By Myatt Murphy
Nate ‘Rock’ Quarry may be known for his no-quit attitude and quirky charisma, but the most notable thing about him may be his mobility. At 37, he’s not the youngest fighter in the UFC, but you'd never guess that from watching him do his job in the Octagon. See him Wednesday night at UFC Fight Night
The secret behind his age-defying anatomy? A workout that focuses on not just strength and cardio training, but a mix of vital athletic areas that help turn Quarry into one of the sport’s most well-rounded athletes.
Before a fight, Quarry trains a minimum of two days a week—for up to 90 minutes a session—with strength and conditioning coach Greg Thompson. The regimen might best be described as "No Pain, No Gain." “Every workout is different, depending on what we need to work on prior to a fight,” says Quarry, “But regardless of what I’m doing, I’m screaming every single second of every exercise and bringing every ounce of strength I have to get it done.
"You can’t be afraid when training to go into that painful barrier. But when a fight’s coming up, that’s one of the jobs of my coaches is to pull me back and get me to slow down, because if my body could take it, I’d be training as hard as possible every single day.”
Think you can handle Quarry’s routine? Here’s an example of just one of his typical strength and conditioning workouts, with details about each section below:
1. A 5-12 minute warm-up (consisting of running and 18 different bodyweight exercises)
2. A core exercise circuit (6-8 exercises done back-to-back)
3. Agility ladder footwork drills (30 seconds an exercise; 6-8 minutes straight.)
4. Functional Strength Training routine
• Walking Lunge Press (walk 90 feet for one set; do 3 sets total)
• Clean and Jerk (30-60 seconds; 3 sets total)
• Turkish Get-ups (60 seconds; 3 sets total)
5. Corrective/mobility strength training routine
• Lateral Lunges (12-16 reps combined; 2-3 sets)
• Drop Lunge (12-16 reps combined; 2-3 sets)
• T-Spine Push-ups (10-12 reps; 2-3 sets)
6. A 15-20 minute stretching cool-down
First thing on the agenda: “Nate always starts his workouts with a very structured ‘dynamic warm-up’ that keeps him in a constant state of motion,” says Thompson, “He jogs four laps, then I have him run through a series of around eighteen bodyweight exercises—such as lunge twists and bear crawls, for example—for a warm-up that takes about 5-12 minutes to complete,” says Thompson, “It’s a far more comprehensive routine than what most people do to prepare themselves to work out, incorporating a variety of mobility exercises, balance and muscular coordination exercises and basic functional strength moves that literally prepare him physically from head to toe.”
Next, he runs through about 6-8 exercises that work his core from a variety of different angles, ranging from alternating toe touches and hyperextensions to lateral hip raises. “I’ll run him through each exercise and have him do each for about 30-50 reps,” says Thompson, “What this does is activate all of his core muscles, so they stay strong and mobile throughout the rest of his workout.”
Once his core’s activated, the bulk of Quarry’s workout consists of footwork drills to train his nimbleness, a series of 3-4 functional exercises to train his muscles to react and work together, then 3-4 corrective exercises that help open up his body so he’s more mobile in the Octagon. Finally, Quarry’s cool-down consists of a mix of stretches. “The entire stretching portion of his routine lasts about 10-20 minutes, with each stretch held between 60-90 seconds to really help his tissues expand and stretch,” says Thompson.
Quarry has been known to do everything from flipping 400-lb. tires and swinging sledgehammers to climbing ropes and throwing medicine balls to prepare his body. However, Quarry also believes, “it’s not just about how hard you work, it’s about how well you recover.” That’s why no matter what exercises he loves to do, his trainer is very particular to break his routine up into a series of mini-workouts, each designed to work on various aspects of his conditioning to keep him strong, fast and injury-free.
Fitness expert Myatt Murphy is the author of the best-selling books, The Body You Want in the Time You Have, Ultimate Dumbbell Guide and co-author of The Men's Health Gym Bible