Professional MMA fighters are resilient, agile and expert when it comes to their craft. On top of that, they are in amazing shape.
So it is normal for people to wonder about how they can train like a fighter and even if you are not particularly a fan of this sport, you can reap the mental and physical benefits in a short amount of time.
Or you may be more serious about MMA training, want to learn how you can train like one and start your journey as soon as possible. Who knows? Maybe you will be the one who will make the top MMA pound-for-pound fighter rankings.
I would like to begin by saying this will be far from easy. It will take a great amount of time, and dedication, however, when you see the results, which are both physical and mental, it will be worth it. In addition to this, you will know how to throw basic punches or perform submissions and these definitely can help you have more confidence in real-life situations.
This easy-to-follow step by step effective action plan can help you get started your journey and fast-forward your progress!
How to Train Like an MMA Fighter
1. Firstly Get Fit!
Do you have an extra few pounds? Or can five years olds outrun you?
If you have not developed physical skills, you are simply not ready for rigorous MMA workouts. In order to perform well during intense MMA workouts you need to improve your physical skills, especially endurance so you can reach a condition that allows you to perform the advanced movements, and techniques effectively.
How do I get a body like a UFC fighter?
There are many things you can do to get fit. However, if you choose exercises that you will also do in your future MMA workouts, it can be more beneficial. Because you can develop muscle memory within a month! Thus, you will have an easier time during your future martial arts sessions.
For example, jumping rope, which improves footwork skills, and plyometric exercises, which can develop explosive power and strength, can be ideal. Because these can improve physical skills which can directly improve your performance in MMA training. Also by increasing the tendon strength, which is one of the benefits of plyometric exercises, you are less likely to injure yourself while exerting maximal force. And this happens repeatedly whether you are training or in a real match.
Also, cardiovascular endurance is vital for MMA fighters so they can compete at a high level during a match. This is the reason why UFC fighters seem like they always do intense cardio sessions including running, rowing, and jumping rope.
Also, doing high-intensity interval training improves physical performance in the ring during five-minute rounds as they need to react quickly for counterattacking the opponents, and evading attacks and these can be followed by low-intensity moves.
This is actually what you exactly do during high-intensity interval training and you can do certain exercises in your MMA workout routine as HIIT as well.
If you stick to a training plan which includes these exercises and different types of cardio you can achieve a body like a UFC fighter.
2. Pick a Martial Art or Two
Many MMA stars are experts in various martial arts styles. For example, Nate Diaz, who has the record for the highest pay-per-view rate at UFC 202, is an expert boxer and knows how to submit opponents with submission techniques.
Even though it takes a long time to master a martial art discipline you need to start from somewhere right?
If you want to learn about the best base for MMA, the pros, and cons of each discipline, check out this recent article on my site.
3. Pick a Gym
After choosing a fighting style, then it is time to get a gym membership. This is not a daunting task at all as martial arts gyms’ quality increases every single day. Because people tend to make more research so they hire more experienced instructors and coaches.
However, if you can’t find a legit one nearby or prefer training in your place, you can build a small martial arts gym in your own home. As a side note, there are many MMA workout routines that don’t require large spaces.
Also, exercise types like sit-ups and shadow boxing don’t require any equipment and these should definitely be in your routine for the following reasons.
For instance, training your core can help you improve balance. You can also throw more powerful kicks, punches and build your abs muscles which shows that you are badass!
Shadowboxing is a great training type for striking-based martial arts like kickboxing and Muay Thai. If you can practice it in front of the mirror, you can see how you throw kicks, elbows and make small adjustments to better your technique.
4. Get Familiar with Basic Training Types
Which martial arts style did you pick? Is it a grappling style like BJJ or is it a striking martial art style? After choosing one, start getting familiar with the basic training types.
If you chose boxing, get used to calming noise of the speed bag. If you prefer concentrating on jiu-jitsu techniques then you will be rolling on mats for an extended period of time with another enthusiast so you can practice scarf hold escapes over and over again.
In order to train like a UFC fighter, you need to master these basic training types by performing them countless times.
Learn the Basics of Other Martial Arts
When you learn a specific form of martial art and will become an expert at it eventually, it does not mean that you can become a great MMA fighter with expertise in only one martial art. It obviously helps however it is important to know the basics of other martial arts which are preferred styles for MMA.
Also, martial arts training types include way more than attacking. Thus don’t forget about defensive techniques such as takedown defense. Let’s say that you don’t know how to defend against takedowns. Even if you earned a black belt in karate, you would have a tough time while facing a seasoned wrestler in the UFC Octagon.
