Get Fighting Fit with This MMA-Inspired Workout Plan

There is no denying that MMA fighters are amongst the most well-conditioned athletes on the planet. The average MMA fighter is lean, strong, powerful, fit, and agile. Long-distance runners might have a higher V02 max, and powerlifters are undoubtedly stronger, but MMA fighters are the better all-rounders.

Not only that, they have to demonstrate these capabilities while fighting an equally well-prepared opponent. Talk about intense!

If you want to train like a real MMA fighter, you should join an MMA gym. Alternatively, get a taste for MMA training with our MMA-inspired workout. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to develop a high level of all-around fitness or just wants a new, ultra-challenging workout to try. 

MMA-Inspired Workout

This workout involves a range of training equipment and movements to challenge your entire body. It will build endurance, power, strength, and fitness all at the same time. Plus, because it’s a non-stop circuit, it will improve your cardiovascular fitness and burn fat too.

MMA Workout

Perform as many reps of the following ten exercises as you can in the allotted time. Take 15 seconds between exercises to move from one to the next, and rest two minutes between laps.

1stlap – 60 seconds per exercise

2ndlap – 45 seconds per exercise

3rdlap – 30 seconds per exercise

Total time, including transitions and rests: 34 minutes

  1. Alternating single-leg burpees
  2. Kettlebell deadlift/high-pulls
  3. Side to side push-ups
  4. Kneeling squat jumps
  5. Chinnies
  6. Lateral jumps
  7. Push-up/kick through
  8. Medicine ball slams
  9. Seesaw shoulder press
  10. Squat and roll

But, before you start, remember to spend a few minutes warming up to prepare your body for the workout you are about to do. Jump rope or jog for 5-10 minutes, and then do some dynamic mobility and flexibility exercises for your major muscles and joints. Finally, do a few slow-paced reps of the exercises in this workout for practice.

Exercise Descriptions

Get the most from this workout by doing each exercise correctly. You’re going to be working against the clock, and that means you should try and pump out as many reps as you can. But don’t let your form suffer for the sake of a couple of extra reps. Incorrect form could lead to injury.

1. Alternating single-leg burpees

Burpees are an excellent conditioning exercise. You don’t need any equipment to do burpees, and you don’t need much space either. They work your entire body, building endurance and fitness at the same time. This variation works your legs harder than the standard version, making them ideal for hard-kicking MMA fighters.

How to do it:

  1. Stand on one leg with your hands by your sides.
  2. Bend down and place your hands flat on the floor.
  3. Jump your leg back and out into the push-up position. Keep your other leg off the floor.
  4. Do a single push-up.
  5. Hop your leg back up to your hands and then jump into the air.
  6. Land on the opposite leg and then repeat.
2. Kettlebell deadlift/high-pulls

Another full-body exercise, this is a great move for building power. It mirrors the demands of lifting and throwing an opponent, so go heavy or go home! You can also do this exercise with a barbell instead of a kettlebell if that’s more convenient.

Kettlebell Deadlift

How to do it:

  1. Place your kettlebell on the floor and stand astride it, feet about shoulder-width apart. Squat down and grab the handle. Pull your shoulders down and back and brace your core. Do not round your lower back.
  2. Drive your feet into the floor and stand up. Use this momentum to help you pull the weight up the front of your body to your chin. Keep your elbows high.
  3. Extend your arms, lower the weight to the floor, and repeat.
3. Side to side push-ups

Push-ups are THE classic upper body exercise. Working your chest, shoulders, and triceps, this exercise targets your primary punching muscles. The side to side motion of this variation also increases core activation and, by putting more weight on one arm at a time, it’s more difficult than regular push-ups too.  

How to do it:

  1. Squat down and place your hands on the floor, about 1½ shoulder widths apart. Walk your feet back, so your body is straight. Brace your abs.
  2. Bend your arms and shift your weight over toward one hand. Lower your chest down to within an inch of the floor.
  3. Extend your arms and return to the center.
  4. Bend your arms again but, this time, descend to the opposite side. Continue alternating sides for the duration of your set.
4. Kneeling squat jumps

This explosive lower body exercise will increase kicking power and also drive your heart and breathing rate sky-high. It’s also a good agility exercise that teaches you how to get back on your feet quickly.

