#14 Dr. Corey Peacock – The Unknown Strength Podcast

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Join your hosts Brenton and Mac for episode #14 of the Unknown Strength Podcast, featuring our guest Dr. Corey Peacock. One of the most prolific researchers and strength & conditioning coaches in elite MMA today, Dr. Peacock showed up to this interview armed and ready with a metric tonne of insight, experience, research, philosophy and brilliance in the field of strength and conditioning for elite fighters.

Some of D.r Corey Peacock's credentials and accomplishments are:
* PHD Exercise Physiologist from Kent State University
* Associate professor of Human Performance at Nova Southeastern University
* Editor in Chief for peer reviewed Journal, “The Journal of exercise and Nutrition”
* Preeminent researcher in the fields of exercise physiology, athletic performance, and supplementation
* Strength and conditioning coach for pro and collegiate football programs
* Collegiate football athlete
* Former strength and conditioning coach at Blackzilians
* Current strength & conditioning/performance coach to several of the UFC’s biggest names right now. 24 UFC fighters and 6 Bellator are currently on Dr. Peacock's roster.

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Special thanks to:
* MMA Fight Store www.mmafightstore.com.au
* Jui-go www.jiu-go.com
* Melbourne rock band Killed by Technology
* Fight Science Institute

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[intro] Mac: We have a phenomenal guest on our show called Dr Corey Peacock. He's a real heavy hitter. He's one of the intellectuals that really moves the needle in this industry. We’re really thankful to have him on. He has a PHD in exercise physiology from Kent State UNiversity. He's the associate professor of human performance at Nova Southeastern University. He's the editor in chief for the journal of exercise and nutrition. He's one of the most pre-eminent researchers in the fields of exercise physiology, athletic performance and supplementation. So he's always busy in the field. He's the strength and conditioning coach, and contributor for several pro and collegiate programs throughout the United States. He's a former collegiate football athlete himself. He's the former head strength and conditioning coach at Blackzilians MMA team in Florida, until they disbanded. Since then, he's been working with a huge list of some of the biggest names in the UFC and Bellator and in professional MMA in general.
Brenton: Everyone knows Vitor Belfort.
Mac: Anthony Rumble Johnson.
Brenton: Eddie Alvarez.
Mac: There's been a whole host of these massive names, that have been UFC championship level that Corey has been responsible for their preparation and athletic development. He is one of the top guys in the industry. We don't need to say much more about him than that.
Let's get on into it.
Brenton: Dr Corey Peacock, welcome to the Unknown Strength Podcast.
Corey: Really excited to get this thing going.
Mac: Just so the listeners are familiar with how you and I came to be in contact, I was in Florida a couple of weeks ago. I met up with Phil Daru, and Phil has his own Podcast called the Fight Strength Podcast, and we were going over the notes I'd taken from one of his episodes, an interview with you. Phil was so impressed with the notes from the show, he filmed it, made an instagram story, tagged me and Dr Corey in it. Corey enjoyed it so much that he's agreed to come on the show with us today. Thank you so much for that.
Corey: Like I said, I think it's incredible this wealth of knowledge that everybody is creating and sharing. Really just trying to improve the field in combat sports and also strength and conditioning. I was honoured to see yourself and Phil going over notes from topics I'd discussed previously in old podcasts. That's what it's all about.
Mac: You're one of the guys at the top of the field, a lot of experience and research to share with everyone in the sport, to help make the sport better man.
Tell us about yourself. How did you get started in the industry, where did you grow up, all that kind of stuff, who are ya?
Corey: It's been a crazy ride. Small town Ohio, started off there. Things like work ethic and overcoming certain circumstances is huge. Really latched onto a strength and conditioning coach in high school, coach Stacey. That's where my passion began. I spent hours next to this guy in the weight room, as he was learning himself as he was teaching us. It just carried on through college, had the opportunity to continue my education and be experienced to more strength and conditioning at the doctorate level. When I moved to Florida, I took a position as an assistant professor, with that I needed to get back in the weight room. The first thing I did was look for any opportunity I could. I was fortunate enough to get an opportunity at the University of Miami, with their football strength and conditioning staff, coach Swayzee, where this opportunity at the time, was me with a PHD volunteering my time. People think that's crazy. I was volunteering 5 o'clock in the morning, jumping into a weight room, while I was still teaching at the university. I was fortunate enough that he asked me to stay on for a position for the entire 2013-14 season.
It was incredible putting in the hard work. From there I got an opportunity to work with Vitor Belfort. MMA fans know he he is. It's astonishing to think that the work I was doing, and the reputation I was building outside of the MMA world, was growing enough that a lot of coaches were pushing him towards me for physiological testing, exercise physiology. The first MMA camp that I worked was Vitor Belfort fighting for a title. So ..
Mac: That's a hell of a place to start.
Corey: It's crazy to me. I spent three years and worked with 45-50 UFC and Bellator fighters. It's crazy to think that that's where the journey started. Here I am now in a fortunate situation, currently working with 24 UFC fighters and 6 Bellator fighters among other up and coming fighters. It's incredible.
Mac: Sure man. We’ll get into some of who the guys and girls are you're working with later. YOu obviously have a lot of things going on. Research and university related, on the gym floor. What is a day in the life of Dr Corey Peacock look like?
Corey: Usually I'm up at 4:30, that's when I find my time to get to the gym. First thing in the morning I roll out of bed and get my workout in. as OCD and anal as I am about the programming and periodisation of my fighters, I get out of bed, drink a cup of coffee, and whatever I see open at the gym, I do something. Not a good role model in that aspect. From there I’ll hit about 1-2 sessions in the morning before I go into the university. I'm there for my 9-5, I teach exercise physiology, advanced strength and conditioning, kinesiology, among independent studies. Alongside that I work with Jose Antonio. He's the guru of sport supplements. He's the protein guy. Brilliant guy. I'm lucky to work alongside him. He's the CEO of ISSN, which is amazing. We do a lot of research together on a daily basis.
