How To Train Like An MMA Badass

Take your street squabbles to the cage. Learn the best ways to train for an MMA fight!

Successful MMA fighters are some of the toughest athletes in the world. To win fights, or even make it through one or two rounds, fighters must possess a huge range of abilities. Outside of being well-rounded, highly skilled martial artists, MMA athletes must also have incredible endurance, strength, and power.

If you'd like to someday step into the cage and see if you have what it takes, you're going to need to train for it. Even if you're not planning to step into the cage, you can become a leaner, meaner, more awesome you by implementing MMA training into your fitness regimen.

Under either scenario, here are the tips and the exercise plan you need to follow before you decide to compete!

1 Focus on Your Discipline

You can't just kick and punch a heavy bag for a couple of weeks and think you'll be successful in a fight. Competitive MMA fighters, are, by definition, excellent marital artists. MMA gyms usually offer martial art classes like Brazilian jiujitsu, Muay Thai, or taekwondo along with sparring technique and boxing.

If you don't have an MMA gym near you, start training in a specific martial art. Choose one that can help you learn how to block, kick, and punch. Good MMA athletes are also proficient at defending and attacking their opponent when the fight moves to the ground, so you may also want to look into judo or Brazilian jiujitsu.

Regardless, get instruction from an expert and learn the proper technique.

"You can't just kick and punch a heavy bag for a couple of weeks and think you'll be successful in a fight."

2 Increase Your Endurance

To fight and fight well, you'll need be able to sustain power throughout each round. Having the ability to punch or kick hard and repeatedly over 3-5 minutes is no easy task. Power endurance training, which is the capacity to perform repeated explosive movements near maximal exertion, is tough, but it's essential to your success in the ring.

Train your power endurance by performing explosive exercises of a moderate load for about 30-45 seconds (or 15-20 reps), resting for 30 seconds, and repeating for 5 rounds. Circuit training is another great option. But, it's critical to remember that your intervals should be at least 30 seconds long. After all, you'll goal should be to make it through at least a least one three-minute round!

I recommend increasing your aerobic endurance as well. Train your muscles to use energy more efficiently by going for long runs or increasing the length of your cardiovascular training.

3 Implement Plyometrics

Plyometric training is great for MMA because it will help increase your explosive power and quickness. Good fighters can change directions almost instantly and hit with force by exploding through their hips.

Plyo Push-Up

For the best results, try 2-3 plyo sessions per week along with your resistance-training regimen. Just make sure to give yourself about 48 hours of rest in between plyo sessions to allow for full recovery. Some great plyometric exercises for MMA fighters include plyo push-ups, single-arm throws, side throws, jump squats, bounding, and lateral high hops.

The best practice for doing plyos is to warm-up well before you do them. It's also smart to do them on a softer surface like a mat or turf. Jumping on concrete can be really tough on your back and knees.

4 Train Your Core

There's a lot more to core training than lower back extensions and sit-ups. The amount of power behind your kicks, punches, and throws depends on the strength of your core. This is why MMA training should be packed with core-strengthening exercises.

Your abdominals are just like any other muscle in your body—they can grow in size and strength with resistance training. Doing thousands of bodyweight crunches might seem like a good idea, but it's much more effective and efficient to use fewer reps with more weight.

5 Ditch Your Bodybuilding Split

As a fighter, the size and shape of your biceps isn't going to matter in the slightest. Instead of training for aesthetics, you're going to be working on your performance. Being a better overall athlete and a stronger fighter means your workouts should include multijoint exercises like back squats and chin-ups.

Each exercise you perform in the gym should relate to what you're going to do on the mat. If the exercise does not simulate related movements, replace it with an exercise that does.

For example, leg curls are not as beneficial as straight-leg deadlifts because deadlifts help increase the strength of your takedowns. Close-grip presses are more effective than triceps kick-backs because they can increase the power behind your punches.

"Close-grip presses are more effective than triceps kick-backs because they can increase the power behind your punches."

MMA Training Exercise Plan

This exercise plan is meant for preseason training, which is when you need to develop strength, speed, and power. Stick to this plan for 4-6 weeks before changing any of the exercises, sets or reps. Adjust this workout program only if you find it too difficult or too easy.

Support your hard work in the gym by eating healthy foods with lots of protein. There's no easier way to ruin your progress than by not taking nutrition seriously.

Day 1: Plyos
1

Treadmill sprint

10 sets of 30 seconds work, 45 seconds rest
Treadmill sprint Treadmill sprint

2

Plyo push-up

3 sets of 60 seconds to failure, rest 45 seconds between sets
Plyo push-up Plyo push-up

3

Medicine ball slam

3 sets of 20 reps, rest 45 seconds between sets
Medicine ball slam Medicine ball slam

4

Lateral high hop

3 sets of 20 reps, rest 45 seconds between sets
Lateral high hop Lateral high hop

5

Box jump

3 sets of 20 reps, rest 45 seconds between sets
Box jump Box jump

6

Jump rope

1 set of 15 minutes
Jump rope Jump rope

Day 2: Core
1

Hanging leg raise

2 sets of 15 reps, rest 30 seconds between sets
Hanging leg raise Hanging leg raise

2

Sit-up with punch

3 sets of 20 reps, rest 30 seconds between sets
Sit-up with punch Sit-up with punch

3

Plank

3 sets of 90 seconds between sets
Plank Plank

4

Weighted sit-up

3 sets of 10 reps, rest 45 seconds between sets
Weighted sit-up Weighted sit-up

5

Medicine ball Russian twist

3 sets of 15 reps, rest 30 seconds between sets
Medicine ball Russian twist Medicine ball Russian twist

6

Medicine ball side throw

3 sets of 12 reps each side, rest 30 seconds between sets
Medicine ball side throw Medicine ball side throw

Day 3: Active Rest
Day 4: Strength
1

Bench press

5 sets of 5 reps, rest 60 seconds between sets
Bench press Bench press

2

Single-leg deadlift

3 sets of 12 reps, rest 60 seconds between sets
Single-leg deadlift Single-leg deadlift

3

Back squat

3 sets of 8 reps, rest 60 seconds between sets
Back squat Back squat

4

Military press

2 sets of 10 reps, rest 60 seconds between sets
Military press Military press

5

Chin-up

3 sets of 10 reps, rest 60 seconds between sets
Chin-up Chin-up

Day 5: Power and cardio
1

Heavy bag

8 rounds of 60 seconds, rest 60 seconds between sets
Heavy bag Heavy bag

2

Bodyweight jump squat

3 sets of 30 reps, rest 45 seconds between sets
Bodyweight jump squat Bodyweight jump squat

3

Kneeling medicine ball slam

3 sets of 30 reps, rest 45 seconds between sets
Kneeling medicine ball slam Kneeling medicine ball slam

Superset
4

Push-up

5 sets to failure
Push-up Push-up

Pull-up

5 sets to failure
Pull-up Pull-up


5

Jump rope

1 set of 15 minutes
Jump rope Jump rope

Day 6 and 7: Martial arts technique training and sparring