PLEASE NOTE: We are undergoing a name change. Unleashed Training is now Sprint Ninja. We still offer high quality strength and conditioning along with personal training, with our specialty being sprint training.
Sprint Coaching and Strength & Conditioning
Face to face Coaching & Online Programs
Sprint Ninja Coaching Services - Click Here
MMA conditioning is much different than the martial arts and boxing conditioning of the past. In the past boxers and martial artists went on long road runs and did endless other cardiovascular exercise. Strength training played an almost non-existent part in conditioning a martial artist or boxer.
This sort of conditioning was inaccurate and non-specific to the fighter. Sure, a fighter needs cardiovascular conditioning but the kind being practiced in the past was not specific to their needs.
Here we will look at MMA conditioning from a specific perspective. For those who don’t know, MMA stands for mixed martial arts. MMA is now a popular sport and is the kind they do in competitions like UFC and Pride. MMA is a sport, the fighters are elite athletes. They need to be conditioned like athletes and it needs to be specific to the task at hand.
Physical Demands of MMA Fighting
MMA fighting has specific demands like any other sport. As a result there is a need for specific MMA conditioning.
MMA involves rounds of usually five minutes duration. During that time the fighter may need to throw many punches, kick, dodge, block, take down the opponent and fight from the ground. This sort of activity requires the use of the entire body. There are periods of maximum exertion and periods of continued stress. For this reason the MMA fighter needs to have a high level of strength, muscle endurance, cardiovascular endurance, speed, agility and just about every other physical fitness component.
Structure of an MMA Conditioning Regime
An MMA conditioning regime requires a lot of variety, however it cannot be hit-and-miss and hope for the best. Simply running and generic strength training is insufficient for this kind of athlete. Why? Well how often does an MMA fighter run in the ring? Never! So why should running play a major part?
Athletic conditioning involves the training of specific movement patterns and energy system demands that will be expected in the actual sport. MMA conditioning needs to take into account the primary demands in the ring.
Progressive conditioning for an MMA fighter…
- First things first, the MMA athlete needs to build a solid base. This base should be developed with the energy system demands expected in a fight. The best approach to building a solid base is to train major movement patterns in strength training with a varied repetition range. This means cycling low reps and higher reps. During this time the athlete should concentrate on strengthening weak links. Also, the anaerobic demands of the MMA fighter are huge. Anaerobic, high intensity intervals should be employed utilising movement patterns that are varied as opposed to a single modality like running or swimming.
- Once the MMA fighter has a significant base of strength and conditioning, he/she needs to start getting specific to the task at hand. From here the movements in a fight need to analysed. Take a look at the demands during a fight. Notice the duration of various levels of exertion. You need to train specifically for the movements used and the duration and intensity. If you have a lot of technical skill on the ground then physically condition yourself to cope with the energy demand to back up this technical skill.
- After the base has been developed and some specific movement patterns are trained, the MMA fighter needs to keep improving both while also maintaining technical ability. This is not an easy task. MMA is a stressful sport, it involves high levels of exertion in a very high stress environment. Adrenaline is released big time and the stress of a fight can often cloud the skill of a fighter. The final phase of conditioning should combine conditioning with technical skill. The athlete needs to get used to applying good technical ability under extremely stressful situations.
Sample MMA Conditioning Program
FREQUENCY: Five days a week.
SPLIT: Strength x 2, HIIT x 2, COMBO x 1.
Day One: Strength
Back Squat 5 x 5
Bent over row 5 x 5
Pull-ups 2 x max reps
Rest 90 seconds between sets. Keep increasing the weight each workout and ensure the weight used is a challenge.
Day Two: HIIT
This workout will involve explosive movements using one's own body in varied patterns. Notes that we do not use technical lifts in the context of a high fatigue training session. Things like Olympic lifts are dangerous under such circumstances.
Perform each exercise for 5 minutes. Within each 5 minute round you will do 30 seconds at absolute maximum intensity followed by 30 seconds at moderate intensity until the 5 minutes is up. Rest 60 seconds after each 5 minute round.
2. Punching and kicking a heavy bag. Each 30 second max interval should involves maximum power and maximum speed.
3. 10 metre shuttle sprints.
4. Deck squat jumps. Roll onto your back then roll back to your feet and jump then repeat etc.
5. Bear crawl. Just crawl on all fours as fast as you can.
Day Three: Strength
Bench press 5 x 5
Overhead press 5 x 5
Push-ups 2 x max
Day Four: HIIT
Repeat day two workout.
Day Five: COMBO
Do the exercise listed for a max pace 90 second interval, immediately followed by a technical skill of choice. For instance, the first one is burpees. Do burpees as fast as possible for 90 seconds then practice a move such as an armbar. Each technical skill should be practiced for 3 minutes. The last interval is just free sparring, whether that's grappling, boxing or whatever.
2. Squat jumps.
3. Kettlebell or dumbell swings.
4. Pistol squats. Alternate with sets of 3 reps on each leg for the duration of the interval. This last exercise should be followed by free sparring instead of a technical skill.
Repeat this sequence for a total of twice through.
After day five rest for two days then repeat.
After the fighter has developed a good level of strength it is recommended that more advanced explosive lifts are added, such as Olympic lifting.