Rest of the day will be putting together grant proposals, the normal academic life. 5 o'clock I'm out of the university and into the gym. From there I’ll be training 3-4 sessions every evening.
Monday through saturday and sometimes Sunday.
Brenton: Incredible. You're literally a professor in fight sports.
Corey: Yeah. that really is exactly what I am. I'm living and breathing this. I can't get enough of it, I'm fortunate enough to be around great skill coaches, Henri Hooft, Greg Jones, guys that have been around in elite level kickboxing and wrestling. That's something that I jumped into three years ago. I'm still learning more and more about the sport. I can't say enough about how much we can learn from the skill coaches, it's one of those things. If I have time off I can't help but be in that gym atmosphere, trying to absorb as much as I can on movement patterns, energy systems, things that are always a question in this sport. I could ask ten people to put out a physiological analysis on MMA, we’re gonna have ten different answers. All ten will be right. That's the complicated thing about this. It's evolving and growing, if you're not in there living it, than you're gonna fall behind.
Brenton: There's just so many domains that are prerequisites to provide holistic coaching, it's an evolving sport. You are literally on the frontier of that discovery. Learning what's working and experimenting and implementing some of these learnings. A lot of other coaches aren't maintaining that self education, and getting their own insights. They'll get left behind and not provide the most optimal from of training.
Mac: You lose it.
Corey: There's no doubt about it. That's one of the things, with this sport you have to take it, there so many good sources of information out there. You have to be careful where your informations coming from. Those people that aren't living it every single day, it's so quick to be able to fall behind, I have great resources in this field. There's so many individuals out there between fight camp conditioning, Franco's Gym, there's so many people doing great things, and trying to speed this up. You really gotta pick your resources wisely.
Mac: You said earlier about the amount of time you spend knee deep in the trenches, whether that's at the school or in the gym. Those kinds of hours, if you're not managing down time and managing your own restorative processes, it's easy to hit a wall and start to not enjoy your work so much, it happens, we’re human beings. How do you manage your workload with the kinds of hours you're keeping.
Corey: There are certain regulations that I set on myself. I've broken these rules because of the needs of the fighters. I try to limit myself to 25 sessions a week. I believe the quality of the sessions go down drastically after I hit that thing. There was a time when I first started with the Blackzilians, everybody there we were training one on one there was 38 fighters. I was running myself into the ground. I had to recognise it, and figure this out. I've had a professor at the university ask me how I'm doing these things and am I doing my best at everything. I realised I had to prioritise the most important things.
A schedule is super important, I have everything laid out. Almost to the hour of a week. On my downtime I reset that, I start over, and look at the things I could do better. That's it, it's a matter of I had to identify where the fatigue and where my capabilities are, and make sure I fit into that scope.
Brenton: What a lot of people don't understand is, any kind of coaching or educational one on one, it's incredibly draining. Emotionally, mentally and physically. If you're doing hour plus sessions, and you multiply that by 25, that's an intense focus. Few people spend that amount of time focused on something. You're coaching fighters towards a journey and I can only imagine, as they're cutting weight, through all of these factors, and you're there as a strong coaching support to guide them through a program, that's no easy feat.
Corey: It really is. There are so many things to it. It's great you brought up the weight cut, people are always saying I must be having so much fun, I get to go to Las Vegas, go to Boston .. no we are within arms reach of these guys who are about to fight, the first time you get away for a second, you get a call and than you're back in the room. It's work. It is draining. It's one of those things, as soon as the fights over I'm looking to get out of there. Again, it's for the bigger picture, the outcome that we work so hard for.
Mac: It's tough at the top, that's why it's the top.
Corey: Couldn't say it better.
Brenton: You mentioned Blackzilians, you were just a guy with a PHD, looking to learn. I can't imagine you thought about just going to coach the Blackzilians one day. I never imagine these worlds combining. Tell us, how did you come to be in charge of the strength and conditioning team over at Blackzilians, I imagine you met a lot of guys like Henry Hoft, the guys from Combat Club, there's a lot of stories that have emerged from Blackzilians, it's a powerhouse gym in MMA.
Corey: When I first got called in, they had a strength and conditioning coach, a guy by the name of Jake Bonacci. Look this guy up, he is the premier and best coach in mixed martial arts.
Mac: That's a big call.
Corey: He has ten years plus experience. His first camp was Randy Couture winning the title from Gabriel Gonzaga. This guy's a pioneer. Trust me on this Jake Bonacci is the best resource you could ever have. That's why I say I'm thankful and so fortunate that that's the situation I come into. When I got brought in, I was operating the sport sciences, we started to integrate sport science and technology within the team.
I was working with a couple of title camps, Vitor, Rumble was preparing for his fight against Cormier. A lot of things like The Ultimate Fighter reality show, Blackzilians vs American Top Team.
It started off as a sports science physiology. I was assisting Jake. I guess little did team management know, I'd just finished a strength and conditioning coach at University of Miami which is a football powerhouse. Jake knew that, that's where a lot of people in the industry, would have been protective of their guys. Jake realised he and I can split this up, we’re still on the same program, that's really what it was. Jake and I sat down with all the information, and we had a program lined up for everybody. We had the ability to split the load. That's where the entire thing with the Blackzilians started, that was pretty bizarre role until the team fell apart.
Jake went to Extreme Couture, where he started, I stayed down here because of the University being my job.
Brenton: How do you achieve a synergy among coaches. You have a strength and conditioning coach, striking guys, wrestling guys, sometimes you see guys from different disciplines giving advice in different domains. Ronda Rousey's example, she got advice to strike, when she's not a striker. How do you manage that synergy to ensure everyone's contributing without compromising the overall mission?
