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Never give up.
We know, you’ve heard that advice before. It can be redundant, but it’s more significant when it’s coming from the right person. A frightening wrestler who has a dominant 17-3-0 UFC record, Johny Hendricks has never been knocked out, and he has a left hook that could stagger an elephant. Hendricks has faced weight-cutting struggles that have recently landed him in the emergency room, but’s here’s hoping he can recover well and get back to fighting.
As a spokesman for Reebok’s “Be More Human” campaign, it’s obvious that Hendricks is a strong fit. We all have flaws, no one is perfect — before his UFC 171 fight last spring the welterweight held a Q&A with M&F. Hendricks shared what’s made him tougher in the gym and in the ring.
M&F: Were you surprised to learn that you wouldn’t get another shot at the Welterweight title for your next bout?
JH: They said that (Robbie) Lawler wanted to take a break — I don’t. I want to get the title back, but how do you do that? To do that you have to get back in the gym. The UFC had said that they couldn’t find anyone to fight him, but I said I would. This is a great thing for me because my weight cuts haven’t gone well in the past. We’re trying something new to further my career. It’s been nice to get back to the old style of Johny, which is lifting weights. Now it’s time to get back to getting me back to what I’ve been.
M&F: How do you manage your time as you prep for a fight?
JH: Don’t get me wrong, it’s tough. There are times when I get home and I say, “Yeah, I’m tired. I’m this or that.” Instead of staying up, I’m in bed earlier. That gives me more time to spend time with my family. I’ve been at 195 lbs. since my last fight. I’m adding muscle and doing things along those lines. Sometimes when I get to 215 lbs. I start getting out of shape. I’m actually in shape right now, even though I’m not big. Sometimes you’ll come home and you’ll practice, but you still feel like you have to do more. You can’t do more because you still have so much training to do. When I have more energy, I hang out with my girls.
M&F: If we were to boil down Johny Hendricks’ workout philosophy into three words, what would they be?
JH: Leave nothing there. Whenever I wake up, I want to make sure that I left it all in there. Whenever it comes down to fight time, that’s what I want to do. I want to make sure that when I look back I can say, “I fought the best way that I could. If it went my way, that’s awesome. If it didn’t, I don’t want to say I didn’t do this or that.”
M&F: Where do you find the motivation to do that?
JH: Here’s what I always try to tell people who are trying to get in shape. I tell them, “Hey, let’s go to the gym. Here’s what we’re going to do.” He might say, “I used to be able to do this: a 200-pound bench. I could rip 10 of those out easily.” I’d say, “Alright, that’s cool. Let’s knock it down to 145.”
I want them to stay motivated.
The way to keep that sharpness is to not kill yourself. I’m in a different scenario because I have to do everything I can to win this fight. March 14th is my deadline, and I have to do everything. The average person can start off slow and easy because they don’t need to be in shape that quickly. They can take a year to do what they need to do. They can say, “I’m going to go in every morning and do 30 minutes, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m not going to kill myself, I’ll get back into it and make sure that I get in the reps.” Once you start going everyday, you’ll add a little bit and start pushing yourself more. Just say that this is the year that you’re going to get into shape. Tell yourself, “This year I’m going to get in shape.” What most people do is that they’ll say, “It’s February now, I’m going to get in shape by March or April.” It doesn’t happen that way.
M&F: Some tough decisions haven’t gone your way but you’ve always come back with a win. How did you stay focused?
JH: It sucks, I’m not gonna lie. As soon as they read it you’re like, “Are you kidding me? Did we not watch the same fight?” What really helped me was being humble. God has a plan, whatever it is I don’t know yet but I just look at it that way. Maybe I need to learn humility. Maybe I need to get my weight under control — quit being a fat boy in the offseason. Even if it doesn’t go the way you want, you can still sit there and ask, “What is there to learn, what I can I make better?” Even if you win, you still have to do the same thing.
M&F: Who or what has been your biggest challenge?
JH: The GSP and Miller losses were both tough. They hit you in the guts and you sit there and go, “How…why?”
What did they want out of me? What could I have done differently? When I look at the fight, there’s nothing I couldn’t have done differently. You just ask, “How can you make it better?” That’s the motivation. Right now I’m reading American Sniper. There’s something that he said, which was that he was never the best at anything, but he had a willingness to not quit. He was going to do anything to prove you wrong — I have the same thing.
M&F: How does that translate when weightlifters are hitting that wall in the gym?
JH: Don’t give up. We all hit walls every day. Every day I hit a wall, once you do you just add a little — five pounds, two and a half pounds. I’ll ask someone to spot me. You just focus on that mental block and you just push out one more. If your coach says get six, go for 10.
M&F: What made you want to get involved with Reebok’s “Be More Human” campaign?
JH: Reebok and I have been really close. We want to get people focused on more than just the gym. Some people think they need to be in the gym for an hour — you don’t. You can go into your back yard and pick up rocks. That’s what I like about this, it goes beyond the gym. You can grab a buddy and run two miles. It gets back to the old style of lifting weights. That’s what I love to do and what I would love to showcase. Just keep working hard. Don’t give up and don’t sell yourself short. Those are the two most important things when you’re lifting weights and trying to get into shape. Don’t let the negative affect you, and keep moving forward.
M&F: You’ve got heavy hands, you know how to get knockouts. What’s your workout routine for that?
JH: Heavy bag and one-arm dumbbells are another. Right now I’m doing 95s with one-arm dumbbells. We do reps of 10. Another thing is pad work, in that pad work I want you to throw as hard as you can in three minute rounds. We do five rounds of that — that’s what I’m focusing on. It’ll help fire up your muscles and you’ll learn how to not throw that hard. You’ll move in better sync and not tire yourself out. You’ll learn to throw with your body and not your arms.