T Nation

MMA Strength and Conditioning


Collectively bringing together some sources to give some ideas how to structure a program and/or exercises for combat athletes.

Video showcasing Jake Bonacci, strength and conditioning coach from Randy Couture's Xtreme Couture Gym in Vegas.


  • Focus on the fighter's weaknesses / what they want to improve on.
  • The importance of Olympic, multi-joint, whole body lifting.
  • A combination of strength + power + endurance.
  • Upper body & lower body days
  • Start with an Olympic lift. Follow with a focus/accessory
  • Finish off with a muscular endurance upper+lower circuit with 3-4 exercises x 3- 4 rounds, 1 min rest eg. pull-up x 10, split squat x 10, plyometric push-ups x 10

Another example is Georges St. Pierre & Denis Kang's training from their trainer Jonathon Chaimberg.

  • Combining a strength exercise with a an explosive movement for power & endurance.
  • Tempo: Explode up, control down.


  • Strength - A1) Weighted chin ups x 3 + A2) Med ball slams x 6, B1) DB Bench Press x 3 + B2) Med ball pass x 8, 44+" hurdle jumps x 6, TRX inverted rows (vest & feet elevated) x 6, Rope pulls, Landmine Twists, Slide board Adduction


  • DB One-leg box squats/pistols, TRX/Ring inverted rows, rope climbs, DB Snatch, DB jump squats


  • Weighted pull-ups x 5, Med Ball slams x 8, Olympic bar(s) punch x 20, Side bridges (feet on bench) 5 sec hold x 5, DB lunges x 16 (8 @side), plyometric box alternating push-off (jumps) x 8


  • Conditioning - Airdyne, TRX pull ups x 6, Med ball slams x 8, Med ball throw + burpee/sprawl x 6, shadow boxing, rope pulls, spot run + sprawl + jump x 6, Two ladder drills x 2, plyometric push-ups x 8, Airdyne

ADRENALINE PERFORMANCE circuit - "this circuits goal is to be done in 5 minutes to simulate a rd.and can be performed up to 3 times.Beginners just try to complete it without stopping.and add another rd every week or 2"

30 seconds treadmill speed 10mph 15 incline(change speed not incline if its too hard
8 trx inverted rows feet up
8 12lbs medball slams
12 jumping lunges
30 seconds airdyne,or jacobs ladder all out
8 burpees
4 ladder drills for some active rest(or mini hurdle drills----I'll post some ladder drills at www.adrenalineperformancecenter.com
10 kettlebell swings
60 elastic punches
60 elastic pummels(like 1 arm row uppercuts)
finish where you started with 20 seconds on treadmill or bike,or ladder:)

Videos Posted by ADRENALINE PERFORMANCE (sneak peak into DVD):
* www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=28287963201&oid=25437913574
* www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=78656400391&oid=25437913574

  • Exercises: Hurdle jumps, Open-ups (Gray Cook's primitive patterns), TRX pull-ups (heels elevated), anti-rotary 10 sec. holds (straight arms, stabilize), DB single leg squats/pistols off box(drive off heel), box jumps (from sitting), slide board, rope pulls, hurdles + box, DB single leg deadlift (alternative = counter-balance with one kettlebell

Excerpts from Fitness RX's interview with GSP:


  • Med ball push ups, seated cyclone/tornado ball, side bridge, lymphatic drainage massage


Joe DeFranco's take on strength & flexibility exercises for fighters:


Day 1
A1. 14-inch barbell bench press with chains
A2. Heavy bag straight punches
B1. Chest supported rows or bent-over dumbbell rows
B2. Seated external rotation, elbow on knee
C. Reverse hyperextensions, four sets of ten reps

Day 2
A. Power snatch OR Box squats with bands (parallel)
B. Barbell reverse lunges
C. Incline, weighted glute-ham raises
D. Standing cable external rotation, elbow at side


DE Lower Body Movement (Jump variation)
ME Upper Body movement
Posterior chain lower body movement
DB press variation
Lat/Upper back superset
Ab circuit (high reps)

ME Lower Body Movement
Rep Upper Body movement (chin-up or push-up variation)
Unilateral lower body movement
Shrug variation super-setted with rear delt movement
Grip training
Weighted abdominals

