T Nation

MMA Conditioning Thread

I’d like to see what kind of training folks do for MMA–pre-fight, trying to get stronger, what works if you’re natural, what combines well with “Vitamin S”, etc.

I’ve found that for guys who are trying to get stronger and are natural, are training mma, have a job etc., concentrating on a few exercises and getting several off days works well.

For example

Monday: MMA
Tuesday: MMA. Clean and Press. 50% max, sets of 3, for speed.
Wednesday: Off
Thurday: MMA, chins
Friday: Off
Saturday: Strength workout focusing on deadlifts, chins, and overhead presses.
Sunday: Off

With MMA the less the better because you have to do so much.

I actually think that most would be better off spending their time doing restorative measures and just upping their bag/mitt work

I stopped lifting for the past 6weeks or so…I’m slowly adding it back in now. I was training mma an easy 10-14x a week.

If you add in the fact that most fighters either have a family or college and 99% have an outside job.

lifting weights can be a big hassle.

So in my point of view. Less is better. The more bang for your buck that you can get the better.

So 1-2x a week lifting is perfect for most, you can eventually add in more as you find it neccessary or you can handle. It’s really a fine balance.

If you’re adamant about getting your lifts up, drop a few sessions of MMA training… and just perform various sled drags. Eventually get your capacity up so that you can start lifting.

Best thing for MMA lifting are complexes. Full body workouts and complexes.

Define your goals for why you want to lift (not just, “to get better at mma”) and you can make obvious decisions.

MMA Lifting Goals (usually):

Improve Power output (faster/stronger)
Improve Power endurance
Correct Imbalances
Improve Body Composition

This entails a whole LOT. You need to identify all your weaknesses, but mostly (like defranco would point out) it all revolves around getting stronger.

There are SO many variables but I would say stick to ballistic lifts, plyometrics, sledgehammer work, lifts utilizing sandbag(s), complexes(dumbbell or kettlebell), tabata intervals, and sprints… All this really depends on your access to the equipment.

Surprisingly, a barbell is the least of your worries. But if thats all you have then use it.

Currently I’d like to get my strength up but increase my ‘power’ and i’m not training with the team for the next 4 weeks so im using somethin like this-

Incline Press (5 singles, @ about 90%)
CSRow- 2/6,2/6,(wave)
Shrugs (3x15)

Tues: (emphasize speed)
1 arm Snatch, 1 arm Jerk, 1 arm Press
(3-4setsx1 rep each)
Double press, Double Jerk, double snatch, Double Swing
(2-3 setsx5 reps each)
Dbbell Bench Press/Dbbell Row (EDT style, 10mins (rather than 15))


Sled drags, Sledgehammer, rehabilitative work.

Deadstop Front Squats (5-6singles @90%)
RDL (6x4)
1 leg Weighted Back Ext (5x10)
–> I’d use ghr or something, but I dont have one, but I alternate this with 1 leg deadlifts
Torso Training*

Friday: (Speed Power)

High Pull, Power Clean, Front Squat, RDL (3x8)
Tabata Thrusters
Power Squat 3x20
Torso Training

In the evening I train MMA stuff, I use bagwork drills, footwork drills, jump rope, run short sprints for power development (hit harder), BAS Rutten workout tapes, the emphasis is on maintaining my endurance but improving my technique and cognitive ability when I’m fatigued (Which sounds like doing calculus when i’m tired)… basically being able to listen to your corner when you’re tired as shit.

*Torso training isn’t like situps and shit. Dragon Flags are a big staple, as well as all sorts of zercher variations, suitcase deadlifts and shit to build some bull strength.

…This is almost “out of season” type training because I"m only working MMA 5-7x a week right now. And even then there’s no sparring so its not like I have to recover from a lot neurologically. Plus there’s a SHITLOAD of food and I sleep alot right now.

When I get back with the team (after winter break from college), then I’ll be back to primarily sandbag training, and complexes.

