MMA training is often characterized by intense full-body workouts that have demands similar to a fight. This is true to an extent, but you can't simply go and punch a bag and expect to get better in the octagon. (Try Rampage's conditioning workout.)
When training for MMA, you need to think about the movements that you perform. The five pillars of MMA skills—and life in general—include:
- Raising and lowering (e.g., Squats, Lunges, etc.)
- Locomotion (moving from point A to B)
Now that you have these identified, you must use the principle of Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands (SAID) to determine which exercises to perform. Translation: you must perform movements that are similar to the skill targeted for improvement, using similar movement patterns, range of motion and muscles. (Watch Herschel Walker's MMA workout.)
This does not mean that the five MMA exercises you're about to learn are designed to improve your skill technique. What it means is that these exercises will help you produce more force in specific movement patterns, thus improving target movements without the bumps or bruises that can come from sparring.
Below I provide our top exercises to improve strength and power in each of the five pillar movements in a manner that will directly improve your MMA skills.
Pulling: Kettlebell Clinch Pull-Up
Sets/Reps: 3-4xMax with a two-second pause at the top of each rep (rest one to two minutes between sets)
Pushing: The MMA Big 10 Circuit
Rotation: Angled Barbell Underhooks
Sets/Reps: 3-4x10-12 each side
Raising and Lower: Fighter's Lunge
Sets/Reps: 3-4x8-10 each side
Locomotion: Partner Tag
This is a great drill for improving the speed and reaction needed in MMA. The goal is to tag your opponent on his shoulders or legs while avoiding his efforts to do the same to you.
Rounds/Duration: 3-5x45-60 seconds (rest 30 to 60 seconds between sets)