Article By Strength & Conditioning Coach Doug Balzarini
Week 3 was another great week. They are long grinds, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Like last week, I was in San Diego on Monday training clients. I truly enjoy working with so many different populations; it challenges me and keeps me on task and always wanting to learn more. During a normal week, I will work with a UFC champion, many amateur and professional fighters, middle-aged business executives, athlete clients in their 20′s, and a client who is in her mid-70′s. After a full day of training at various locations (beach, playground, MMA facility), I hit the road back to Vegas. I’m getting to know the I-15 highway too well lately.

Tuesday in Las Vegas

Tuesday started with a grocery run. Team Cruz had the day off from training so I hit Whole Foods right when it opened. I’m beginning to feel like Norm on Cheers when I go there now…the lady who works the juicing machine is quite nice. Dominick and the Alliance team went to spar at Tapout, however, I stayed back to catch up on paperwork. I have a number of articles and videos that I need to try to finish up in the next week or two. My projects have definitely taken a back seat since the TUF show started. I put 10 guys through a S&C session Tuesday night at Tapout gym. It was similar set-up to our session last week…

1. Dynamic Warm-Up
2. Med Ball Complex
3. 2 Strength Circuits
4. Finisher – TRX ab work

Also, some Grid foam rollers arrived today which will be a great addition to our routines. The guys are getting banged up so some SMR work will certainly help out.

Wednesday in Las Vegas

Wednesday started with my morning sprint work, buckwheat pancake breakfast for Dom and I, and then off to the TUF set. I helped out a few of the guys with some mobility work and then they worked on Kickboxing drills with takedowns. Dom led them through some great drills and movements. He is really taking his “coaching” role seriously and I think all the members of the team enjoy having him as a coach and are learning a ton. We left the set and went to Tapout where the Alliance team had a BJJ practice. While they trained I rolled with a purple belt. It was only my 4th time in my gi…and it showed. She (yes, I said she…what?) kicked my $%#&. We trained hard going 8 rounds at 7 minutes apiece. For the record, I only got tapped out one time in 56 minutes…I’ll take that against a purple belt.

After practice, we had a quick lunch (salmon, quinoa, asparagus) and then right back to the TUF set. I put Team Cruz through a strength circuit that included a combination of power work and strength training. I incorporated some TRX work, tire flips, hip thrusters, rope pulls, and a challenging finisher of Concept2 Rower sprints with heavy dumbbell carries. The strength training sessions with the TeamCruz guys is a bit challenging because we never know who’s fighting the following week. My main focus for these guys is injury prevention. After that, I’m working on full-body training with a focus on pulling muscles, shoulder joint integrity, t-spine/hip/ankle mobility, and overall power development and muscle endurance. I’ve created a solid template with these guys and they have all felt the benefits.

Wednesday night I put Dominick and Jeremy Stephens through a predominantly body-weight session. The guys were still hurting from the 10 8-minute rounds of BJJ they did earlier in the day (and I thought my 56 minutes was a lot!). I included a lot of shoulder and t-spine mobility work along with plenty of glute activation. A couple body-weight circuits came next and we finished up with a couple sets of sprints. In and out in 45 minutes.

Wednesday night finished up back at the condo with Dom and the Famous Stars & Straps crew. I prepared some turkey burgers while Dom did some interviews.

Thursday in Las Vegas

Thursday was another long one. Sprints with Team Cruz on the TUF set started things off and then back to Tapout for the Alliance team. I went through a strength training workout with Shannon Slack (Team Cruz wrestling coach) while the rest of the team sparred. A quick lunch and then right back to the TUF set for weigh-ins. Our boy, Justin Lawrence, was right on and had a great stare-down with Cristiano Marcello (article image on the home page). The rest of the team went through a ground-game session while Justin began to rehydrate. We checked his weight one hour after weigh-ins and he had already put 11 pounds back on! After training, some of the Alliance team went to train, however, Dom and I went back to the condo to chill. I cooked up a bunch of food and then worked on an upcoming article for One Result.

Friday Fight Day in Las Vegas

The Ultimate Fighter Week 3 - TEAM CRUZ Strength & Conditioning Coach Doug BalzariniFight day Friday began with an early morning run, omelets, and the TUF set. The team sparred while I stretched Justin out and worked on some mobility drills with him. He has solid flexibility which definitely helps him with his kicks and power.

After training, the Alliance crew hit up Tapout for a wrestling session. I trained with the guys and we worked on fundamentals. After getting beat up by Wilson Reis for 90 minutes, we went to the condo to shower up and grab lunch. After a quick break, we were back at the TUF set for the fight. Much like last week, the Team Cruz fighter followed the game-plan perfectly! Lawrence threw his mean left hook in the second round and it was over. It’s so rewarding for me as a coach to see these kids succeed. All the hard work they put in truly does pay off. Lawrence is a special kid and someone I’m going to be rooting for long after this show is over.

With Dom still in control of the fight picks, he chose our #3 guy, Myles Jury, to take on their #1 guy, Al Iaquinta. Should be another solid battle. Sadly, I had to leave the winning locker room for another drive back to San Diego. Thankfully, these guys make the drive a little easier with these wins.

I’ll be back next week for my week 4 recap.