Simple MMA Workouts You Can Do At Home For Free
The Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) scene is rapidly gaining popularity in martial arts clubs all over the world. Unfortunately, not many people know that MMA is among the most demanding sports in the world. In addition to the necessary skill sets, you will have to develop the appropriate endurance so that you can do at least five 5-minute rounds. If you are already a competitor in MMA, then you should already be aware of that. Gassing out when the competition is in progress might change you from a black belt to a white belt within a short time.
The history of MMA dates back thousands of years. The ancient Greeks, Chinese and some other civilizations relied on it in battlefields and in sporting arenas alike. More recently, Bruce Lee reintroduced the discipline into the world of sports as Jeet Kune Do, which incorporates Kung Fu, boxing and Wing Chun. Jeet Kune Do is referred to as a “form with no form”, and is directly responsible in the evolving art of MMA. Due to its popularity, many people have now adopted it as their sport of choice.
The more recent popularity of superstars like Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor, alongside the UFC as a league, has made mixed martial arts a household name. In fact, it is now attracting more of a following of both enthusiasts and non-combatants like never before. Great fighters, inspiring many people to adopt the sport and learn the techniques, skills, and endurance necessary to succeed.
Unfortunately, most of these people don’t know where to start. The internet offers a lot of information but none of it is very useful in painting the entire picture for those just getting started. Without the proper guidelines, you are more likely to give up early on in your journey or suffer some sort of debilitating injury that will set you back. To succeed, you have to get information that mitigates the initial confusion of mastering something new and puts you in the correct path towards becoming an MMA badass in your own right. So, what should you focus on when training for MMA at home?
Start with the basics
Each sport requires training and practice, but before getting to that important part, you will have to learn all the basics. MMA is no different. Even if you are just planning to engage in the sport as a way of maintaining your body fitness, the basics will still be of benefit to you in reducing the chances of injury. If you want to engage in MMA competitively, you will have to live by these basics. Here are the basics:
– Work on your conditioning
Depending on your interests in MMA, you will require either good or elite endurance level. To survive in an Octagon for 5 minutes, you will have to spend everything you have. You are likely to exhaust your energy reserves while enduring the punishment and physicality required to defend yourself and get past your opponent’s defenses. Thankfully, you don’t need a gym membership to train your endurance.
If you are within the average fitness level, you will want to start by running for at least 2 miles each day. Cardio workouts at any other time of the day are also ideal. HIIT is a better option at the beginner level. After a few weeks, add sprint drills to your endurance workout. Start sprinting at full speed for at least 5 seconds. Take a 2-minute rest and start again. Do that for 6-10 rounds. If you have not been active for a long time, you will have to start slowly. Jog for at least 30 minutes each day and alternate between jogging and walking as a way of maintaining your heart at an optimal level. n
Building endurance is the easiest step you will take when diving into the world of MMA. Without endurance, you are unlikely to survive your first day in the gym.
– Learn grappling
A large percentage of mixed martial arts fights end after a fighter takes the other fighter to the ground or takes advantage of him/her when lying on the ground. You are unlikely to succeed in MMA unless you develop a stronger grappling game. MMA grappling basics involve more positional grappling and you will have to remain in a dominating position for the submission hold and to deliver hits that can stop a match.
To run grappling effectively, you will have to learn takedown art, which is common in BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) and Judo. After joining a gym, you will have to train in Judo, wrestling and BJJ techniques. They might even provide you with a grappling bag and gloves so that you can start practicing some moves at home. Great trainers will make the work easier for you when learning several of these fighting skills.
– Learn the basic strikes
The hitting part of mixed martial arts comes with a lot of fun. You will have to learn the best way to throw kicks, punches, knees, and elbows during the training. Speed and force are essential when hitting, and the flexibility of your limbs will help you send higher kicks. MMA borrows a lot from Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing, Karate, Tae Kwondo, and Muay Thai, especially when it comes to critical striking. Your trainers should begin with the basic hitting techniques and then teach you several combinations as you progress with the training. The basic strikes include jabs, punches, hooks, round kicks, elbow strikes, and leg kicks.
After you’ve learned how to hit, you will have to learn the various ways of defending yourself against those same strikes and the best way to deliver appropriate counter strikes. As you can probably tell – this is a lot to learn. Please do not enter the world of MMA with an aspiration of becoming a world-class fighter within a month. The sport incorporates several types of martial arts and you will have to learn each of them to become great. Something which could be a very slow process that demands the appropriate time and patience. Focus more on the journey of building your body and mind (coming in the next section) and have fun with it.
MMA requires more mental power than physical power
Most people focus solely on training their physical ability and that is a key reason they fail in the sport. They rarely prepare their mind for the hardships that exist in the octagon. In fact, preparing your mind for the sport is a hard job, but you should not feel intimidated. You need a commitment from the initial stage. Mental toughness will help you build your resolve when training and help you focus when entering the ring.
It takes grit to get hit and to be repeatedly grappled to the ground. That’s where the mental training comes in and the selection of a trainer is important. The gym should be able to prepare you for anything you are likely to face.
