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MMA Workout Routine - Lesson #2

Updated on September 17, 2012

A Brief Intro

With my last MMA Workout Routine hub, I spoke about the importance of developing a routine that included compound exercises over isolated exercises. I also touched base on the frequency and intensity of the workouts. Although just the tip of the iceberg, it was enough to get the blood pumping and the endorphins flowing.

With so much left to discuss in the world of MMA fitness, I am going to direct your focus on sets, repetitions, and tempo of resistance. This should help formulate the missing elements of your MMA Workout Routine and get in you in your best octagon shape.

It is almost obvious that a good MMA Workout Routine includes a full body workout drain. By using various compound exercises, looping them together into a circuit, doing them four to five times in succession, and maintaining a high heart rate zone shows that this workout is not intended for the weak. Being crazy and adventurous enough to even try such a feat, those who complete the workouts know exactly why I refer to it as a full body drain. Not only does it target every major muscle group in the human body, it will also leave athletes physically drained.

Building fighters 1 set at a time

An athlete, looking to get into prime fighting shape, needs to dial in their intended workout sets at 25-30 sets per workout. This might sound like a lot of sets, but if done right, it should only take the athlete an hour’s time to complete. If you followed my MMA Workout Routine – Lesson #1, you will realize workout sets are laid out in a series of compound exercise circuits and the intensity should always be high. This means the circuits should follow an order with minimum to zero rest in between sets. This leaves the athlete with a lot of work time and little rest time. In reality, 25-30 sets per hour is not bad when the duration of the exercise session is one hour. Broken down, this could be five compound exercises looped into a circuit and completed five times in succession.

If you are having a hard time reaching the 25-30 sets per hour, do not become discouraged. Everyone is at different levels of fitness, do not kill yourself trying to make the cut-off time of one hour. What is most important is completing the sets within your personal heart rate zone and intensity level. If you are struggling, complete the workout first and then try to improve your time. If you are following a strict workout routine, that has you weight training at least three times per week, your time will improve eventually.

Rep it out!

The amount of repetitions a person performs, during their workout, does a whole lot in determining the final product. Because MMA is intense, a lot of people make the mistake of training with heavy weight and low reps. Whereas it is good to have strength and power on your side, most mixed martial art federations have five minute rounds. Someone can have all the strength in the world but if they cannot last two minutes in the octagon with someone, it is going to be a long night.

When it comes to MMA Workout Routine training, it is important for athletes to keep a good blend of strength and endurance on the forefront of their training. By going with a 10-15 rep count, fighters will gain hypertrophy and strength, as well as continue to improve on their muscular and cardio endurance.

It is important to realize the 10-15 repetition count is a range. Weights may need to be adjusted accordingly, throughout the workout, to maintain this rep range depending on how fatigued fighter athletes become throughout the course of the workout. If athletes cannot make the 10 rep count, lower the weight by ten pounds for the next set.

If someone is unsure of their one rep maximum for a particular exercise, try to estimate 75% of what they think it should be. Next, they should have someone spot them while they attempt to perform 15 reps. If the athlete cannot obtain at least 10 reps, the weight is too heavy. They will need to knock down the weight by 10 pounds and start again. Remember, it is more important for fighters to push heavy weight for at least 10 reps then to push heavy weight for 4-6 reps.

Tempo control

When it comes to weight training, a factor that often gets over looked is tempo. This is mostly because the average person does not think about how fast they are performing reps; rather they are more interested in reaching their intended reps and completing their set. When it comes to designing a solid MMA Workout Routine, no stones should be left unturned. Nor should fighters ignore the benefits that a pre-calculated workout tempo will provide them.

For those that have overlooked this key concept, tempo is simply the speed in which the operator is moving during the exercises. Because weight training involves three different elements, tempo is usually written in a three element format. An example would be 3-0-2.

The first number represents the eccentric movement of the exercise. Think of this as the lowering of the weight and the muscle stretching. Using the above example, if someone was following the intended tempo count, the lowering of the weight would take roughly three seconds.

The second number is what is called the isometric portion of the exercise. This is simply the point of the exercise in which there is no movement taking place, thus coining the term isolated. The isometric portion of the exercise is when the muscle is fully stretched and held at a full weight bearing point. Think of it as the moment between when the weight is being lowered and the weight is being lifted. If following the above example, the isometric would be zero rest in the time between lowering the weight to engaging the weight.

Finally, the third number represents the contraction phase of the exercise. This is the phase that we are all familiar with. This is when the weight is being lifted and the muscles are being contracted. The reason that this is the most well-known phase of the tempo is because this is where a person provides the most exertion and can feel the stress of the weight interacting on the muscles the most. If following the above example, the contraction phase of the exercise would be approximately two seconds.

So what type of tempo is best for fighters? I like the 3-0-1 tempo. So broken down this would mean a three second eccentric count, a zero isometric count, and a one second concentric count. This tempo is good for fighters because the three second eccentric trains the muscles on the stretching aspect. Not only does this help prevent injury, it will focus an ample amount of time on the stretching portion which most people ignore or overlook. Building strength in an area that most overlook will provide an advantage over opponents.

The one second concentric count will build muscle size and explosive strength. The benefits of having explosive strength in mixed martial arts are self-explanatory. After all, almost everything fighters do is explosive: take downs, kicks, punches, knees, clenching, reversals, and elbows to name a few.


Last thoughts

Do not forget to add these three aspects to your current MMA Workout Routine. Having the correct amount of sets, proper repetition count, and tempo speed can make drastic differences in how you feel in the octagon. I am hoping it eliminates a lot of the guesswork in creating your current MMA Workout Routine and gives people plenty of benefits. Continue to train, eat healthy, and work hard to be the best!

If you have just read this article and haven't read my first lesson on this subject, find it here:


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