T Nation

My Strength Workout for MMA



I recently started MMA, so I'm a total beginner to the sport, but I noticed that my strength and condition are okay.

My workouts:

ME Upper

A max bench press 5/3/1 method
B db bench press 5sets 10reps
C db bent over rows 5sets 10reps

ME Lower

A max deadlift 5/3/1 method
B single leg squats ; bulgarian split squat variation ; lunges 5sets 10reps OR deadlift 5sets 10reps
C leg curls 5sets 10reps

Rep Upper

A chin-up holds 3sets max time
B dips 5sets 10reps
C bb curls 5sets 10reps
(D abd work)

-1hour grappling
-1hour thai boxing

-strenght workout

-"free for all training" (don't know how you call it in english, sorry)

-1hour grappling
-1hour thai boxing

-"free for all training"

-strenght workout

-strenght workout

So, my problem is, where to put my strenght workouts. I can do my own MMA training on wednesday (sparring,...whatever) so I think tuesday is a good day for a heavy workout. Also saturday, I think.

So maybe I should do ME lower on Saturday and Rep Upper on Sunday and on Tuesday Max Upper?

I'm also not sure which excercise is the best for B on ME Lower.

PS: I noticed that it's "better" for my training when I'm doing 5sets because when I only do 3sets it's harder for my mind to stop before muscle failure.

Hope you can help me a little bit :slight_smile:


Go to the MMA Training Hub, and the second one. These questions have been answered over and over and over and over again.


I'm going to give you a few suggestions you didn't ask for. Firstly I'd dump the bench press, utterly useless unless you like setting yourself up to try and press your opponent off of you when mounted. If you do like this strategy prepare to be arm-barred like a mofo. Replace the bench with pull-up's or chin-up's. Same 5/3/1. Secondly dump the db press, and work explosive push-up's (use a weight vest if you need more weight, or just throw a rubber plate on your back and have a friend hold it there).

Other than this, check the hub like Irish said.


Doh! Check the other thread. Lot of hate going on against the bench press, and I'm not quite sure why!

I'd say keep the bench!


Better watch the bench pressing. I hear it destroys your judo skills...


Why the fuck would you "replace" a chest movement with a back movement?


This man knows his MMA conditioning better than most on the Judo thread.


Fedor benchs 180 kg. Houston alexander benches 220 kg. karelin uster bench aswell. I think the bench press is hated now, because everyone use to go on about how gym rats only bench. Well if all you do is back movements then you are are on the same level as the bench press lovers. For fuck sake do some benching or db press is makes you shoulders and tris fucking strong.


The reason I can't agree with the no benching is this: The best martial artist I ever met instructed me not to bench or squat. He said to instead do push ups and Hindu squats and that I would get just as jacked off of this. To somebody that didn't know him very well this would seem fantastic because the guy is 6'0 230 at 6% BF. The reason I can't believe him either is because he is a former body builder and a damn good one. The whole time he's talking I'm thinking " Why the hell would I believe you when you yourself got so jacked from squating and benching..."


Well, Fedor has explicitly said he doesn't lift weights anymore, but I do agree with your overriding point. Lots of different fighters do lots of different stuff for their strength training. Most of them do use isolation movements like the bench press and curls when they lift weights.. others don't lift weights at all.. others do complexes.. etc etc.

But to be honest it's not really important what you do when you strength train if you're not trying to improve your strength and are just doing it to maintain/build conditioning etc...

However if as a martial artist you're trying to improve body composition/strength/trying to gain weight to fill out your weight class, then you do need to make progress in your strength training, be it via weight used, rest times, volume etc etc.

I would only deviate from a traditional strength training scheme in so far as to accomomdate your sport specific training.. and maybe your other attribute training like roadwork, flexibility etc..(I.E if deadlifts mean you'd have to skip BJJ class as they do for me,I would do squats instead) I would not try to "mimic" fighting motions, the point of it is you're trying to get your body stronger. You can do that with snatches, cleans, squats, deadlifts, bench, chin ups, curls, and all the good stuff that people have used for decades succesfully.


Fedor benches still, I posted a video of him training for Barnett where he did a circuit with curls bench press and other exercises. Literally nobody looked at it but whatever.


Per Irish's respected opinion, I'll leave bench press in as an optional movement. Although from experience I can tell you that doing explosive push-up's (replacing my bench) I've gained on my ME bench, and improved my speed and endurance. I don't hate bench, but I can't count the number of times I've seen amateur MMA fighters get mounted and try to BENCH someone off of them. BAM! Armbar. Also I've grown to love, love, love, love explosive movements. They've helped me a WHOLE lot. Other than that I have nothing against bench press.


Browntrout, did you not notice a significant lack of anything other than chest movements on upper body day one? Also while looking again at the schedule I'd change the chin holds to overhead press.


I think the trying to bench somebody off them comes from more of a lack of experience... it's not the bench presses' fault haha.

But I agree with the explosive pushups. I do them when I can work them in, along with medicine ball movements like the chest passes.


Keep the bench press but change the angle on the db bench. No reason to repeat the same exercise with dbs when you could be doing incline db.


Very true Irish, very true. Also I love me some chest passes!


Keep the bench press but change the angle on the db bench. No reason to repeat the same exercise with dbs when you could be doing incline db.


The Bench press is good exercise that everyone should keep. Everyone i wrestle the first I noticed is there upper body strength (bench), Those big bench guys are hard to hold down in No-gi and even more harder if they have good tecknique. If 2 guys have same skills set on BJJ..the stronger guy will def win. That should be enough reason to increase strength everywhere.

As for bench press and stand up, it doesnt do much for your endurance. But the KO power is no doubt. Houston alexander, tank abbot...big bench big hitters.


I agree with most of this, although I don't think a bench has anything to do with punching power. You either got it or you don't.


To quote Joe Defranco "the bench press is a great, multi-joint, free-weight exercise for developing strength in the chest, triceps and shoulders. Whatâ??s wrong with that?"

In response to the OP most important thing is to Move your ME lower day to a place where it won't impact on the next day. And avoid putting the ME upper and RE upper one after the other. Also if you decide to have ME lower day followed by RE upper, switch out that Re grip work to push ups or pressing variation if possible. Your grip will be battered from deadlifting the day before. If that means you need more work for RE day add in some vertical pulling and scapular retraction work eg facepulls, flyes, band pull aparts whatever, hopefully you get the idea


yea i agree somewhat u either have it or not. But then again if punching skill was the same id rather get hit by the 135 bencher than the 405 bencher. Skill work should def take place!