Cardio Hacks for MMA

Wim Hof

Check out the Wim Hof Breathing Technique, this will increase the strength and power of your lungs, providing a better ‘base’ for your MMA specific cardio.



Baking Soda

Baking soda buffers lactic acid, allowing you to grapple and fight at a higher intensity before getting a burning sensation in your muscles.

Start off with 5g in a large glass of water, and sip it slowly. If you go over the top and have too much you can get diarrhoea.

baking soda

Control Your Emotions & Adrenaline

If you are too tense before a fight, you are likely to have an adrenaline rush in the first round.

This will give you super-human strength for around 30 seconds to a minute, but after that you will be completely bollocksed.

Control your heart rate with breathing techniques and positive visualisation.

See my articles here and here about staying calm in your first fight.

Cut Out Dairy


If you have any problems with your breathing, with your sinuses or even with your skin, you should experiment with cutting out dairy. For me, cutting out dairy was life-changing, and I went from using 2 steroid inhalers and a ‘reliever’ inhaler everyday, to using none.

Incidentally, if you have asthma, try quercetin and/or nettle as a natural anti-histamine. Chances are that you are allergic to dust or pollen and that triggers your asthma, so try a natural anti-histamine before bed or before going outside.

Quercetin also protects your brain, which is a bonus for combat athletes (ref).


Tabata Intervals Replicating MMA

There is no true hack (sorry) – you still have to put in the hard work. Circuit training & tabata intervals that replicates MMA techniques and fundamental ‘compound’ movements is the best way to build MMA-specific cardio.

Tabata intervals involve working at 100% intensity for 20 seconds, followed by a 10 second break, then another 20 seconds of 100% intensity….until you complete 4 minutes of exercises, including the 10 seconds rest.

Supplements for Cardio


I prefer to stick to whole-foods and holistic nutrition where possible but I still think some supplements have their place.

Beta-Alanine has a similar, acid-buffering affect on the muscles and can be used instead of baking soda or even as well as.

As an ex-meathead, muscle-pumps, especially in my forearms were always an issue when grappling – I would lose my grip completely.

Taurine is very good for preventing muscle-pumps, I recommended it to my friend who does enduro-motor-cross and he said the difference was amazing.

Take taurine and beta alanine at separate times of the day though, as they ‘compete’ for absorption.




Exogenous Ketones


There is a growing amount of evidence that exogenous ketones are able to improve endurance-based athletic performance (study here).

They spare glucose/carbohydrate by becoming the main source of fuel for the body at lower intensities.

Ketones are also great for recovery, as they reduce inflammation and enhance protein synthesis (studies here & here).

For some, exogenous ketones can also help with auto-immune issues such as allergies and IBS. For me, this is a real game changer and allows me to train harder and recover faster.


About Drew

MMA, Fitness & Marketing enthusiast from North Wales, UK. A Stoic Hippy with no hair. Not to boast but - 1st Class Degree in Sports Science from Loughborough, MSc in Nutrition from the University of Liverpool. 20 years experience of weight & fitness training.
This entry was posted in MMA, Nutrition, Psychology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.