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Weight Training for MMA

author image Keith Suthammanont
Keith Suthammanont has been writing a fitness blog since 2006. In addition to his fitness blog, he has been published by Mind and Muscle. A personal trainer in the New York City area, Suthammanont is also studying at Brooklyn College, majoring in Exercise Science and intends to pursue a career as a Physical Therapist.
Weight Training for MMA
Weight training will help improve an MMA athlete's performance.

Mixed Martial Arts combines stand-up striking sports, such as muay Thai and boxing, with grappling and submissions from martial arts like Jiu Jitsu or wrestling. For a Mixed Martial Arts athlete, weight training plays an important role in success. Concentrate on increased power and endurance and injury prevention in your weight training and select the proper exercises to reach these goals.

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Your sport requires the entire body to act in sync with speed and power. Olympic weightlifting and compound exercises meet these goals because as you perform the exercises, you are are using multiple muscle groups at the same time. For example, the squat doesn't just activate your leg muscles. Your core and back muscles are work to provide stability and balance. A 2005 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research ishowed that Olympic weightlifting improved the performance of athletes.


Execute lifts to help prevent common injuries in MMA. Weight train muscles in your arms and legs and the muscles of the neck, which are often forgotten and subsequently injured. Neck bridges and neck extensions using a head harness help strengthen neck muscles.

Expert Insight

Alwyn Cosgrove, author of "Secrets of Martial Arts Conditioning," doesn't train his MMA athletes like he would train someone looking to lose weight or run further. Instead of doing 15 to 20 reps of a particular exercise for three sets followed by the next exercise, the California-based strength and conditioning coach uses complexes--one exercise after another with no rest until the set of exercises if complete--with lower reps to achieve muscular endurance for MMA.


Choose a weight that is challenging but will allow you to perform whatever lift you are doing with proper technique. Use a low rep-high set scheme, such as six reps and four sets, while lifting at a high intensity to achieve the desired goals.

Time Frame

Since you cannot train for all of your goals at the same time, and your body adapts quickly to your training, follow a schedule of changing your goal ever three to four weeks. By periodizing your training, you are scheduling it so that you control your body's adaptations to achieve the best results. Periodization of your training produces better results than a nonperiodized program, according to ACE Fitness.

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