T Nation

MMA Lifting Program

With CW’s recently article (and soon to come series) I was thinking about the appropriate way to train a mixed martial art athlete considering the intensive schedule that they have. Between Boxing, Muay Thai, Wrestling, Judo, Jujitsu, Sambo, or Whatever else they’re cross training in…

Also a lot of fighters have to work full time (Whether it be a regular 9-5 or running a training facility), they also have families, and other time commitments. It’s hard to have a training session devoted to powerlifting, one to conditioning, then one for specifically training technique.

I’m a fan of templates, so this is what I was thinking for a 2-3x a week schedule for a mixed martial artist.

  1. Warmup
    A. Power Movement
    B. Superset Strength Movement
    C. Complex/Strongman Medeley
    D. Tabata Intervals

  2. Warmup- Something similar to the parisi warmup, but I personally feel that it can be done with more sport specific movements, there are a lot of grappling & shadowboxing drills that are good for a stretch and will improve agility as well.

A. Movements like the power clean and jerk, power snatch + Overhead squat, 1 arm snatch + jump Squat, plyometrics, etc… Utilizing 5/4/3/2/1, singles, wave sets and other protocals designed specificaly for strength increases.

B. Strength Movement superset- Weighted Chinup/Deadlift, Squat/Weighted Dip, etc… Utilizing EDT For Strength type protocal. 15 minutes with a Weight that can be handled for 6-8reps, working in the 3-5 range with minimal rest.

C. Complex/Strongman Medeley- Full body metabolic lifts that are good for conditioning and low levels of hypertrophy. Kettlebells, Dumbbells, Barbells, sandbags, strongman implements. Whatever is available.

D. Tabata Intervals- Sprawls, or thrusters, or front squats, or even 8 count bodybuilders… 1-2 rounds of 3-5min as a finisher. More important to mentally push yourself in this last exercise than it is to move weight.

After training sessions dedicated specifically to technique… a 10-15min bodyweight circuit could be thrown in afterwards as well. Or done on a seperate day.

Pushups
Squats
Pullups
Mountain Climbers

5-20 of each… repeat that as many times as possible within 10-15min.

Beat your previous # every week/session

I think this is something that would fit well into an already hectic training week.

The primary traits of a good fighter seem to be…
(Heart, haha)
Technique
Conditioning
Agility
Strength/Power

So I tried to format the schedule to fit those…

I think I’m missing something though, Should there be more of an emphasis on conditioning? or ???

Assuming you have a life, e.g., job, significant other, attend weddings, funerals, and stuff like that and you not trying to become a pro MMA dude,-- Then I’d recommend more time on the mat intead of under the bar. Recommend doing some olympic lifting stuff every third day. Most guys are stronger than there technique is good. More time on the is also a great way to get stronger. good luck.

Interesting stuff.

How about some unilateral work?

Can’t wait to hear what others think of this.

i was thinking about it later today and probably more torso work… mostly a rotational emphasis.

I agree, time on the mat is most important. Outside of that though, if the fighter were to only lift two times a week, what would be the best way to maximize that time?

[quote]jamej wrote:
Assuming you have a life, e.g., job, significant other, attend weddings, funerals, and stuff like that and you not trying to become a pro MMA dude,-- Then I’d recommend more time on the mat intead of under the bar. Recommend doing some olympic lifting stuff every third day. Most guys are stronger than there technique is good. More time on the is also a great way to get stronger. good luck.[/quote]

I agree. I have a son now. With work and family, it is very tough. Have to be more efficient. Three weight workouts a week. But short, Very hard to handle two ME days a week. So I do it on a two week cycle.

But more mat work and sparring is best I think. I see so many people who think what they are throwing is a good punch or kick, but unless they have been doing it for a looong time they usually could do with more practice.

Looks a lot like crossfit to me.

As long as you focus on endurance, strength and explosiveness n your training, you’ll be fine

Grip focus and some time spent in the ballistic realm would be good ie. Med ball throws and such.

In Thib’s black book he has the continum Ballistic - speed/strength - strength/speed- controlled - max - supra max.

