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MMA Weight Training For Strength, Power and Speed

Article by Eric Wong, BSc, CSCS, Pictured Inside the Octagon Below:

MMA Weight Training Program by Coach Eric Wong

Effective weight training for MMA helped Claude get a submission victory in his UFC debut.


One of the biggest myths is that “fighters don’t need to lift weights”.

Having been backstage with my fighters at UFC events and talking to both other athletes and coaches, I can tell you that I haven’t met one that doesn’t lift weights.

The guys who repeat this myth usually either have never trained MMA in their lives, or they just train MMA for fun, not professionally.

The reality is that any serious mixed martial arts fighter who has trained or fought against a strong opponent knows the value of weight training for MMA.

But weight training has come a long way since bodybuilding first introduced us to squats, bench presses, and body part splits.

Old school weight training ad

Now, lifting weights is required to achieve an elite level in almost every sport, mixed martial arts being no exception.

But because weight training methods evolved from bodybuilding, many mixed-martial artists are still performing ineffective routines instead of specific MMA weight training workouts.

The goals of bodybuilding and weight training for MMA are very different – bodybuilding’s focus is on size, while MMA weight training is mainly focused on development of strength, power, and efficient neuromuscular co-ordination, without gaining excessive mass.

While a bodybuilder can get away with training 4, 5, or even 6 days a week, these workouts don’t work for a fighter as most can only dedicate 2-3 days per week to strength AND conditioning work.

This includes weight lifting and various means to develop cardio (which we’ll talk about later).

Now the biggest key that I’d like to share with you, that will take your training to the next level, is that bodybuilding routines are focused on muscles, while MMA weight training is focused on movements.

Think about this for a second…



While a bodybuilder has different exercises and workouts planned for each body part, ie. chest, back, biceps, quads, etc, a fighter must focus on the major movement patterns that develop sport-specific functional fitness, not just big “mirror” muscles.

The 6 Major MMA Weight Training Movement Patterns Are:

  1. Push
  2. Pull
  3. Squat
  4. Bend
  5. Twist
  6. Lunge

And because a fighter can only train 2-3 days per week, each workout must be based on this movement pattern system so that the entire body can be worked every week.

However, the beauty is that you don’t need have to do exercise for each movement pattern in every workout to still work the full body.

For example, you could perform a Reverse lunge on Day 1, which works the entire lower body mainly focusing on the glutes, while on Day 2 you do the Squat, which mainly focuses on the quads.

Now even though you’re working the the lower body in both Day 1 and Day 2, the emphasis is on different muscle groups and different movement patterns, which allows you to work the lower body twice a week without overtraining and leaving gas in the tank for your MMA training.

Even within the Push movement pattern, you could do a horizontal push on Day 1 (Bench press) and a vertical push on Day 2 (Overhead press).

This way, you’d work all of the push muscles each day, but with a different emphasis, decreasing the chance of overtraining and injury.

In the Ultimate MMA Strength and Conditioning Program, all of the workouts are designed based on movement patterns specifically for mixed martial arts, so that you never overtrain and gain sport specific strength, power and endurance.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

Because MMA is such a dynamic sport, you need to include many different components for a truly complete strength and conditioning program.

So here’s more info for you on what an effective MMA weight training workout includes.

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