WITH LESS thantwo months until his title defense against Quinton (Rampage) Jackson, UltimateFighting Championship light heavyweight titleholder Chuck Liddell, 37, hasheaded to the hills of Arroyo Grande, Calif., to train at an outdoor compoundknown as The Pit. "It's one of those raw places that you heard aboutgrowing up but thought was folklore," says Liddell, who first trained there16 years ago, while he was a collegiate wrestler at Cal Poly. In that Pit debutLiddell—now nicknamed the Iceman—sparred against the facility's owner, JohnHackleman, for 19 straight minutes. "I took a beating," Liddell admits."I had a catcher's mitt for a face. But he has been my trainer eversince."
Hackleman, a10th-degree black belt and former Army boxing champion, leads Liddell throughtwice-daily workouts with 14 other mixed-martial-arts fighters. "A lot ofguys don't last because they hate these medieval workouts," says Hackleman,47. "But there is no New Age exercise or machine that's better for you thanpushing a wheelbarrow up a hill."
With a 20--3career record and coming off a Dec. 30 title defense (above, left), againstTito Ortiz, that drew about $40 million in pay-per-view sales, the 6'2",204-pound Liddell swears by his hard-core regimen. Here are somehighlights.
ROWIN' AND RASSLIN'
In a standard rowing machine, start with knees bentand bare feet strapped into footrests. Row 800 meters in less than 2 1/2minutes. Roll off machine and onto adjacent mat. Wrestle opponent for 2 1/2minutes. Rest one minute. Five sets.
Hackleman: "The machine works mainly the legs butalso the lats. By the time he finishes 800 meters and wrestles, he'sexhausted—it simulates how tired he'd be in a fight. To make it worse, I'llhave him start wrestling on his back and fight his way to the top of hisopponent."
Grip a 16-pound sledgehammer with left hand by base ofhandle and right hand halfway up. With knees bent, swing hammer above rightshoulder and down onto a 300-pound tire with a steady rhythm. 100 reps.
Hackleman: "I call this the Earnie Shavers [afterthe boxer]—he told me about this drill. It's for punching power, and [Shavers]was one of the hardest punchers. The motion simulates an overhand right, themost common punch for knockouts. It's mainly for shoulder strength, but thecore also gets worked.
Place 275 pounds of free weights in a standardwheelbarrow. Grip wheelbarrow handles and sprint 100 yards up a 10-degreeincline. Turn and run down, still holding wheelbarrow in front of you.One-minute rest. Three round trips.
Hackleman: "It takes endurance and leg strength topush that weight up the hill, but it's a killer for your grip and shouldersgoing down. Down is just as important because in ultimate fighting youconstantly use those muscles to pull your opponent to the mat or off ofyou."
PIT WALL BALL
Stand six feet away from wooden beam. Bend down, pickup a 125-pound medicine ball and raise it to chest height. Throw ball at beamby pushing arms straight out in front of you. Must bounce back at least threefeet, or else repeat rep. Five reps is one set. One-minute rest. Five sets.
Hackleman: "This is for punching power. Justpicking up the 125 pounds is killer, but I need him to throw it with power aswell. This primarily builds up his shoulder muscles."
A DAY IN THE LIFE
11 a.m. Wake. Six to eight egg whites with hot sauce,two slices wheat toast. Water. "Fights are at night, so I wake late andtrain late to acclimate," says Liddell. "I want 9 p.m. to be like themiddle of my day."
12:30--2 p.m. Workout.
2:30 p.m. Grilled chicken breast or grilled salmon,white rice, broccoli or carrots. Water. "I'll reheat this for my othermeals," he says. "I had a nutritionist who gave me different mealplans. Too much work."
4:30 p.m. Supplement shake.
7 p.m. Repeat lunch meal. "If I vary and go out,it's usually for sashimi," he says. "I'll have salmon and tuna andwater. No alcohol during training."
8:30--10 p.m. Workout.
10:30 p.m. Repeat lunch meal.
2 to 3 a.m. Bedtime.
MARLENE KARAS/AP (LIDDELL FIGHTING)