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Train Like An Athlete: Demetrious Johnson

May 19, 2020

Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson has made it to the top of the martial arts world by combining hard work with smart work.

The ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Champion is no stranger to the grind — it is what made him one of the greatest combat sports athletes of all time. But he also knows that striking the right balance is the key to his longevity.

For the American mixed martial arts legend, that includes training for his upcoming bouts, maintaining his health year-round, and, most importantly, being a father and husband.

Now, Johnson breaks down a typical Tuesday in his training camps and offers advice for any athlete trying to make it to the top.

Family First

When Johnson starts his training camps, he hits the ground running.

“Around six weeks out from a bout, Tuesdays are typically one of the toughest days,” the Washington native says. 

“I’ll get up around 8:00 am, and the first thing I do is cook breakfast for the whole family – my wife and kids.

“For me, it’s usually two eggs with some extra egg whites, some form of protein like turkey sausage, and then a form of carbohydrates — I like gluten-free rolled oats with a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon to get every aspect of nutritional value.”

When everybody is fed and ready to attack the day, the flyweight athlete tackles his next job.

“The kids would usually have to be at school by 9:00 am, so I get them to school, and then it’s on to my first session of the day,” he says.

Morning Cardio

Session number one for the 33-year-old star is swimming in his local pool at around 9:30 am.

For Johnson, it is a good, low-impact way to push his cardio and get a full-body workout.

“I like to go swimming to get my morning cardio in. It gets the blood and oxygen moving through the body and muscles,” he explains.

“I used to do five rounds of five minutes, but now I typically do three rounds because it’s quite hard on your shoulders.

“The first and third round are just freestyle breaststroke. In the second round, I do some explosive intervals. After that, I finish with some lengths of underwater swimming to help with my VO2 max.”

Refueling The ‘Mighty’ Machine

After his swim, Johnson heads home to refuel and take on the rest of his duties.

“My second meal after the session would be some apples and peanut butter,” he says.

“And then my third meal of the ‘Mighty Diet’ when I get home would be a form of protein, carbohydrates, and some veg. Typically, I like to have salmon with sautéed spinach and brown rice.”

Then, it’s back to daddy duties.

“I’ll go and pick up one of the kids, and we can play for a little bit before I have to get back on the road for the next session,” he adds.



Sparring And Technique

For session number two, Johnson makes the hour-long drive to AMC Pankration for two hours of intense training.

“I head north to the gym and get there at around 4:30 pm, which gives me time to say, ‘What’s up,’ to everybody, warm up, and get my gear on. I’ll have a granola bar as a snack before the session starts,” he explains.

“At 5:00 pm, we will start training, and we don’t stop until 7:00 pm, so two-hour sessions.

“Tuesday is Muay Thai sparring. We get loose, and then do seven rounds. We do five rounds at five minutes, and then two rounds at three minutes each.

“It’s straight into jumping some rope, and then an hour of technique training. We’ll look at new techniques, drill them, and learn how to put them in the right position.”

Winding Down

With two intense hours in the books, it’s another hour drive back home. Then, he finally gets to spend some downtime with his wife, Destiny.

“After all that, it’s just time to get showered, have my final meal of the day – typically salmon, a sweet potato, and greens – and then have some time with my wife on the couch,” Johnson says.

“I’ll go to bed around 10:30-11:00 pm, and get ready to do it all again!”

Hitting The Sweet Spot

Demetrious Johnson tussles with Danny Kingad at ONE CENTURY

“Mighty Mouse” is 13 years and 34 bouts into his career as a professional mixed martial artist, and his best advice is to listen to your body and your coaches, and find the right workload for your own situation.

While other athletes may cram more into their day, the results of Johnson’s approach are irrefutable, and he has kept his body in great shape over the years.

“You never know whether it’s the right amount or not when it comes to training or fighting at the highest level, so I just try to do what I feel is good enough, and then my coach can decide if we need to make any changes,” he explains.

“If I’ve trained hard and I don’t feel good the next day, we can change it and do something different.

“For me, it’s about being consistent, day in and day out. Some athletes today are burning their bodies up, and that makes them unable to keep on going to have a long and successful career.”

Staying Healthy And Happy

Intense training and a busy home life — as well as his other projects such as Mighty Gaming — can take their toll, of course. But Johnson has a couple of suggestions to help folks keep their health and bodies intact.

“I use supplements from Onnit. I take their glutamine, the plant-based protein, vitamin D, and MCT oil,” he offers.

“Glutamine in the morning and at night supports muscles and gut health, and helps you to refuel for the next session.

“Vitamin D helps your intestine absorb the nutrients you have taken in, and the MCT oil is like a clean form of energy that I like to take in the morning, as I’m not a big fan of coffee.

“There’s also one called ‘New Mood’ that I use to relax my nervous system because it can be jacked up from being on the go all day.”

Read More: The Untold Origins Of Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson