Strength and conditioning for MMA is an evolving science, getting more detailed as the popularity of the UFC and mixed-martial arts grows. Like all sports, MMA athletes must dedicate themselves to workouts that will take them to the highest level of physical fitness possible.
To make sure you're achieving your full potential as a fighter, make sure you utilize these 3 MMA workout tips in your strength and conditioning program.
Tip #1 – Follow a Program
If you're not following a program, you could simply be spinning your wheels. The worst thing you can do is go to the gym and say to yourself, "OK, now that I'm here, what am I going to do?"
If you're serious about being an MMA fighter, then you must have a strength and conditioning program that's laid out for at least the 8 weeks leading up to your fight. If you don't have a fight lined up, then you must think about what you need to improve and focus on those aspects of your game.
Tip #2 – Maximize your Efficiency in the Weight Room
As a mixed-martial artist, you've got to train jiu-jitsu, boxing, kickboxing, muay thai, wrestling, and put them all together into MMA at the very LEAST. This doesn't leave you a ton of time to work on strength.
So you've got to get the most bang for your buck in the little time that you do have.
In your strength program, you can do so by training full body workouts focused on movement patterns. Think squat, lunge, deadlift, push, pull, and twist instead of chest, biceps, quads, hams, back, etc.
Hitting the full body with different movement patterns two days a week will allow you to make progress in your routine without over training. Here's an example of a 2 day split:
Day 1: Reverse lunge – Bench press – Woodchop – Arnold press – Reverse Curl Day 2: Squat – Chinup – Romanian deadlift – 1-arm row – Skull crusher
You could do these workouts on Monday and Thursday to develop your strength and power.
The repetition range you use will depend on your goals, if it's muscular endurance, then choose 10-12 reps, if you're going for pure strength, you can get down to 3-5 reps. A good balance is between 7-8 reps per set. The lower the reps and heavier the weight, the more rest you generally want to take.
TIp #3 – Use a Medicine Ball for Conditioning Circuits
By far the best tool for developing MMA specific power is the medicine ball, since you can throw the ball as hard and fast as you can in rotational movements that heavily involve the core. Integrating the medicine ball will allow you to develop knockout power with your strikes, as well as explosive take down ability.
Exercises like the side toss and chop toss will have you (and your opponents and sparring partners) feeling a difference after only a few weeks.
Unfortunately, many people do these exercises completely wrong, in terms of reps, weight, and form.
Eric Wong, BSc, CSCS, is a MMA Performance Coach who trains pro fighters to be able to go the distance in the cage. To learn how to balance your strength to prevent injury and improve performance, check out the Ultimate MMA Strength and Conditioning Program