An exclusive interview with MMA performance coach Doug Balzarini.
Doug Balzarini has been a part of the 1R family since the middle of 2011 and has helped take the site to the next level by providing articles and workout programs such as the 1R Winter Workout Program and the entire Critical Components Series. A performance coach by trade and the founder of DB Strength, Doug trains everyone from weekend warriors to the likes of MMA champions Dominick Cruz, Phil Davis, and Brandon Vera. We caught up with Doug to discuss strength training, mental toughness, and what it takes to become one of the best athletes in the world.
1. You’ve worked with some of the best MMA athletes in the world. Who’s the best you’ve worked with thus far?
I’ve been blessed to work with some amazing athletes. There are 3 or 4 professional UFC fighters that come to mind when reading this question. One in particular, however, stands out. UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz is the hardest working person I’ve ever trained with. His drive and work ethic are second to none. He has an amazing “gas tank” and you see it on display when he steps into the octagon. It’s the little things he does in our sessions that make him stand out; always on time, does everything he’s told, maintains proper technique, stays late for extra foam rolling and stretching, and always gives 110%. These are just a few reasons he’s the champ.
2. What athlete that you’ve worked with has made the most progress? How did they do it and what training methods did you employ?
This is another one that could go to a few guys. I would have to say UFC light heavyweight contender Phil Davis. He was already a specimen when I started working with him…being an All-American wrestler from Penn State will do that. Having said that, there were 3 main areas that we wanted to improve: his core strength, his explosiveness, and getting him injury-free. We achieved these goals by implementing a lot of TRX work, plyometrics (box jumps, depth jumps, and broad jumps), and mobility/stability work for his shoulders, hips, and ankles.
3. Given your client list one could only imagine the types of workouts you put your guys through. What’s the most difficult workout or circuit you’ve had someone do to date?
What might be a tough workout for one guy may not be as challenging for another so this is a tough question. Generally speaking, I would have to say some of the metabolic circuits we’ve done have been pretty hardcore. When we are a couple weeks out for fights with Dominick, we will perform 5 sets of circuits for 5 minutes apiece with only 60 seconds rest in between each one. After they complete that, I will spring a “finisher” on them. This will usually be a couple minute metabolic blast that they weren’t prepared for. While this exhausts them physically, it’s more for their mental toughness and preparing them for the unexpected.
4. A client comes to you and says, “ I want to get as cut up as possible.” What’s the first thing you tell them?
Nutrition is first of foremost. I love the expression, “6-pack abs are made in the kitchen, not in the weight room”. Unless you were blessed with amazing genes, you will not get “cut” without a proper nutrition plan. I would also want to know more about their goals, their lifestyle, their training program, etc. Honestly, I don’t work with figure competitors so if that is there ultimate goal, I would probably refer them out to a professional who works more in that particular field.
5. One exercise you couldn’t live without and why?
Hard question for me…how can someone pick just one?! Let me share my thought process…
First was deadlifts (hip hinges) since it works the entire posterior chain.
Then I went pull-ups since it is the most productive upper body exercise out there.
Then I went squats and all their variations because you can get a full-body workout with single leg squats, squat jumps, and burpee squats.
Then, I settled on sprinting. If you think about it, the most important muscle we have is our heart and sprinting is a great way to train the heart. If we look at the question, “An exercises you can’t live without”, a great exercise to train the heart is a no-brainer. Aside from the cardiovascular benefits, sprinting is also great for fat loss and can be done with no equipment at all. I bet you’ve seen an overweight marathon runner but have you ever seen an overweight sprinter? Didn’t think so.
6. You’ve been known to implement some creative tools into your training programs. What’s your favorite piece of equipment?
This one is easy... Your own body. Here’s an old article I wrote on the topic and my answer hasn’t changed in years.
7. We know Todd Durkin has had a large impact on you and your career to date. What’s the best piece of advice Todd ever gave you?
Todd is one of my biggest mentors in work and in life. He has given me countless tips and suggestions on advancing my career. Todd is a big quote guy…a few that I think about on a daily basis include:
“Dare to be great”
“Go for greatness”
“How you do anything is how you do everything”
“10 in, 10 out”
His whole “IMPACT brand” inspires me to work hard for what I want and leads me to believe the hard work and determination will lead to success.
8. Where can the 1R nation get more Doug Balzarini?
My website: www.DBstrength.com
I’d like to thank OneResult for creating a great platform where people can learn to lead healthier and more productive lifestyles through training programs, nutritional recommendations and fitness education.