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‘How Do I Train Like an MMA Fighter?’ — Ask Coach Rick Scarpulla

How to train like an MMA fighter

Every MMA fighter is in sick shape! Is it possible to train and be as strong as an MMA fighter and skip the part where I’ve got to get my brain’s punched in by another guy? — Dave, 23, Iowa

I work with many MMA fighters and grapplers and the one thing I’ve found is that the more absolute strength they have, the easier it is for them to win. We have a few guys with quickness, and some with better technique, but the consistent trait is that they are all strong. We train them with weights three days a week in addition to the sport specific fight skills they work on.

An example of a typical week would look like one heavy lower day — where we squat and/ or deadlift for the purpose of gaining absolute strength. We like to lift heavy weight for lower reps on that day. We usually go for a PR and push the body and mental limits. We find the need for using heavy weight on this day very important. We also focus on hamstring and hip work. We do not use a speed lower type day when working with fight athletes because with all the MMA work it can lead to overtraining. They do a lot of leg drills and kicks in the sport specific training so we stay away from a speed day. We also do plenty of core work.

With upper body, we do a heavy day using the same format as mentioned, above but on the second day we add a lighter weight speed style day focusing on moving lighter weight quickly. Both days are barbell oriented as we like them better then dumbbells.

We also use a lot of sledge hammer drills and a lot of back work using ropes and chains as well as some strongman carries and lots. They all encourage a strong grip which is very important.

Stick to this routine and you should be in MMA shape in no time.

Rick Scarpulla, the creator of The Ultimate Athlete Training Program, is a highly sought-after and renowned strength, speed and conditioning coach who works in developing top high school, college and professional athletes and programs throughout North America. You can follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

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