How to do it:

  1. Kneel down on an exercise mat. Sit back onto your heels and swing your arms behind you.
  2. Drive your arms and your hips forward and quickly pull your legs under you, so you land in a wide, low squat position.
  3. Step back and into the kneeling position, and then repeat.
  4. Make this exercise harder by holding dumbbells in your hands.
5. Chinnies

This fast-paced abdominal exercise requires and develops coordination as well as muscular endurance. It works your hip flexors too, which is an important muscle for delivering powerful kicks.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on your back with your legs straight, arms by your sides.
  2. Sit up and, as you do so, bend one leg and pull your knee into your chest. Touch your elbow to your bent knee.
  3. Lay back down and then repeat on the opposite side.
6. Lateral jumps

MMA is a sport that requires multi-direction mobility and agility. In other words, you need to be able to move not just forward and backward, but side to side and diagonally too. This exercise will develop lateral agility while increasing lower body explosiveness and endurance.

How to do it:

  1. Stand sideways on to a shin to knee-high obstacle, such as an agility hurdle or a punchbag.
  2. Bend your knees and descend into a quarter-depth squat.
  3. Jump up and over your obstacle and, without pausing, jump straight back again.
  4. Minimize ground contact time by imagining the floor is hot. Do NOT pause between jumps!
7. Push-up/kick through

This combination exercise works virtually every muscle on the front of your body, from your shoulders to your quads and everything in between. It’s also a good move for mobility and agility.

How to do it:

  1. Adopt the standard push-up position with your arms and legs straight, core braced.
  2. Bend your arms and lower your chest to the floor. Extend your arms and push yourself back up.
  3. Next, shift your weight onto one hand, turn your upper body, and kick your leg under and through, so you are in a sort of side-sitting position with your weight on one hand and one foot only.
  4. Swing your leg back under and return to the push-up position.
  5. Lower your chest to the floor, extend your arms, and repeat on the opposite side.
8. Medicine ball slams

Medicine ball slams work your core and lats at the same time. Use a non-bounce medicine ball to make this exercise harder. Do not use a gel-filled ball as they are prone to splitting. There are special slam balls made specifically for this excellent exercise.

Patrick Dale Medicine Ball Slams
Patrick Dale

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a medicine ball in your hands. Lift the ball above your head and rise up onto your tiptoes.
  2. Putting your entire body behind the throw, hurl the ball down at the floor just in front of your feet.
  3. Gather the ball up as it rebounds, and raise it above your head for another rep.
9. Seesaw shoulder press

This exercise is all about the shoulders and triceps. The seesaw action also means your core and specifically your obliques get a good workout too. These are the muscles used during punching.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Raise your dumbbells to shoulder-height. Turn your wrists, so your palms are turned inward.
  2. Press one dumbbell up and overhead to arms’ length.
  3. Lower that weight and simultaneously push the other weight up.
  4. Increase core activation by leaning slightly to the side as you press each weight up.
  5. Keep pumping out the reps for the duration of your set.
10. Squat and roll

Also known as deck squats, this exercise combines everyone’s favorite leg exercise with a powerful sit-up/crunch. It’s a challenging exercise that builds muscular endurance, agility, and mobility, but it’s the last move in your circuit, so make sure you give it your all!

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Squat down as deep as you can and then smoothly roll onto your back.
  3. Keep rolling until your weight is on your upper back, and your hips are above your shoulders. Keep your knees pulled in and place your hands on the floor next to your head.
  4. Push off the floor and then, using your arms for momentum, roll back down and onto your feet.
  5. Stand up and repeat.
  6. Make this exercise harder by not pushing off the floor and using nothing but momentum to regain your feet.

Wrapping Up

You don’t have to be an MMA fighter to train like one. This MMA-inspired workout will help develop the sort of fitness you need to fight in the octagon, burning fat and building muscle in the process. It’s a challenging workout, so feel free to scale it down a little by doing fewer laps, using shorter work periods, or easier versions of the exercises. But, if you want to build an MMA body, work hard, and you’ll soon look like a fighter.

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