Of course this is just a basic overview of MMA conditioning. The point to take away from this is that it needs to be somewhat specific to the task at hand. MMA is not like running a marathon. Instead there are varied movement patterns and energy demands that cannot be easily predicted. As a result the training needs to match that need and condition the athlete to cope with those demands.
Return to our home page from MMA Conditioning.
- Sydney Sprint Coach Blog
- The Sydney Sprint Coach blog will keep you up to date with all changes made to endlesshumanpotential.com subscribe now to keep yourself updated.
- Sydney Personal Training
- Sydney personal training with Unleashed Training: Unleashed Training offers Sydney personal training services in the Merrylands, Granville, Parramatta and Guildford area.
- About Sprint Ninja
- Sprint Ninja is a fitness and physical performance business utilising an effective set of systems and training principles, specialising in sprinting performance...
- About Chris Lyons
- Chris Lyons is an experienced strength and conditioning coach, having trained athletes of all ages and levels since 2002. Chris specialises in coaching athletes for....
- Evolve Training System
- The EVOLVE training system is a complete system of sprint training in all its forms....
- Sprint Workouts - Sprinting WOD
- The sprint workouts section is designed not as a complete training program in itself, but as a section providing sprint workouts...
- Sprint Training
- Sprint training is a form of training applicable across a large range of domains for both the individual and the athlete....
- Super Human Strength
- Super human strength is something all athletes and most of the general population would love to achieve. ...
- Power Training
- Power training is often a very confused and confusing component of training, for both the general public and among coaches/trainers. ..
- Psychology of Speed
- The psychology of speed, an often underestimated aspect of the development of sprinting speed...
- Ideal Fitness Program
- The ideal fitness program is something people have been searching for ever since we discovered that regular and planned training can change the....
- Training Principles
- Training principles are the universally applicable guidelines that should be met in order to achieve a given training objective...
- Training Objectives
- This is a comprehensive set of guidelines, training objectives and an overall plan to be applied to all training programs...
- Ten Components of Fitness
- The ten components of fitness are the aspects of physical development that UNLEASHED Training aims to facilitate. Most programmes focus on only one or a small number of these fitness components...
- Definition of Fitness
- The definition of fitness is so difficult to pin down. I have searched for a definition for years, ever since I first started my studies in fitness, strength and conditioning. I have witnessed...
- Unleashed Challenges - Official Unleashed Training Fitness testing and ranking.
- Welcome to the UNLEASHED Challenges section. Here you will find benchmark challenges and fitness tests based on the UNLEASHED Training methods....
- Body Weight Exercises
- The following is a list of body weight exercises used by Unleashed Training as part of the Evolve fitness program. This page includes just simple text descriptions of each exercise...
- Body Weight Workouts
- Welcome to the UNLEASHED body weight workouts. Here you will find workouts of all kinds in a mostly randomised manner....
- Ideal Strength Training Program
- The ideal strength training program is difficult to find. It is difficult because, in terms of any kind of physical conditioning...
- Minimalist Fitness Programs
- Minimalist fitness programs are simplified fitness programs that can be used for total development of one or more components of fitness. ..
- Art of Movement
- The art of movement is something you will see discussed in many texts, in one way or another. This is a concept that was visited, studied and developed hundreds and even thousands of years ago...
- Strength Articles
- Welcome to the strength articles section. Here you will find articles relating to strength training in all its forms....
- Sport and Athletic Conditioning Articles
- Welcome to the sport and athletic conditioning articles section. Here you will find articles pertaining to specific sports and athletic events....
- Weight Loss Articles
- Welcome to the weight loss articles section. Here you will find articles and information specifically targeted at weight loss/fat loss....
- Military Fitness Articles
- Welcome to the military fitness articles section. Here you will find articles and information that applies to military fitness....
- General Fitness Articles
- Welcome to the general fitness articles section. Here you will find articles and information that applies to fitness as a whole but does not fall into other categories....
- Sport and Exercise Science Articles
- Welcome to the sport and exercise science articles section. Here you will find articles and information that explains the science behind fitness and performance training, how the body works....
- Nutritional Guidelines - The Unleashed Training nutritional prescription
- The following are the basic nutritional guidelines and recommendations for Unleashed Training. It is written in plain language and is easy for you to understand.....
- Paleo Diet
- The paleo diet is a recently popular way of eating. It is gaining traction in the health and fitness world and is especially popular with fitness movements such as CrossFit.
- Boosting Testosterone
- Boosting testosterone and other hormonal functions is a somewhat obscure topic to all but the hardcore bodybuilder or strength athlete. Everyone likes to focus on training hard....
- Intermittent Fasting
- Intermittent fasting is a nutritional habit that involves periods of time throughout a 24 hour period where no food is consumed. To clarify, a period of fasting involves...
- Strength Training for Kids
- Strength training for kids is a controversial topic of conversation. Old wisdom suggests that strength training is dangerous for children and will lead to failure to grow...
- Strength training for children
- Strength training for children has been a debated topic for many years now...
- Exercise For Children
- Exercise for children is one of those new-age topics of conversation and a major money spinner for corporations trying to cash in on “what’s hot”...
- Early childhood physical development
- Early childhood physical development is just as important as childhood mental and psychological development...