In a sport as relentlessly demanding as MMA, any competitive fighter needs to have a huge base of raw strength and conditioning to endure five rounds of no-holds-barred punishment and come out on top.

“Muscular endurance exercises are necessary for people who make repetitive muscle movements for any period of time,” says Jenn Ventriglia, an MMA fighter and trainer at UFC Gym in Huntington Station, New York. “With any mixed martial art, there's an array of primary muscles and motions that you rely on constantly—like chest muscles and pushing motions, or back muscles and pulling motions. By keeping the intensity high and the weight limit moderate, you can train the athlete to continuously use these muscles and motions for a period of time, as you would during a fight.”

That’s where this workout program comes in.

Designed by Ventriglia, it combines a series of compound exercises, isolation exercises, and metabolic training that will not only build all-around strength but also condition your muscles to endure repeated, intense movement. The goal, Ventriglia says, is to be quick and agile with your bodyweight. That’s the bottom line for any MMA fighter—whether you’re striking, grappling, or simply moving around the cage.

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HOW IT WORKS

Ventriglia’s workout routine is split into three days. Each day has three components: a dynamic warmup, a muscular endurance series, and a conditioning circuit.

Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to rest and recover between these workout days, and to adequately fuel up, hydrate, and refuel before and after the workouts.

DAY I

THE DYNAMIC WARMUP

Start with a fast-paced exercise, like jumping rope for 3 minutes, to get your blood flowing and your heart pumping. From there, do the dynamic exercises prescribed below to mobilize key joints and muscles. 

Good-mornings, shoulder presses, and shoulder dislocates with PVC pipe or stretch band. For shoulder dislocates: Hold the band/pipe in front of you in a very wide overhand grip. Slowly bring the band/pipe over your head and behind your back so it touches your hips, and then return it to the starting position.

You can also do a warmup set of light deadlifts before you start your work sets.

THE MUSCULAR ENDURANCE SERIES

The muscular endurance section is four exercise groupings consisting of three primary lifts, each followed by a quick set of pushups and situps.

Do each work set at 70% of your maximum for that given number of reps—so if you can capably do 10 deadlifts at 150 lbs, do these sets at about 105, etc. Athletes who are just starting out should do 5 pushups and 10 situps; experienced athletes can do 10 pushups and 15 situps if they're up for a real challenge.

Rest 30 seconds between exercises. Rest 1 minute between supersets.

Remember: This is a lot of volume, and the focus is on muscular endurance, so it’s smart to start light, and then add weight as you get more accustomed to the workload.


Grouping 1
Deadlift: 10 reps + pushups + situps
Shoulder Press: 8 reps + pushups + situps
Bent-Over Row: 8 reps + pushups + situps

Grouping 2
Deadlift: 8 reps + pushups + situps
Shoulder Press: 6 reps + pushups + situps
Bent-Over Row: 6 reps + pushups + situps

Grouping 3
Deadlift: 6 reps + pushups + situps
Shoulder Press: 4 reps + pushups + situps
Bent-Over Row: 4 reps + pushups + situps

Grouping 4
Deadlift: 4 reps + pushups + situps

THE CONDITIONING CIRCUIT

Do each exercise in the circuit for 60 seconds, then rest 10 seconds before going on to the next exercise. Do it 4–5 times total, resting 1 minute between sets.

“These are designed to build explosive cardio and strength conditioning through fundamental exercises, mainly with plyometrics, some with a moderate weight,” Ventriglia says.

This should take you about 24-30 minutes, so be sure to pace yourself!

1. Battle Ropes
2. Kettlebell Swings (use a weight that’s somewhere between comfortable and challenging)
3. Thrusters (use a weight that’s somewhere between comfortable and challenging)
4. Wall Ball squats
5. Box Jumps

Related: The Ultimate MMA Cardio Workout >>>

DAY II
Follow the same protocol for each workout segment described in DAY I, but use the following exercises instead. 

THE DYNAMIC WARMUP

Jump rope for three minutes. Then do arm circles, ring rows or inverted rows. You can also do a warmup set of light bench presses before you start your work sets.

THE MUSCULAR ENDURANCE SERIES

Note: After bench press sets, you can do the situps before the pushups.

Grouping 1
Bench Press: 10 reps + pushups + situps
Biceps Curls: 8 reps + pushups + situps
Seated Rows: 8 reps + pushups + situps

Grouping 2
Bench Press: 8 reps + pushups + situps
Biceps Curls: 6 reps + pushups + situps
Seated Rows: 6 reps + pushups + situps

Grouping 3
Bench Press: 6 reps + pushups + situps
Biceps Curls: 4 reps + pushups + situps
Seated Rows: 4 reps + pushups + situps

Grouping 4
Bench Press: 4 reps + pushups + situps

THE CONDITIONING CIRCUIT

1. Jump Rope
2. Squats (heel rest recommended)
3. Bear Pushups, aka Hindu Pushups
(Start in pushup position with feet wide apart. Bend your knees and shift your body weight over your toes. Then spring forward, bringing your chest close to the floor with your hips held high. Press your chest up, extend your arms fully, so your hips are almost touching the floor and your chest is held high.)
4. V-Ups
5. Wall Sit

Related: Build the Upper Body of an MMA Champ >>>

 

DAY III

Follow the same protocol for each workout segment described in DAY I, but use the following exercises instead. 

THE DYNAMIC WARMUP

Jump rope for three minutes then do air squats, bar hang (activate lats), 30 sec. plank. You can also do a warmup set of light squats before you start your work sets.

THE MUSCULAR ENDURANCE SERIES

Grouping 1
Squats: 10 reps + pushups + situps
Triceps Pulldowns: 8 reps + pushups + situps
Pullups: 8 reps + pushups + situps

Grouping 2
Squats: 8 reps + pushups + situps
Triceps Pulldowns: 6 reps + pushups + situps
Pullups: 6 reps + pushups + situps

Grouping 3
Squats: 6 reps + pushups + situps
Triceps Pulldowns: 4 reps + pushups + situps
Pullups: 4 reps + pushups + situps

Grouping 4
Squats: 4 reps + pushups + situps

THE CONDITIONING CIRCUIT

1. Jumping Jacks
2. Jumping Lunges (alternate legs)
3. Mountain Climbers
4. Plank Position to Pushup Position
5. Situps

Related: 6 Full-Body UFC Workouts for Strength, Endurance, and Fat Loss >>>