Corey: Communication is huge. Losing the ego is huge. I've heard different strength and conditioning coaches and sports scientists talking about knowing your role, make sure the coaches know their role. It can't be like that, everybody has to be self aware. I'm fortunate that the group I'm in with, is a very intelligent group. Between Henry Hoft and Greg Jones, they're all very intelligent, they all have different backgrounds. The results are what speak to us. If the results are in our favour, there's a reason. If we’re losing fights, we’re all good enough to ask what we can do differently.
In terms of synergy, I treat every athlete the same. We start with a needs analysis, a pre-camp, pre assessment evaluation. From there I provide that information to our skill coaches to find out how to make the best opportunity to win. That's how we have to do it.
Maybe the striking coach will think that the ability to get in and out of range is going to be big, so we look at agility, power production. Than I have the knowledge to build on that agility and movement. Maybe our wrestling coach thinks the biggest thing will be against the cage, so we need strong hips, my entre program will then be based around hip hinge and isometric strength in the hips and lower body. Communication and trust, I trust those coaches, I trust in everything they say to make sure we are all on the same page. That's how we’ve been successful.
Mac: Please, tell us who you're working with, who are the other coaches and who are some of the fighters coming through?
Corey: The gym we’re working out of is called Hard Knocks 365. Combat Club, a lot of fighters training out of there, sort of a temporary facility and a good partnership, but traveling wise a distance away. Hard Knocks 365 is the ground base of the majority of the fighters I'm working with. Outside of that I'm working with a few boxers. The bulk of my clientele comes from Hard KNocks 365, which is a combination of Henry Hoft, XPE Sports which is a combine preparation facility. The coaches are Henry Hoft, he's the head striking coach. Evan Boris and Sean Soriano are the assistant striking coaches, and Mario Sperry BJJ, Kami Barzini would be MMA wrestling, Greg Jones is the head wrestling coach, he is a 3 time national champion at the collegiate level. It's an all star list of coaches.
Brenton: Hard KNocks 365 sounds like a place that I’ll go to get beat up.
Corey: Anybody will.
Mac: You've been working with Chris Algieri lately, what are you guys up to at the moment?
Corey: Chris is a former world champion 140 pounder. He had to vacate his title to move up in weight to fight Manny Pacquiao, he had a little bit of a run at 147. Had some great fights. Amir Khan, among other people. Chris is also has a masters in sports nutrition, he's a member of the ISSN. Chris and I are working on to many things to count. We get together and it never stops.
Chris is still currently active, he's taken a little time off. Ultimately wants to drop back to 140. Those of you that would like to follow that, go to YouTube, there's a channel Anatomy Of A Fighter, there's an episode Will Harris, who is doing a great job, Danny Roberts who just won in UFC London, had a fucking killer knockout. Pummeled this guy. Chris Algieri doing his thing too. Chris and I are preparing for his return to 140, same role I've had in multiple camps. Outside of that we also share quite a few clients. We work with Volkan Oezdemir, whos just fought Daniel Cormier. Chris and I worked on his title camp. We've worked together with Matt Mitrione, among other people.
The third thing is this Fight Science Institute, which I think we will talk more about that as we move forward.
Brenton: In the world of professional, ammateur MMA, which fighters have you got your eye on at the moment, and why?
Corey: As awful as this sounds, I don't have time at this point in time. We don't have any amateurs left in our gym, we have a lot of up and coming guys. If there were two guys I would say to keep an eye on, there's a heavy weight named Steve Mowry, he's fighting Titan FC, he's 6 ft 9, 245 lb heavy weight. Young, he's a funny story. Stefan Struve is one of my clients .. Tall Steve, as we call him, was invited to a few different cmaps to beat Stefan Struve as a sparring partner.
Mac: Is his build similar to Stefans?
Corey: Tall, sort of long. I would say it's at the beginning of Struve's career, his build is similar to that. We put a lot of size on Stefan, when he first started he was 245, now he's cutting down from 290 to 265. We filled his frame out. Tall Steve is in that same situation, he's a big kid. He's still young, he's everybody's training partner. He doesn't have the time to put on the size he wants because he's so dedicated towards training and learning. He's going to be a big up and comer. He's got so much potential.
Brenton: Is he a striker or grappler?
Corey: He's got a golden gloves background in boxing, but on the ground he's nasty. That's the same thing with Stefan, everybody knew about his kickboxing background, but look at his first four wins and they're all crazy triangles, and weird stuff using his size. Steves the same way. He's got a tonne of potential.
We have a kid, Mark Jackson, he's a very well rounded guy. One of our best training partners at 155. It's persistence, he works with Michael Johnson, Michael Chandler, Gilbert Burns, through all this interactions he's become an elite prospect.
I think those two guys, there's so many in the gym that are on their way. This facility, it's very elite. We don't have any amateurs.
Mac: Everyone's risen to the top.
Corey: Tall Steve was an amateur when I first started with him. Now he's 2 and 0 as a pro.
Brenton: You've been on the frontier of the discovery, what are some of the insightful takeaway in your journey as a coach?
Corey: One of the biggest moments I had is, understanding the relationship between the science and the practical application. That's one of the bigger things as a coach that you have to understand. There is so much elite level research out there. Especially in combat sports, but you have to be weary when you look at that sample, who they've worked with and what the population was, and whether it applies to our guys. Everything I do is based around science. I have to have the ability to be able to transition that into the practical application. Even if it goes against what I think is right, if it's not working it's not working.
I was so scientific when I first started, I was holding myself accountable and when some of the numbers were not where I wanted them to be, I had to start incorporating new things. That's where having a partner like Jake was really helpful. This sport is changing, it's different. It challenges everything I know as a scientist. I can't explain it, that's such an eye opening moment for me. I think there was a point in time where that became easy, and this became a challenge. I was forced to get into literature, I was forced to network, I was forced to look at resources. It was so challenging, I wanted to be the best. I'm nowhere near that. That's why I'm receptive to all this, that's why I listen to two podcasts a day, there's so many great people out there trying to improve. You can always learn something from everybody. That's was the biggest moment I had, when I realised that the science and the practical application are two different things. That's absolutely huge.
