How to Train Like an MMA Fighter


Whether you want to be a mixed martial artist or you're an amateur athlete hoping to improve your game, training like an MMA fighter is a great high-intensity workout. MMA training routines can help you hone your discipline, endurance, and agility while strengthening your core. Practice these training exercises on your own or enlist the help of a coach, personal trainer, or MMA class. With persistence and the right technique, you can train just like the pros.

Part 1
Improving Your Discipline and Endurance

Improving Your Discipline and Endurance on How to Train Like an MMA Fighter

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MMA is a physically strenuous sport, and without taking precautions, you can seriously injure yourself. Take 5-10 minutes before training sessions to warm up and prevent muscle strains.[1] Trust your instincts—if anything during your workout feels unnatural or overly-painful, stop immediately to prevent hurting yourself. Don't move on from a specific part of training if you can't figure it out yet - keep trying until it becomes second nature.

Improving Your Discipline and Endurance on How to Train Like an MMA Fighter

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MMA fighters rely on swift, purposeful movements to win a match. Try sprinting at least once a week to replicate the intense energy of a fight and improve your dexterity under pressure. Include a few uphill or high-resistance portions of your sprint to add strength training to this cardio-heavy workout.[2]

Improving Your Discipline and Endurance on How to Train Like an MMA Fighter

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Because much of MMA involves moving quickly and with discipline, HICT can improve your fighting speed while strengthening your muscles. Circuit training involves doing a pattern of exercises in rapid succession for a set number of intervals. You might, for example, include any of the following workouts in your circuit:[3] Squats Sit-ups Lunges Burpees Stomach crunches Pull-ups Treadmill sprints Jump roping

Improving Your Discipline and Endurance on How to Train Like an MMA Fighter

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Weight lifting can increase your power when fighting in MMA tournaments. Plan at least 1 or 2 weight lifting workouts a week to improve your stamina while fighting, focusing on either your upper or lower body at a time. Always lift with a partner if you're not using weightlifting machines.

Improving Your Discipline and Endurance on How to Train Like an MMA Fighter

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Many gyms offer Jiu-Jitsu or taekwondo classes, which can strengthen your discipline and help hone your fighting skill against an opponent. Try a course of each and decide which technique fits your style best.[4] Ask other MMA fighters in your area or look online to find local jiu-jitsu or Taekwondo classes.

Improving Your Discipline and Endurance on How to Train Like an MMA Fighter

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Having a training partner, preferably another MMA fighter, can provide a source of motivation to work out every day. If you want to practice sparring, you could also do so with your partner. If you know any other martial arts students or have an athletic friend, ask them to train with you at least once or twice a week to reap the benefits of a partner.[5]

Improving Your Discipline and Endurance on How to Train Like an MMA Fighter

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Many local gyms offer MMA classes, and some gyms ("MMA gyms") are centered entirely around martial arts. Trying an MMA class once a week or every few weeks can help you learn new techniques and spar with other MMA fighters. Incorporate this into your schedule, especially if you are not training with a coach or other MMA athletes. To find an MMA gym near you, try using Find MMA Gyms: MMA gyms have more advanced courses and are better patterned around how a professional MMA fighter might train, in comparison to the average gym or rec center.

Improving Your Discipline and Endurance on How to Train Like an MMA Fighter

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If you're serious about MMA fighting and want to make a career out of it, you'll need professional help. A personal trainer or coach can help you plan workout schedules, boost motivation during training sessions, and identify areas of improvement. Ask other MMA fighters for their trainer recommendations or look for personal trainers in your area who specialize in MMA. Ask all potential coaches or trainers for client references or relevant experience before hiring them.

Part 2
Establishing a Training Regimen

Establishing a Training Regimen on How to Train Like an MMA Fighter

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Going for short and regular workouts will be more likely to improve your martial arts skills overextended workouts several times a week or month. Keeping your workouts concentrated and regular will help you avoid long-term burnout.[6]

Establishing a Training Regimen on How to Train Like an MMA Fighter

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Improving the areas you struggle with most will best help you prepare for future tournaments. Think about your previous fights and try to identify areas you might improve on. Make an effort to include exercises that will help you make weaknesses newfound strengths. If you struggle with agility, for example, you might plan 1 or even 2 sprinting workouts a week.

Establishing a Training Regimen on How to Train Like an MMA Fighter

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Rest days are as necessary for MMA fighters as workout days—they allow your muscles time to repair damage and prevent you from burning out. On your rest day, do a light activity instead of your workout, like yoga or going on a walk.[7]

Establishing a Training Regimen on How to Train Like an MMA Fighter

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Plan your workouts at least a week in advance, evenly spacing strength training, cardio, and rest days apart to give your exercising schedule variety. Intersperse days focused on your personal strengths with days focused on weaknesses to challenge yourself evenly throughout the week and prevent burnout. Show your schedule to a personal trainer or another MMA fighter to make sure your training schedule is varied enough.

Establishing a Training Regimen on How to Train Like an MMA Fighter

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Discuss your short and long-term MMA goals with your partner or personal trainer so you can adapt your schedule to meet said goals. Shift your weekly focuses to accommodate your goals so your workouts can be as effective as possible.[8] If you have a fight in several weeks, for example, you might add more sparring sessions with a partner to your schedule. Avoid planning your schedule any further than a month in advance so you can adapt it based on your changing strengths and weaknesses.

Part 3
Maintaining a Healthy Training Lifestyle

Maintaining a Healthy Training Lifestyle on How to Train Like an MMA Fighter

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Although no set water intake is ideal for every athlete, you may need to drink more depending on your workout regimen. Keep a water bottle nearby all day and drink when you are thirsty to prevent dehydration. At minimum, men should drink 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of water per day, and women should drink about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters).[9] Professional MMA fighters often eat 4 square meals a day to get enough calories, though this will vary based on the intensity of your workouts.

Maintaining a Healthy Training Lifestyle on How to Train Like an MMA Fighter

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MMA training workouts are usually intense and require plenty of energy to fuel. Plan meals and snacks that are high in protein and carbohydrates to sustain your body through exercises.[10]

Maintaining a Healthy Training Lifestyle on How to Train Like an MMA Fighter

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On workout days, you'll need more calories from carbs and protein to keep your body going. Plan fuller, more protein-packed meals on workout days and lighter meals on your rest days. Matching your diet to your caloric needs will help keep your body fueled and able to power through tough workouts.

Maintaining a Healthy Training Lifestyle on How to Train Like an MMA Fighter

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Protein powder and other supplements work best in addition to protein-heavy food, not as an alternative to them. Avoid having protein enhancers as a full meal. Instead, either mix them into food (like a protein smoothie or shake) or take them in-between meals.[11]

Maintaining a Healthy Training Lifestyle on How to Train Like an MMA Fighter

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Athletes who get at least 7 hours of sleep every night tend to do better in their workouts and competitions. Place the same importance on a good night's rest as you do planning your workouts or eating a balanced diet.[12]