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👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
Hi, my name is Kory Beck, I am 24 years old, and I am a professional MMA fighter. I am from the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri which is where I currently live and train.
I have played sports my whole life and have always wanted to be a professional athlete.
As a kid I played just about every sport you can think of and I was particularly drawn to contact sports. However, I was also always the smaller kid so in order to compete with everyone that was bigger than me I found a way to be aggressive, play everything with intensity, and never back down.
Sometime in middle school I started watch UFC with my Dad and fell in love with it instantly.
One reason, MMA was so appealing was because there were weight classes, so size was no longer a limiting factor like most other sports.
Plus, I saw smaller guys using Brazilian Jiu-jitsu in their fights to submit larger opponents and that’s when I knew I had to learn it.
Throughout high school my focus was hockey, but in the offseason, I trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) and kickboxing.
My junior year I decided to try out wrestling and despite never wrestling before I really excelled. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a fighter, but you can’t compete in MMA until you are 18.
So, I trained and trained and planned on fighting at some point, but hockey was still my main focus since I was planning to play hockey in college.
I went to college at Missouri State University and I realized I likely wasn’t going to go pro in hockey so I decided to join a fraternity instead.
That made for an interesting freshman year but in the back of my mind I still had this burning desire to compete in MMA. I started looking for a gym to train at and that’s kind of when the stars aligned.
There was an MMA coach and fight promotor looking to find 2 college fraternity guys to fight each other in an attempt to get more attendance from the college crowd at the MMA fights he was putting on.
At that point I knew I was the perfect person for that so I reached out to him and started training once again. A few months later I had my first amateur MMA fight and I was hooked. From the adrenaline, anxiety, hyper focus, just everything I was in love.
From that point I was training in BJJ, kickboxing, wrestling and all of the aspects of MMA just about every day throughout my time at college.
By the time I graduated I had a degree in geology with a minor in chemistry and a 9-2 record in amateur MMA. I knew I didn’t want to get stuck working a desk job for the rest of my life, so I decided to go all in on MMA and put my sights on going pro.
I saved enough money during college to where I could quite my job and train full time which is what I did. Every day twice a day I was training in some aspect of MMA.
I got offered an amateur title fight and if I won then I was going to get a professional contract so of course I accepted.
Unfortunately, I lost that fight and that same night I found out that my girlfriend was pregnant and I was going to be a Dad. It was a roller coaster of emotions to say the least but I was excited nonetheless.
However, I knew that meant I was going to have to get a real job and my MMA career was going to be put on hold for a little bit.
Once my son was born it gave me this new wave of motivation and desire to pursue my dreams because if I didn’t then who was going to show him that he could?
Despite being sleep deprived most of the time like any new parent, I found a way to work full time, be a dad and train. Since I had lost my last fight I knew I needed one more amateur fight to get back in the win column before I turned pro, so I got with my team, got a fight scheduled and went out there to do what I did best, fight.
I got the win and a few months later I had my first professional fight and won that one as well, which brings us to the here and now.
I was supposed to have my second pro fight in March but the event was canceled due to the coronavirus.
Just like everyone else, I am stuck doing workouts at home since all of the gyms are closed, but I am staying prepared so when all of this passes I can get right back to doing what I love and furthering my career as a fighter.
⏱ Describe a typical day of training
Since there are so many different aspects of MMA, a typical day of training can vary greatly depending on how close or far away from a fight you are, who you next opponent may be, what injuries you might be dealing with and ultimately what parts of your MMA game need more improvement than others.
With all that being said, the structure of a typical training day usually consists of 2-3 workouts a day. Two workouts are skill-based meaning working on some aspect of striking or grappling and the third workout is usually strength and conditioning related.
The volume, intensity and skills worked depends mostly on if you are in a fight camp or not.
A fight camp consists of an 8-10 week period that you are specifically training for a fight that you have scheduled. During a fight camp, like I said, you can expect to be training 2-3 times a day.
To understand the complexity of MMA training let me take you through a typical week of training, during a fight camp. Again, there are a lot of variables that determine exactly what you may be working on but on Mondays and Wednesdays I typically like to get a hard training session in around 10 am.