Seeing the numbers I'm seeing, it's crazy. Rumble Johnson on a V02 max, and he knocks out a 73, that challenges everything. That's a sponsored Nike athlete or runner. Than Rumble at 240, running, if he wasn't fighting he'd be doing marathons. You start to see these things and it challenges what you thought were the norms. Or they are the norms, but these guys don't apply.
Brenton: What is it that's so specifically that shakes that paradigm you brought over from a scientific background?
Corey: You can't narrow the sport down enough to fit any distinct properties of the science, that's the challenging part. Every fighter is genetically different, they come from different disciplines, exerts energy differently, has done different weight ciut practices in the past, there's no one size fits all. They're all distinctly different. That's the challenging part.
Brenton: MMA hasn't been around that long, is that another reason why there's not much of a compendium of science out there? It's been such a rapid evolution.
Corey: What is the UFC, less than 20 years old? Really, what information do we have out there that's valid .. the sport itself is also evolving, the competition, the grappling, those things are evolving too. Football, the player prototype is still the same. Where MMA is different. It's like there was a point where fighters couldn't be just fighters. Where were they going to find time to visit a research facility. Now we are lucky enough that the fighters can dedicate their career to fighting, they're getting compensated well enough to do so, that's been big. Maybe just the idea that it's tough to get pro athletes to do research. It's rare that you'll read literature that says the sample was 25 NFL athletes. It's rare. With research can do one of two things, you can hurt the individual, or you can psychologically show flaws and weaknesses that they don't want to see.
Brenton: When fighters are being trained, it's not that the data is being fed back into a body or research, a lot of things are kept tight. Sounds like a slow process.
Corey: You're right. They're evolving throughout our time together. The whole sport in general is strange. It's not set up like any other sport. There's no off season, unless you're one of the top three fighters, there's no luxury of taking down time. If Dana calls and says you've got a title opportunity, you have to be ready. That's one of the crazy things getting these individuals to buy into to. Strength and conditioning is important outside of camp as it is in camp. It keeps you on your toes.
We know that you can't peak an athlete year round, but MMA is forcing you to do so in a sense. That's the tricky part.
Brenton: What's that life like?
Corey: That's the life of it. It goes two ways like that, first and foremost, if you're at this level you need your training partners.. Training partners may not be in camp. You're always in the gym, you're always moving. That's not even a great thing because they should take some time away from the sparring and some of the contact that comes with the training, but they won't do that because their teammates need them. To understand the life, a fighter may go through an eight week camp, where he's two a day, every single day, put on a crazy tough 15 minute brawl, took a lot of shots, won fight of the night, performance became huge. Next thing you know, there's a huge fight, there's this there's that. Now this persons being called. Now he has two weeks to do what? We just tapered our athlete down, what kind of things can we do from a strength and conditioning component to allow this to be beneficial? The answer is let him heal, that's probably the best thing you can do at that point in time. It's a tricky sport in that regard. It's not like anything else you would ever deal with.
Brenton: That's amazing. That makes me wonder if you struggle with dealing with knowing if you've done enough, how do you know?
Corey: I don't sleep.
Mac: This guy.
Corey: I don't have to get in the cage, I don't have to get punched in the face. That is the hard part. It takes a special kind of person and that's why they do what they do for a living. But the next day I'm with 4 other guys in their camp.
Mac: Never ending nightmare.
Corey: You do question those things. These are people that you care about. They're not just clients, you go through this together, you stand by their side, you care about these guys. You care about the success, you care about the well being. All those things become important, you always question yourself.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is the success of these fighters. It just is.
Brenton: How do you measure whether a fighter needs to rest?
Corey: We are very big into sports science and technology. We are fortunate enough … again, this is an individual sport … it's nice to have the luxury .. when you go into the football environment … we have 55 individuals we have to find one size fits all in terms of monitoring, we’re gonna use heart rate monitoring, we’re gonna use GPS, are we gonna use subjective data, whatever the case might be. You have one thing. I've been exposed to every single one of these tools. That's a good thing because it's helped me understand the importance of them. People react differently to these sports science technologies. Some respond and you can make a generalisation of where they are. Sleep quality. We look at urine, nutrition, things like that. We’re doing a lot of things. It's been nice for me spending time with certain fighters, that I've figured out what works best for most of them. I'm still always trying to throw something in where I know what works best for the athlete , but I’ll try something new. Nobody wants to sit there and wear a watch, or report back to me, when they have so many other obligations. It's sports science, we’re doing a lot of things. We’re doing a lot of things.
One thing for strength and conditioning coaches, it's so easy, do something simple like a power analysis. The same day, same time of every week. That's gonna tell you a lot. Why not use the simple variables, where if they come in on Monday and jumps 26 instead of 30, you should say ask what's different and why are they run into the ground. It's a simple tool. People don't have the luxury of a laboratory. That's the easiest thing for me to do.
We get the athlete, at the end of the day to measure their nutrition, training and how well they slept. It's subjective, but if it aligns with the data and people understand their bodies, it holds them accountable. Nobody wants to report that they ate like shit. If they're honest with it they’ll tell you. If they know they have to report it, they will keep in check.
Mac: The ready band and the Omega Wave. tell us how you use them.
Corey: Those two pieces of equipment, the Omega Wave is an apparatus that measures heart rate variability. That's ultimately looking at the differences between beats, or the cardiac cycle of the heart. It's an indicator of if the nervous system is more sympathetically or overstimulated, or right where it needs to be. For our individuals we want them to be sympathetic. But that's a certain point. We can't be over stimulated. It's helped to alter some of the things we do. These individuals, if they're using the Omega Wave, those are the fighters that respond well. It's allowed us to look at recovery modalities and warm up modalities. That's where we use it the most. We understand how these athletes have adapted it. It's going to be a lead that's connected to two different parts of the body and it's going to read that heart rate. It will give you an outlook at your cardiovascular stress and your metabolism. It's been relatively reliable on certain athletes, it's been a great tool.
