to come into fights in optimum shape?
A: It allows you to fight the way you want to fight. With technique and
physical conditioning we can make an athlete virtually unstoppable.
Unfortunately, MMA is a very technical sport and with any highly skilled
sport you always get athletes who compete without adequate conditioning. BJ
Penn is a great example. In his earlier fights he was famous for a distinct
lack of appropriate conditioning but everyone said, “He’s a prodigy so who
cares?" But then he started to take his S&C seriously and WOW! I think
everyone would agree that he’s transformed into a better athlete and a more
competent fighter since that change.
Q: What kind of thing can readers expect from your column?
A: I’m a real fan of proper information that people can use. A lot of sports
scientists will throw terms and quotes at you but I’m more inclined to
provide specific things to help you improve. I’m not afraid to give my
opinion but I think people generally appreciate that!
I’ll be writing about nutrition, Olympic lifting, cutting weight safely and
a variety of other things that I think people will find useful. Plus, if any
readers have a suggestion or question I’d be happy to answer those too.
Q: Is there anything else you'd like to say?
A: It’s nice to be on board and I’m looking forward to providing some useful
information to all of your readers.
If you have any specific questions on Strength & Conditioning for MMA or
you’d like to discuss workshops, professional fighter coaching or a review
of your current S&C programme feel free to get in touch.