Strength and Conditioning Workouts for MMA and BJJ

By Tony | Expert Boxing

The two most important things for amateur and professional fighters, when talking about their fitness level, are strength and conditioning. All types of combat sports’ athletes, especially MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu), need to build super strength and excellent conditioning to improve their fighting skills and stamina in the ring.

For that, they must incorporate essential workouts into their daily routine. You will find all the information you need right here.

But before the workouts can be discussed, you must first learn about how frequently you should be performing these exercises.

How Often

While keeping your fighting practice into consideration, you should decide on how many days you should give to your strength and conditioning workouts.

MMA and BJJ athletes have to perform these workouts at least 2 times in a week and at most 4 times in a week. Any less and you will not see any fruitful results. You will take time out of your practice and training for this and it won’t be doing you any good.

Any more and it might hinder your practice. You don’t want to exhaust your muscles before you go to practice your sport.There is also the factor of competition to be considered when deciding on the frequency of exercises.

If you have a fight coming up, you should keep the workouts to a minimum. Why? Because you have a finite amount of energy. If you spend most of the week strength training and conditioning, you will not have the energy for the fight you are preparing for.

So the ideal amount would be 2 times a week. This will give you adequate strength training time, while you are preparing for a fight.

If you do more that amount, you will have less energy for practice and come fight day, you will be too exhausted. As a fighter, you will know better than anyone how difficult it is to knock down an opponent when your hits lack power.

However, if you are in the off season and there are no upcoming fights in sight, you should do the maximum amount of strength and conditioning exercises. The ideal amount would be 4 times a week.

This will be the time to build up your strength and stamina for when the fighting season starts. This will also help you decrease the frequency of the workout because you already will have put in the work in the off season and there will be no need for extra sessions before the fight.


Workouts

You have a very limited time for these workouts, so you have to make the most it by choosing exercises that have the best results. The exercises you should include must involve multiple muscle groups.

They should also be a combination of bodyweight and free weight exercises. Squats, pullups, presses, etc. should be the types of exercises that you should be focusing on.

Zero in on two aspects; first is building strength and the second is power. Another way to look at it is that you want to be able to produce more force, which will be done by strength training.

The force should also be produced in a shorter amount of time, which will be done with proper conditioning and power exercises. So, go buy a punching bag and start throwing punches at it.

It is very important that you select exercises that can help you with at least one of these aspects.


Exercises for Power

The first thing that you do is warm up properly, it is proven to help you avoid injuries. After properly warming up and stretching, you should move towards your power exercises.

The reason for doing them before strength training is that when your muscles are fresh you get the most benefit from these exercises. Also, these exercises do not cause fatigue because you don’t have to do a lot of reps for them. Your nervous system gets a boost from these exercises and this gives you extra energy for later workouts.

There are two main categories of exercises that you should add in this workout. First are Olympic lifts and second is Jumps and throws.

Olympic lifts are difficult to master and should only be attempted with a proper guidance from a coach. You need to be flexible and position yourself properly to avoid injuries.

These will give you the biggest benefits so attempt the most grueling exercises in the category. Exercises included in this category are power snatch, clean pull, jerk & snatch, etc. Depending on your coach you can also add variations into these exercises to raise the intensity level.

Jumps and throws are pretty straight forward. You will be doing some jump training, which develops your core and throwing weighted items with your coach, most probably a medicine ball. You don’t have to weigh yourself down too much.

Remember that you are going for explosive movement, a.k.a. quickness, and when the weight is high it defeats the goal of the exercise. You will struggle to create that explosiveness when it is hard for you to take a step.

Same is the case with the medicine ball, the weight of the ball should be just right. You have to be fast and generate power when throwing it, which is difficult to do when the ball is too heavy.

Exercises in this category are vertical jumps, Squat jumps, medicine ball throws, medicine ball throw and jump, etc.


Exercises for Strength

Powerlifting is the mantra in strength exercises. You will be doing a lot of squats with a barbell, bench press, and deadlifts. Some variations of pullups and rows are also advantageous.

Your aim will be to train with heavy weights and barbell exercises allow you to train with the heaviest weights. You have to keep the movements of your arms and legs united to build your core strength. Unilateral movements defeat the purpose so don’t include lunges and other exercises into the regimen.

The primary exercises for strength training include front squats, deadlifts, bench press, military press, pullups, etc. 6-11 reps of the exercise and 2-3 sets should do the trick. Your muscles will feel the strain of these exercises so keep that in mind.

There are also some secondary exercises that should be included in this routine. You especially need to make time for these if you have gaps in your routine. They can cover up any weaknesses in your primary workouts program. Lunges, dumbbell presses, and weighted cardio exercises can be included in this.


Increasing Grip Strength

Grip strength is of utmost important for MMA and BJJ fighters. When you are working on your ground game for MMA, you require a strong grip.

Most of the grip strength training happens with the deadlifts and presses you perform throughout your workout.

But if it is a weak area for you, you should include sets of wrist roller, dumbbell holds, etc.

You need to make the best of your time so only add 2 sets of these and not more but before that go grab some leather boxing gloves and start getting comfortable.


Rest Intervals

When you begin your workout, your rest periods should be longer as compared to when you are deep in your workout. This is also why power exercises are done in the beginning.

Power exercises require more rest so your muscles can recover properly before you start the next exercises. And some high-intensity strength exercises also require complete rest before continuing.

Low-intensity exercises can be blended into supersets. This will help you cram as many exercises as you possibly can into your routine.

Do keep in mind that you shouldn’t drain yourself completely in this workout. Saving energy for the sport is should be your concern. The idea is to build stamina and challenging your body, but you shouldn’t be over extending yourself.


Workout Program

You can create a customized program with the help of the exercise categories mentioned above. Speak with your coach on which exercise suits you best. You can also do just one type of exercises if you need to focus on just one area.

An example of a workout program can be as follows:

  • Dumbbell Squat jump – 4 or 5 reps
  • Back Squats – 4 or 5 reps
  • Medicine ball sit-ups – 3 sets
  • Dumbbell row – 4 sets each
  • Dumbbell bench press – 4 sets
  • Barbell Deadlifts – 3 sets
  • Pullups – 30 reps

These traditional exercises should be enough to give you a complete strength and conditioning workout for all types of combat sports. You don’t need any extraordinary exercise, like running on an underwater treadmill, to build force and quickness in producing power.

Stick to your guns and you will increase strength and improve your conditioning with the help of your customized workout plan.

Always keep in mind that you need to utilize the right technique and keep yourself away from injuries while you are working out. Have your coach with you to monitor your heart rate and give your advice. MMA and BJJ fighters go hit the gym and see the results of your hard work when you face your opponents.


Guest Post- by Nicla Anderson

Nicola Anderson is a 25 year old sports journalist based in UK. She loves watching MMA and boxing and reviews boxing gloves as well. When she is not writing for various websites and blogs on sports, fitness and nutrition. She is a metal head and works out to tracks by OzzyOsbourne, Pantera, AC/DC and Slayer.​


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