Mixed martial arts is an extremely demanding sport. Technique is king in the realm of gladiators, but conditioning is often what separates the chumps from the champs. MMA workouts must combine cardiovascular endurance, muscular power, endurance and mental conditioning. Any good MMA preparation program will include each of these elements. Through my work with top MMA and Brazilian jiu-jitsu athletes, I have discovered a regimen that both physically and mentally challenges them.
MMA workouts should start from the ground up. Prioritizing leg conditioning will ensure you are strong in both your "stand-up" and "ground" games, and that you will stay fresh in the later rounds. Another important tip: devote ample time to the muscles that you don't see when looking in the mirror—hamstrings, glutes, back and triceps. It makes little sense to focus on "show" muscles when what you need most are "go" muscles.
Simplicity is important when beginning a conditioning program. Confusing or highly technical exercises can negatively impact workout intensity, at least in the beginning. The intensity level must match your training experience, then grow increasingly more demanding over time. With that in mind, the following program is designed to produce a quality, effective full-body workout regardless of your individual training experience.
Complete one full circuit of each exercise. Take a 60-second break. Then break the workout into three supersets (Squats and Push-Ups; Hip Bridges and Fire Hydrants; Pull-Ups and Crunches). During a three-minute round, complete one superset, then take a 60-second break. Move onto the next superset and take a break; then finish the last superset. For best results, use a clock to maintain precise work and rest intervals.
The goal during the first week is simply to complete the entire workout. Yes, the workout has a lot of repetitions, but this is intentional. Your first objective in becoming a highly conditioned competitor is to overcome the mental obstacle. The prospect of performing 1,200 reps of exercises may seem impossible. But once you have completed the workout, you will be amazed how much stronger you feel both mentally and physically. As you continue to perform this workout, your conditioning levels will increase greatly as well.
Photo: Esther Lin/MMA Fighting
D’Angelo Kinard is the founder of Advanced Sports Performance (Washington, D.C. Metro Area). He is a certified personal trainer, and he also has a certification in sports nutrition. He has worked with a variety of clients—including MMA fighters, professional athletes, SWAT teams, collegiate and professional football players and champion natural bodybuilders—as well as several sports teams. Kinard has personally trained five Brazilian jiu-jitsu World Champions. He has a bachelor’s degree from Trinity University and a master’s degree from the University of Maryland University College. To learn more about his training methods, visit advancedsportsperformance.com.