The Ready Band is going to be a sleep monitoring device. Great tool. I'm currently have a research study that is in review, looking at eight different fighters in a closed environment, training for fights. In the training camp everything was controlled. Their schedule, their diet was controlled. No electronics. Very strict.
Mac: This was not for a dummy fight, all these test subjects are training for a real fight?
Corey: Yeah. They're training. All of them competed, they also went through a series of tests and practices. The research is going to tell you, once it's published, is one of our main goals is to maintain the high neural function. What we found is sleep quantity isn't the biggest factor for their performance and the outcomes. It's sleep quality. What I mean is, some of the individuals who only got 5-6 hours of sleep per night were actually performing better because they were more regimented about it. If they had an hour break between practices they slept, than they got sleep at night. They didn't waste time, they used the time for rest. Is this something that can be maintained 365 days a year, no. For the short period of camp, it's doable. It's interesting data. I believe people are under the assumption it's quantity.
Going back to your question, the Ready Band is a tool, that is going to give us the sleep variables. It's going to give you a performance score. It's a great tool. It's something we've found a lot of success with.
Mac: Fantastic. Sleep being one of the most important variables. You have a great piece of technology there to help stay on track with measuring your sleep.
Corey: That's huge when you say that. When you look at recovery and people want to know the secret to recovery, there's nothing better than sleep and diet. Those two things you have total control over if you schedule things right. Everybody's looking for a secret cure. You can control your sleep and diet, those two things will carry off a lot further than the ten minutes you throw your legs into compression. You have full control over those two variables.
Mac: On all of that, tracking HRV with Omega Wave, have you had any experience with Joel Jamisons Morpheus System?
Corey: I haven't. I'm a huge fan of his. When people ask me what sources of information are out there, that's the most common question I get. Joel Jamison, that's always one of my first resources that I go to. There's another guy Angelo Musso, he has a book Fatigue from the late 1800s, it's an interesting take on .. he's a researcher that was observing pigeons. He started to observe fatigue in pigeons. It's a really interesting take on the central nervous system. It's a different look at the sport, it gives you an understanding of what you need to do to be a good coach. There's a guy called Toni Ricci .. anything he puts on paper, you better believe that's a resource. He's brilliant.
Brenton: Why is something like heart rate variability important?
Corey: People will argue, but for me, I don't try to take a stance on anything. I see merit in everything, even if understanding something isn't what we need to do, it's still information. Something like heart rate variability, it's a great indicator of understanding where the nervous system is. It's more objective data, it's objective, whether or not you buy into it. How can it not be useful. Heart rate variability is an objective measure of how effective the nervous system is influencing the cardiovascular system.
Brenton: What are the numbers we get through this, and what does the data look like?
Corey: Every system is a little bit different. I like some of the things like Omega Wave. why do I like it? Instead of giving you raw data, they'll give you a training zone based of this. When you trend out the factors that make this up. They break it down easier. This is way more important than the heart rate variability. When I get into it, I'm at a point where the training windows, I don't even look at them. It's the trends. I don't make any daily decisions based off the recordings. I look at trends over the course of camp. That's not the case for everybody. That's become one of the bigger things, really adjusting scheduling and work loads on a camp to camp basis.
Mac: As human beings we are going to ebb and flow HRV and the resting heart rate, the stress stimuli are going to increase and decrease. In HRV we should naturally see trends both up and down. In the short term in HRV numbers. What kind off variance do you see as a consistency among your high performing fighters?
Corey: It's all over the place. Some off my athletes that you would consider the worst, based on the HRV recordings, perform the best. I couldn't put it into a one size fits all.
Mac: Way too individual.
Brenton: Does that mean you look at each fighter as a subject, and you start to understand how their HRV works, and from there you've start to have insights around whether that's good or bad for them, on the base off the subjective
Corey: That's exactly what it is. It's very individualised.
Brenton: I can't profess I understand the science or the numbers. It's something I was feeding to Mac, he had an insight to where my body was at.
Mac: That was Bioforce HRV.
Corey: I'm trying to think off the numbers they give you. They typically relate, high frequency activity, parasympathetic nervous system activity .2 and .4 hertz. Anything below that will relate to low frequency. It's not one off my specialisations. It's a small piece off the bigger picture.
Brenton: Why is that something we look at?
Corey: When you look at it realistically, for us, it's not something we want to see too much. During this small window we have for camp, it's not something we want to see. For us, if we see or identify something like that, it's not indicative of overtraining. It's changes in schedule. When I see something like that, it gives me the ability to figure out what we need to do to stimulate this individual and bring them into a sympathetic state so that they can perform at their heightened level. Foam rolling, density or something like that, if we see something that's parasympathetically driven, we may do something like where we finish up with cold to see if it stimulates them. Instead off a high density foam roller we could go with a PVC pipe, or something like that. It may be something as simple as a plyometric series in their warm up. Something like a speed ladder, that brings them out off that state. It's not one of those things you can't live and die by it, but you can make adjustments because off it.
Brenton: You have a full arsenal of tools and equipment. Sounds like an amazing tool shed you have there. It must be state of the art stuff.
Corey: PVC pipe man, all you gotta do is go down to the Home Depot here, $7 you geta 3 foot pipe and it's the best tool I have.
Mac: That's fantastic.
Corey: Outside off that, we've put some money into the sports science things. It's what I’ve been brought up on. It's been nice to be able to incorporate that into the strength and conditioning.
Mac: I want to delve into some off the philosophical concepts you stick to. What are some off the philosophies you're drawn to?
