Mixed Martial Arts Training – Train Like A Fighter

Every person who trains seriously will have his own philosophy and take on training. While they may be inclined to try different styles, they will typically always come back to the one they believe in.

Schools of Thought

I believe that weight lifting is a lot like religion; in the sense that while all of us believe in one God (with the exception of non-believers), and the notion of being virtuous in our actions by doing good, how we go about that route depends on what religion we abide to.

For example, a Christian can be born into a protestant or orthodox family; ultimately believing that his/her denomination is the right path. A Muslim will believe his sect is the right path and so on.

This applies to training in the sense that some people will believe that ‘Total Body Training’ is far superior than ‘Bodybuilding Split Training’ or ‘Olympic style training’ is better than ‘Cross-fit style’ of training.

In most cases, all will reap results when devoted to 100%. Depending on the ultimate goal and context, some will be better than others.

Now before this article turns into a religion course, lets get to the point. Today’s article revolves around training for Fighters, more specifically; Mixed Martial Arts fighters.


Going into a fight, fighters need to be in prime shape. In addition to the technical skill, they must possess the right balance between strength, speed, power, endurance, flexibility and mental toughness.

The days of overweight, out of shape brawlers are over. Todays’ fighters are technically conditioned machines. A fighter needs to be at peak performance for a fight, otherwise his chances are greatly compromised.


He/she may possess the strength, but if he is slow and cardiovascularly out of shape his/her performance will be compromised and might miss that winning punch.

Having said that, fighters need to train with consideration of all the above traits. Training like a bodybuilder might give him an aesthetic physique that will have no carryover into a fight. And while Olympic lifts may give him the strength base, it does little in the ring.

You don’t necessarily need to be a fighter to train like one. I don’t see a reason why someone wouldn’t. You would be strong, fast, muscle-packed and flexible. All in all, it takes the best of all training styles out there.

The one thing with training this way is that its tough. Very few will actually stick to a fighters program. It’s not your typical workout and involves a lot of exercises that you probably never heard of. Nonetheless, follow it and you’ll be more agile than ever with the added functional strength. Not to mention, ripped as hell.


This is Week 1 of an 8 week Program. For those of you who aren’t into martial arts (or competitive fight sports) might have to look some of these exercises up.

Week 1

Day 1 Upper Body

Warm Up-up (15 min)

Crawls ( 2 sets x 10 meters )

–       Tiger Crawl

Hands and feet in a push-up position. Move opposite arm and leg forward keeping your body low and repeat on other side

–       Gorilla Crawl

Knuckles and feet on the ground with the hips up in the air. Switch hips out to the point farthest from the body. Switch hands and repeat

–       Frog Hop

Begin in a bottom squat position with the hands on the ground. Leap out with your hands touching the ground first and bring your legs in to return to the start position

–       Crab Walk

Begin with buttocks on the ground and hands and feet touching the ground. Move one foot backwards with the same side hand moving back. Move the other foot and hand back and repeat

–       Spider Crawl

Begin the in the original tiger position. As you crawl forward, lower the ear and body towards the ground with every crawl. Reset to original position and repeat

–       Side Crawl

Start in a push-up position with feet wide apart. Cross the right arm over the left and bring the feet together. Bring the left arm back out and feet wide again and repeat

Medicine Ball Drills

Pick an appropriate weight to allow you to complete 1 set of 15 reps (10 on each side for bi-lateral exercises) in an explosive fashion.

