T Nation

Weight Lifting for MMA


I'm taking mma classes once a week and my trainer has advised me to use he 5x5 method of weight lifting.
I have come up with the following and would like some advice as to wether it looks ok or wether there is too little/too much per session:-

Power clean & Press- (not sure if I should use 5x5 here or a different rep/set scheme)
Over head squats
Bench Press
Bent over rows - to waist

Abs + cardio - 15-20 minutes running

Conventional squats
Chin up
Bent over rows to upper chest


Military Press
Upright Rows
Good Mornings

Do any of you other guys who train for mma/wrestling use upright rows, do they have any benefits in martial arts or should I not bother with them?

Also how do you go about periodizing your training? do you change the rep/set scheme every 4 weeks or so?
say from doing 5x5 to 3x10??

Any advice would be much appreciated




Looks good but I'll scrap the upright rows


I've been involved in martial arts since 1970. I've never have been a big fan of weight lifting to get better at martial arts. Of the three best and strongest martial artist I ever met two didn't lift and didn't care if we did and one was simply against lifting. Hitting, kicking, blocking, grappling etc will get you as strong as you need to be. If you want to lift recommend the olympic lifts -- because they're fast and require some flexibility.
If two beginners started together; one spent all his time on the mat and the other divided his time between the mat and the weight room who do you think would be better in six months?


Depends on how much time. If they both practice 5 times per week and one doesnt do weights but the other does weights, then the guy with the weights wins.

The point of this is, you dont have unlimited "mat time" to practice. Use it all and lift weights and train non-skill attributes the rest of the time.

Also, the performance of a move is not enough to maintain the strength to do that move.

Now go and tell all the pro mma guys that they dont need to lift weights, that theyd be better off just practicing their arts more.

Oh and yes, you can be involved in the martial arts for 50 years and still do it wrong all that time. Time is not proof of knowledge. But your post does speak volumes about your knowledge.


You read more into my post than was there. I'm not against lifting weights. I lift weights, olympic style. I just don't think one has to lift weights to become proficient in the martial arts. For example, Mas Oyama was not a weight lifter but he was very strong. I personally beleive that most folks who study the martial arts would do better if they spent more time on the mat and less in the weight room. Most folks have more strength then their technique allows them to use. The final question of my post was to get the person who began the thread to prioritize where he should spend his own time. I wasn't making a statement. Good luck. jamej


No, I did not read more into your post then was there. See, the thing is, the question-asker did not ask you wether or not lifting weights was the best thing for his martial arts training at this time in his career.

So, by making that statement unasked you came off as biased. This is not a discussion of skill training or time management.


Use the wsb Barbel method !
But do 3reps one the max effort days
You should also reduce the volumen of the other exercises to avoid to much weigth gain an affect recovery.

Or you do complex set training !
2 times a week
Example mo: Chest and back
3 sets of
Max effort chest exercise (3reps)
speed close grip bench press dynmic effort exercise ( 3reps under 3sekonds)

3 sets of
Max effort Back exercise (3reps)
Speed pull exercise (3reps under 3sekonds)

Other upper body exercises 5- 20 reps (chose a rep count) 5 reps is more mass 20 is more endurance ..... and do not go to failure!
One vertical pushing
One vertical pulling
One horizontal pushing
One horizontal pulling

gripp training (very hard)!

Max effort and dynamic effort for legs 3 supersets
Example max effort deadlift and speed squat

Other exercises
Leg exercises ab exercises and lower back exercises

Special exercises:

1)Speed punching or kicking against a speed ball or a heavy bag

Sandback throwing
build yourself a huge sandback which has the maximum weight of your weight class! Take the objekt and throw the objekt across the room , lift it up ,etc. controll it and practice with it.

I hope you get the idea!


i too would urge against lifting barbells and dumbells for strength unless you need to bring your weight up. No before you say i am not a matt furey nut or bodyweight junkie, i just think that there are better methods. The best wrestler in the world is Fedor Emelianenko, he says that wrestling training should be as specific as possible, you will gain a lot of strength and conditioning from wrestling a partner, carrying him around, slaming him, pushing against his strength etc. You might not have access to a training partner so instead do wrestling style moves on a sandbag, grappling dummy or vinyl heavy bag. Once youve been throwing, slamming and doing takedowns on an opponent for a few years you`ll be better than ever. Dont forget steroid beast and weight lifting junkies Kevin Randleman and Mark Coleman, both admit to using weights yet both get pummeled by Fedor who is against using them (he does use kettlebells and sledgehammers for conditioning as part of what he calls circle training or what we call circuit training)


Randleman gettnig owned by Fedor is due to many factors besides their style of strength training. Technique, conditioning, mental toughness all play larger factors than strength in a fight. Only playing your sport will make your strength "sport specific".


