T Nation

GPP Routine for MMA


For the time being, I’m going to let the classes themselves be the cardio and that will be 3x week. They do work on technique with beginners like myself, but they emphasize cardio at first so people can keep up with the technique work and can fit in a lot into a class period.

About my Background:
5’ 9.5"
195lb I wanna get that down to 185

Big 3:
Squat- 445
Bench- 285
DL- 500

2 years 'working out’
8 on and off using PL routines and techniques

I’m just trying to maintain strength and work on transferring my strength to speed and power and power endurance.

The plan is 3 days per 10 day ‘week’

I’ll rotate exercises every 3 weeks.

I’ll do band pull aparts most days to keep my shoulders healthy.

Day 1:
Kneel to Squat to Box Jump- 10x3 30s rest, progress through reducing rest periods (that’s like 60 plyos since that’s a 2 in 1 rep)

Wide Stance Box Front Squat- 85%x5x2 Will add sets for progression if I can maintain bar speed. This is for strength maintenance and power.

DE Bench w/ Chains 40%x10x5 30s rest, progress through decreasing rest

Standing 1 Arm Row

Day 2:
Bosu Ball plyo push up 10x5 30s rest (grap bosu ball by sides with round part on ground and explosively push up so my upper body is airbound)
10x5 30s rest

Weighted Push Ups 3x6

DE Box Squats 40%x10x5 30s rest

Chins for 30 total reps (10 clean rep max at the moment)

Day 3: I’ll have to figure what kind of rep ranges to do
Diagonal Lunges

Standing Javelin Press

Kroc Rows

5 carries for 5 minutes each carry going forward, backward, laterally, and diagonally

I haven’t ever tailored a routine for MMA before so I’m trying to figure out if I’m even on the right track.


I’d say that, honestly, that’s not an MMA or grappling centric routine. It’s essentially a general strength routine with powerlifting flavor. The actual exercise selections are good all-around, except

  • wide stance box squat (waaay too limited in ROM compared to the awkward positions you’ll find yourself in in the cage or mat)
  • and bench (you are going to do 100s, or 1000s of internally rotated punches every week. Do you REALLY want to add more internal rotation and lock your arms into a bar with a bench press on top of that?),
  • and bosu ball plyo push-up–you don’t fight on a balance ball, you fight on ground, in a cage. Besides which an unstable surface limits rapid rate of force development and muscle fiber recruitment and thus works against the primary upper body goal of a plyometric push-up.

So it’s not the actual exercises that are the problem per se, it’s more how they are strung together and the volume, rest intervals.

You are strong enough already in whole body strength to handle anyone in your weight class. The question is–are you able to express that strength in multiple planes of movement and in different asymmetrical positions? You don’t need more powerlifting. You need more single leg strength, more rotational core strength, more multidirectional core strength to RESIST motion against you in multiple planes, more balanced hip function, more mobility…I mean specifically the ability to be strong in end range of motion and extended positions. Mobility requires the ability to control your position, not just passive flexibility of a joint. Mobility thus entails not only soft tissue work, but also the ability to get into and out of positions with neuromuscular efficiency.

You need more muscular endurance. You will not get that by doing low volume or low rep work. Low volume/rep work will function nicely for strength, but will not approach the muscular endurance you need to win or train properly.

If it sounds like I’m tearing your program down, I’m not. You wrote a decent program, you just wrote it for the wrong needs.

I would suggest a different approach. You need to be efficient in many positions, so you need to train them frequently. Honestly, I think training 3 days in 10 is too little, but if that is the only thing that works for your schedule keep it for sure. The Kroc Rows and Javelin press will be useful. Lunges also. Not sure if you have experience with the knees to squat to jump before or not, but it could be useful if you do. If you don’t and you’re just picking it up I think you get more mileage from simpler jumps that are more familiar and easier to master technically.

You need more core work on every day you train. Great move putting back work on each day and keeping both upper and lower body work on each day in some capacity, and leading with plyometric or explosive moves, that’s the right instinct. I think you need to plan less “linearly” though–more variety, less bilateral movements.

Or, if you like, keep 1 basic upper body strength movement and one lower body, then follow with a complex with focus on unilateral work and core. Or one unilateral complex and 1 core finisher.


There’s tons and tons of midsection work in class so I wasn’t going to add anything in until I’m adjusted to doing classes.

The 3 sessions in a 10 day week is because I lift heavy sacks and boxes the whole time I’m at work and I’m trying to recover from kickboxing and BJJ. If I develop the work capacity, I do want to train more frequently, but for the time being I need to wait and see how I handle this.

I was thinking wide stance box squats more for striking since all the power comes from the hips from every strike. My stance from foot to foot is about as wide as a wide squat stance.

The bosu ball thing, there’s not a balance component to it. It’s basically just push up plyos that are easier on the joints and that I can work more reps in. The half ball part actually acts like a spring. The round part would be facing the ground and the flat part would be facing me. I’ve done these before and there very easy to control.