The key is to spend the right amount of time in each area for you and your sport. Primarily based on your weaknesses but giving some consideration to your sport.

For conditioning your mma training plus a circuit like JCS or Martin has are good. But developing new levels of speed or strength for your sport should be the focus of ‘off season’ work.

It’s easier to get in good ‘condition’ 6 weeks out from a fight but you can’t build very different strength levels in that time.

[quote]Konstantine wrote:
Looks a lot like crossfit to me.

As long as you focus on endurance, strength and explosiveness n your training, you’ll be fine[/quote]

I think its pretty far from crossfit actually… nothing’s really timed, other than the EDT work.

[quote]Konstantine wrote:
Looks a lot like crossfit to me.

As long as you focus on endurance, strength and explosiveness n your training, you’ll be fine[/quote]

LOL

Couple of questions Xen:

First, why use one arm snatches plus squats instead of just one arm snatches (and other combos isntead of just the basic power movement)?

Second, at what point would you use that style of training? Are you talking about a guy who has a fight coming up (say, within the next 2-3 months) or someone who will fight later on down the road?

I really like the idea. Looks like a lot of fun and I can see it working. Just trying to figure out your logic with those two points.

1- The 1 Arm Snatches + Jump Squats was just an example… Whatever power movement you desire you can really throw in there.

You can do just jump squats, or just 1 arm snatches doesn’t really matter.

2- I’m trying to come up with a template similar to westsides that can be used (and tweaked for the individual) for the mma athlete.

If you have a fight coming up soon, you can use this schedule once a week focusing on your mat skills and tapering down so that you’re not fatigued, or you can institute it 4x a week if you’re in an “off season” trying to get conditioned and strong.

You can change around the level of difficulty on exercises such as the tabata intervals by doing them with bodyweight exercises like sprawls rather than front squats or thrusters…

likewise you can do plyometrics rather than olympic lifts

similar to the edt section, if you feel an area needs necessary hypertrophy you can adjust the reps from edt for strength (5-6 rep max doing 3-5reps per “set” for 15 min) to more of an edt for hypertrophy (10 rep max, doing 5-8 reps)…

If the athlete is developing a musular imbalance, they can use dumbbell bench presses and bulgarian squats… A strength imbalance not physique wise…technically you shouldn’t care in this sport, just get stronger.
You can use a large variety of strength building methods within the same protocal.

Things I feel would complete it.

… Prehabilitative work: personal opinion is that if you’re training properly you don’t need it. If you row enough to match how much you bench and your overhead press is in proportion then you should have healthy shoulders therefore not needing to do whatever weird exercise.

If this kind of work IS needed though, it should be prescribed.

… Torso training: Rotational movements are huge in the fight sport, everything from escaping mount to striking to a suplex will involve some sort of rotational and bridging motion.

By using large compound movements these are hit indirectly but to focus on strengthening them it would be wise to take advantage of your training time.

When doing complexes, for example using dumbbells or kettlebells and doing Windmills or even with a barbell performing “Full contact twists” and the like would greatly improve rotational ability.

Also strongman medeleys involve a lot of torso work, if you throw a sand bad to your left, run after it, grab it, throw it to your right, you’re getting a great conditioning work out as well as working your primary striking muscles.

… Antagonist Training

Training what’s not getting trained during all the other sessions that a MMA athlete has to go through. A heavy striker may be used to doing many pressing type motions with their hands and need to balance that.

Likewise a pitcher is used to a certain motion… strengthening that motion will just lead to injury because it’s overtrained. But if you were to train the opposite of that motion (example: face pulls for one phase) it would be beneficial to the pitchers ability to throw faster/harder as well as his longetivity in the sport.

Xen,

Kind of vaguely sounds like a similar set-up to Kenn’s Tier system (from what I know about it) and seems like a great way to do things. I like your groupings, just change the order to change emphasis.

xen nova, your posts complicate my life.

Nova,
Is this the program you used to break Paddy Doyle’s world record in burpees, or any of your other feats of wonder?