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You’d be hard-pressed to find a more exciting fighter inside the Octagon than Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. The 36-year old has created some of the most popular highlight reels in the UFC, and in the process has accrued the most UFC records of any fighter: 23 wins, 16 finishes, 18 post-fight bonuses, 20 knockdowns, and seven knockouts by way of head kick.
So you may be a little shocked to learn that when it comes to his strength and conditioning program, Cerrone is as dull as can be.
“I would say that my training [methods] are boring,” says Cerrone’s strength and conditioning coach, Shara Vigeant, who has played an integral part in Cowboy’s prep for his bout with “The Notorious” Conor McGregor, which took place on Saturday, January 18 in Las Vegas.
Vigeant has been working with fighters for over a decade and says that training for MMA used to be more rudimentary: “It was just conditioning, conditioning, and conditioning.” Nowadays, serious athletes like Cerrone know that investing in their strength and conditioning programs will only lead to stronger muscles, a better transfer of their skills, and longevity. And Cerrone is serious about his training.
Not only does the Albuquerque, NM transplant work with Vigeant, who he met in 2017 while filming a movie in Alberta, Canada, but he’s a co-owner of The Performance Ranch, a New Mexico-based training facility run by his other strength and conditioning coach, Lawrence Herrera. As a result, Cerrone is the most active and winningest fighter ever in the UFC.
Compared to McGregor, Cerrone has logged 15 fights since the Irishman’s career-defining win against Jose Aldo in 2015 and five since Mystic Mac’s last appearance in the cage. Vigeant attributes Cerrone’s shelf life to his work ethic, insane conditioning, and that “he’s a naturally strong guy, so we just build on that.”
In the gym, the Alberta, Canada-based strength coach sticks with what she calls the pillars: “pull, push, hinge, squat, lunge, and carry.” Those six movement patterns are in every one of Cerrone’s workouts, but how they’re applied depends on where he is in his training camp. Early on, for example, Vigeant is more focused on building his power and strength, so she’ll load those movements with heavier weights. As the fight approaches, maintenance and injury prevention is more of a focus, so she’ll ease up a little.
Cerrone works with tools like medicine balls, kettlebells, and dumbbells. For his conditioning, Vigeant says that he’s a beast on the Airdyne bike, working his way up to 130 RPMs with whip-fast recovery time.
To get an idea of how Cowboy prepped early on for his scrap with McGregor, Vigeant provides two sample workouts from his UFC 246 camp. Give them a try yourself—the ability to kick ass not included.
Photo Credit: Rodrigo Donoso
The Cowboy typically works out two to five days per week. Here are two examples of what Cerrone’s training looked like early on in his camp. Here, the focus is more on strength and power output. Perform one tri-set before moving onto the next, and feel free to rest a couple of minutes after each.
|1A. Kettlebell Swing||3||8|
|1B. Medicine Ball Slam||3||8|
|1C. Shoulder Wall Slide||3||12|
|2A. Zercher Squat||3||6|
|2B. One-arm Dumbbell Row||3||8|
|2C. Kettlebell Deadbug||3||12 (each side)|
|3A. Dumbbell Floor Bridge Press||3||6|
|3B. Single-leg Deadlift||3||8 (each side)|
|3C. Plank Drag||3||12|
|1A. Split Squat Jump||3||6|
|1B. Sprinter Medicine Ball Chest Pass||3||6|
|1C. Resistance Band Pull-Apart||3||12-12 (up and down)|
|2A. Trap-bar Deadlift||3||6|
|2B. One-arm Landmine Press||3||8|
|2C. Side Plank Row||3||12|
|3A. Weighted TRX Inverted Row||3||6|
|3B. Rear-foot Elevated Split Squat||3||8|
|3C. Feet-elevated Stability Ball Roll Out||3||20|