So you want to train like a professional MMA fighter? Be careful what you wish for, it’s not as easy as it seems. It’s no secret that professional MMA fighters are some of the most badass athletes in the world. This is a simple fact, many people don’t have the courage to step into an MMA gym let alone the UFC octagon to fight another human being.
It might come as no surprise that many professional MMA fighters possess a huge range of abilities outside of fighting, this includes having superior strength, power, and endurance. Even less of a surprise is that many UFC athletes were previously military members or D1 college athletes. Don’t worry if you don’t have the athleticism of a professional MMA fighter, it doesn’t mean you can’t train like one.
If you have dreams of becoming a professional MMA fighter or if you just want to train like an MMA badass, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll give you the steps to train as an MMA fighter and have you shredded and throwing round-house kicks in no time. Although you won’t become an MMA badass overnight, if you follow our step-by-step guide and remain consistent, anything is possible.
1. Choose Your Martial Art
If you want to train like a professional MMA fighter, you’re going to have to pick a martial art to learn. I know this may seem confusing at first, but MMA actually stands for “Mixed Martial Arts,” which is a combination of various martial arts. You can’t just expect to learn MMA overnight, it takes many professional fighters decades to master certain types of martial arts. However, a few months of consistent MMA training can do wonders for your body.
If you want to become an MMA fighter and you’re confused about which martial art you would like to train, we have a guide that outlines the best fighting styles for MMA. There is a huge difference between martial arts for combat purposes and martial arts for more of a traditional purpose. Although you may find inner peace doing kung-fu, that inner peace won’t be so useful when someone tries to fight in you in the street.
Although choosing your first martial art can be very stressful, I want you to know that your ideas and opinions will change so rapidly that you may initially start training Taekwondo and realize that you’re more suited for another martial art like Muay Thai.
I myself started training Muay Thai because I wanted a way to defend myself and get in great shape. Although I was very nervous for my first Muay Thai class, I eventually realized that Muay Thai was a tool that can allow me to achieve so much more in my life. I was much more confident after staying consistent with my training over time.
If you’re someone who is simply looking to just get in shape, then cardio kickboxing is a great way to accomplish that. If you’ve never trained cardio kickboxing then you’re in for a real treat. It’s much more exciting than the typical cycle or pilates workout and helps you burn much more calories. MMA can also be great for self-defense and confidence.
2. Join a Gym.. or Build One
Although this step isn’t completely necessary, joining an MMA gym will definitely enhance your training experience. Almost all professional fighters practically live in the gym because they usually work as MMA trainers on the side. Although MMA is usually more expensive than your typical weight-lifting gym membership, MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gyms are becoming relatively inexpensive because there are so many options, typically you can find an MMA gym for less than $100.
If no gyms in your area work with your schedule, or if you just don’t want to join an MMA gym, you could also create your own gym at home. I created my own MMA gym at home in my garage and it was the best thing I ever did. It’s great to be able to work out whenever I want without membership fees or time constraints.
It’s actually quite common for MMA fighters to train in “home gym” environments. This type of home workout is pretty common for MMA fighters because they travel so frequently and sometimes have to train outside of the typical gym setting. Most professional MMA fighters are traveling so much that they have to shadow box in their hotel room for hours on end or run on a treadmill to burn off those last few pounds before weigh-ins.
3. Start Slow
Don’t start hitting the heavy bag just yet, it’s best to ease into MMA training with simple endurance workouts. Start by jumping rope or doing some jumping jacks for 10 minutes before your workout. This will help loosen and warm up your muscles while preparing your body for the intense workout you’re about to put it through. Jumping rope is one of the most basic warmups that nearly all MMA fighters implement into their training routine.
I recommend jumping rope before and after every workout, this will help both warming up and cooling down. Also, jumping rope enhances footwork and hand-eye coordination. If you’ve ever been to a high school wrestling event then you’ve probably seen wrestling jump rope before they compete. This is because it warms your body up and allows your body to get into a comfortable rhythm.
It’s important to remember that professional MMA fighters such as Conor McGregor and Jon Jones didn’t get good overnight. These fighters have spent years training day and night in the gym. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t succeed at first, you’ll never learn without failure. “Defeat is the secret ingredient to success” – Conor McGregor
4. Shadow Boxing is Your Friend
The great thing about shadow boxing is that it’s something that can be done anywhere and anytime. I personally have found shadow boxing to be the most beneficial part of my warm-up because it allows me to be creative with my strikes. I recommend fighters to start shadow boxing for 5-minute intervals while gradually increasing the minute’s overtime. Although it might seem boring at first if you want to train like a professional MMA fighter you must involve shadow boxing into your workout.
If you want to enhance your shadowboxing use a mirror and see what happens when you change your technique. Not only is shadow boxing great for footwork and technique, but it’s also a killer cardio workout. I shadowbox every single day in the morning and before each and every MMA workout. Having the ability to stand in front of a mirror while throwing different combinations of punches, knees, kicks, and elbows, is a complete game-changer.
5. Don’t Forget The Heavy Bag!
Who are we kidding ourselves? Eventually, you’ll have to come face to face with the dreadful heavy bag. It’s really not as bad as it seems to be at first, in fact, the heavy bag is one of the most realistic forms of training. I have spent countless hours hitting my training bag at home and it has helped me enhance my overall endurance and technique.
I understand the heavy bag can be daunting, the first time I kicked a heavy bag my shin was swollen for weeks. If you decide to train Muay Thai or MMA, chances are you’ll have to condition your shins as well. This process can be painful at first, however, once you hit the bag a few hundred times it will get much easier. Eventually, you’ll kick the heavy bag so many times that you’ll kill off all of your nerves in your shins. I know this sounds barbaric, and it is, did we mention MMA fighters are badass?
All MMA fighters involve heavy bag training into their workout routine. Hitting a heavy bag is the most realistic type of training an MMA fighter can participate in. A heavy bag will allow a fighter to develop the striking range, power, speed, and even footwork. There are just too many benefits to ignore, to do a proper MMA training session you must implement the heavy bag in your workout. If you’re unsure of how to work out on a heavy bag, we have a special heavy bag workout guide just for you.
6. Finish With The Core
Although there is a lot more to core training than just your common sit-ups, many MMA and Muay Thai fighters are conditioned to do over 300 sit-ups every single day. This is usually done at the end of the training session when your body is already beaten up and bruised. Sit-ups are great for working your ab muscles, however, there is a lot more to your “core muscles” than just your abs.
The amount of power behind your kicks, punches, knees, and elbows, are all dependent on the strength of your core. This is why MMA fighters always workout their core muscle groups. There are so many core workouts out there that it would be impossible to name all of them. I recommend constantly switching up your workouts so that your body is always challenged. One day do sit-ups and the next day do box jumps, always adapt and keep your body sharp and conditioned.