For Example-

Day 1:(Upper emphasis)
Sand bag Complex
Dumbbell Complex
EDT Pullups/Dips

Day 2:(Conditioning)
Tabata Thrusters
Tabata Burpees
Unilateral Leg Work/Upperbody (3x12)
—>Sometimes I just use this as my day to run sprints up stairs and stuff. Or Taku’s intervals if I can even stomach that shit.

Day 3:(lower emphasis)

Sand bag Complex
Dumbbell/barbell Complex
EDT Back Squats/Power Cleans
–> I can set up 2 bars at my gym

and I’ll probably skip day 2 depending how much conditioning work we do that week or how hard we spar…

If you need followup literature I reccomend… (google these)

Ross Boxing
Diesel Crew MMA Manual
Train For Strength
Zach Even Esh (anything he writes)
Taku’s Intervals

if you’re in los angeles, crossfit LA does a saturday class for MMA guys. If you’re on MMA.tv Ringgrl runs it (she’s a beast).

This has been covered a lot on these forums. The more time you get to actually train your sport, the better you’ll be.

I agree with Xen that the weight room time should be minimal. I even like something like this program for MMA guys:


That’s only two days of lifting per week, for maximal strength. The cleans will help you become explosive, the squats for lower body strength, and the bench for upper strength. I might change the squats to front squats and the bench to push press, but other than that, if you follow that program until the end you will get much stronger.

Throw in some mobility work, then plyos before the lifting and end with some grip work and then sprints.

Work on your chin up strength every chance you get, knocking out reps all day long.

Do not be afraid of LSD cardio. Every runner will tell you that you have to have good endurance for just about any run except shorter sprints. My roommate from Kenya told me that guys running 400 meters and up to marathons all start their preparation by running LSD together, to develop the cardio endurance required for even the shorter events. Eventually they break up and do their own training (specific to their event) but that’s how they start. I’ve incorporated 2 days of LSD runs and my mat endurance and stand up endurance has improved noticeably. Don’t make them too taxing, but nothing wrong with two hour long runs per week.

Did I mention the most important part is actually training your sport? Get your ass kicked as often as possible and you’ll get good.

Xen Nova,
Have you read the Diesel Crew MMA Manual? Is it worth the money?


Give circuit training a try! It will challenge your anaerobic system while maintening your strength gains. Here is on of my circuits:

Deadlift 8 reps
Dumbell front squat 8 reps
Incline DB Bench Press 8 reps
Chins 8 reps
Farmer Walk

Very challenging. No rest between sets.

[quote]Maldoror wrote:
Give circuit training a try! It will challenge your anaerobic system while maintening your strength gains. Here is on of my circuits:

Deadlift 8 reps
Dumbell front squat 8 reps
Incline DB Bench Press 8 reps
Chins 8 reps
Farmer Walk

Very challenging. No rest between sets.[/quote]

^^ Basically a complex (very good one btw)

I haven’t read the diesel crew manual but from my experience with them (emailing back and forth, and the creativity and success of all the other info I’ve come across) if I had the extra bones to spare I’d definitely get it. One review I saw on it gave an almost ridiculous judgement of the material.

If you read up on Ross Boxing though you’ll get enough new shit to try to keep you busy for the next year or so.

Though, like Carter said, in this sport most of your time should be spent training techniques.

Cause that will improve your coordination, power, and very (obviously) specific endurance.

If you had another day in the week free and you had to choose between sparring or lifting. Definitely choose sparring…

kinda off topic- The cool thing i like about westside training or at least the conjugate method using de/me type work is that if you use it to build a specific lift you regain your strength and build new strength really really fast. So in 8-12 weeks and you can be past an old plateau even though you didn’t lift maximally for the past 4-5months. If you can lift continuously through the year I’d taper it down quite a bit (for mma, its too much volume, etc).

Alternately. I really really like EDT for when I have a high volume of mma training. Shit is great!

^^ carter is also right about the Long distance running.

It changed my body comp a good bit (more “cut”) and allows me to stay a little closer to 155 so less cutting weight come tourney time.

Though I only run distance once a week if I do it all.