Using weights to mimic and train the motor skills/energy systems required in fighting is one way to train. You really don't have to use them but I think if they're applied right they can be of great help. It's obvious there are many roads to the top. Many fighters are built really well and may or may not use weights (but get conditioned and strong from the practice of their sport). Many other are not built really well and may or may not use weights. All use some resistance training, whether it's opponents, sledgehammers, jumping, springting or weights. I think high speed stuff and strong man stuff is best for fighters. I also think technical training/practice must rank number 1 especially if the sport is new for you. Weights are especially useful to bring up a weak link or should be seen as a supplement to the aspects of sport which cannot safely be routinely trained 'all out'. Fighting is definitely a sport where it's tough to train all out frequently and resistance in isolated drills or weighted exercises allows a controlled means to improve performance.
Weights are a tool. I think we'd all agree being good at lifting weights or any exercise does not = good fighter. Knowing some techniques but not being able to do them for lacking physical ability also does not = good fighter.
That said. I've read stuff from John Davies, Mike Mahler, Staley, Chad Waterbury, Christian Thib, Defranco, Poliquin and Martin Rooney on the subject. Any of them will offer some good and varied insights. Rooney has a really good book and is releasing a dvd soon that illustrates his strength/conditioning program. I'd check that out.


Actually use the poundage of the weight class above you because most guys cut a LOT of weight.

It's not that extreme of a difference, 10-20lbs but still when you WIN you won't be disappointed that you did.

Lets say your opponent does come in weighing as much as you. Hah then throwing him around is cake.

I'm going to wrestle at a meet at 170#'s... but most of the time I train with the guys who are 30-40lbs heavier than that. I can power clean well over that 170... I can do 3 pullups with body weight (180)... I''m a LOT stronger than most in my weight class... it's not even a contest.

My technique is already on point, so you put me with someone who is my equal, and because I"m sooo much stronger it's like exlax and a burrito smooth shittin.


fedor actually isn't really that good of a wrestler. far from the best in the world. karelin ,even retired, would own him in a wrestling match.

and if you're training that often scrap the cardio. or atl east tarin like you would fight. replace it with HIIT or something. just go a few extra rounds of sparring and that will cover it.


Anyone that says strength does not matter in a wrestling match has never wreslted someone 20 lbs of muscle heavier that can bench you for endurance training.


Anyone that says strength does not matter in wrestling has never wrestled. Period.


The one with the most 'complete' game doesn't win all the time, but that's usually the way to bet.

I agree about the uprights. Do tire flips if you have access, or the sandbag idea is okay.

Good luck in your matches.


as soon as someone says they dont think dumbells and barbells are good for wrestling they are immediately accused of being some calisthenic junkie or living in the 1930`s, its true that weights can help people gain strength but on the wrestling mat strength is best developed other ways. Just train for strength as specifically as possible, i agree with the sand bag approach, practice throws and flip it too but get used to traning with a partner, slam him, carry him about the gym on your back, practice takedowns etc, have your partner on top of you and try to escape or roll out. Once you have a sound skills base and strength developed through the practice of these skills then you might take some time off to devote time to weights.
Dont forget that leverage, skill conditioning and agility are just important as strength, its like Goodridge and Waterman are no doubt a lot stronger than Fedor but Water gets gased in 30 seconds and cant throw a punch and goodridge looks like he spends all his time bench pressing where as with fedor its all boxing and grappling, practice makes perfect.


Thats why for lifting for MMA I think complex training is best. You can work the entire body in one complete set and at the same time really get a really great cardio workout...Too many guys worry about bench and squats and then get in the ring and gas like what was mentioned earlier.

I just got done training with Brazilian Top Team and also working out in the gym with pride champion Paulo Filho and I can tell you that complex training is the way to go. I will be designing the training program for Paulos upcoming fight with Rua on Jan 1.

We did a light Grapplers Complex workout with Paulo and the guys were amazed with feeling they got from this type of workout. this is one of the main reasons Paulo wanted us to help him for his fight because he felt like he had been in the ring for 10 minutes after only 2 sets of the workout.

Here are 2 photos from the trip.