Best Strength Exercises for MMA Fighters

Best Strength Exercises for MMA Fighters

 MMA is a lethal full-contact combat sport that brings together fighters from different backgrounds on one platform. That’s the reason it is known as one of the most dangerous forms of martial arts.

Professional MMA fighters are some of the toughest athletes on the planet. To face them and survive in the cage fighters must possess a strong body combined with immense strength and speed.

If someone is obsessed with mixed martial arts and wishes to step inside the cage then they must train for it.

Even if you are a beginner and don’t want to be a professional MMA fighter, you can build strength and become leaner through MMA training. So, let’s have a look at the best strength exercises for MMA Fighters. 

Best Mixed Martial Arts Workouts

What Do MMA Fighters Want from Their Workout?

As an MMA fighter, your goal is not to build those massive arms with veins popping out or a wide chest.

In a nutshell, developing an aesthetic body is never a goal of any fighter. They automatically build a ripped physique due to the intense nature of their workouts.

For every fighter, building a peak overall physical condition is the ultimate goal. They want to build speed, agility, balance, power, and muscular strength. So, they perform exercises that help in achieving these goals effectively.

There are many different exercise regimens that are performed by MMA fighters such as metabolic conditioning workouts, weight training, resistance training, training for aerobic endurance as well as cardiovascular conditioning.

Here we will be discussing some of the most efficient exercises that help in building strength. But first, let’s learn some tips to increase the effectiveness of your exercises.

Exercise Tips For MMA Fighters

Practice Discipline While Training

One of the most important factors while training for MMA is the ability to control your emotions, desires as well as reactions.

If you think that repeatedly kicking and punching a heavy bag for some weeks will help you to survive inside the cage then you are wrong.

Talking about discipline, we mean that you should plan an exercise schedule and diet before starting any workout routine. Afterward, you must stick to it no matter the circumstances.

You must enroll in a good martial art gym so the instructors can learn some basic fighting techniques much easier. Respecting your instructor and following their instructions is also a part of discipline.

While training for MMA, you can easily be carried away with emotions. Don’t let anger and frustration impede your training, you must think clearly while fighting so keep a cool mind.

If you are planning to do MMA workouts at home then click here for a comprehensive list of workouts you can try.

Focus On Increasing Your Endurance

Possessing higher levels of endurance means that you have the ability to work harder for longer periods without getting extremely tired or dizzy.

At the beginning of a fight, you and your opponent have the same energy levels. But what marks the victory is how efficiently he sustains energy through each round.

To maintain the same power throughout all rounds, you need to increase your endurance through power endurance training.

To gradually increase your endurance, reduce your rest time between sets when you are training. Another great option to increase endurance is by adapting to circuit training.

Build Explosiveness

In all kinds of martial arts, the capability to be explosive and powerful goes side by side with success. The ability to be a more explosive fighter allows you to overpower your opponent from the beginning of a fight till the end.

Developing explosive muscles allows you to rapidly change directions and move around your opponent to find a dominant striking side. In addition, it also improves your punching power.

Incorporating plyometrics in your workout is an easy and effective way for increasing explosiveness. Some of the best plyometric exercises include:

  • Box jumps
  • Jumping squats
  • Clapping pushups
  • Single-arm side throws

Performing Compound Movements

Compound movements are those exercises that engage a majority of muscle groups in your body at once.

Through compound movements, you can easily intensity your workouts as you will be using a majority of muscle groups for lifting. Doing high-intensity exercises helps in gaining strength and lean muscle in less time.

Being a fighter, the size of your bicep and the shape of your shoulders isn’t going to matter so you don’t have to work on isolating exercises to individually target the small muscles in your body.

Take Care of Your Diet and Recovery

A healthy diet and effective recovery are equally important as training if not more. Many fighters sacrifice their years of training and fighting skills because they don’t focus on recovery.

MMA is a very intense martial art, after every training session your body needs enough time to repair those torn muscle fibers and maintain mobility of joints. 

To learn about healthy diet plans for all athletes, make sure to check out our diet section.

There are various researches that prove the importance of 8 hours of sleep at night and how it works to maximize your body’s recovery time.

As an MMA fighter, you should plan and work for recovery just as hard as you train and fight.

Make Meditation Your Routine

For every MMA fighter, training the mind is equally important as training their body. Sports meditation techniques can help fighters to relax their mind and body to effectively focus on performance.

In combat sports like mixed martial arts, you have to learn new techniques over time to continuously improve your fighting skills. Meditation helps to think clearly and learn new skills easily.

In the words of former UFC champion Rich Franklin; “Training for a fight is about 90% physical and 10% mental but when you step the octagon it becomes about 90% mental and 10% physical because all of the physical preparation is done.”

Training Plan for MMA Fighters

Strength Training for MMA Fighters

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Strength Training

Plyometric Training

Core Strength

Active Rest

Heavy bag Workout

Martial Arts Practice


Bench Press


Hanging Knee Raises

Light Jog



Weighted Squats

Box Jumps

Russian Twists

Leisure Walk



Plyo Clapping Pushups








Repeated Rounds

So now, let’s dive into the best exercises and workout plans for MMA fighters. We have made a six days workout plan; you can perform alternate exercises throughout the week.

The Best Self Defense Martial Art Style For You

Day 1: Strength Training Fundamentals

This workout phase helps in strengthening the overall muscles and joints in your body so you can develop toughness.

These are some exercises that you will perform for building full-body strength.