One thing I was trying to figure out is how to maintain my strength. I guess I could take out the pure strength work and sub it for more traditional percentages for DE work which is 60-80% of the variation being trained and keep a bilateral movement for that. I’ll use the chains and bands.

And then, for the opposite half of the body (upper and lower half), do some unilateral work that I can use some weight for about 30 total reps over a few sets.

And then do the complex. And of course keep the plyos.

Lemme try again:

Session 1:
Knee to Squat to Box Jump 10x3 45s rest

Wide Stance Box Front Squat w/ Bands- wave 60-70% bar weight 8x2 keeping reps zippy and quick 45s rest

1 Arm DB BP 4x8
supersetted w/
DB Rows 4x8
90s rest

Complex: 5 Rounds 60s between rounds
Diagonal Lunges
Renegade Rows
Alternating Standing in Split Stance Cable Horizontal Press- nobody ever uses the maching that’ll let me do this so why not.

As I become more conditioned, I’ll add items to the complex. Right now, I don’t even know how many reps per exercise I can do.

Session 2:

Plyo Push Ups

Staggered Stance Landmine Push Press: I’ll Pick a Weight that allows me 15-20 crisp, clean, and zippy reps over a few to several sets
-I’ll pick more technicall difficult variations over time

Elevated Front Leg Reverse Alternating Trap Bar Lunges: 4x6/side
supersetted w/
Alternating Staggered Stance Trap Bar RDL 4x6/side

Complex: I’ll repeat the above one since those are movements I don’t have much experience with.

I’ll just stick with those 2 sessions and get them in every other to every other other day depending on what my body is telling me. I don’t want to add any more exercise variety until I get the hang of the newer on’es up there already.


Sure. I didn’t know you had a laboring job but I agree. Work capacity should develop pretty quickly (work capacity is related to mobility capacity so that’s another reason to work on it).

I didn’t mean to discourage you from traditional strength work entirely–it is important, and you do want to maintain your advantage of strength as well, not to mention your hard earned poundage. I just felt like your program had too little of other things in it. I do like the 45 seconds rest for plyos though, you can always drop the rest intervals as you get better.

If you like the staggered stance trap bar DL use it, I don’t have much experience with that variation and tend to use KBs or DBs for single leg DLs and staggered DLs.

I like the layout of the 2nd program much better, it’s more focused on unilaterals and the complex is useful for building work capacity. Would suggest you play the rest interval by ear the first couple weeks before tacking down a set time, as you get used to it. And as for reps I personally prefer 8-12 reps, bodybuilding style. Getting too far out into the endurance zone of 20+ reps saps your strength building goal. Instead play with rest intervals between exercises and between complexes for getting the conditioning aspect to work, and keep the weight on the bar/DB something useful for building (obviously provided you’re performing technically correct reps, as you know).

I like the overhead press variation more than bench for numerous reasons. You can still build and maintain a good amount of pressing strength with shoulder based work and hard push-up variations, and the internal rotation aspect isn’t as hard on your shoulders (depending on the health of them)

Bands beat me up, but if they work well for you with no ill effects go for it. If you want to throw in your standard strength work every couple weeks to check your status, that’s also a good idea.


That is some very good advice!


Lifting heavy as fuck twice in a ten day period will maintain strength. Just have to keep volume manageable

Prefer non athlete gpp to b simpler, just like back or front squats, but you know your body more than I.

Second sesh looks good, land mines are solid and safe for shoulders even with a lot of punching. But I would deff lower reps and increase weight. No need to train what’s already being trained (in sport practice) and potentially lose performance.

I’d recommend having some kind of knee flexion exercise, especially with your sports.


I didn’t realize how much the one 1 hour practice and the two 3 hour practices would impact recovery. I also have a very physical job where I’m constantly pushing carts and lifting, tossing, and carrying 15-60 boxes and sacks.

So the GPP training sessions changed a bit.

Once a week, I go into the actual gym and do:

DE Style box squats with bands at about 60% of my max for 6-8 sets of 2, then work up to heavy but not max 1, 2, 3, or 5.

Then Landmine 1arm rows and rotational 1arm push presses 8*12 reps each. These do a good job of torching the abs, not just the upper body.

Call it a day

At home, I’ll do 2 more training sessions:

3-5 Circuits, 20-25 minutes
DB 1 arm snatch 8-12 reps
Pull over to floor press w/ db’s 8-12 reps
Cossack Squat Warrior Lunge hybrid w/ db in goblet squat position
Pallof presses with a light band

And the other day a plyo circuit 8x 5 reps each time
burpee with leap and clapping pushup
1 arm speed row with bands
Bicycle abs where knees touch elbows with each rep done fast and powerfully

I’m also squeezing in about 20 minutes of heavy bag work emphasizing speed, technique, and power each day I don’t go to the MMA gym.