This session starts out with MMA drills such as punch combinations into takedowns with transitions to submissions and ends with live sparring. This session usually lasts about an hour and a half.
After, my focus is refueling and recovering before my second session for the day. I do this by getting a quality meal and doing myofascial release (think foam rolling) or taking a nap.
The second training session is typically lower intensity and focused on developing striking skills which may consist of hitting pads or the heavy bag. After that I usually lift weights or do some type of strength and conditioning workout.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays I usually go for a run in the morning and do some shadowboxing for cardio and in the evening, I get my harder training session in at jiu-jitsu class. This consists of whatever my coach is teaching and having us work on that day.
Friday through Sunday I work from 5:30am-5:30pm so that takes up most of my day but thankfully my work has a gym so I usually do some type of workout during my lunch break.
When I am not in a fight camp I usually train at least once a day and these training sessions are more skill based.
Just like any other sport, you can’t train with full intensity 365 days a year or you will burn out.
The time in between fights, that resides outside of that 8-10 week period before another scheduled fight, is when you get to focus the most on learning new skills.
👊 How do you keep going and push harder?
Overall, I have been training in MMA for 8 years. This may seem like a long time and it is to an extent, but due to the complexity of MMA and the fact that so many different martial arts and skills are involved, there is still so much more that I have to learn and improve on.
During this time I have been tested mentally, emotionally and physically but I always find a way to keep training.
Many people wish for motivation but the key to consistency with any kind of training is discipline. You are not always going to want or feel like going to the gym and sometimes you may even want to quit all together but you have to go back and remember why you are doing what you are doing.
For me, answering that question is easy. I love MMA and all aspects of it. It’s a passion of mine and I plan on training in one way, shape or form for the rest of my life.
Also, once I had my son that gave me a whole new reason to fight. Now I’m not just fighting for myself, I am fighting for my family and to be an example to my son that you can do anything you want to in your life if you work hard and have the right mindset.
Having a positive and strong mindset is what keeps you motivated, disciplined and helps you rid yourself of excuses and find a way to train no matter what is going on in your life.
Training is also my therapy and my escape because when you walk onto the mats for that next few hours nothing else in your life really matters.
You don’t even think about anything else because you are focused and in the moment. Its almost like an active meditation for me.
🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Since I have a fight scheduled in July, I am preparing myself mentally and physically for the training camp I will be starting in the next few weeks.
My short term goal is to prepare for that fight and win which will get my one step closer to my long term goals. I am currently 1-0 as a pro and fighting for Shamorck FC, a regional fight promotion.
In the next 5 years I would like to add a significant number of fights to my record and be in the UFC, the biggest and most known fight promotion in the world.
By then I want to be making enough money strictly from fighting, so I no longer have to have a regular job and I can make MMA my full time job.
My plan for getting there is to continue the path that I am on, which means training and fighting consistently and continuing to improve. As part of this journey I would also like to have my black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the next 5 years also.
Overall, I wouldn’t change anything in my life up to this point. Everything that has happened and the way it has happened has made me into the person I am today.
🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
As you can imagine, fighting takes its toll on the body so rest and recovery are essential. Its easiest to prevent overtraining and injuries rather than dealing with them when they arise.
I’m blessed to not have suffered any major injuries up to this point and I contribute that to my recovery routine. This includes properly periodizing my training camps to ensure I am training within the limits of my body and consistently taking measures to actively recover.
Recovery for me consists of getting enough sleep (7-9 hours) each night, fueling my body with whole nutritious foods and most recently totally rethinking the way I do my strength and conditioning as well as doing myofascial release.
I must give credit to Functional Patterns for opening my eyes to real biomechanics and giving me the knowledge to train in a way that respects human biology and the complex myofascial networks that exist in our bodies.
The Functional Patterns 10 Week Online Course is a great place to start for anyone who is looking to learn how to move and function better as well as rid themselves of daily aches and pains.
Overall, my new approach with my workouts and daily myofascial release (self-massage) has helped me take preventative action towards staying injury free.
🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
Due to the heavy workload of MMA training and the fact that you have to compete at a certain weight class makes nutrition extremely important.