Training for Warriors with Martin Rooney (video library):


"Strength Training For Mixed Martial Arts" by Jason Ferruggia (May 2008)

Day 1
1) Hang Clean- 5 x 3 x 90 seconds rest
2) Squat- 4 x 3 x 120 seconds rest
3A) Chin Up - 2 x 8-10 x 90 seconds rest
3B) Blast Strap or Chain Suspended Pushup- 2 x a.m.a.p. x 90 seconds rest
4) Dumbbell Windmill- 2 x 10-12 x 60 seconds rest

Day 2
1) Jump Squat- 5 x 6 x 90 seconds rest
2A) 1 Arm Incline Dumbbell Press- 4 x 3 x 90 seconds rest
2B) 1 Arm Dumbbell Row- 3 x 6-8 x 90 seconds rest
3) Sandbag Shouldering- 2 x 10-12 x 90 seconds rest
4) Inchworm- 2 x a.m.a.p. x 90 seconds rest

Day 3
1) 1 Arm Overhead Kettlebell Throw- 6(per side) x 1 x 30 seconds rest (between throws)
2) Fat Bar Pullup- 4 x 3 x 90 seconds rest
3A) Resisted Pushup- 3 x 8-10 x 90 seconds rest
3B) Sandbag Zercher Squat - 2 x a.m.a.p. in 60 seconds x 90 seconds rest
4) Sledgehammer Swing- 2 x 12-15 x 60


UFC fighter Houston Alexander Workout


Dewey Nielsen's "Impact Performance Training Blog"


"Common Mistakes of a Mixed Martial Artist" (From a strength and conditioning perspective) by Dewey Nielsen



This is totally not new.


And here I was doing just push-ups and sit-ups all these years.

Time to re-think some things…


Give the new guy a break.


His join date is 2004, lol.


[quote]CaliforniaLaw wrote:
And here I was doing just push-ups and sit-ups all these years.

Time to re-think some things…[/quote]

Don’t forget squats and burpees.



hell, i might scrap o-lifts for most.


wow, you guys are so hardcore…good call giving a guy a hard time for putting some ideas out there…

any chance I can join your club or whatever? Sounds like it’d be pretty sweet. We could tease kids for trying to read, maybe make fun of fat people trying out cardio…I dunno…really just take it from there and run with it.


[quote]Mr. Luke wrote:
make fun of fat people trying out cardio…[/quote]

Tabata and high intensity weight training > Cardio for weight loss…


[quote]blazindave wrote:
This is totally not new.[/quote]

It wasn’t intended to be new. It was intended to be complete. It was an attempt to bring a lot of free information into one small space. I think it worked.


It did worked, however what about Cardio? Any suggestions for Cardio for MMA or Muay thai?

Also I am gonna assume the reason I see Olympic Weightlifting in these MMA strength and cond programs is because of the explosive movements needed when one performs wrestling. I have been noticing body weight exercises suggested for boxing and Muay thai but something else for MMA. Been training in Muay thai for one entire year and my school just started to offer BJJ classes, no mma yet but looking to do one amatuer match once my skills improve. Its a bucket list of mine. thanks


Thanks for the videos, couple questions, is the only reason why I see olympic weighlifting used in strength and conditioning programs for MMA is because in MMA explosive power is used for the wrestling aspects? I have notice boxing and Muay thai strength and conditioning programs suggesting body weight exercises.

Also what about cardio? Any info on Cardio for MMA or Muay thai for that matter?




I am super late to this party but I will chime in anyway.

Have you ever heard of Ross Enamait? He has written a couple books on how to run a strength and conditioning program for combat athletes. I have his book called Infinite Intensity, and it is quite good. He shows you how to structure a program and cover all your bases. I believe he mainly trains boxers, but I think you could take his concepts and apply them to any form of martial arts. I bought a couple of his books when I did Muay Thai, and was very impressed. If I were to resume training a martial art I would likely lean heavily on his stuff to structure my strength and conditioning.

He designs his programs to be very low tech as well, so they are pretty easy to implement provided one has the motivation/time to train at least twice a day multiple days a week. (ie. strength work in AM, skill work in PM as an example).