–       Standing Side Pass – 10 x each side

Stand facing the wall with the ball at hip level. Throw the ball at the wall as if throwing water out of a bucket. Catch the ball on return twisting the body and repeat on other side

–       Standing Backward twist throw – 10  x each side

Same as the standing side pass only here you will be giving your back to the wall and twisting around to throw the ball)

–       Standing Chest Pass

Hold the ball at chest level facing the wall. Extend the elbows to throw the ball until catching it and return to original position

–       Overhead Kneeling Pass

Hold the ball overhead while facing the wall. Throw the ball in a soccer throw in motion. Receive the ball overhead and stretch the arms back

–       Straight kneeling Side Pass

Same kneeling position as the previous drill with the motion of the standing side pass

–       Perpendicular Kneeling Side Pass

Kneel perpendicular to the wall and throw the ball in a cross body fashion

–       One arm Rotator Cuff Dribble

Stand close to the ball with arm in 90 degree flexion. Dribble the ball against the wall as fast as possible. Dribble for 10 seconds progressing to 15 seconds

–       Kneeling backward wrap around throw

Refer to standing wraparound throw but perform in a kneeling position

Upper Body Work Sets 


–       Warm up : Lying Neck Extension and Flexion x 20 Reps ( lie on your back on a bench with your head off the bench. Hang the head as low as possible and slowly bring the neck in by bringing you chin into your chest)

–       Front Neck Bridge: 3 x 20 Sec

Begin by lying face down on a mat with hands behind the back. Bring the hips up as high as possible placing the body’s weight on your forehead

–       Back Neck Bridge: 3 x 20 Sec

Begin on the back with the legs bent at 90 Degrees with palms on the stomach. Lift the body up and bring it back placing the weight on the back of the head


–       Close-grip Bench Press 4 x 8 Reps


–       Chin-ups 4 x 8 Reps

Arm & Hand

–       Plate Pinch Pick-up: 5 x 20 Sec Hold

Place fingers around a weight-plate. Pinch and lift the plate. Hold for the required time and return

–       Plate Pinch Drill: 5 x 20 sec

Place 2 plates of the same size and weight perpendicular to the floor. Pinch hard and lift the plates. Hold for the required time and return

Core Training

–       Medicine Ball Toe Touch: 3 x 10 Reps

Begin by lying on the ground with the med ball on you chest and toes in the air. Lift the ball by extending the arms and touching your toes. Back to start and repeat

–       Medicine Ball Triangle Crunch: 3 x 8 Reps

Begin by lying on the ground  holding the med ball on the chest and one leg crossed over the knee. Keep the other leg straight but OFF the ground. Bring the straight leg knee up towards your chest and crunch your upper body forward

–       Medicine Ball Explosive Sit-up: 3 x 10 Reps

Begin with the back on the ground and knees bent with the med ball overhead with arms extended. Bring the med ball to your chest and explode up pressing the ball towards the ceiling and return

Flexibility Training

In Stretching, the period is based on inhalations. Practice 5 long inhalations to form one repetition.  Perform one set of each.

–       Shoulder Stretch

–       Lat & triceps Stretch

–       Partner Pectorial Stretch

–       Partner Shoulder Stretch

–       Neck Stretch

–       Forearm Stretch

–       Bicep Stretch

–       Abdominal Stretch

–       Lower Back Twist

–       Shoulder rotation


DAY 2  – Cardio Training

Warrior Warm Up*

Stationary Warm ups (2 x 10)

–       Prisoner Squats

–       Jumping Jacks

–       Seal Jumps

–       Highland Fling

–       Pogo Jump

–       Front Lunge

–       Side Lunge

–       Wide outs

–       Gate Swing

–       Forward Skip

Movement Warm ups (2 x 20)

–       Side Shuffle

–       High Knee Carioca

–       Walking High Kick

–       Front Lunge Walk

–       Side Lunge Walk

Muscle activation (1 x 8)

–       Double Leg Bridge

–       Single Leg Bridge

–       Straight leg Raise

–        Outside Leg Raise

–       Inside Leg Raise

–       Inside Sweep

–       Alternating Arm/Leg Raise

–       Superman

–       Fire Hydrant

–       Fire Hydrant Forward Circle

–       Fire Hydrant Backward Circle

–       Fire Hydrant Straight Side Leg Raise

–       Back Leg Raise

–       Prone Knee Raise

–       Scorpion

–       Iron Cross

–       Rollovers to inside Hurdler Seat

Ladder (Heart & Lung Training)