Corey: I'm big into GPP outside of camp. It's one of those time's where what things can we do in between camps? I stick to a GPP model where it's volume. Where it's healing. This is a thing I've noticed, I don't what it is about the camp and the fight, but aerobically they suffer quite a bit. Their aerobic capacity and output declines following this camp period. I've done this looking at the V02 max. The aerobic system really takes a beating, I don't understand how that is the case. The sport itself is so .. so much off the focus in the last part off camp is lactic and anaerobic work, that falls apart. I like the time out off camp to establish an aerobic base. From there I break the camos, if we have an eight week camp, I like to break it into two phases. The first phase I’ll follow a conjugate system, I'm going to incorporate agility based training, plyo, application movement to go along the sport itself. Second, I’ll do the same thing but in the linear model where we will still have technique and applied skill throughout the conjugate model. Where we have to develop max effort, dynamic effort and some sort of muscular endurance in that cycle. We will deload halfway through camp. We become a lot more focus that last portion off camp, we spend two to three weeks focusing strength and power. Mixed within that I try to follow at best, a ten day taper, if I can. We still going to be firing, still active, but drastically cutting the volume down. When I say taper, people have a misconception off what that is. It's manipulating certain variables. A taper doesn't mean we decrease everything. We may decrease the sets, Danny Roberts, his very last day off camp, was a PR in the trap bar deadlift. That was it, we PRd and get out off the gym. That's it. That's really everybody has a different goal and purpose, those things change. With that taper, realistically, the volume decreased, but the intensity doesn't drop. We ept it high, but the number of reps was gone, the volume gone. That gave us time to focus on that one rep strength, and to focus on the alactic development. He just went out, and completely highlight reeled with a left hook. There's so many guys we do that work with, it's worked for us.
I would say, it's nothing world renowned, it's just keeping it basic and following that model.
Mac: I'm not sure if you touched on the frequency off training you're getting in an optimal scenario. Is it 2 strength and 2 conditioning sessions, mixed domain sessions, how do you split the sessions and what frequency are we talking?
Corey: The further away from the fight I’ll be giving them 3 days a week. I would say I have everybody in and out in no more than 65 to 70 minutes. I don't let it go over that. Than typically the second phase, strength and power. Two days a week with basic strength, basic power, total body movements and finish with some alactic work. Three days a week is common across the cimat sports. It's mixed martial arts, they have so many other things to focus on, that you just have to be as efficient as possible with as much or little time as you get with these fighters.
Mac: That leads into something I wanted to ask you later on. Some off the mistakes fighters are making, in my experience, is taking on too many training units in a week. What are some off the extremes you've seen, for young guys and girls doing way too much? In my experience, 17 training units in one week, is the most I've ever seen.
Corey: This will be tough. I would say it's common for me to see somebody go three, two, three, two, three, two throughout the week. Still, it's a lot. It just absolutely is a lot off training sessions. You have to think about it, what do you get out off that. Training three time's a day, going back to looking at neural function. If you throw sloppy kicks, if you come in the weight room with poor from, what are you accomplishing? Things have to have a purpose. There has to be volume, you have to establish basis, the closer you get to the fight, it has to be quality.
I've had guys drop to six or seven sessions a week the closer the get to the fight. They go out and perform. The sessions once were 65-70 minutes a week, now they're 25 minutes. That stuff is huge, people are becoming more educated. That's something we've got better at, our scheduling and volume, reading our athletes, managing their recovery, I think we keep getting better at it.
Mac: Helping to educate young amateur fighters, what advice would you give a young amateur fighter who is perhaps not very well versed in identifying the areas they're over doing it, and how can they optimise and individualise their training week, what are the systems an amateur fighter can use?
Corey: That's a tough question. I see it from a strength and conditioning professional that understands overtraining, and understands optimisation, but I also look at it from a coaching standpoint. I see opportunity to spend time around fighters and coaches. How can you say no to that opportunity. I see from both sides, I'm always in this torn world between the science and the practical application.
If I was to gove good advice to an amatruer fighter, I would encourage them to go with a 2:1 model. Let's just use basic days off the week. Monday is a morning, evening session. Tuesday is morning session, Tuesday night is off. Watch film, do active recovery, as long as it's geared toward recovery or preparation. Continue that trend. It's a great model. 2 on Monday, one on Tuesday, two on Wednesday and so on. That's an ideal model, where you won't burn out, you'll get the most out of your training without overdoing it.
Brenton: Does this entail all training?
Corey: That's it man. It's everything. It's as mixed as you get it. There's so many things. Our foundation is kickboxing, wrestling, BJJ. but there are guys in our camp that are doing extra sessions.
Maybe that there is a huge mistake, trying to develop it all at once. We would never take an athlete and try to develop 20 different variables. Are you going to get better at everything if you're working on ten different disciplines? Maybe not.
Brenton: It sounds like you have an active involvement in helping fighters manage their expenditure. Something I've seen in the BJJ scene, a lot of competitors will train balls to the wall 3 sessions a day, 6 hours sparring, multiple times a week. It must be insane for someone like yourself, you're seeing it up close, you're across papers. To take a lens at a situation like that, what do you make off it?
Corey: I'm gonna say this, it's interesting because I have athletes, world champion BJJ background, UFC fighters that are great competitors, but they are seeing issues with weight management, metabolism, because they're running themselves into the ground. Some off those practices you were talking about, are still affecting them to this day. They're better, they're educated, those things will shorten your career. There's no doubt about it. Sparring 5 time's a week, that will shorten your career.
Brenton: Fighters surely get anxious and start to think the more they train, the greater the success will be. How do you manage these fighters and what do these conversations look like?
Corey: I just got a text from Algeri saying that his shoulders fucked, but he's still sparring tomorrow. This is going to have to be one of those conversations. He's an educated guy. He's one off the easiest guys to speak to. He's still a fighter first, I’ll say this to him all the time. When he and I first started working together, I was just monitoring all off Chris heart rate data, and some sports science data. I seen a couple of things in his data, where what they were considering a somewhat light or recovery day, he was stressing his system out, increasing core temperature, doing all those things to a greater extent than during sparring. I said to him that maybe we should do something different. He laughed. We knew each other through the academic world. Those are the clients you want. The clients that challenge you, that make you show them the data, prove to them what you're talking about is valid, than make suggestions and changes. An athlete that's open to those things, that's how you have those conversations. There's nothing better you can do then provide data to these athletes. Ask them how they're feeling, if they tell you there feeling like shit, I think it's a good thing.
