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How to workout like a UFC fighter

by Harry 7 minutes read

Last updated: 17 Apr, 2023

Mixed martial arts (MMA) is one of the most demanding sports in the world, and the athletes who compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) are some of the fittest and most skilled in the world.

While it takes years of training and dedication to reach the level of a professional fighter, anyone can adopt the workout routine of a UFC fighter to improve their fitness, strength, and agility. In this article, we will look at some tips on how to workout like a UFC fighter.

Cardio Training

One of the most important aspects of a UFC fighter's training is cardio. A UFC fight is three to five rounds of intense physical exertion, and fighters need to have the stamina to keep going.

Here are some tips on cardio training for a UFC fighter:

  • High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): To build cardio, fighters often engage in HIIT workouts, which involves short bursts of intense activity followed by short rest periods. HIIT workouts can include sprints, jump rope, or kettlebell swings. This type of training is great for improving cardiovascular endurance and simulating the demands of an MMA fight.

  • Steady-State Cardio: Steady-state cardio involves exercising at a moderate intensity for an extended period. This type of training is great for building endurance and can be done through activities like running, cycling, or swimming.

  • Circuit Training: Circuit training involves performing a series of exercises in a sequence, with little to no rest in between. This type of training can help improve cardio endurance while also incorporating strength and conditioning exercises.


Plyometrics can be a great addition to the training regimen of a UFC fighter as it can improve explosive power, agility, and overall athleticism by regularly training and activating your fast twitch muscle fibres. Here are some plyometric exercises that can benefit UFC fighters:

  • Box jumps: This exercise involves jumping onto a box or platform and then stepping or jumping back down. It can help improve explosive power and leg strength, which are essential for generating force in kicks and takedowns.

  • Depth jumps: This plyometric exercise involves stepping off a box or platform and immediately jumping back up as high as possible upon landing. This can improve explosive power and help fighters generate more force in strikes and takedowns.

  • Medicine ball slams: This exercise involves slamming a medicine ball onto the ground with force, catching it, and repeating the movement. It can improve explosive power and upper body strength, which are essential for punches and grappling movements.

  • Lateral bounds: This exercise involves jumping side to side over a line or object. It can improve agility and lateral movement, which can be beneficial for evading opponents and changing direction quickly.

  • Burpees: This exercise involves a combination of a squat, push-up, and jump. It can improve endurance, explosive power, and full-body strength.

Strength Training

UFC fighters need to be strong to be able to deliver knockout punches and kicks. Strength training is usually done with weights, and fighters will often focus on compound exercises like deadlifts, squats, and bench presses. These exercises work multiple muscle groups at once, which is important for developing functional strength. Most fitness experts will recommend strength training 3-5 days a week depending on your experience and skill level.

Other weight training is still a good idea for MMA fighters, who need strong chest, shoulder and leg muscles to keep up with their opponent, but full body strength is extremely valuable to compete at a high level.

  • Focus on compound exercises: Compound exercises are movements that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously, such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, and pull-ups. These exercises are excellent for building overall strength and power, as they engage multiple muscle groups and require the body to work as a cohesive unit.

  • Train explosively: Explosive movements such as plyometrics, Olympic lifts, and medicine ball throws are essential for developing power and speed, which are critical in the octagon. Focus on explosive movements that mimic the movements used in fighting, such as punching, kicking, and grappling.

  • Use periodization: Periodization is the systematic manipulation of training variables over time to ensure continued progress and prevent overtraining. Incorporate different phases of training, such as hypertrophy (muscle building), strength, and power, into your program, and adjust your training volume and intensity accordingly.

  • Address weak areas: Identify any areas of weakness in your body and design your program to address them. For example, if you have weak grip strength, incorporate grip exercises such as farmer's walks and dead hangs into your program.

Mobility and Flexibility

Mobility and flexibility are crucial parts of MMA training, as fighters need to be able to move quickly and fluidly in the octagon. Fighters will often incorporate yoga or Pilates into their training routine to improve their flexibility and mobility.

Sparring and Grappling

Of course, to become a skilled UFC fighter, you need to practice sparring and grappling. Sparring sessions allows fighters to practice their striking techniques in a controlled environment, while grappling allows them to practice their takedowns and submissions. These are both important aspects of training, as fighters need to be able to use both striking and grappling techniques to win fights, and regular training will help develop proper technique.

Practice Martial Arts

Martial arts are a crucial part of UFC training, and practicing them can help you build strength, endurance, and agility. If you're new to martial arts, consider starting with a beginner's class in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, or boxing.

Focus on Nutrition

UFC fighters know that nutrition is a key part of their training, and they eat a diet rich in protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. To fuel your workouts and build muscle, focus on eating a diet rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods. Make sure you're getting enough protein to support muscle growth, and eat plenty of healthy fats and carbohydrates to fuel your workouts.

Rest and Recovery

Finally, rest and recovery are essential for any athlete, and UFC fighters are no exception. Fighters need to give their bodies time to recover after intense training sessions, and this includes getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, and eating a healthy diet.

Working out like a UFC fighter requires a combination of high-intensity training, martial arts practice, resistance training, endurance training, and proper nutrition. By following these tips and strategies, you can build the strength, power, and agility necessary to become a UFC fighter or simply improve your fitness levels. So get out there, train hard, and reach your fitness goals like a UFC fighter.

As always, we recommend consulting a fitness expert or strength and conditioning coach before trying out any new exercises, especially if you have any existing medical conditions.

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