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With the popularity of the UFC and MMA and the conditioning level of the athletes that fight, ufc workouts and mma training has become a hot topic on various fitness forums and training magazines. Instead of wondering what the training routines look like, one should wonder if training like a mixed martial artist actually benefits them?
There this misconception that if the fighters look a certain way, their training must contain something special that everyone in big time commercial gyms just doesn’t know. Well it’s my job to provide you with the truth and the answer to that question is absolutely not.
UFC Workouts and MMA Training For Non Fighters
A hotly contested mma bout is intense and action packed and as a result theories abound that their training routines are just that. That’s incorrect.
[headline_georgia_large_centered color="#000000"]Misconceptions about MMA and UFC Training[/headline_georgia_large_centered]
Fighters utilize high intensity intervals
I don’t understand the fascination with interval training in general and the theory that mma fighters primarily utilize high intensity intervals for their aerobic work is downright false. While it certainly is included in any sound conditioning program, do you really think someone that trains multiple skills for a few hours per day is going to burn the candle at both ends and sacrifice their recovery while increasing their risk of injury by doing nothing but 40 yard dashes and 30:30 sprints on the treadmill?
Come on man!
The main basis for any mixed martial arts workout routine is training multiple energy systems. Think demands of stand up fighting, sprawling, being on the bottom. Heck, #1 UFC welterweight contender Nick Diaz is an avoid marathon runner. George St.Pierre does gymnastics to get in shape. Both of those type of workouts haven’t stopped either of them from becoming world champions.
Fighters only use odd object training
Another conception that I just don’t understand or agree with is the acceptance of slamming a sledgehammer or flipping a tire and how it’s any more effective then a dumbbell chest press. Just because Brock Lesnar uses heavy training ropes doesn’t mean it will give him any more of an advantage over someone who does kettle bell swings or bent over dumbbell rows.
I’m not trying to belittle any one training method over the other, as they all train different functional patterns but there’s nothing magical in a tire.
The actual practice of a fighting skill will get you ripped
I had a friend at an old gym that swore she was going to try boxing because all boxers (or the two she saw on tv one time) were ripped. Hey, I’m not going to argue. Try doing a 30 second round on the speed bag when you aren’t used to it. You’ll be tired and very sore over the next couple of days.
Since when does being tired and sore prove training superiority? Just because most ufc workouts and mma training programs include hours of skill work, does that mean we all should do 2 hours of wrestling per day? It’s a great workout for sure but it doesn’t determine how lean you’ll get.
UFC Workouts and MMA Training: Their secret
Let’s do some simple fitness math..
X hours of training + committed diet+super focused fighter+8-20 weeks= ripped
Finishing up my rant, it has more to do with the focused fighter on a diet for an extended period of time with long hours of calories burning training (no matter the method) that brings those ripped bodies to the cage. Which parts are you missing the most?
5 Simple Steps To Designing Effective UFC Workouts and MMA Training For Fighters and Non Fighters
Note: I’m going to keep referencing the fighter. Even if you aren’t a fighter, consider yourself one for the rest of the article.
Step One: How much weight does the fighter have to lose?
As I talk about in my mma diet article, the weight that the fighter has to lose dictates the type of diet that I will design for them and the same theory holds true for any ufc workout or mma training program. While some individuals think that a fighters should just train faster, longer and harder to make weight, that’s as outdated as mailing a simple letter to a friend asking them how their doing.
As each pound is lost you’ll see an indirect incremental rise in their VO2 max and cardio conditioning. That’s not to state that they can’t do aerobic activity every day, it’s simple to reenforce the idea that they shouldn’t be pummeled into the ground.
Step Two: Where are their structural deficits and limitations?
I’d love to write an entire article about this but I’ll try to summarize my theories. What is limiting the fighter to move better, become more stable or punch or kick harder? In every athlete you’ll find structural issues that are broderline injuries waiting to happen. Take George St Pierre’s recent knee injury for example. Did he have some frequent adductor tightness or quad adhesion that built up that caused him to injure his knee but that wasn’t noticed during his training because everything felt ok?