All the coaches I'm working with are very receptive to those things. If I say I think a long weekend will benefit an athlete, 9 outta 10 time's they will say I'm right. That's the nice thing. It's a trust that's been earned. It's not something that started that way.
Mac: You made some really strong comments in interviews relating to how different the fight community is from the rest of the sports community in terms of applying scientific principles to performance development. I want you to dive deeper into your experience managing those variables with fighters, as opposed to other sports you've worked in.
Corey: I think the biggest difference, I've worked with GPS technology for instance, Australia they’re huge with rugby. When you work with a huge team, realistically, it's 55 individuals that are monitored. On each monitor 250 variables that are coming out. It's like what two to three variables can we make a huge statement based off of. That's the way you need to look at it. It's basic things, we know distance travel, we understand what it is. You want this many metres, it's easy. Player load, a lot of people don't know what it is, but it's user friendly, it's a common term. What does it mean? It doesn't mean this load that's placed on a player, it means every single change in movement and acceleration that is picked up by this apparatus. I didn't know that until I worked in mixed martial arts. It was too much data and too much to look at. Jumping into MMA, look at player load, what variables make this up. It's the differences in all the different changes in direction. Now I can get into ten other variables and look at distance traveled in each direction. Are we seeing something common. We've seen an individual shooting in this plane with the right leg, we see him shooting in another direction with the left leg, we know it will create an imbalance. What kind off unilateral work can we do too pick up the compensation off a left leg lead that we just have to compensate for based on the training. That's just a good example. It's the case for all the stuff. Working on a sport like this you have the ability to dive into these variables because you're learning, you're growing, it's the individuals around you trust you. In team sports, everything needs to be justified. If you have a sports scientist, they have a role. That's the basis of it.
Brenton: Do you put together a report for a fighter, you're not the one saying they have to stop doing this, I'm just advising that this is the information we have.
Corey: One thing I've found success with is I actually enjoy taking these variables and providing a performance. That's the thing I've done, taken an algorithm based on sleep, movement, them kinds of things. And provided a performance score.
Brenton: Visually impactful data.
Corey: Visual and simple data. That's what I provide for the people around me.
You have athlete's like Chris who want to understand everything. Those are the athletes you take the time with, a lot off time's those athletes are the athletes you spend more time with. Some of them don't care, but they trust me. Sometimes that's just as refreshing as the ones you have too spend the time with.
Brenton: Obviously when you forge that relationship, those fighters that are far more forgiving with information, that's got to give you more qualitative data that you can feed into future programs, whereas if you have the fighters who aren't talking you through what's happening to them. You have to go off those not so hard data variables.
Corey: You're right. It's the adjustments, what can we change, what can we do better. That's what it's about. All this data is only just a small piece of it. You hope to get it better each time. It's not perfect. We’re just getting better. That's the biggest thing.
Mac: We have to be conscious of time. One of the missions i've been on, is too get across more of a sense of awareness of the importance of strength and conditioning, especially for amateur fighters, that's where I'm most drawn too. What advice would you give to you amateur fighters in the importance of strength and conditioning in their training life?
Corey: There's a lot of things that you could discuss with the amateur fighter in terms of preparation. If you really keep it simple, you're in a better situation. If a younger athlete understands that developing things like strength and power, this is the biggest thing, strength and conditioning for an amateur, the purpose is not to make you a better fighter. It's to give you better tools. You're not conditioning for the fight, you're conditioning energy systems to be better utilised. I don't give a shit who you are, there's nobody in the world who has figured out how to condition a wrestler to wrestle outside of wrestling. It can't be done. I hope it can be someday. It's one of those things, we can condition, we can mimic, you're never going to take the place of training. An amateur fighter, let's improve the strength because if you're stronger, you'll have more strength. If it's power development, if you're a striker, an explosive fighter, work on power the way it's intended to be worked on. Not in a manner that mimics fighting. It's one of these things. We don't see a baseball player taking a ten pound ball and trying to throw a fastball with it. That's the biggest thing, I think amateru fighters have an ability to jump into these, not gimmicks, every coach is doing the best they can with the information they have. Some of the stuff out there may not be the best way to achieve the results you want. That would be my recommendation. Treat strength and conditioning as strength and conditioning, give your body a rest from fighting.
Brenton: I don't think i've ever come across a study that suggests being fit and strong is a bad thing.
Corey: Absolutely not, you can never tell me, I've heard people say this, there's so much stupid shit out there. You can't tell me that a stronger Jon Jones isn't a better Jon Jones, you can't tell me that. Bullshit. You're a better fighter because of that.
Brenton: He's stronger, but that doesn't mean he's conditioned, they're two different things?
Corey: You're right, realistically he's fighting that fight .. I had two guys fighting on that card, it's when he fought OSP, he's fought everybody in the top 15. He's a big, long guy, very athletic ..
Mac: Super dangerous.
Corey: Jon Jones also come off a big lay off. There's so many variables, but you can't tell me that somebody whos faster, stronger, more conditioned, how could they possibly not be better at the sport they’re trying to do.
Brenton: What are some of the more common detractions you hear that make you grit your teeth, what triggers you to tell people they're talking shit?
Corey: I hate talking shit about people. I try to give everybody the benefit of the doubt. People are trying the best they can with the knowledge they have. I go back three years ago and looking at the shit I was doing. I was making the transition from the football scene into this. But the one thing, that right there is, I just see so many people who are downplaying and talking poorly about people, and saying those things instead of informing people. If you don't agree with it, give them the right information. That's the biggest thing for me. If I had to talk shit about one thing, I’ll do it, it's who I take advice from, and who I get my information from, is a very small circle. The reason that is, is because the people I'm taking information from are on the front lines doing it.
