MMA Legend BJ Penn

MMA Legend and future Hall of Famer, BJ Penn is now in the final stages of preparation for his October 29th fight with Nick Diaz in Las Vegas. His training for this fight is like none other in his 10 year UFC career. As he looks to get back in the title hunt BJ has enlisted The Phase IV Performance Team to bring his training into the realm of cutting edge sports science.

In 2000, BJ Penn became the first non-Brazilian winner of the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship in the black-belt category. Penn is a former UFC Lightweight Champion and UFC Welterweight Champion and was a coach on the Ultimate Fighter 5 reality show. He became only the second fighter to win UFC titles in two different weight classes (the other being Randy Couture), after he won the lightweight title at UFC 80, having previously won the UFC's Welterweight title from Matt Hughes at UFC 46.

BJ Penn is not the first Champion to turn to Physical Therapist and Phase IV Founder, Robert Forster, as a resource when looking to utilizing Science to get back on top of their game after injury and set backs. Pete Sampras, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Maria Sharapova, and NBA star Elton Brand have all used Forster Physical Therapy and Phase IV Scientific Health & Performance Center to get their "mojo" back on track.

"We use and credit the science and not gimmicks, fads and the latest personal training craze to produce peak fitness and great athletic performances. Our Staff of Exercise Physiologists, Physical Therapists and Nutritional Experts find the answers to tough problems in Scientific Testing and Evaluation and the results illuminate the path to success" reports Robert Forster.

Traditionally BJ, one of the best technicians in the sport, has often struggled with his conditioning. "Conditioning will be critical for this fight against Diaz" says Forster who knows combat sport training well, having competed in high school and Division One NCAA wrestling and who continues to compete at the Masters level now. So when BJ's team of astute handlers, including former USA National Greco Roman Team member Darryl Christian, began to look for a more scientific approach to re-invent this legendary fighter they enlisted the Phase IV Performance Team.

"We were hired to analyze the weaknesses in his fitness and create a Scientific Strength and Conditioning Program to not only increase stamina but bring his fitness to a peak for this fight" reports Forster. "BJ needed to slow down his training as is common in this sport where every one believes that the demands of MMA requires intense training all the time. This mentality creates over trained fighters who feel the fatigue and then train some more in a vain in an attempt to get their snap back. It's an unfortunate and an ill advised approach that leads to lackluster performances." explains Forster. "We know from our work with Olympic sprinters that even anaerobic, explosive athletes, must build their endurance (aerobic fitness) first to reach peak fitness later when it counts. We have a willing fighter and a scientific approach to exact these improvements so we are optimistic that you will see a different BJ Penn come October 29th!"

Accordingly, Phase IV Director of Exercise Science, Aishea Maas, showed BJ through Scientific fitness testing, which heart rate zones he needed to train in order to lay down a foundation of increased Aerobic Capacity first before moving on to the intense workouts. This resulted in his ability to fight harder before burning out. "Training in specific heart rate zones, based on his own physiology, has resulted in BJ's ability to fight more rounds at a higher intensity. Its accepted science that fighters need to understand" says Mass.

"We started with the VO2 testing at our Santa Monica facility and quickly diagnosed the problem. Because of the constant, high intensity work he was doing before in training, even when he exercised at low intensity, BJ was using his Anaerobic system to make energy. The problem is that this system has its draw backs. First, it produces Lactic Acid as a natural by product and when enough Lactic Acid accumulates in the muscle cell, fatigue sets in. Secondly, Anaerobic metabolism utilizes carbohydrate as a food source and quickly exhausts the limited carbohydrate store. Instead we had BJ train for longer and longer durations at specifically low intensities and taught his body to burn fats more efficiently for energy. Now he produces less lactic acid across all exercise intensities and he burns more fat, thus sparing the body's precious carbohydrate stores” reports Maas.

Working with BJ, Forster and the Phase IV team is determined to shift the paradigm in MMA training to a more scientific approach that is built on a broader aerobic fitness foundation. "Most people think it odd that a better aerobic base will assist athletes in anaerobic sports like wrestling and MMA fighting" reports Forster. "In fact this is the approach of the Eastern European teams who now dominate international wrestling."