Fighting Fit: The MMA Shred Workout!
The popularity of mixed martial arts hasn't gone unnoticed in the fitness industry. Fighters like Georges St-Pierre and Gina Carano have athletic, lean bodies that perform at high levels and look great on magazine covers. Their ripped physiques combine "show" with "go" like few others.
You can look that badass too—but you have to be willing to work. Think about it: They need to be masters of technique, while still having the agility and endurance to survive 5-minute rounds while someone is basically trying to kill them. A good fighter therefore has to have strong aerobic and anaerobic systems, and their workouts need to develop many fitness qualities.
If you're ready to take your fitness and physique to the next level, here are some tips to help you train and move like a fighter. Touch gloves, and let's go!
Strength, speed, and flexibility are all crucial determinants of success in the cage. They're also necessary components to developing a better physique. By incorporating exercises that require movement on multiple planes—like those that mimic striking, kicking, and grappling—you'll have the coordination and speed to go play pick-up games while rocking a bod that looks straight from the octagon.
Though steady-state aerobic training is popular out there in the non-fighting world, it's not the best method to get shredded, strong, and improve endurance. The best way to train like a fighter is to do high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which improves speed, endurance, and power. It's also been shown to increase the amount and duration of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC)1. Basically, doing HIIT helps the metabolism stay jacked up for longer, and that means more fat-burning for you.
To train in intervals, do brief bouts of high-intensity anaerobic exercise followed by longer aerobic rest periods. HIIT can be done using sprints, weightlifting, and fighting rounds. Even if you don't plan on delivering any haymakers, you'll get the benefit of stacking on some lean muscle and watching body fat melt away.
Those who make their living in the cage simply must be flexible. High kicks require pliable hamstrings, and a good grappler needs mobile hips for holds and escapes. Flexibility should be similarly important to you, even if you're not slapping on a jiu jitsu gi. Stretching lengthens muscle tissue and increases mobility, power output, and recovery. No matter your fitness goals, you must stretch to achieve them.
Fighters have to perform at a high level in order to make it through a single round, let alone an entire bout. They know that anything that could negatively impact their physical ability has no place in their bodies. Tough workouts don't give you license to eat a Big Mac or succumb to unhealthy cravings. Eat clean, wholesome foods, and avoid processed garbage. You'll perform better and look better if you do.
While you're at it, drop the soda and stay hydrated with water. Water speeds up metabolism, among countless other benefits, taking you one step closer to looking like Dos Santos.
Barbell Squat and Press30 sec, AMRAP
Now that you understand the basics of MMA training, here's a workout to put it all together. This circuit is designed to challenge the body to move dynamically.
Perform as many reps as you can of each exercise for 30 seconds. Between exercises, take only 10 seconds to transition. Complete the entire circuit before resting. The goal is to work up to three rounds.
- Perry, C. R., Heigenhauser, G. F., Bonen, A., & Spriet, L. L. (2008). High-intensity aerobic interval training increases fat and carbohydrate metabolic capacities in human skeletal muscle. Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism, 33(6), 1112-1123.
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i used to do sprints etc in my cardio hitting lots of body parts. sort of led to overtraining with me. eg i'd have chest day 2 days before my cardio day and the pushups would be ******
Depends...this circuit utilizes both cardio and weightlifting elements. Perhaps tweaking the non-bodyweight exercises and using lower weight would not only increase your max reps in 30 secs, but also provide you with a more cardio tuned workout. You could also substitute (i.e. bear crawl replaces sled push, etc.) if you so desire.
I've used GSP's Rushfit twice since last December. It helped me lose over 40 lbs and start a daily fitness routine. Now I choose random routines from Rushfit, mixed with Keith Webbers Kettlebell training dvds, and weights. Also on week 2 of Jim Stoppani's Shortcut To Size. I'm getting shredded and I'm addicted to the results.
You should use Ronda Rousey as your example of a female MMA fighter. She's the UFC's women's champion and besides, Gina Carano doesn't fight anymore. She's acting now and has stated she has no intentions of fighting again.
great workout, but it would be awfully tough to be able to access the power rack for squats within 10 seconds after doing most of this other stuff in most gyms.
may have to try to find a heavy ez bar for the squats, but I will try this out sometime.
If you want to add this into your strength training, you have two options.
1. You can use this as a complete cross training or cardio day.
2. You can take more time in between exercises to reduce the cardiovascular effect if has with its minimal rest.
Best of luck!
I love this article. Time is a big issue for me right now, so its important that I get both strength and cardio done in the most efficient way possible. My diet to exercise ratio has been less than optimal this summer, leaving me quite self conscious and not as eager to go for a swim or float as I normally would be. I'll be incorporating this into my week for the next few weeks and seeing how it works out for me.