The top five exercises MMA fighters use to gain strength and stamina 3 years ago

The top five exercises MMA fighters use to gain strength and stamina

Conditioning for combat sport is absolutely gruelling, with MMA fighters having to build a firm foundation of power, strength and stamina

Strength training plans for MMA are usually meticulous in their detail. In order to grapple with the best and come out on top, only the most proven exercises will feature.


JOE spoke to Fight City Gym, London-based specialists in combining combat disciplines with dedicated strength and conditioning training. Their classes include boxing, MMA, Muay Thai, kickboxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and judo.

These are the top five gym exercises MMA fighters use to gain strength and build stamina:

1. Sprawl & Shoot


"This is a very important exercise for developing functional speed and cardio for wrestling. They are two of the most important and fundamental grappling techniques."

This video helps elaborate:

Credit: Effective Martial Arts

2. Deadlifts

"The deadlift helps to develop core and back strength. This is hugely essential for having strong throws and takedowns."

The trap-bar deadlift is particularly effective as the handle placement reduces lower back strain.

  • Stand with feet roughly hip width apart and toes slightly turned out
  • Break into the hips first and sit back, keeping your spine in the same posture as it was standing (neutral). Go down until your hands meet the bar
  • Inhale though your nose and brace hard
  • Keeping your back straight, lift to the top and pause before lowering back to the floor. Rest and repeat

3. Barbell Squat

"Key for developing strong leg muscles such as the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings. These muscles stand for strong kicks and strong takedowns, as well as helping you keep good control against the cage."

  • Take a shoulder-width stance with the bar resting on your traps
  • Keep your back straight and chest up
  • Squat down until your quads are just below parallel - or where is most comfortable
  • Squat with a box if needed

4. Pull-Ups


"Pull-ups will help you develop crucial pulling strength and endurance which can save you in the clinch positions, and for maintaining a good position in a clinch.

"Variations of the pull-up will help different positions and holds in clinch."

  • Grip your pull-up bar with hands around shoulder-width apart
  • Take a pronated (palms facing away) grip
  • Straighten your arms and adopt a slight bend in the knees
  • Retract your shoulder blades
  • Pull your body up until your chin reaches the bar, contracting your lats all the way

5. Sprint Drills

"Learning how to sprint efficiently will help you develop explosive power. This means that when it's time to go, your legs are ready. When you shoot the double leg the success rate is a lot higher."

  • Aim to perform sprint shuttles such as the yo-yo test, or, if you're outside - hill sprints
  • With hill sprints, explode up as quickly as possible and then walk back to the start
  • Repeat

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