How Rory MacDonald Stayed Struggle Match Through the Pandemic

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Almost a 12 months since he introduced his signing with the Professional Fighters League, Rory MacDonald anticipated he’d be spending the autumn preparing for the MMA league’s semifinal spherical earlier than advancing to New Yr’s Eve’s PFL Championships.

As a substitute, MacDonald stays indefinitely getting ready for his PFL debut.

The previous UFC and Bellator famous person was set to change into the PFL’s most recognizable face—in addition to the first goal of PFL welterweights—earlier than the league made its resolution to cancel the 2020 season because of the coronavirus pandemic. And regardless of no fights in sight for the PFL this 12 months, MacDonald remains to be holding out slight hope for a 2020 miracle.

“I hoped to get some form of an replace after summer season,” MacDonald says. “However I’m praying that I get a chance on the finish of the 12 months. If not, it appears prefer it’s going to be a protracted layoff.”

However whereas his struggle schedule stays empty, MacDonald has stayed sharp by way of a mix of some old-school weight training, New Age visualization strategies, plus some inventive new twists to his routine—gymnastics—whereas staying struggle prepared for when the PFL presumably begins its 2021 season.

“I’ve been coaching laborious throughout this whole quarantine,” MacDonald says. “I’ve used the layoff as a motivating issue to simply get higher and be prepared for when that point comes.”


Together with defending PFL Ladies’s Light-weight Champion Kayla Harrison, who could make a case as the highest feminine fighter on the earth, MacDonald grew to become one of many PFL’s most recognizable stars the second he signed with the upstart MMA league in December, and rapidly stamped himself as the highest menace to take 2019 welterweight champion Ray Cooper’s belt.

“Rory is an elite expertise,” says PFL CEO Peter Murray. “He’s a prime 10 welterweight with a championship pedigree and big-fight expertise. We’re [still] excited to see him compete in our difficult season format, in a stacked [welterweight] division. His signing is definitely a sign to the market…the PFL is a spot it’s best to critically think about.”

MacDonald hoped to broaden his MMA résumé already stacked with signature victories, most notably wins over former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and Nate Diaz. His two epic Bellator battles through which he cut up with present welterweight champion Douglas Lima, made it probably the most effective rivalry in that group. As a substitute, COVID-19 pressured his coaching to be relegated at his totally outfitted storage at his Montreal house.

Previous to any pandemic, MacDonald had already maintained a club-quality storage health club, outfitted with free weights, energy rack, treadmill and a motorbike. He mentioned he added just a few odds and ends to make the health club full. “I used to be simply coaching from house on my own,” MacDonald says. “I made some little additions—I’d order off of Amazon and different locations, however I had a lot of the stuff.”

MacDonald might carry out most of his workout in his garage—squats, presses, treadmill runs have been the usual.

However for a fighter, even a former world champion, social distancing mandates introduced by coronavirus made it difficult for some time to copy sparring classes with actual people. MacDonald says for the primary few months, he improvised as finest he can, utilizing heavy luggage, floor and pound luggage. Progressively, MacDonald was capable of reacquaint himself with coaches and teammates, whereas holding it as secure as attainable.

“It was a bit odd at first,” MacDonald admits. “At first I used to be simply coaching from house on my own. You needed to make changes, however we bought by way of it.”

MacDonald additionally began including thoughts video games—actually—to assist fill some the sparring void the pandemic created. He credited visualization—taking part in struggle situations and drills in your head on a near-continuous loop, until it interprets onto the ats. MacDonald says the thoughts strategies are a top quality addition to an athlete’s routine, and advises anybody from seasoned veterans white belts to place some thought into your routine.

“I believe the most effective instrument that not lots of people use make the most of is simply utilizing your creativeness once you’re in your downtime,” MacDonald admits. “Visualizing transfer strategies throughout a struggle will help you set issues collectively. It helps you change into extra coordinated once you put it into observe.”


MacDonald was in a position to make use of the downtime to include gymnastics coaching to his arsenal. He credit his kickboxing coach for turning him on to this full-body-weight power and stability staple, however on the similar time, gymnastics coaching grew to become popularized amongst MMA athletes from one other of his mentors, fellow Canadian and UFC legend Georges St. Pierre.

Gymnastics rings together with a wide range of resistance bands and calisthenics tools have been among the quarantine additions to MacDonald’s house health club. Together with shaking up his exercises, MacDonald says including ring dips, inverted rows and different ring-based actions left his physique shaking the primary few occasions he tried. Nonetheless, MacDonald says incorporating a majority of these body-weight strikes have him feeling stronger as we speak than he did throughout his final struggle final October.

“I began doing gymnastics simply because I felt like it will be enjoyable to attempt one thing new, however on the similar time, it has additionally strengthened my muscle mass and improved my coordination.”

Strive outmuscling the unstable forces that include rings and also you’ll be rapidly humbled and hurting, and MacDonald was no totally different at first, particularly his first crack at an L-Sit, an agonizing full-body power transfer, incorporating arms, core and legs. “I couldn’t do it at first,” MacDonald admits. “I used to be like, I bought to coach at this to get higher.”

He says his progress got here in small increments, first beginning along with his legs tucked in, extra resemblant of an H sit than an L. Slowly over time, MacDonald says he was capable of lengthen his legs extra till mastered the transfer, creating an L just a few days later.

I wouldn’t say I mastered it,” MacDonald says. “however I used to be capable of do it.”



  • Hamstring Stretch
  • Physique-weight Squat: 30 reps
  • Pushup: 20 reps
  • Pullup:10 reps
  • Hip Mobility Drill
  • Dip: 10 reps
  • Plank: 60 sec.
  • Reverse Plank: 60 sec.

5 Units Of:

  • Single-leg Pistol Squat: 10 reps
  • Inverted Row (w/rings): 6 reps
  • Deep Pushup (w/rings): 10 reps
  • Dips (w/rings): 5 reps
  • Hanging L-sit holds: 5 seconds:
    superset with
  • Pullup (w/rings): 5 reps
  • Reverse Lunge: 6 reps

Heavy bag work

The MMA Training Routine To Get Jacked And Burn Fat Fast

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