5. Choose Your Trainer Carefully
Learning these techniques and performing these in a proper gym environment with a good instructor is obviously ideal. The first goal of the instructors is to teach you basic techniques and improve your knowledge about martial arts however instructors can help you more than that.
A decent MMA instructor should also be able to tweak your technique, and movements while watching how you move so you can be a better MMA fighter.
For example, if you learn how to throw a cross on your own you may assume it is a simple boxing punch and it is not complicated at all. However, there are certain tweaks that can improve your boxing game. For example, if you lower your hips a little while throwing a cross you can punch harder effortlessly. Little tweaks like this can make a huge difference.
So, if you are a newbie in the gym, you can ask seasoned fighters about the coaches. Generally, they can tell you directly whether an instructor is legit or not. After all, they are also looking for improving their game so they probably followed many trainers’ advice in the gym. So you can trust their judgments.
6. Stay Consistent!
Over the years, I have noticed that many people do not remain consistent with their martial arts training regimen.
Whether you want to get in shape or become a martial arts expert, being consistent is the key. You can’t expect to learn advanced techniques like heel hook if you only practice them a couple of times. Serious fighters’ second home is the martial arts gym.
So going to a gym somewhat regularly and giving your all while training makes a real difference. Thanks to that, you can throw side-kicks and your foot can land straight which many beginners don’t seem to do it right no matter what.
This is not limited to technique. Consistency is also a huge factor for building muscle or getting ripped. Whether you do abs exercises or beginner heavy bag workouts, if you get a good rest and your nutrition is on point, you tend to go longer and harder the next time you train. Consequently, your muscles are challenged more and these will grow. These also increase the burned calories during a single session and you can get defined abs in no time!
Even if you know how to throw a spinning back kick and there is a great amount of power behind it you may not effectively land it on a target during a real match.
Even though you don’t exert maximum force, sparring still gives you the opportunity to practice the techniques in a real environment. Counter-attacks and timing of the strikes are simply vital for MMA fighters as the expertise of these helps them beat their opponents during fights regularly.
Also, no one is waiting to get punched during sparring and you can be sure that your opponent will try delivering as many strikes as possible. So you simply need to move fast and try landing your strikes on your opponents as quickly as possible and in the meantime, you need to avoid your partners’ attacks efficiently. Thus it is normal for a fighter to spend more calories than usual during a sparring session.
Shortly sparring can improve your mixed martial art techniques and get you shredded at the same time!
Even if you train at home, you can find a sparring partner online or maybe you know someone who practices that particular martial art. As long as you have a safe environment that minimizes the impact like protective mats and right gears, there is no reason not to spar at your own place.
8. Attend or Watch UFC Events
Seeing UFC stars like Jorge Masvidal in action can motivate you. They perfected their craft and try their best to move up in rankings as all of them are extra competitive. So when you get a ticket for a UFC event, you will have a chance to observe these fighters closely and see how they look for striking opportunities, evade strikes…
Even if you sparred, slow-sparred, these were not real fights in the cage. So, you can see little details and technique adjustments that fighters do during five-minute rounds and you can add these new skills to your arsenal.
Related Read: Perfect Gift Ideas for UFC Lovers
How to train like an MMA fighter at home?
Many people’s goal is to achieve a UFC fighter’s body at home. If this is the case you can build your own MMA gym at home and train there. Obviously going to a gym, which has various training equipment for optimizing your sessions, would be ideal.
However, a proper MMA home gym can be still enough, especially for getting lean. Obviously; eating enough protein and nutrition-dense foods is the way to go for achieving these desired results.
Also, you can incorporate many training types, which don’t involve any equipment, in your routine like bodyweight squats, core exercises, and push-ups.
What age is too late for MMA?
It depends on what you look for. If you want to have a successful MMA career, then preferably you should be young. After all, you can’t become an expert at any martial art style overnight. I would say that the cut-off should be thirty.
However, if you just want to train like a fighter and immerse yourself in martial arts, then any age can be acceptable. Also, keep in mind that other than physical benefits and learning a fighting style that can help you protect yourself in a real fight, martial arts also cultivate peace. If you fall in any of these categories, age does not tend to matter.
Let’s Wrap It Up
Training every single week regularly and learning a new martial art can be really tough for anyone but the benefits can’t be questioned. If you are talented enough and put in the hours, you can start competing in the Octagon one day and have a huge MMA fan base. Would not this be awesome?
If you follow the steps above, you can burn massive calories, get a body like your favorite UFC star, defend yourself in an extreme street fight and get a good grasp of martial arts which can develop mental attributes like mental toughness.
Also Read: Ufc Scoring System