Simple strength training for MMA fighters

While there are a lot of complex routines out there specifically for “MMA Fighters” these days, many of them trying to mimic the movements and components of the sport of the actual event, very few of them are actually written by people who go around real fights on a daily basis or who actually train and fight themselves. Strength and conditioning training is intended to increase the overall capabilities of athletes, and any training outside of that realm is complete nonsense.

As an MMA fighter, your goals are to practice your sport and its components – boxing, muay thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, wrestling, judo, etc. That alone will leave very little in the way of recovery time to do much else, so when doing strength and conditioning work your first goal is to maximize your time. Get strong, train different power systems, and watch it translate on the mat or in the ring. If you do this while exercising in sync, you will see significant improvements and be well on your way to dominating your opponents.

But before we do anything, it’s important to understand what your needs really are as a fighter when it comes to strength and conditioning. Too many athletes focus on the wrong things and wonder why they’re always tired, rushed, and just generally don’t see their hard work in the weight room translate to the gym.

1) You should be “generally” strong all over your body. While improving your squat or deadlift can certainly help you, I often see athletes focus all of their attention on just getting bigger numbers in the weight room and it hurts their performance too long.

2) You must be able to handle your own body weight. I’m talking about the many forms of push ups (from standard push ups done right to more advanced variations, to handstands, to tilting rows, to being able to pull out loads of PULL UPS!

3) You need to train the body as a unit, not as a group of separate body parts. Upper – lower splits are fine, but for most MMA athletes I like to see them use full body sessions.

4) Get in and get out! If you practice striking and wrestling for 2-3 hours every day, you don’t have to spend hours in the weight room! 30-40 minutes, and in some cases, as little as 15 minutes will be plenty for a great session.

For this program, you’ll only need two pieces of equipment, but if you have access to more, feel free to substitute anything else. First, I recommend making a sandbag of anywhere from 50-70% of your body weight. If you already have a lot of experience in the weight room, go for 60-70%, and if you’re new to all of this, go with a bag around 40-50% of your weight. After that, all you need is a pull-up bar. Those two things alone, along with your body weight, are enough to keep you improving for a long time. This is only a two-day program, which leaves plenty of time to get better at punching people and twisting them like a snake on the ground.

Day 1:

Warm-up: 3 sets done in a circuit
Push ups x 10
squat x 15
stretch x 10
Reverse Lunge x 10 (5 each side)
Mountain climbers x 10 (5 each side

a1) Clean sandbag and press 4×3-5
*** Clean the bag to a “shelf” position over your shoulders and pin it over your head. on the floor and repeat.

a2) Mixed grip pull-ups 4 x reps (1-2 short stops from failure)
*** Use a different grip for each combination (arm, underhand, towel, wide, close, etc.)

b1) Advanced push-up variation (divebomber push-ups, incline push-ups, etc.) 3 reps
***Choose one difficult push-up formula and stop 1-2 reps short of failure

b 2) sandbags bent over 3×6-10 rows
*** Just like a regular barbell row, keep your back flat and use your stomach explosively.

c) Bear hug with sandbags x 20 reps (try to do this in as few sets as possible)
*** Carry your sandbag and sit down like a normal squat. Make sure to sit deeply and maintain a flat back. Don’t let this chest cave!

the second day:
Warm-up: 3 sets done in a circuit
Robot push-ups (from plank position to push-back position to plank position) x 10
squat x 15
stretch x 10
Side lunges x 10 (5 each side)
Thighs (bringing feet to outside hands) x 10 (5 per side)

a1) 4×4-8 shoulders sandbag (2-4 each side)
*** Rip the sandbag from the floor to one shoulder. Lower to the floor and repeat for the other side.

a2) Handstand push ups 4x reps
*** Kick your feet up against the wall and use your arms to lower yourself to the ground and back up. If you can’t do a full handstand, stay in the static position for a while.

a3) Mixed grip pull ups 4 x reps
*** As on the first day, try using a different grip on each set. Don’t rest!

b1) Bear Hug Sandbag Reverse Lunges 2×8-10 (4-5 each side)
*** Hold the hug of the bag and perform alternating reverse lunges.

B 2) Bear Cuddle Sandbag Bonjour 2×8-10
*** Just like a regular good morning or Romanian deadlift, hold the bag and push your butt back with your knees slightly bent and weight on your heels.

c) Download remotely.
*** The bear hugged your sandbag and carried that lollipop some distance. Try and cover at least 200 minutes.

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