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Rich Man's Gym: An MMA Inspired Workout - How to Get Into Fighting Shape

Updated on October 15, 2017

It's Time!

What does it take to go 5 rounds in the octagon? Every time I watch a UFC Title Fight or Main Event, I ask myself that same question. What does it take both mentally and physically to "go the distance" as Mike Goldberg says?

So, I started thinking...

If you want to survive 5 rounds in the octagon, yet have no intention of ever actually getting in there, you just know that, "hey, that dude is in shape and I want to be in that kind of shape too."

What would you do? How would you train? What do you need?

Well, off the top of my (non-fighter, arm-chair quarterback fitness buff) head, you need to be able to do a few things.

  • Generate large amounts of force quickly
  • Maintain high levels of tension on demand
  • Go from explosive, ballistic type movements to tight, strength, grinding type of movements
  • Have muscular endurance for days
  • Be able to manage fatigue
  • Tolerate large amounts of lactic acid running rampant through your body
  • Keep your head in the game and not give up

Just to name a few!

Is that even possible for the average guy or gal? I say yes!

Wait a second.... What's that you say? You only have a couple Kettlebells and your back yard? You don't own a heavy bag nor do you have access to an octagon. Well, guess what? Today is your lucky day! I've devised a UFC "inspired" Workout for members of Rich Man's gym and it's progressive, which means you can incorporate this into almost any fitness level.

This series will have you work up to 5 rounds, shed fat and tighten up the muscles while being able to workout any time, any place, anywhere.

Are you ready?



When you're watching UFC and they cut to the guy in the locker room before the fight, what's he doing? Warming up, loosening up, and preparing mentally. You need to do the same. A quality warm up should get your muscles and joints ready for work and clear your mind of any negativity you brought with you. You need to get your body ready and your head in the game.


Beginning: 3 rounds of 3 minutes on and 1 minute off

You need to train the body as a whole unit. No need for Preacher Curls and Triceps Extensions. This isn't Hans and Franz here, we're getting ready to go the distance. Before stepping into your virtual octagon, make sure you warm up.

Also, keep in mind, we want to do this as a conditioning routine. This is a way to get into fighting shape, but not prepare for a fight. This routine, may or may not be good for an MMA fighter, honestly, I don't know because I'm not one! What I do know is the following workout(s) are my answer to my own question, how do you develop the conditioning to go 25 minutes in the octagon?

1. Burpees 10 + 15 Jumping Jacks - 3 minutes

So in round one, you will get yourself huffing and puffing. It will be intense and invigorating. Do 10 Burpees immediately followed by 15 Jumping Jacks. Use the Jumping Jacks to actively recover from the Burpees. Follow? Once the jumping jacks are completed, you want to take another shot at 10 more Burpees. If, after a set of Jumping Jacks, you still haven't recovered enough for another round of Burpees, then do a little jogging in place and shadow boxing until you're ready for more Burpees. If this means, in the beginning, you only get one set of Burpees, so be it. Next time, you can drop the number of reps to 5 Burpees and then work up to the 10. MAIN THING THOUGH: Stay active and moving through the whole round, even if you're reduced to just pacing.

After the 3 minutes you get a one minute rest period. In this minute, evaluate that last round, catch your breath and prepare for round 2.

2. Turkish Get Up's - 3 minutes

OK, so while round one will help you with your explosive conditioning and ability to recover fast, in this round we're going to the ground, which is where a lot of MMA fighter's spend a good amount of time. The Turkish Get Up is an amazing drill for stability, learning to create tension in the body and building static strength. It was a staple drill in the Turkish wrestling world back in the day. This is a very old school drill that is having it's renaissance right now and for very good reason, it's an amazing, basic, fundamental movement pattern.

So do one on one side and then another one on the opposite side. Switch sides, keep moving for the whole 3 minutes and don't rush the movements. Think of this as Yoga with a Kettlebell.

After this round, you get another minute to recoup, regroup and re-energize for the final round.

3. Two Hand Kettlebell Swings 10 reps + 15 Jumping Jacks 3 - minutes

Now for the last round, instead of Burpees, you're going to do Kettlebell Swings. Two Handed, if you please. This conditioning drill will help you generate power from the ground up, practice body hardening, and get your ticker in shape!

Active recovery again with the Jumping Jacks.

Same concept with round three as with round one. Stay active and moving. It's ONLY three minutes! ;-)

NOTES & REMINDERS AT THIS POINT: #1. Use your head, not your ego when selecting the Kettlebells you are going to use for this workout. #2. Excellent form before volume please! Meaning, make sure the correct form, execution and function of the exercise takes center stage over how many reps can you knock out. Again, leave your ego in the car or the locker room, not on the mat. Savvy? #3. If you are not familiar with the how to's of the exercise, do not wing it, go see a trainer! PERIOD!

So stay at this level until you are 100% certain you're ready for the next level. You will know when the time is right! Ideally, you should be working through whole round and your conditioning will hit a place where you realize you own this. That's when you move on...


Intermediate: 3 rounds of 5 minutes on and 1 minute off

OK so for the Intermediate Level, we're adding time and volume. Can you cut the mustard? We're keeping the exercises the same but the rounds are now the full UFC length, which is 5 minutes and I want to challenge you to add volume too. That means we're taking the Burpees and Swings up to 15 reps and the Jumping Jacks go to 30. The Turkish Get Up round should have you adding 1 or 2 reps as well.

  • Burpees 15 + 30 Jumping Jacks - 5 minutes
  • Turkish Get Up's - 5 minutes
  • Two Handed Kettlebell Swings 15 reps + 30 Jumping Jacks - 5 minutes

Managing fatigue: As you progress through this workout, you will feel a new sense of fatigue. Stay active throughout the round and use the Jumping Jacks to actively recover from the Burpees and Swings. Think about a UFC round in a fight for a second, it's not balls to the wall the whole 5 minutes. When that happens the fighter gasses out way early. You have to find out how to push hard and manage your fatigue on the fly. That's the sign of a professional.


You Are What You Eat

NOTE: Keep in mind, a clean diet will always be the difference between a 6 pack and a kegger. You will always get out of it what you put into it!

Advanced: 5 rounds of 5 minutes on and 1 minute off

At the advanced level, we're looking at a main event or title shot. That means 5 rounds of work total. Two rounds will be Burpees and Jumping Jacks, Two Rounds will dish out the ground and pound of the Turkish Get Up and in the middle we'll punish you with Swings and Jumping Jacks. And we'll mix it up to keep your mind engaged. This will be a 30 minute session total.

  1. Burpees 15 + 30 Jumping Jacks - 5 minutes
  2. Turkish Get Ups - 5 minutes
  3. 2 Handed Swings 15 reps + Jumping Jacks 30 - 5 minutes
  4. Turkish Get Ups - 5 minutes
  5. Burpees 15 reps + Jumping Jacks 30 - 5 minutes

Will you have what it takes to go this distance? Or better yet, what will you do once you own this workout? My mind is already working up a torture session disguised as a workout that will take this routine to another level of intensity and yes... I do have a fever... and the only prescription... is more Kettlebell!

Let me know if you try this and what your results are. Ask questions below too and I will help you with what you need to get into fighting shape!


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