MMA Conditioning: The Training You're Not Getting

STACK Expert Phillip Michael Vaughn provides an MMA conditioning workout that will get in you great shape for your next fight.

MMA Conditioning

During the time I spent training mixed-martial-arts athletes at the Blackeye MMA facility in Asheville, N.C., I saw many recurring problems that needed to be addressed.

In general, my athletes spent too much time on cardiovascular activities and not enough on speed and power—the ability to develop force rapidly—and core and posterior chain stability.

Training for speed and power helps the MMA fighter move around the ring with agility and generate the maximum amount of force when delivering a strike to his opponent.

Core training is extremely important as well. During a fight, a strong core stabilizes the athlete, absorbs the impact of blows from his opponent and assists in delivering strikes.

The posterior chain (or "back" muscles) is also crucial. During a fight or practice, all the action happens in front of the athlete, and many repetitions have the athlete pushing against something. To be successful, you must also incorporate pulling movements into your routine. I prescribe pull-to-push exercise ratio of 3 to 1 or 2 to 1.

Below is a sample weekly MMA conditioning program that can help you get great results and improve your position for competition.

Monday: Strength Day

Tuesday: Conditioning and Active Recovery Day

This workout offers cardiovascular benefits without having you add mileage and stress to your lower body. It also propels you to higher-quality training throughout the week and eliminates unnecessary fatigue.

Perform each exercise for 30 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of recovery between exercises. Each round should last 5 minutes, with a 1 minute-30 second rest between rounds.

Three rounds of 5 minutes of exercises:

  • Air squats
  • Push-Ups
  • Back Extension/Superman
  • Toe touches
  • Side Bridge left
  • Side Bridge right
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Burpees
  • Skydiver Hold (Lying on chest—hold feet and upper torso off the ground).
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Russian Twists
  • Side Crunch
  • Prone Leg Raises (lying on chest, raise legs straight up).
  • Full Sit-Up
  • Push-Up Row (perform a Push-Up then pull one arm at a time to your shoulder. This can be done with dumbbells or kettlebells).
  • Kettlebell Swings
  • Dumbbell Side Raises
  • Prone Birddogs (start in push-up position, extend one arm and opposite leg, then switch sides).
  • Six Inches (lying flat on back, raise one leg straight out slightly above the ground and hold).
  • Squat Jumps

Wednesday: Recovery Day. No Training

Thursday: Strength Day

Friday: Conditioning Day

Perform Friday's conditioning day with the same intensity and duration as Tuesday's. It is acceptable to keep the same exercises or switch them up. Just be consistent with the time and rest periods.

Times can be extended gradually week to week. Just remember to avoid overtraining. Do not attempt to progress too much too quickly.

Saturday and Sunday: Rest and Recover

Focus on sport-specific practice (i.e., striking, wrestling, etc.) as well as maintaining flexibility and preparing yourself for the training week ahead.

For more information about one of the country's elite MMA gyms, check out the Blackeye Asheville website at

Twitter: @blackeyeavl

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