Outside of a fight camp I am not super strict with what I eat, but I do still prioritize nutritious whole foods. However, I am not afraid to have a cheat meal or go out to eat with friends and family.
On the flip side though, when I am in a fight camp and have to make weight I follow a strict diet. I don’t weigh my food and constantly check nutrition labels because quite honestly they aren’t always that accurate.
However, I do have caloric and macronutrient requirements, so I use the hand method to estimate those and again I try to stick to eating whole foods.
For example, I use my palm to measure a portion of protein, my fist to measure a portion of veggies, a cupped hand to measure carbs and my thumb to measure fats.
With that being said, I only lose a certain amount of weight before I then cut water weight in order to weigh in within my weight class.
Let me explain. For my next fight I have to weigh in at 130lbs. At the beginning of my 10 week training camp I will weigh between 150-155lbs which means I will have to cut 20-25lbs. I will first lose 10-15lbs by dieting and losing body fat.
The last 10lbs that I lose is typically done the week leading up to weigh ins and is done by losing water weight.
To do this in the healthiest way possible, 1 week before weigh ins, I water load my body by drinking 2 gallons of water a day for 2 days then slowly taper it back.
This forces my body to expect a large amount of water so then it also expels a lot of water through urinating and sweating then as I slowly taper the amount of water I intake while my body keeps expelling a significant amount of water, my weight drops. However, that’s not all that is necessary.
In addition to water loading, I often cut out carbs to reduce my glycogen levels thus losing water and reduce my sodium intake so my body doesn’t hold as much water.
This usually takes care of the majority of those 10lbs, but the last few I usually lose by sweating in a hot bath. It should be known that weigh ins for the fight are the day before the fight takes place so after weigh ins I have 24 hours to rehydrate and refuel and by the next day I usually gain back that 10lbs of water I lost.
For my last few fights, I have followed Mike Dolce’s 3 Weeks to Shred program which is designed to help fighters cut weight in the safest and healthiest way possible.
As for supplements, in the morning I take a nootropic called Neurofuel from Natural Stacks for brain health, mental clarity and focus.
Before my workouts I like to use the pre-workout Stage One from the company Clean Victory and post workout I use Optimum Nutrition protein powder.
I sometimes use other Natural Stacks products as well and I really love Natural Stacks as a company because their supplements are third party tested and open sourced which means there are no proprietary blends.
What you see on the label is exactly what you are getting. For the most part I try to limit the amount of supplements I take and instead get most of my nutrients from whole foods.
Supplements Mentioned by KoryOptimum Nutrition, Clean Victory and Natural Stacks
👍 What has inspired and motivated you?
I have a lot of intrinsic inspiration and motivation that stems from my desire to do what I love and be the best at it.
Also, like I mentioned previously my son is a big driver of my motivation and desire to succeed because I want to be a good role model for him and prove to him that he can do anything he wants to in life with hard work and dedication.
I also refuse to live my life with regret, so I do what it takes in order to chase my dreams and this often includes making sacrifices and stepping outside of my comfort zone.
Some of the best advice I have ever received is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. This has helped me face the challenges that present themselves in my life.
As far as external motivation, I get that from all the love and support I get from my family, friends and fans. Influencing and making a positive difference in their lives means a lot to me.
I also get motivation from reading, listening to podcasts and following certain people on Instagram.
The most influential book I have read recently is Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink. It takes the principles that Navy Seals use in combat and applies them to everyday life. I recommend it for everyone that is trying to better themselves.
✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
My best advice for anyone who wants to improve themselves as it relates to fitness is to test and analyze your strengths, weaknesses and dysfunctions and takes steps towards directly correcting them.
If you don’t have the knowledge and ability to do so then find someone who does. I would suggest someone that is familiar with Functional Patterns.
Mindlessly doing exercises just because you see someone else doing them without considering your own muscular dysfunctions will likely exasperate your imbalances.
The exercises and workouts you do should be tailored to your needs as an individual and should serve a purpose in helping you move better.
🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?
I don't take clients.
📝 Where can we learn more about you?
💬 Kory Beck quotes
Kory shares some great, motivating insights in this interview. Feel free to share these quotes on your Instagram, Pinterest and so on 😍