Johny Hendricks works through a set of Rope Pulls as the country song “Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys” plays through the stereo at Velociti Fitness League in Pantego, Texas.
Hendricks was raised on a farm in Ada, Okla., and though he didn’t grow up to be a cowboy by trade, he did win two NCAA Division I wrestling titles for the Oklahoma State Cowboys from 2003 to 2006.
Since then, “Bigg Rigg” has been plowing a path to the top of the UFC Welterweight division. He holds a record of 16-2 and has eight wins by knockout, including five first-round finishes.
“I try for that every fight. I’m going to hit you as hard as I can and lay you out,” he says.
Hendricks didn’t score a knockout in his last match, a title fight against Robbie Lawler in March that went the full five rounds. Bigg Rigg used a steady combination of punches, knees and leg kicks early in the match and caught Lawler with a devastating uppercut in the final round to earn the unanimous decision and win the UFC Welterweight title.
His championship performance over a hard-nosed Lawler solidified Hendricks’ position as one of the UFC’s most dangerous fighters and put the proverbial target on his back among welterweight contenders.
“I want to win the belt and I want to defend that belt,” Hendricks told us before the fight.
STACK sat in as Hendricks trained for his fight against Lawler. Below are some of the moves he performed in pursuit of that goal.
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Bigg Rigg’s Training
Hendricks aims to throw 400 “hard punches” every fight, and with that comes the risk of fatigue. To ensure he’s able to last all five rounds, Hendricks performs a 15-station circuit. He says, “The circuit is gripping, pulling, pushing, foot work, head movement. We’re trying to mimic a fight the best we can in a controlled scenario to get my cardio in peak condition.”
Perform this three-set circuit five times, working for 30 seconds on each exercise and resting 30 seconds once you complete a full circuit.
Hold the ropes and perform quick chops, creating a constant wave through the ropes. Hendricks says, “The rope fires up a lot muscles—grip strength, forearms, biceps, shoulders—and that’s why I like to start off with it.”
Speed Ladder Lateral Shuffle
Stand with the ladder to your left. Shuffle laterally through the ladder, placing two feet in each box so that both feet are never touching the ground at the same time. Repeat in the opposite direction.
Hendricks says, “In a fight, sometimes you’ve got to be fast and sometimes you want to go slow, but you always need to keep your feet moving. Speed ladder drills help keep your legs under you when you’re tired.”
TRX Rip Trainer Strike
Perform a striking motion with the Rip Trainer by simultaneously punching with your right hand and rotating your torso away from the anchor point. Keep a tight grip as you move. Try for 10 to 15 reps on each side.
This article originally appeared on STACK.com: Training Secrets of UFC Champion Johny Hendricks