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How to Set Up an MMA Training Routine

written by: Angela Atkinson • edited by: KJ Fitness,Ink • updated: 6/27/2011

MMA, or mixed martial arts, is a sport that is quickly gaining momentum in the United States through venues like the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Here, learn what it takes to train for these events.

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    MMA stands for “mixed martial arts,” and contrary to what it seems, it doesn’t simply mean learning or using more than one form of martial arts.

    In fact, MMA is considered a combat sport. While highly controversial, the sport remains popular among men especially. Perhaps the best known MMA competition is the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

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    MMA Basics

    Since MMA allows for full body contact and the use of typically prohibited techniques like grappling and striking, competitors must be physically strong and well trained, as well as able to tolerate a significant amount of pain during competition. And, unlike other martial arts competitions, MMA allows both standing and ground fighting.

    The original intention of the creators of MMA was to figure out which form of martial arts would be most effective in a real (and unarmed) fight, so there were very few rules.

    Although MMA rules have increased over the years in order to promote safety, they’re still relatively lax in comparison to those of other forms of martial arts.

    The term “mixed martial arts” was coined by a former Olympic gold medalist, Jeff Blatnick.

    Americans got their first taste of MMA in 1993 when the UFC gained momentum in the United States.

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    MMA Training Tips

    Effective MMA training involves a number of components, including strength and skill training and aerobic, heart-rate boosting exercises.

    Lifting Weights

    Instead of traditional weight lifting, which encourages you to develop your one rep max and to lift as much as possible in fewer reps, use more reps and lighter weights. This will help you to develop leaner muscles, which are more effective for the type of fighting used in MMA competitions.


    Many people hear cardio and automatically think “running”, but for MMA athletes, running can only be part of the cardio routine. Alternate distance with sprints for the most effective running program, and consider wearing light (3-5 pound) ankle weights to up the intensity during your sprints and shorter runs.

    Plyometrics, a type of exercise that helps an athlete develop quicker and more precise movements, is another important component in MMA training. It’s highly effective, especially when combined with a strength training program.

    Wrestling and Martial Arts

    Practicing various forms of martial arts is an essential component to MMA training. Doing so can help to increase your discipline and mind body connection to make you a more effective MMA fighter. Plus, using wrestling workouts will help you to improve your floor fighting skills, among other things.

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    Bottom Line

    According to UFC expert Derek Manuel, it’s all about balancing your strength training with your endurance and speed training.

    “Increase your relative strength, and then increase your strength endurance. Then increase your power, and then increase your power endurance,” he says. “Continue to cycle through this and you will be right on track to develop mma specific strength.”

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    More Info

    Check this link for more information on MMA workout routines.