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Bodyweight Training for MMA

Bodyweight Training for MMA

Bodyweight training and incorportating bodyweight training into your MMA workout routine is a perfect compliment to a MMA fighters already rigourous training schedule. The difference in bodyweight training
is that you focus more on using your own body-“weight” compared to using weights or machines. Some obvious exercises are pushups, situps, dips, pullups, etc.

Personally, I think Bodyweight training should be incorporated into your workout routine, instead of replacing it. There are many routines out there that are pure bodyweight exercises, and those work. But
MMA fighters need a little “something” else that increases their overall strength. These exercises may include kettlebell exercises, heavy squats and deadlifts, grip strength exercises, explosive pressing
and snatching, sandbag exercises, etc.

Why Bodyweight Weight Train for MMA

Bodyweight training and incorportating bodyweight training into your MMA workout routine is a perfect compliment to a MMA fighters already rigourous training schedule. The difference in bodyweight training
is that you focus more on using your own body-“weight” compared to using weights or machines. Some obvious exercises are pushups, situps, dips, pullups, etc.

Personally, I think Bodyweight training should be incorporated into your workout routine, instead of replacing it. There are many routines out there that are pure bodyweight exercises, and those work. But
MMA fighters need a little “something” else that increases their overall strength. These exercises may include kettlebell exercises, heavy squats and deadlifts, grip strength exercises, explosive pressing
and snatching, sandbag exercises, etc.

Bodyweight PushupsMy Bodyweight Training Background and Intro

Right now as I write this, I am in the middle of training for a MMA fight in April 2009. I currently weigh 245lbs and need to weigh 205lbs for April. I have been a DIEHARD advocate for very heavy lifting,
focusing on 1-2 reps for strength. My specialities were heavy deadlifts and push-presses. These two exercises along with supporting exercises were the cornerstone of my routines. As I started to prepare
for my fight, I knew that I couldn’t lift like that anymore. For one reason, my fight is 3x 5 minute rounds. Focusing on 1-2 reps with a long rest period was just focusing on explosion, I needed to be able
to “last” during my fight. So I would need to increase my reps GREATLY, along with shorten my rest period. I decided to start focusing on bodyweight exercises.

TRX Suspension Trainer…? WTF is that?

Enter the TRX Suspension Trainer. One of my students was training to be a personal trainer, as well as getting a certification in this “TRX Suspension Traininer” system. I had never heard of it or what it
did. He brought it in once during class. It’s basically very heavy duty “straps” with padded handles that is then hung either over a door or wherever. When he first brought it in, being the gym-rat I was,
I was EXTREMELY skeptical. Basically thinking “You’re telling me that these freaking ropes are going to give me a workout… YA RIGHT”. Well I ended up trying it, and was actually shocked. It was much
much harder then I expected and I felt extremely uncomfortable doing it. My whole body felt “out of synch” – which is a good thing! Just when doing simple chest presses or rows, I needed to stabilize my
whole body, just to complete the exercises. The strength I felt that it would give me would be more of a functional / overall strength.

After doing some more research, I found that “Athletes such as Brandon Vera, Roger Huerta, George St-Pierre and Bas Rutten utilize the TRX® Suspension Trainer™ to builds core strength, improves balance and flexibility, increases endurance and adds power to your techniques, and some other top name fighters and athletes where using this system”.
I was quite surprised. I went to the website, watched all the
videos, read the articles and got really, really into. Added it to my cart, and just couldn’t hit to “Buy” button.. I KNEW it was worth it, just wasn’t ready to go the bodyweight route. I was still a gym
rat and wanted to lift heavy weights.

Time to train for a MMA fight!

Fast Forward 6 months – I take my fight. I need to cut down on the heavy weights and focus on bodyweight, functional strength. I bought the TRX and it was DEFINITELY worth the investment. The first night
I used it, I again was shocked. But to be honest, I was VERY bad on it. My pushups and presses were horrible and I felt so weak! And this comes from a guy who can deadlift around 600lbs, push-press around
250lb and used to (before shoulder surgery) bench over 320lbs! Now I was struggling with 15 presses! Needless to say, I was impressed, and have been continuing to work on this system. My goal for April is
basically to just feel “bodyweight strong”. I want a strong core, strong presses, strong pulls, etc., with excellent control. I am feeling better everytime I get on it and I am rapidly improving.