A simple movement screen where the athletes squat, overhead lunge, push up and core stability is tested will give you a lot of clues to determining their warm up and training style. Maybe Brock has some rotator cuff issues and he shouldn’t really be slamming the training ropes?
Step Three: What one energy system does the athlete fatigue out the fastest?
Where are you the weakest?
For most individuals it’ll be in long term endurance events because it’s not fun to train that way so no one does. So fighters, however, aren’t strong enough to land big shots early on and rely on takedowns to have the advantage on the ground. Any complete UFC workout or MMA training routine should place emphasis on this weak area. Research has shown that when we train for two different cardiovascular goals at the same time that near drastically improve.
Work your skills but your weight training or cardio should have one goal in mind.
Step Four: How functionally effective are the exercises for the fighters weakness?
Some exercises do have more functional benefit then others in a UFC workout and MMA training program. Kettlebell or hurdle hops while brutally hard to perform aren’t the best just because they tire you out more then another form of training.
Where is the fighter weakest or what areas would you like to develop more? Do you get thrown around in the clinch? Maybe you should include more deadlifting to strengthen your upper back and forearms.Improving your upper back strength will also externally rotate your shoulders and open you up for more potential punching power, amongst other things.
Are you too slow with your punching strikes? Maybe you need to consider adding in more explosive medicine ball work.
Step Five: How effective is your post training recovery?
What? You didn’t know that your last working set didn’t end your workout? While I favor customized post workout stretching, a general flexibility routine consisting of relax and contract hamstring, quad, hip external rotator and pec work will take any fighter a long way to increasing their recovery.
You also need to monitor the athletes recovery over a few days post training to determine if the workout in question was too physically demanding. How fatigued are they? How was their workout recovery and soreness? Are they sleeping? Has their appetite decreased? How ready and willing are they to train again?
Examining the role of soft tissue work in a typical UFC training program.
Mixed martial arts is still a very young sport and as a result, we’re still finding out how hard and how long athletes can optimally train for. A typical UFC training program might consist of upward of six to eight hours per day of activity. Even if you aren’t in a fight camp you’ll still have to undergo intense grappling in your own training routine. As a result, stretching just isn’t enough. Soft tissue treatment ranging from Active Release Technique and general chiropractic work to foam rolling, relax and contract stretching, graston techniques and others all helps to return muscle tissue to its normal resting length. In the course of our training, muscle tightness increases and our ability to stretch a muscle is compromised. Well traditional stretching isn’t going to work. Soft tissue work restores normal function by getting to the site of pain or dysfunction and removing built up scar tissue to allow proper contraction. If your training hard like a UFC fighter or any mixed martial artist does, you need to also recover like they do.
Sample UFC Conditioning Workouts and MMA Training Programs.
Before I go, I’ll leave you with a few sample UFC workouts and MMA training conditioning programs. These aren’t intended to be the primary strength work but if you are just trying to improve your work capacity or are after that “UFC body” then adding these circuits in post training will help you get there.
Sample ufc workout and mma training routine #1
Time three rounds then aim to reduce the total work time per workout
Kettlebell swing to clean: 20 reps
Kettlebell push up hold to stand up: 20 reps
Kettlebell push ups: 15 reps
Chin Ups: Max reps until fatigue
Sample ufc workout and mma training program # 2
Lower body explosive power
Terminal Knee Extension With Band: 2 sets of 15 reps
Barbell Front Squats: 5 sets of 2 reps
Box Jumps: 5 sets of 5 reps
Kettlebell Swings: 3 sets of 15 reps
Band Resisted Sit Ups: 2 sets of 20 reps
Sample ufc workout and mma training # 3
Barbell conditioning circuit
Stiff Leg Deadlift: 3 sets of 15 reps
Muscle Clean: 3 sets of 8 reps
Bent Over Row: 3 sets of 12 reps
Curls: 3 sets of 15 reps
Triceps Extensions: 3 sets of 12 reps
Sample ufc workout and mma training program # 4
Bodyweight complex: Perform 3 rounds and record your time. Attempt to reduce the total training time each workout
Mountain climbers: 20 reps
Burpess: 20 reps
Push Ups: 25 reps
Frog Hops: 20 reps
Jump Squats: 20 reps