Perform the next drill in succession with each exercise performed twice. Rest for 2 minutes after the first set and repeat a second time

–       Slalom Hop

–       In and Out Foot Hop

–       Muhammed Ali

–       Hip Twist

–       Muay Thai Kick Defense

–       One Foot In, Running forward

–       Two feet in, side jumps

–       One Foot Bunny Hop

Hurricane Training

Set the treadmill at 9 mph and 10% incline grade for 8 sets x 15 seconds. Rest after each set to allow heart rate to return to base line.


–       Groin Stretch

–       V Sit

–       Hurdler Stretch

–       Side Hurdler Stretch

–       Knee to chest Stretch

–       Lying Hamstring Stretch

–       Quad Stretch

–       Hip Stretch

–       Hip Flexor Stretch

–       Standing Calf Stretch

–       Standing Hamstring Stretch

–       Lying Gluteal Stretch

–       Shoulder Stretch




DAY 4 – Hurricane

* Repeat  (DAY 2) Warrior Warm up drills

Heart & Lung Training

Overhead Sand Bag Throws: 3 x 8 Reps each side


Set treadmill at 10 mph and 10% incline. 9 x 15 sec with adequate rest in between sets to allow heart rate to return to normal.


* Repeat (DAY 2) Flexibility Exercises


DAY 5 – Lower Body

Warm Up

Stationary Warm ups (3 x 10)

–       Prisoner Squats

–       Jumping Jacks

–       Seal Jumps

–       Highland Fling

–       Pogo Jump

–       Front Lunge

–       Side Lunge

–       Wide outs

–       Gate Swing

–       Forward Skip

Lower Body Work Sets 


–       Groin Plate Slide: 3 x 15 Reps each leg

Start by standing with the inside of the foot placed against the side of a weight plate on the ground. Slide the plate across the body while maintaining balance and rigidity in the body. Repeat for 10 meters and alternate feet

–       Side Lunge (bands around ankle): 3 x 10 meters

Begin in a mid squat position with shoulder blades retracted. Step out to the side with the right foot, leading with the heel. Bring the left back in a controlled pace while keeping the foot off the ground.

Glutes and Quads

–       Trap Bar Deadlift / Dumbell Deadlift 4 x 8 Reps


–       One-Leg Stiff-Legged Deadlift 2 x 5 Reps each leg


–       Calf Raises  2 x 10 Reps

Core Training

–       Prone Abdominal Plank 3 x 20 Sec Holds

–       Side Stability Plan 3 x 20 Sec

–       Medicine Ball Figure 8 Drill 3 x 8 reps each leg

Flexibility Training

–       Groin Stretch

–       V Sit

–       Hurdler Stretch

–       Side Hurdler Stretch

–       Knee to chest Stretch

–       Lying Hamstring Stretch

–       Quad Stretch

–       Hip Stretch

–       Hip Flexor Stretch

–       Standing Calf Stretch

–       Standing Hamstring Stretch

–       Lying Gluteal Stretch

–       Shoulder Stretch


DAY 6 & 7 – OFF


As you can all see, This is not your typical strength / hypertrophy training. This is just week one of training. i.e the easiest part of the program. Fighters go through rigorous training routines and attention to detail is not sparred.  The next weeks have added progression with additional exercises added in.

This is not an easy program to follow, however it trains muscles you never knew you had 🙂 You will be sore in unimaginable places !

Good luck!


5 thoughts on “Mixed Martial Arts Training – Train Like A Fighter

    • Thanx John !! Glad ur liking the content. If there’s anything particular Ud like to read about, do let me know and I’d be happy to write about. Always try to cater to what people want to know. Do check out the Facebook page and group for a lot more content which I’m sure ull enjoy. Thanks again!!!

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