Enough with the intro, here are some routines for MMA fighters preparing for fights, or to incorpotate during your training. The workouts are done in a circuit, with VERY minimal rest. The rest should be
changing stations, putting on gloves, etc. If you need to catch your breath in the beginning, do it, but push yourself and go!

Suggested Equipment:

TRX Suspension Trainer
Sandbag (make yourself or buy)
Dumbell or Kettlebell
100lb Heavybag

Suggested Bodyweight Workouts:

These “sessions” or groupings of exercises that work well together. You’ll notice some are a combination of exercises and striking, while others are just exercises. They should be completed without rest.
Each session should take about 5-10 minutes. For a new trainer, I would do 2 sessions, for a more advanced athlete, do 3-5 sessions or groupings. You can repeat grouping as long as they are not completed
back to back. You would do grouping 1, 2, then grouping 1 again.

Bodyweight Workout Sessions

TRX Pushing and Heavybag Circuit – Repeat 3x

  • TRX Pushs (Pushups, Atomic Pushups or incline pushups): x15
  • Heavy Bag (hard Punches): x50 Jabs
    TRX Pushs: x15
  • Heavy Bag (hard Punches): x40 Jab Cross
  • TRX Pushs: x15
  • Heavy Bag (hard Punches): x30 Jab Cross Hook
  • TRX Pushs: x15
  • Heavy Bag (hard Punches): x30 Jab Cross Hook Cross
Fitness Anywhere: Make your body your machine.
Roger Huerta Training
(shown as an example)

Sandbag Grapplers Circuit – Repeat 3x

  • x5 Getups
  • x5 Clean and Presses
  • x5 Military Presses
  • x5 Shoulder Squats
  • x5 Lounges Each Leg
  • x5 Torso Rotations
  • x5 Zercher Good Morning
  • x5 Pullthroughs or Swings
  • x5 Front Squats
Grapplers Sandbag Workout
(from Diesel Crew

TRX Pulling and Heavybag Circuit – Repeat 3x

  • TRX Rows or Pullup Rows x15
  • Heavy Bag – Ground and Pound: 1 minute
  • TRX Rows or Pullup Rows x15
  • Heavy Bag – Ground and Pound: 1 minute
  • TRX Rows or Pullup Rows x15
  • Heavy Bag – Ground and Pound: 1 minute
  • TRX Rows or Pullup Rows x15
  • Heavy Bag – Ground and Pound: 1 minute
Fitness Anywhere: Make your body your machine.
Brandon Vera Training
(shown as an example)

Sandbag and Heavybag Circuit – Repeat 3x

  • SandBag or Dumbbell or Kettlebell Clean and Press x15
  • Heavy Bag: Left Body Hook for power x30
  • Clean and Press x15
  • Heavy Bag: Right Body Hook for power x30
  • Clean and Press x15
  • Heavy Bag: Left / Right Body Hook for power x40
Ross Boxing Power Punching
(shown as an example)

TRX UpperBody Circuit – Repeat 3x

  • x15 TRX Pushes
  • x15 TRX Pulls / Rows
  • x15 TRX Squat to Y-Shoulder Extension
  • x15 TRX Dips or Tricep Extensions
  • x15 TRX Curls
  • x15 TRX Power Pull
Fitness Anywhere Video
MMA Fighters using TRX To Train


Fitness Anywhere Video

Fitness Anywhere Video

TRX Lowerbody Circuit – Repeat 3x
x15 TRX Single Leg Squat
x15 TRX Sprinter Starts or Knees
x15 TRX Hamstring Curls
x15 TRX Balance Lunge
x15 TRX Suspended Scorpion Each Leg
x20 Heavy Bag Low Kicks Each Leg
TRX Single Leg Lunge

Overall and Grip Strength Circuit – Repeat 3x

  • 10x each hand – Towel Kettlebell or Dumbbell Swings
  • 15x Sandbag Clean and Press
  • 15x Sandbag or Barbell Sprawl to Power Curl
  • 10x Rolling Thunder or Thick Handle DeadLifts (requires extra equipment)
  • 10x Explosive Pullups or Towel Pullups
Barbell Sprawl and Power Curl

Extra Exercises
Sledge Hammer Tire Strikes – use in place of heavy bags hitting
Dips – use in place of any pressing movement
TRX Suspension Workouts