1.      Bench Press

  • Lie with your back on the bench.
  • Grip the barbell rod a little wider than your shoulder width.
  • Slightly arch your back.
  • Lift the barbell and push it upwards.
  • Lower it and bring it close to your nipple area.
  • Press the barbell back up.
  • Repeat this movement.

Sets: 4

Reps: 12RM- 10RM- 8RM- 6RM (Increase weight on each set)

2.      Weighted Squats

  • Stand a little wider than your hip-width
  • Hold the barbell behind your head
  • Stick your butt out and lower your body by bending your knees
  • Lower your body till your hips are parallel to the floor.
  • Now, lift back using force from your legs.

Sets: 3

Reps: 10RM- 8RM- 6RM (Increase weight on each set)

3.      Deadlifts

  • Stand a little wider than your hip-width in front of the barbell rod.
  • Bend your knees to grab the rod.
  • Grip the rod with your hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Lift your chest and stick out your butt.
  • Lift the barbell by extending your legs, your spine will be in its natural curve.
  • Lift till you stand tall, roll back your shoulders once you are standing straight.

Sets: 3

Reps: 8RM- 6RM- 4RM (Increase weight on each set)

4.      Pullups

  • Jump and grip the bar with your hand shoulder-width apart, palms will be facing away.
  • Engage your core and back muscles and pull your body up until your chin is above the bar.
  • Slowly lower yourself.

Sets: 4

Reps: 10RM- 10 RM- 10 RM- 10 RM

Day 2: Plyometric Training

Plyometrics are beneficial for developing explosiveness and developing fast reflex actions.


  • Run at your top speed using maximum force from start to endpoint.
  • Walk back to the starting position, sprint again to reach the endpoint.

Sets: 10

Time For Each Set: 30 - 45 sec.

Box Jumps

  • Stand in front of a plyometric box shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend your legs into a quarter squat.
  • Jump off the ground and land on the box as softly as possible.
  • Get down from the box without jumping.
  • Repeat the movement.

Sets: 10

Time For Each Set: 30 - 45 sec.

Plyo Clapping Pushup

  • Start by getting in the normal pushup position.
  • Lower your body until the chest is about to touch the ground.
  • Now push your body up, do it with your maximum force.
  • Clap your hands together when pushing up.
  • Land on the ground softly.

Sets: 7-8

Reps: 10RM- 10 RM- 10 RM- 10 RM


  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Lower yourself into a deep squat position, and place your hands on the ground.
  • Extend your legs backward and get into a pushup position.
  • Lower your chest until it’s about to touch the ground.
  • Now, jump and return to the standing position.

Sets: 7-8

Reps: 15RM- 15RM- 20RM- 20RM

Day 3: Core Strengthening

A strong core is crucial for MMA fighters. The core muscles protect your abdominal organs, as well as stabilize the spine, pelvis, neck, and shoulders.

Core muscles act as a gateway for the power generated by your body, so a strong core provides the speed, power, and endurance needed during a fight.

Some of the best core strengthening exercises that you can try are as follow:

  • Hanging knee raises
  • Russian twists
  • Plank
  • Bicycle crunches
  • Side plank
  • L-sit
  • Wall plank
  • Flutter kicks

Day 4: Active Rest

Active rest is also known as active recovery, this is the time where you perform some low-intensity workout than your routine.

Pushing yourself too hard can end up an injury that will eventually impede your performance and growth, to stop this active rest comes in handy.

Some light exercises that you can perform when on active rest are:

  • Light jogging
  • Swimming
  • Yoga
  • Stretching exercises
  • Leisurely walking

Day 5: Heavy Bag Workout

Day 5: Heavy Bag Workout

A heavy bag is your best training partner in MMA. Doing a heavy bag workout is the best way to improve your power, fighting techniques, footwork, and punches combinations.

You can practice all types of MMA fighting skills during a heavy bag workout. Most people think that it’s only efficient for boxing but, you can practice all kinds of striking martial arts on a punching bag.

How To Plan a Heavy Bag Workout For MMA?

Practicing Punching Combinations

Every Boxer has his favorite punch combinations, practicing them on a heavy bag while focusing on footwork.

Some of the basic punches combinations that you can try are:

  • Jab- Right cross (1-2)
  • Jab- Cross- Left hook (1-2-3)
  • Jab- Jab- Cross (1-1-2)
  • Jab- Cross- Left uppercut- Cross (1-2-5-2)

Practicing Kickboxing Drills

Muay Thai or kickboxing has great importance in MMA as they are lethal combat sports.

There is a wide range of Muay Thai drills that you can practice on a heavy bag. Some of them are as follow:

3 Repeated Rounds

  1. Jab- Right cross- Left kick
  2. Right cross- Double left hook- left kick
  3. Left kick- Right Cross- Right kick- Left cross

The Roundhouse Kicks Drill

  • Throw 50 roundhouse kicks in the lower, middle, and upper regions of the heavy bag.
  • Repeat the same drill with the other leg.

Boost Your Power

Repeat all exercises 10 times

  • Straight Jab
  • Roundhouse kicks
  • Right body kick
  • Right cross
  • Left hook
  • Left body kick

For More Kickboxing workouts

Day 6: Practicing Martial Arts Techniques (MMA Shadowboxing)

Learning new martial arts techniques and continuously perfecting the ones you already practice is crucial for MMA fighters.

Shadowboxing allows you to visualize what it’s like to be in the octagon and fight your opponent. It’s one of the best ways to build muscle memory to improve your reflexes.

It can help you to improve your body movements, balance, and overall conditioning. Shadowboxing is also beneficial for increasing your punching speed and the efficiency of your kicks.

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