So, what about training at home?
It is possible to get a good workout from home. All you just need are boxing gloves, a heavy bag, some jump rope, and hand wraps to start your exercise routine. And if you don’t have any of these handy, don’t panic. We have lists of the best boxing gloves, heavy bags and jump ropes that you can get from all price ranges in our Top List articles.
1. The Jump Rope
At the start of every workout, you will have to increase your heart rate. Jumping rope is great because it combines a cardiovascular workout with speed, agility, and coordination training. Start by doing at five 5-minute rounds with 1-minute rest breaks between rounds. If that’s too tough for you and you are brand new to the jump rope, start with five, 1-minute rounds and remember to include 1-minute breaks between the rounds. The workout should be tough, but not so hard that you have nothing left for the main workout. Find your balance depending on your fitness level. Here’s a breakdown by experience:
– Do 5-minutes jump rope
– Rest for 1 minute
– Repeat the jump rope five times
– Do 3-minutes jump rope
– Rest for 1 minute
– Repeat the workout five times
– Start with a jump rope for one minute
– Take a 1-minute rest
– Repeat the process five times
After completing the jump rope rounds, regardless of your level, rest for a while, wrap your hands and grab your gloves. Keep the break as short as possible and as efficient as possible.
The shadowbox portion is a good workout but optional. It will highly depend on the amount of time you are willing to spend in each workout. Shadowboxing is relatively straightforward: all you have to do is go through the motions of boxing with an imaginary partner, moving around the imaginary ring and throwing very real punches. You will have to push yourself hard and work at a fast pace with proper footwork and swift punches. After the workout ends, you will feel a difference in your legs. The key is to picture yourself fighting for real in a ring. Do not walk around or drop your hands, and mix in combos here and there.
Try to complete two to three 5-minute rounds and ensure that they are fast-paced and involve a lot of moving. If you don’t have enough time, complete a single 5-minutes round or eliminate the workout from your routine altogether and opt for the heavy bag workout instead. You don’t want to half-ass this workout and risk learning bad habits. Regardless of your experience level, go for 5 minutes of fast-paced shadowboxing, rest for one minute and repeat the workout 0-3 times depending on your capacity.
3. The Heavy Bag Routine
You can do the heavy bag workout alone or with your partner – the choice is up to you, but partner training is more fun. Develop a heavy bag routine consisting of three 5-minute rounds and follow each round with a one-minute rest period. Every round should focus on various aspects of training. A good example could be starting with 5-minute rounds of boxing – hands alone. Keep the boxing portion at a very high pace with high volumes of punches. Mix up the power and speed, working close-range and long-range punches. Throw three and four punch combos, making the punches hard and changing the rhythm.
The second round could be similar to the first round in both function and time. However, the five-minute session should focus on kicking and kneeing movements – not boxing. Start by kicking low and then kick at mid-range and high. Start by throwing continuous left kicks as fast as possible and then throw a higher right kick. Your main goal should be to maintain a high-volume and fast pace for the whole 5-minute round – be creative and come up with customized plans.
Your third 5-minute round should bring all the workouts together – combining kicking with punches. Even though the session is more likely to exhaust you, you should do the best to maintain a higher intensity – after all, it is just five minutes of intensive workout. Do not throw single kicks or strikes. Throw combos, while varying the power and speed in the whole session. Low, high, hard and fast double up strikes will burn the lungs and muscles.
After every five-minute round, take a one-minute rest. You can take the one-minute break as an active rest or total rest – that will depend on your level of exhaustion. Some people will use the rest session to do some workouts, such as crunches, sitting down and doing sit-ups. After you are through with the three rounds, take a two to three-minute water break and proceed to the next stage.
Training breakdown for every level
– 5-minute punching, high volume and fast-paced
– 1-minute rest session, passive or active
– 5-minute kicking, high volume and fast-paced
– 1-minute rest, passive or active
– 5-minute punching and kicking, high volume and fast-paced
– 2-3 minutes water break and rest
4. The burnout round
The burnout round is more like the final, high-intensity battles you should expect in the ring. The only difference being that it is between just you and a bag. Some people prefer doing it alone, others with a partner. If you need more challenging and fun workouts, you will have to engage a partner because they will push you. When doing it alone, you will be the one to challenge yourself.
The burnout round – fit for all levels
Use a smartphone app to set 30-second intervals – 30 seconds of work and around 30 seconds of rest. When doing the workout alone, you will have to push yourself harder during the 30-second workout period and rest during the 30 seconds resting period. When working out with a partner, you will be switching off. For example, when one of you is doing the workout, the other should be resting. That way, you will have more fun and push yourselves harder. Regardless of your advancement level, this plan will work.
