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Kickboxers/MMA Fighters Cardio


Ive been grappling for about 3 years now and Ive now turned my attention to stand up fighting to get myself ready for mma. My bf% is around 16-17 and im looking to cut around 20-30 lbs, i weigh 215 right now.

My question is about what kind of cardio routine I should get into. I'm kickboxing 2-3 times a week and 2-3 other days I perform weight training/kettlebell training. All of the sessions occur at night with the exception of one early kettlebell training on wednesdays.

I want to drop this fat the problem is twofold. Im not sure if I adopt HIIT cardio in the mornings I'll be able to properly recover for my evening sessions or stay free of total lethargy. However, if I adopt a more traditional 45-60 min SLD running 4-6 days a week I feel like I'm training the wrong kind of cardio (i.e. slow twitch rather than fast twitch muscle fibers). Also, Im worried the heavy amounts of running would wear on my knees.

I was thinking about maybe doing 20-30 minute sessions of interval training; however, instead of running maybe some calisthenics and some jump rope.

Please let me know if anybody is familiar with some kind of routine like this and maybe if they have had some kind of experience cutting weight while fighting.

Thanks a lot



Check out Martin Rooney's Video on Warrior Training. You can find it at elitefts.com (videos). It has the rountines he goes through with the Gracie's.

Best MMA conditioning video out!

Thomas Strong


Your purpose of the cardio is to have stamina for striking right?. Why run and jump rope then? I would do intervals on a heavy bag if I was you or on focus mits if you have a partner helping you out. It would mimic your ideal stamina requirements better and you'd most likely strike harder and faster from actually striking.

Have you looked into Bas Rutten's MMA Workout? It might sound like a poor marketing gimmic at first hand, but I can assure you it will whip you into shape. It's basicly a set of cd's where he instructs you which moves and combos to make. They are grouped into styles and the intervals match fighting rounds. There's a dvd included too, demonstrating the moves (Although I bet you already know how a good hook, straight, liver punch etc looks like). Anyways, overall it's an awesome program from a cool guy.



Thinking back to when I trained karate and freestyle I didnt do any extra cardio and was very lean.

Your training is your cardio!! If you want to burn more cals then do stuff specific to your training - I found skipping (jump rope) great as it burns plenty and keeps you light on your feet. Or just bag work, sparring, shadow box etc.

Oh and obviously your diet is important


No he said he wants to do extra cardio to drop weight.

You dont need a DVD to help you - your trainer should be able to help with your goals although having the intervals match the fighting rounds is a good idea IF your matches are in rounds.


Ok, if the sole purpose is losing fat there's many options. I just thought something that would be closely related to his sport would be the best.

I recommended a workout that I have used and loved, made by a respected man in the MMA community and recommended by respected fighters. That's all. I didn't say there were no other options.




I agree that the majority of you "cardio" will come from your training.

Alwyn Cosgrove has a great article on Elitefts.com regarding type of thing.

I have found complexes, kettlebell circuits and Mike Mahlers HOC routines to be great for building strength endurance and conditioning all at once.


Thats cool, we both want to give the best advice we can. No disrespect to the guy who made the DVD.


Great advice!

Along these same lines, you may want to Google Istvan Javorek. He sort of pioneered the idea of weight training complexes in the U.S.. He has a book(of course) and several program samples on his website.


Thanks for all the help guys. I think im gonna throw down the money for the Bas Rutten DVD and check it out.


Hahaha, you'll be hearing him shout out commands in your sleep!





Hi BullMatcher 1,

First I'd like to ask how long of a time frame we are looking at. Be aware that unless you are a total newbe to cardio (which judging by your post is most certainly not the case) you should only expect to lose around 2 lbs per week (that is if you are losing it in a healthy manner). So, unless you've got a considerable amount of time between now and your first competition, I wouldn't expect to lose that much weight purely in the form of adipose tissue.

As for actual training advice. I would disagree with the post that suggested that "your training is your cario". Not that you won't get a cardiovascular effect from your training, but that it is seldom enough to really get you to your potential.

Ok, so you're looking for something that will last from 20-30 minutes, will improve your cardiovascular conditioning, will help you burn fat, and that will improve you as a fighter.

My suggestion is to contact Charlie Lysak. You can find his contact information at his site.

His C.R.A.W.L. routine lasts somewhere around 20 minutes (or a little longer when you are first learning the routine), will definetely improve your cardiovascular endurance, will increase your strength, and will definetely burn a crap load of calories (which is essential for fat loss).

Good luck and good training,



Hahaha nice, cant wait. How often are you supposed to do these conditioning workouts? on your off days?


Works for me!


As a short-tabber I would like go back in time, find where simmons got this shirt, and burn that mother to the ground!!!!!!


I find that most fighters, when they start to get competitive, actually undertrain technique and overtrain conditioning, especially if it's a non-traditional martial art. If you're doing something like Muay Thai 2 hours a night, how can you realistically recover while also weight lifting and doing cardio?

If you need Bas's MMA workout, you're simply not training enough. I think it's great if you don't have access to a gym where you can actually go and train, but if you can, why bother?


I was thinking the same thing. If you're looking to add on extra workouts, to me, that would lead to overtraining and you'd burnout pretty quick.

You should be getting enough of a cardio workout from whatever MMA-style class you are currently taking. I was taking a class for a while that kicked my butt and was 45-60 minutes long twice a week. Due to a scheduling conflict I can't attend right now but I have a bag at home so I've done the work from home (obviously leaving out the grappling and submission work since I don't have a partner) and still find myself spent after working out for 30-45 minutes.


Hi guys,

Once again I'd have to disagree that BullMatcher 1 would be in danger of overtraining if he added some supplementary cardio/strength training to his routine.

I still very much disagree that your training should be your only source of cardio training. Now, in the begginning stages of training yes, that's a very realistic approach, as the begginner's body simply won't be able to handle the training volume.

However, BullMatcher 1 has been training for 3 years. There's a big difference between someone who has been training for 3 years and a newbe.

When I was training seriously, I went to 3 (sometimes 4) 90 min (which generally turned into more like 2 hours due to sparring after class) classes per week, performed Shihan Lysak's C.R.A.W.L routine at least twice a week, and then would occasionally have a belt test thrown in (the shortest of which was 2 1/2 hours of the hardest workout I've ever experienced).

My training partner far exceeded my stats however. He did everything I did (3 C.R.A.W.L workouts per week instead of 2), would throw in a workout consisting of 10 sets of 10 clean and presses, would come to the gym up to 2 hours before class and grapple, and would go train at my instructor's brother's school whenever he got the chance. His cardio was incredible considering that he hadn't even been training for 2 years, and his strength was also incredible for his size.

So, to suggest that adding in a couple of cardio/strength workouts per week is going to lead to overtraining, is in my opinion most certainly not true.

Now, if he were indeed doing 2 hours of Muy Thai every night, yes, then adding in supplemental workouts might be a bit much (at this point anyhow).

I would agree though that technique is indeed an essential piece of the puzzle. However, in my opinion that is what class is for. When do you think it's more likely that he will have a competant and willing training partner with which to practice his techniques; in class, or out of class? Most often the answer is the former.

Good training,



I've never heard of a gym that offered 2 hour classes every night a week. (I mean I'm sure you could kick a heavy bag for two hours, but I don't know many people that are that obsessive about training, not to mention your form would probably deteriorate as you got tired/bored).

Secondly I think it's extremely difficult to overtrain cardio, unless you're doing something on the level of running over 8 miles a day.