By no means, when I was coaching nine not recognised names in the sport, would you catch me out there giving people advice? I've been through three camps. I'm very weary about who I take information from, if you're not somebody like Toni Ricci, who has 5 UFC fighters at a time, for multiple camps, what do I relate to you? I don't. In terms of fight coaches. That's my biggest troll. People that are putting people down when they don't have a leg to stand on. It's a new field, everybody's out there doing the best they can. That's the biggest thing, it's my major initiatives moving into finishing off this year, is being better at informing people. My social media sucks. I'm too busy, I don't have time to provide the knowledge and do those things, I need to find time to do it.
Brenton: That's our vision with this podcast. To be providing insights and giving back to the community. Making it accessible to everyone.
Mac: Corey, you and I spoke about a couple of the guys and girls you're working with that have upcoming fights to be confirmed. Tell us what you've got man.
Corey: I really hope I'm not giving anything away. Let's start with Volkan Oezdemir, he's just come off his title shot, is going to get a tough opponent, a legend in Mauricio Shogun Rua ..
Mac: That's gonna be sick.
Corey: I'm super excited for that. Great opportunity for Volkan to fight a legend. Two very stand up individuals. I'm excited.
I have Michael Chandler fighting Bellator, in terms of opponent, it's supposed to be a title fight, his opponent dropped out. That's been released.
We have Luke Rockhold back in the gym, I think there's a lot of news saying Gustafsson or Bisping. We’re back in the gym preparing for that.
Mac: Fantastic fights for that guy, he could go anywhere.
Corey: He's back doing what he does, we’ll get a good opportunity and get him back to the title contention.
Kamaru Usman, he's out there lobbying for a fight. I do believe there's a good opportunity opening for him. People that don't know him .. you should, he's on a seven fight win streak. He's a physically gifted specimen. He's an absolute freak in the weight room.
Desmond Greene whos fighting June 1st.
I feel like I've left people out, the list goes on and on. There's a lot of fights and energy in the gym with confirmed fights.
Mac: No rest for you in between any of that right?
Corey: Doesn't end.
Brenton: I've got to ask, I come into MMA through two fighters. The first one Royce Gracie, the second being Vitor Belfort. What was in like working with the phenom?
Corey: That's exactly it. There are so many reasons why somebody like Vitor has accomplished what he has. Vitor Belfort works his ass off. He's knowledgeable, he's been doing it forever. It's one of those things. Guys like Vitor, we have Robbie Lawler in the gym, they're legends. They're not legends in a time where the sport was talking and promoting and entertainment. This was when all you did was fight, that's how you gained respect and reputation.
Mac: Kill or be killed.
Corey: Working with Vitor, you couldn't learn from someone better. You just can't. He's somebody that, I still keep in touch with him. We just him in the Lab not too long ago, he's got a fight with Lyoto Machida down in Rio. we just had him in a few weeks ago, he's a good guy. He’ll talk forever. It's fun to be around somebody like that. That's one of those true fan experiences when you hear somebody like that. The opportunity to work with him, it's like holy shit, that's Vitor Belfort, are you kidding me.
Brenton: You wouldn't be able to help yourself. You mentioned Robbie Lawler, a lot of people learned that he's an intelligent trainer. People say he doesn't go in and slug in training, he's strategic. What's it like working with someone like that?
Corey: Robbies been a fun addition to the gym. He's been there for two camps. It's really interesting and insightful to watch somebody like him. The way everything comes together perfectly for him. When you say true peaking of an athlete, I can't think of any athlete more than him where you see that peak. It's the experience, it's the right amount, the intensity, sometimes somebody like him has nothing to prove. Our rooms a tough room, it's killers row in there. Being new, you sometimes have to earn your place. Luckily for someone like Robbie, he's earned his place. You are that guy and you can provide so much for the people around you.
All these guys have been successful at a high level, it's great to see all those personalities come together.
Mac: As a fan I get asked who my favourite fighter in MMA is. I always say I can't come down to one person, it's always a tie between Wanderlei Silva and Robbie Lawler. To hear all that stuff about your experience working with him. That resonates with me, I'm a massive fan.
Corey: That's cool.
Mac: We gotta wrap this up. Were closing in on two hours. Very thankful for your time tonight.
Corey: It was fun.
Mac: Tell me this, what have you got in store for 2018, tell us about the institute.
Corey: Those of you that have been following myself, other people. We have something known as The Fight SCience Institute. Chris Algieri, Tony Ricci is the founder president of the idea, Phil Daru. the four of us come up with the idea that we think the sport needs proper education and certification. With the Science Institute, our objective is to provide the insights we have come across. Tony and myself are currently active in the academic world as professors. Chris is also the sports nutritionist for Stony Brook University. Phil, whos working with the biggest team in MMA. there's a lot of experience and expertise. We want to provide the right information, educationally backed. We want to make relationships with certain organisations such as the ISSN to make this accredited and to be able to continue an education unit with other organisations. Ultimately that's the purpose of this. I think it's the product is going to be incredible, based on the experiences and the education and the science. It's going to be amazing. We’re planning on launching by June or July and we want to get a few seminars out this year. Than go hard in the following years.
Mac: How can people learn more about the Fight Strength Institute?
Corey: Let's just stick with instagram @fightscienceinstitute. It's still under development. It will be fightscienceinstitute.com
Our primary certification will cover combat sport specific strength and conditioning, nutrition and sports science. It's going to be a great thing where I'm going to provide my expertise. Phils going to be focused on strength and conditioning. Chris will be focused on nutrition. Tony is going to be very much an overseer. We’re really excited. It's going to be a great platform to educate people. There's a lot of great platforms out there such as fightcampconditiong.com. It just needs to be information, it needs to be some standard that I believe these individuals that are working with these athletes need to be helped too.
Mac: Is there anymore stuff you have going on?
Corey: You know what? These two hours, I think we’re good to go.
Mac: Awesome man, please stay on the line. That's about all we’ve got time for. Thank you Dr Corey Peacock.

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