Daily Routines

Kamaru Usman: Daily Routine

On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.

If Kamaru Usman wasn’t the UFC welterweight champion, spending his working days smashing opponents against the fence or breaking jaws of talkative rivals, he’d probably be a marriage counsellor, he admits. Quite the divergent career path.

“It’s just something that I was passionate about in college,” he said in an interview with Muscle & Fitness. “One of my favorite things to study was family studies. I loved it so much because you got the chance to study the child—the infant, the adolescent, and that development to the aging adult.”

“I really started to see the effects of the family structure and what it does to each individual, what it does to a child. And I just basically got to see the importance of a marriage and a family to build a strong foundation.”

Though it might be a long time before we see The Nigerian Nightmare sitting on a couch with a notepad mediating couple disputes. He’s currently too busy winning and defending his title. With an undefeated UFC record and three title defences so far against Colby Covington, Jorge Masvidal and Gilbert Burns, Usman is slowly creeping into Georges St-Pierre’s GOAT territory.

I want to break their soul. I want to take something away from them so that when my name comes up again, they’re just like, ‘Fuck, no. I don’t want to fight that guy again.’

Kamaru Usman talks ‘TUF’ with Jorge Masvidal, criticizes Colby Covington | MMA Junkie

Usman has always had the champion mindset and work ethic. Even before he was tapped for a title shot for the welterweight crown, he served as a backup fighter for UFC 228 which featured then-champion Tyron Woodley defending his belt against scorching up-and-comer Darren Till.

Being a backup fighter for a title fight meant Usman needed to weigh in at 170 pounds on the dot. For a fighter who walks around at over 190 pounds, and was reportedly 183 pounds the night before the weigh-ins, the weight-cutting was a battle in and of itself.

“It takes a hell of a mindset to prepare for something that might not happen,” Usman’s manager Ali Abdelaziz told ESPN. “It takes a very strong man and a very scary man to be able to do this.”

“This is where the battle is,” Usman revealed in an interview. “Your body says, ‘This shit is too much.’ It’s literally overheating and you’re continuing to drain water out of it. Mentally your mind is like, ‘If you don’t stop this, I’m going to quit on you. You better stop.’

“So you’re having this mental battle with yourself the whole time. There were a few times where I had to take the towels off because it was too hot. I have to lose 13 pounds because if I don’t, I can’t be champion. I have to do it.”

Then, just like that, Usman hit the target weight of 170, managing to cut an incredible 13 pounds of water weight in less than three hours. The whole process turned out to be unnecessary as both Woodley and Till weighed-in and showed up to fight night without a hitch. Still, for Usman, it was all about proving a point and sending a message to the UFC.

If I had to do this all over again, I’d do it again 10 times out of 10. I’m not going to be that guy sitting at home finding out Till was hurt or couldn’t make weight, knowing I missed my opportunity at fighting for the championship. I’m going to be ready. And when that opportunity presents itself, whenever it is, I will be the champion.

Being the backup fighter: Inside Kamaru Usman’s UFC 228 weight cut | ESPN

Kamaru Usman’s training routine & diet

On a typical training day, Usman is up at 6.30am. Actually, he’s up at 6.30am regardless of whether it’s a training day or not, revealing in an interview with Leo Edit that he’s had a “head clock” since high school days, “I’m up at 6:30am every day, even a little before that. I’m always up. It doesn’t matter if I go to bed at 5am, I’m up at 6:30am.”

For his training routine against Covington, the welterweight champion brought in sparring partners who could mimic the patterns and habits of the former Division 1 wrestler. “I brought in my former trading partner who wrestled with Colby Covington while they were at college together, and I also brought in former NCAA champion Jason Tsirtsis,” he said. “They gave me that extra push with my wrestling to keep me sharp and keep me honest.”

During preparations for his bout against former teammate, Gilbert Burns, Usman switched training camps, from Sanford MMA to Trevor Wittman, who also trained notable UFC names like Rose Namajunas and Justin Gaethje.

“Florida was the base for a long time, but you grow from there,” Usman explained to ESPN. “We always had a ton of guys, some of the best training partners out there and some great coaches.”

“But I wanted a little more specific attention at this point in my career – someone to be able to say, ‘You’re going to come in at this time and work on this particular skill.’ It’s very tough to do that when there are 40 to 50 guys in the room with you who also need to get attention.”

Now based out of Wittman’s training camp in Denver, Colorado, the champ is training at a higher altitude than his previous camps.

“It’s a little tougher for the body to be able to recover, because you don’t have as many red blood cells, so the body is working overtime to try to compensate,” he said. “It wasn’t necessarily a conscious choice, but it doesn’t necessarily hurt. If the fight is at altitude, and he’s not trained like I am here, at altitude, then it is a huge advantage.”

As a big welterweight who carried a lot of lean muscle bulk, Usman is particularly focused on improving his cardiovascular levels. “We try to make the regimen more endurance based, all the while keeping my strength and my power as well. It’s been working great.”

For his diet, Usman works with Trifecta, a nutrition company partnered with the UFC, as well as Clint Wattenberg, the Director of Nutrition at the UFC Performance Institute. “He did a full assessment of what my needs are because the same plan doesn’t work for everyone,” Usman said. “For someone like myself, I’m extremely lean, and my body requires food that fuels the high level of endurance that fits my fighting style.”

Usman’s current diet plan is heavy on carbs to provide him both the endurance required for long training sessions, as well as maintain the strength that’s made him so successful as a fighter. “My plan is geared towards being able to run off of carbs and that high carbohydrate-based diet so I can go for a long time, kind of like a marathon fighter. Where at the same time, I can keep my muscle and my strength.”

I’ve always cooked for myself all through my career. I like to cook. But the higher you get in your career, the bigger the fight, the more stakes are on the line, and it makes it harder to cook for myself. I was looking for a convenient meal plan company that could step in to help me, but also make sure I was eating quality food.

Honor, Respect, Discipline: Kamaru Usman’s Code | Muscle & Fitness

Before you go…

Check out more daily routines from Barack Obama, Joe Rogan, Jeff Bezos, Michelle Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet and plenty others.

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Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.