– 30 seconds fast-paced and hard punches
– 30 seconds of rest, or with your partner performing the work interval
– 30 seconds of fast-paced and hard kicks
– 30 seconds of rest, or with your partner doing his interval
– 30 seconds of fast and hard punches
– 30 seconds of rest, or with your partner doing his workout session
– 30 seconds of fast and hard kicks
– 30 seconds of rest or with your partner completing his workout session
– 30 seconds of fast and hard punches, while your partner rests
– 30 seconds of rest, while your partner works out
5. Push-ups and core work
If you have the time, incorporate three sets of push-ups. Doing as many as a possible per set but maintaining proper form and finishing the workout with abs exercises such as sit-ups, planks, and leg lifts. That way, you will target your chest area and the abs. Add 5-10 minutes to finish everything out
6. Equipment free bodyweight routine
If you do not have a heavy bag, or you need workouts that you can do from a hotel room, bodyweight conditioning is a good alternative. In MMA, you should expect your heart rate to change after every 5-minute session, due to the many styles that fights can take. You might start with a boxing match and then move to some wrestling before proceeding to taekwondo. To train in that manner you don’t need reps – instead, focus on timed rounds which will more accurately mimic the exertion of actual fights. Here is a good example.
– One-minute push-ups
– One-minute mountain climbing
– One-minute planks
– One-minute burpees
– One-minute crunches
Rest for one minute after you are through with the five-minute round – that is what happens in MMA fights. Repeat until you are through with three rounds. A higher intensity interval round will finalize the workout. Perform 5-10 intervals or around 30-second workouts and 30-seconds rest. If you have to do jump rope or sprints, do that as fast as possible and complete within 30 seconds.
The bodyweight circuit training is more flexible and you can mix it with other workouts. Moreover, you can change the movements, but keep in mind that changing the movements will alter your heart rate. Avoid doing three higher intensity movements and then end with lower intensity planks or flutter kicks. Switch between high and low-intensity workouts until your session ends.
Should I include heavy bag workouts in my at-home MMA training routine?
The heavy bag is among the top overlooked items in MMA training. If used correctly, the heavy bag will help you improve your cardio, speed, and power. Moreover, it will make your techniques fluid and improve the shoulders and the footwork and the conditioning of your core. Put differently, by using the heavy bag regularly, you will improve your game and the fitness level. If you do not have a quality pair of gloves, you might need to purchase one. Here are two workouts to help you get started.
– Dynamic stretching and joint mobility – 5 minutes
– Jump rope – 5 minutes
Mix the two workouts with running on the same place, double-under, and single leg.
– MMA shadowboxing – one 5-minute session
Include fast-paced and strong shots and sprawls in the workout.
– Heavy bag striking – 1×5-minute session involving hands and elbows
– Heavy bag striking – 1×5-minute session involving kicks and knees
– Heavy bag striking – 3×5 minutes freestyle
– Stretching and cool down
On the first round, just throw the hands and elbows. And to intensify your workout, you will have to move your feet. Work on envisioning and defense as if you were fighting against a real opponent. Make the punches fluid, crisp, powerful and technically sound.
In the second round, concentrate on throwing knees and kicks. You should also move a lot and defend as if you were in a real fight. Envision the combat situation and ensure that all your strikes are fluid, crisp and powerful. Fluidity, crispness, solid technique and power should be part of your goals. Your performance in the octagon is similar to how you will perform on your heavy bag. Create habits that can last and make them solid and destructive.
The second workout should mix heavy bag workouts with bodyweight workouts. For the exercise to provide you with results, you will require a timer – you can use your smartphone for this. Do three rounds, each consisting of one-minute variations. Alternate the workouts between striking the bag and your body weight workouts. The workout comes with more fatigue and you will have to dig deeper. This MMA training will prepare you to deal with the fatigue expected in the octagon.
– 1 minute of push up variations
– 2 minutes heavy bag striking
– 3 minutes squat jumps
– 4-minute heavy bag striking
– 5-minute core work
– 1-minute heavy bag striking
– 2 minutes pull-ups, chin-ups, and inverted rows
– 3 minutes heavy bag striking
– 4 minutes burpees and sprawls
– 5 minutes heavy bag striking
– 1-minute bear crawl
– 2 minutes heavy bag striking
– 3 minutes jumping lunges
– 4 minutes heavy bag striking
– 5 minutes of core work
The decent heavy bags are heavy enough for strength-based lifting. Their size and shape allow awkward lifting. Therefore, you will have to prepare for hard work during your workouts.
– Start with 5×5 minute heavy bag shouldering on each side. Rest for one minute
– Proceed to 5×5 minute heavy bag Zercher squatting. Rest for two minutes
– Do 5×8 minute heavy bag floor presses and rest for one minute.
– Try 5×30 seconds Heavy Bag Ground plus Pound and rest for 30 seconds.
– Try heavy bag transitions such as knee on belly, side control, mount when throwing your elbows, knees, and punches to your body. Do 5×30 seconds sessions and rest for 30 seconds.
For the ground and pound workout, you will have to envision yourself ending a fight. Don’t just go through the motions. Focus on forcing an end to the fight. The same should apply for striking and transition workouts. Throw forceful and accurate strikes while controlling the heavy bag.