Mixed martial arts fighters need to be in top physical shape to withstand the demands of their sport. Elite MMA fighters undergo daily grueling conditioning to allow them to fight effectively during competition.
MMA fighters often train in a variety of fighting disciplines such as: wrestling, boxing, kickboxing, jujitsu and other forms of martial arts. This multidisciplinary approach helps to make the athlete a well-rounded fighter.
While it’s important for these athletes to train in a variety of fighting disciplines, it is equally important to maintain a well-rounded physical fitness program.
It doesn’t matter how well you fight, if you lack endurance. A fighter who is not in physical shape will quickly run out of steam during competition.
Explosive strength is also another important ingredient in a fighter’s fitness repertoire. During a bout, the fighter will rely on speed and strength during many situations.
You don’t have to be a professional fighter to get into fighting shape; however, by following a fighter’s workout routine, you can still benefit from the positive physical attributes that are associated with this type of intense training.
An MMA training routine is a full body functional program that incorporates the crucial fitness components of cardiovascular endurance, explosive speed, strength and flexibility.
Cardio for Mixed Martial Arts Training
Experienced fighters will tell you that stamina and cardiovascular endurance is one of the most import factors of MMA training. In order to improve endurance, fighters must increase their VO2 Max. The VO2 Max, otherwise known as the Maximal Oxygen Uptake is the widely accepted measurement of how much oxygen your heart can transport to your lungs during physical activity.
MMA fighters with higher VO2 Max measurements will typically be able to last through the multiple five minute rounds that their sport demands.
Roadwork to Mixed Martial Arts Training
To build endurance, fighters participate in daily running sessions, otherwise known as “roadwork.” These routines are usually split into jogging and interval sessions. Here’s an example of a weekly running program:
Monday – Jog for 30 minutes at a comfortable pace.
Tuesday – Jog 100 yards, and then sprint for 30 yards. Perform this interval 4 to 6 times.
Wednesday – Run 3 miles at 60% to 70% of your maximum heart rate.
Thursday – Jog 40 yards, followed by 100 yard sprints. Perform this interval 4 to 5
Friday – Run 3 to 5 miles at 60% to 70% of your maximum heart rate.
To incorporate the principles of cross-training, you can substitute other exercises on some of the running days. For example, you can substitute cycling, swimming, or elliptical training to give your muscles and joints sufficient time to rest.
Plyometrics allow the fighter to utilize explosive speed and power during a bout. Whether throwing a series of quick punches or performing a takedown, speed and power are crucial ingredients for a fighter.
Plyometrics incorporate full body movements such as jumping onto a box and then back down to the ground, or performing a jump squat while carrying weight. These movements are often sports specific; however, due to the demands placed in your joints, these exercises should be done with caution.
If you decide to add a plyometric routine to yout workout, make sure you get at least 24 hours of rest between workouts.
Strength Training Routine
Along with the proper form, and effective MMA athlete needs to be able to utilize brute strength to force opponents into various movements during the fight. Compound exercises should be the bread and butter of any effective strength training routine. This will help build overall body strength in the quickest amount of time.
Here is an example of a simple, yet effective weekly MMA strength training routine:
Monday – Bench Press – 4 sets of 10 reps
Incline Bench – 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
Squats – 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday – Leg press – four sets of 8 to 10 reps
Military press – 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps
Curls – 2 sets of 8 to 10 reps
Thursday – Rest
Friday – Dead lifts – 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps
Leg extensions – 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
Saturday – Rest
Sunday – Rest
Exercises in the above workout plan can be substituted with other movements. There are a wide variety of additional exercises that are frequently utilized by MMA fighters such as:
- Medicine ball sizes
- Sledgehammer training
- Tire flipping
- Resistance band training
- Yoga ball exercises