A fighting champion gets intense
Posted: Monday April 9, 2007 4:19PM; Updated: Monday April 9, 2007 4:19PM
With less than two months until his title defense against Quinton (Rampage) Jackson, Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight titleholder Chuck Liddell, 37, has headed to the hills of Arroyo Grande, Calif., to train at an outdoor compound known as The Pit. "It's one of those raw places that you heard about growing up but thought was folklore," says Liddell, who first trained there 16 years ago, while he was a collegiate wrestler at Cal Poly. In that Pit debut Liddell -- now nicknamed the Iceman -- sparred against the facility's owner, John Hackleman, for 19 straight minutes. "I took a beating," Liddell admits. "I had a catcher's mitt for a face. But he has been my trainer ever since."
Hackleman, a 10th-degree black belt and former Army boxing champion, leads Liddell through twice-daily workouts with 14 other mixed-martial-arts fighters. "A lot of guys don't last because they hate these medieval workouts," says Hackleman, 47. "But there is no New Age exercise or machine that's better for you than pushing a wheelbarrow up a hill."
With a 20-3 career record and coming off a Dec. 30 title defense, against Tito Ortiz, that drew about $40 million in pay-per-view sales, the 6'2", 204-pound Liddell swears by his hard-core regimen. Here are some highlights.
Rowin' and Rasslin'
In a standard rowing machine, start with knees bent and bare feet strapped into footrests. Row 800 meters in less than 2 1/2 minutes. Roll off machine and onto adjacent mat. Wrestle opponent for 2 1/2 minutes. Rest one minute. Five sets.
Hackleman: "The machine works mainly the legs but also the lats. By the time he finishes 800 meters and wrestles, he's exhausted -- it simulates how tired he'd be in a fight. To make it worse, I'll have him start wrestling on his back and fight his way to the top of his opponent."
Grip a 16-pound sledgehammer with left hand by base of handle and right hand halfway up. With knees bent, swing hammer above right shoulder and down onto a 300-pound tire with a steady rhythm. 100 reps.
Hackleman: "I call this the Earnie Shavers [after the boxer] -- he told me about this drill. It's for punching power, and [Shavers] was one of the hardest punchers. The motion simulates an overhand right, the most common punch for knockouts. It's mainly for shoulder strength, but the core also gets worked.
Place 275 pounds of free weights in a standard wheelbarrow. Grip wheelbarrow handles and sprint 100 yards up a 10-degree incline. Turn and run down, still holding wheelbarrow in front of you. One-minute rest. Three round trips.
Hackleman: "It takes endurance and leg strength to push that weight up the hill, but it's a killer for your grip and shoulders going down. Down is just as important because in ultimate fighting you constantly use those muscles to pull your opponent to the mat or off of you."
Pit Wall Ball
Stand six feet away from wooden beam. Bend down, pick up a 125-pound medicine ball and raise it to chest height. Throw ball at beam by pushing arms straight out in front of you. Must bounce back at least three feet, or else repeat rep. Five reps is one set. One-minute rest. Five sets.
Hackleman: "This is for punching power. Just picking up the 125 pounds is killer, but I need him to throw it with power as well. This primarily builds up his shoulder muscles."