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MMA Cardio

It seems everyone is talking about MMA these days, slightly fewer people are wearing all the gear (but have no idea), less again are actually practising and a few are genuinely training and competing.

This for the competitors.

The rest of you can read if you want to.

Since the birth of MMA in the 90’s and it’s seemingly unstoppable rise to global domination, more and more people are jumping on the band wagon. At first it was martial arts instructors suddenly billing themselves as MMA coaches. Thankfully most of those have been recognised for what they are. But now the fitness industry is doing the same thing, every second article on the web shows some hair brained workout that is “specific” to MMA.

Lets get some thing straight from the off.

Random training is not good training. It’s fine for “general” fitness which will suit the “general” population. For an athlete it sucks.

Most athletes don’t have people trying to punch their lights out or break their arm as they participate in their chosen sport. So a dodgy strength & conditioning program may see them through as long as it doesn’t cause them injury. But a fighter is different. As technically blessed as they may be, if they gas or run out of strength before the other guy, if they are carrying a training related injury when they step onto the mat. Then they are going to get hurt, and it’s you the coach that is responsible for this.

Perhaps coaches should have a record, same way a fighter does. “In the blue corner is John with a record of 5 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss…” Imagine if that continued with, “…..his Strength & Conditioning coach is Dave, his athletes have a record of 5 wins, 2 draws and 32 losses”

Wouldn’t that tell you something?

But anyhow, thats just my rant about the current trend. Just because you have done a few Jitz classes or have a Karate black belt doesn’t make you and MMA coach. Being able to swing a kettlebell or make pretty waves in a rope, doesn’t make you an MMA Conditioning coach.

Case in point:


Imagine stepping into the ring thinking your hot shit after your coach had put you through all that? Your opponent would be laughing his way to the after party!

But anyway, back to the title of this post before I go off on a complete rant…

MMA Cardio. It’s vital! But what are the best cardio methods for an MMA fighter?

Simple answer, there isn’t one.


That’s right there isn’t ONE, there are many. And the right one is the one that is right for your particular fighter at that particular stage in his career.

I’ve a fighter who’s requirements were Speed, Explosive Power and Cardio. He was already as strong as an ox, he just wasn’t used to being fast and he often gassed. So for cardio I utilised this knowledge and built him a solid workout based on explosive power and core strength with short but intense finishers for his cardio. He loved the workouts but lived in fear of the finishers. This video is an example of one such finisher. It’s two exercises, the Battling Rope which is fast and requires constant power output interspersed with Farmers Walks, ideal for core strength and endurance under load. Think about this, you’re in the ring, you are locked into a clinch or grapple and both are struggling to negate each other, both looking for the opportunity to explode out. During this time you are under heavy load but not moving much (farmers walk), then an opportunity is presented and you have to burst into a flurry of activity (battling ropes). Of course these aren’t your only exercise options, these are just the two that best covered this athletes particular needs.

Here’s what it looked like: [youtube]

We did 5 rounds of this, as soon as the farmers implements are lifted the ropes start and they don’t stop until the implements hit the ground again, immediately swap over, minimal rest. Each week the drill should take less and less time.

Have fun.


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