I’ve been asked a lot about how training for MMA is different from other sports. In MMA, there are multiple disciplines to be learned and then you must integrate and synchronize those disciplines into one. MMA training has evolved and become very specialized. There are certain routines that I do to develop strength and a certain degree of muscle mass (not too much muscle as being too muscular can lead to fatigue and a harder weight cut), but the rest of my training is more sport specific. If you want to get better at your sport, then you have to train to improve in the movements your sport requires. My sport requires strength, explosiveness, speed, agility, endurance, timing, balance and flexibility. These attributes have to be honed into striking, grappling, and clinchwork. These same attributes are required for other sports, but have to be honed in a different way. For example, if you want to learn how to punch effectively, here is a sample beginners routine:
Monday: In the mirror, nice and easy, throw left jab 100x’s, then right cross 100x’s, left hook 100x’s, right hook 100x’s, left uppercut 100x’s, right uppercut 100x’s. Always pay attention to good form (if you practice with bad habits, you punch with bad habits!) 20 minutes jumping rope. This is good for endurance and staying light on your feet. Then back to the mirror doing 2-3 minute rounds throwing punching combinations, again nice and easy with good form. Try and shuffle your feet moving in and out and side to side. Try not to cross your feet. A good rule of thumb is the lead foot always leads. That is to say if you’re moving to your left, your left is the lead, if you’re moving to your rear, your rear foot is the lead.
Tuesday: Heavy bag workout (DO NOT DO THIS WITH BARE HANDS!) Wrap hands and use bag gloves or boxing gloves. Left jab 1 min. Right cross 1 min. Left hook 1 min. Right hook 1 min. Left uppercut 1 min. Right uppercut 1 min. Sit down on your punches and throw as hard as you can. Next, start mixing in combinations like a 1-2 combo (left jab- right cross) or 3-6 (left hook-right uppercut) etc… Remember, circle around the bag imagining you’re going against a live opponent. Then 20 minutes jumping rope, then another round on the heavy bag.
Wednesday: Focus mitts drills utilizing combos, head movement, distance and timing. 20 minutes jumping rope. Medicine ball throws against the wall.
Thursday: Circuit training- warm up: jumping rope 20 minutes. Then shadowboxing 1-5 minute round, then heavy bag single hard punches 1-5 minute round, heavy bag combos 1-5 minute round, focus mitts 1-5 minute round.
Friday: weight training- (overall body routine)
warm ups: pull and press on the flat bench 1 set x 10 reps.
Incline dumbbells 1 set x 5-8 reps to positive and negative failure.
Palm up pulldowns 1 set x 8-10 reps to positive and negative failure.
Seated cable rows 1 set 6-8 reps to positive and negative failure.
Leg extension (warm up) 1 set 15 reps
Bent over stiff legged rows (warm up) 1 set 12-15 reps.
Leg press 1 set x 12-15 reps to positive and negative failure.
Dumbbell lateral raises 10-12 reps to positive and negative failure.
Straight bar curls 1 set x 6-8 reps to positive and negative failure.
Skull crushers 1 set x 6-8 reps to positive and negative failure. (Really a good idea to have a spotter on this one!)
Take the weekend off relax and recover.
What I’m trying to show you is a brief example of training for a specific skill set. What you can see in the above example is how during the week you train your body to move and behave a certain way, instilling new habits and reactions using drills that mimic the movements of boxing. But one day out of the week is dedicated to resistance weight training to build strength and lean muscle mass. Overtraining causes too much of a recovery deficit which would require longer rest periods. The bottom line is you are building neural pathways that give you the ability to perform more efficiently and effectively while adding more lean muscle, thus becoming stronger and more powerful.