Fighters with no stamina?

Look at this vid for a prime example: Bob Sapp VS Kimo.

Just after the first minute of the first round and they are gasping for breath, barely able to move, they have lost their concentration and make rookie mistakes like keeping their hands down, etc. How can these guys be so muscular and yet get tired so easily?

Pumping iron isn’t the same as working a jump rope. You have to develop your cardio for stamina.

Look at any of David “Tank” Abbott’s fights. If he can lay a glove on you in the first minute or so, he wins. If not, the guy more or less has a heart attack on the mat.


  1. Too much exercise before starting the round
  2. Too little sleep
  3. Really hot lights
  4. Too much focus on single-lifts and not enough on reps

One of the reasons weight lifting is good for weight loss is because muscle is much more metabolically expensive than fat, in other words, at rest a 200lb fat man will be burning much less calories than a 200lb muscle head.

So, big bulky muscles require a LOT of oxygen to keep them going, and Kim and Bob Sapp both have bad cardio because their lungs cannot fuel their muscles when they’re fighting for long.

This is the same reason that lightweights can go forever without gassing typically.

What’s the defining image from the *Rocky *movies?

It’s not Rocky lifting weights or punching meat, it’s him jogging. Muscles are all well and good, but they have nothing to do with stamina. How may muscular marathoners have you seen?

It’s quite common at heavyweight in boxing, unfortunately. Current heavyweights are a good way north of 200 lbs - even in great condition it’s hard to go 12 rounds at 250. We’re at a nadir in HW fighting at the moment with very little quality about, so this just adds to the problem. You can see some poorly conditioned fighters even at world title level.

It’s interesting that some fighters are ripped, and look in great condition, but can’t go twelve; whereas some pudgier guys have excellent gas tanks. David Haye, who was meant to be fighting Wlad Klitchko in a major HW fight championship fight this month (he has pulled out with injury last I heard :(), has the physique of a Greek God, but cannot go twelve rounds.

One other thing to maybe mention is that MMA, boxing etc are amongst the toughest sports out there. So it’s not like we’re saying look at this supposed-athlete, he can’t even do 3 minutes of exercise without blowing up - he sucks. A few rounds of fighting puts you under physical and mental siege and really demands exceptional conditioning if you’re going to go the distance.

Fedor has always struck me as – pudgy’s not the right word, but certainly not super-cut. But he’s got endurance.

The first time I took boxing in school, I found myself (in pretty good shape at the time) humiliated by the very first exercise, which was simply to assume a ready stance on the balls of your feet, prepared to duck, dodge, or block a blow – just holding the stance for three minutes was exhausting. It’s one of those things that looks like it should be easy but involves incredible amounts of muscular tension and aerobic demand (for an even simipler, maybe not aerobic per se, example, recall the punishment drill, if you like me had a sadistic baseball coach, of holding a bat over your head for a few minutes – piece of cake, right?).


When I was in college, I loaded trucks at the Coca Cola plant. It was a plant in a rural area and so had no fancy equipment. You picked up 2-3 cases put em up over your shoulder with one hand and pushed it into the shelf of the truck with the other and pushed to make room for the next 2-3. Repeat repeat repeat etc etc repeat etc repeat…

When I first showed up after being hired, I was shocked to see I was the tallest of the crew (I was only 5’8"). The guys didn’t even look all that muscular though they looked very toned.

I took to it fine, but every so often one of the guys would quit and someone new 6’+ would show up for work or shorter but made of muscles.

They never lasted…usually wouldn’t last more that a few hours. In the end, only the shorter guys with lean frames survived. My guess is that you need a certain amount of strength (which you gain quickly) but once you have it it is all endurance baby!

It’s the same thing in the military. Some of the toughest infantrymen I ever knew - the kind who could walk the rest of the company into the ground - were wiry little guys. Certainly not those big oxes you see in the movies.

The most physically capable soldiers I served with were always of moderate build. Muscleheads did not do well in the service.

The best training for fighting and general physical preparedness is probably always going to be a mix of strength and power, coupled with decent stamina and/or the ability to recover quickly from intense bouts of activity. The workouts I’ve been doing for the last couple of years are from CrossFit, which has been steadily gaining acceptance in the military and frankly is pretty similar to what the better MMA fighters do already. If you google MMA and CrossFit you’ll probably get a lot of hits.

Guys who adopt CrossFit who are already big and muscular find that they lose some weight, might decline a bit in absolute strength, but gain relative strength and go way up in endurance. Guys who did only endurance sports gain a lot of strength, put on muscle, but generally don’t lose that much stamina, and what loss there is is easily made up for by the increase in speed and power. If you look at the guys who have great performance on everything, they are muscular but not huge, have great strength to weight ratios, and have good endurance too. The mixed demands start to mold the people into a similar shape: muscular but not huge, able to handle great intensity for short to moderate durations and recover quickly, with enough endurance to turn out decent times in 5 and 10 k runs.

One guy even tried out running 100 miles (summary; full article subscriber-only) with nothing but the semi-random Workout Of the Day as preparation, just to see if CrossFit does actually prepare you for just about anything. As a guy who’s over 6’ and around 200 lbs., he’s a hell of a lot bigger than most marathon runners. He made it about 80 miles with no specific preparation for running long distance. If he’d done any sport-specific training, he undoubtedly would have made it the full distance.

Worked at a place where the 6’-6" president, when faced with a need to enlarge the Parts Dept, said, “Make the shelves higher.” The foreman, who was familiar with how hard his guys worked, said, “My people are Mayans from Guatamala. They can lift like hell, but they are only 5’ tall.” He got more, not higher, shelves. The guys continued to lift more than a casual observer could imagine for 8 hrs.

OTOH, in HS wrestling a guy from up the block spent his whole time going for lift and not stamina. Come the next season he was beat by kids “smaller,” but in the same weight class, than him, but with an ability to go two or three rounds.

Okay, he was an asshole but I’m even being charitable toward a guy I disliked since 7th grade. In reality he was beat by kids “smaller” than him, but with an ability to go one-and-a-half or two rounds. He wore out FAST. Yes, I was the timer and saw it all unfold before me.