MMA Strength & Conditioning .pdf – Beginner to Advanced


Workout System

ULTIMMA 100 System
Home or gym Fitness Routine

Exercise at your own risk

Stage 1 – Build a Base of Strength & Technique

This stage involves higher rep bodyweight exercises to establish a base of strength and general fitness
To begin with, duration is not important, your body will adapt to as little as 1 set per bodypart as long as the effort and intensity is high.

Equipment required – Chin up bar

Press ups


Supinated grip Chin ups – assisted with a partner or with feet on a chair (be careful)

Pronated grip chin ups

Split deadlifts – dumbbell version shown here – it’s a bit like a lunge but you keep your feet planted

Split Squats – dumbbell version show here

Close ‘grip’ press ups


Dorsal raises


Example Programme

Day 1:
Press ups – 2 sets of maximum reps with 90 secs rest in between sets
Free standing squats – 2 sets – do as many squats as possible in 1 minute
Crunches – Lie on floor with legs bent and soles of feet on the floor – touch knees with finger tips by sliding hands up your thighs – 2 sets of 20-30 reps
Plank – maximum with perfect form. Rest 2 minutes and repeat.

Day 3:
Chin ups (put feet on chair to make easier) – 2 sets of maximum reps*
Split squats or squats – 2 sets of max reps in 1 minute
Dorsal Raises – Lie face down. Pivoting from your lower back, raise your chin off the floor slowly and lower back down to the floor slowly for 1 rep.  Repeat for 12 reps
*Replace with bicep curls if too difficult
Side Plank – Maximum with perfect form.

Day 5
Tabata Intervals
These involve completing 1 exercise for each ’round’.
Complete the exercise for 20 seconds, and then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat 8 times so that 1 round takes 4 minutes.
The first time you do a round, rest for 15 seconds instead of 10, and try and complete 5 x 20 second bouts of exercise. Work up to 8 after a couple of weeks.
Use this video or download an app

Press ups – 1 round of Tabata Intervals
Squats – 1 round of Tabata Intervals
Bicep Curls – with an exercise band or free weight, 1 round of Tabata Intervals
You can try chin ups if confident, but Tabata Intervals for chin ups is quite advanced.

Do this for at least 3 weeks before moving on to stage 2


Stage 2 –Heavy Compound Movements

Train 3 times per week
Warm up with 5-10 mins of cardio and actually get warm and sweating, then do some dynamic stretching and then some warm up sets with light weights.

Bench Press
Chin Ups
Barbell Row*
1 Arm Row

*Make sure your technique and posture are correct on these exercises.  These are the best exercises for building mass and strength but also for getting injured. If possible get an experienced weightlifter to analyse your technique so that you do not injure your back, knees or shoulders.

Example Gym Programme
include a warm up – steady state cardio for at least 5 mins to get actual body temperature up and then dynamic stretching
Arm circles
Leg Swings
Lateral raises with really light weight
Front raises with really light weight
Body Weight squats

Barbell Bench Press x 2 sets with a weight which you can complete 6-10 reps
Dumbbell Incline Bench Press x 2 sets x 8-12 reps
Bulgarian Split Squats x 2 sets per leg x 12-15 reps
Dumbbell squats x 2 x 12-15 reps
Press ups on swiss ball x 2 x 10 reps

Deadlifts x 2 sets x 6-8 reps
Pronated grip chin ups x 2 sets x 6-10 reps
One arm row x 2 sets on each arm x 8-12 reps
Machine Row/cable row x 1 set x 8-12 reps
Plank x 60 secs x 2

Squats x 3 sets x 8-12 reps
Barbell shoulder press x 2 sets x 8-12 reps
Military press x 2 sets of 8-12 reps
Hanging leg raises x 2 sets of max reps

Mix up the order of the exercises in these workouts.  I would however recommend keeping the first exercise the same and gradually trying to progress the weight.
As soon as you have reached 10 or 12 reps (whichever amount is specified as max in the rep range), increase the weight by 1kg or 2.

Move onto stage 3 after 2 months (at least) on stage 2.  Remember to mix up the exercises though to stop a plateau.

I wouldn’t really recommend it, but if you are worried about hurting your back with deadlifts and or squats, then try leg press.
Do some very light front squats, squats and/or deadlifts as part of your warm up to build some core strength and functional movement.

Stage 3 – Negatives & Explosive Exercises – Build Power for MMA

In this stage we’ll add some “eccentric” movements and some plyometric based exercises.
These are good for getting through any kind of plateau but also great for building functional strength for MMA.

Negatives – Technically called Eccentric movements.  This is where you get a gym partner lift the weight and you lower it down slowly.
An example would be bench press, perhaps easiest done on a bench press machine.  Your gym partner helps you (as much as he can) to push the weight so you extend your arms, then you lower it back slowly to the starting position.  Repeat this until you can’t control the negative movement anymore.

On Machines you can do this on your own, 1 arm at a time.  On a machine bench press for example, push the weight and extend your arms with both hands/arms, and then take it back to the starting position slowly using only 1 arm.  Obviously you need to ‘find your weight’ before doing this.

Sport Scientists say that eccentric exercises actually cause more muscle damage and growth than normal concentric ones, and you should be able to handle 110% of the weight you can normally lift if you’re just doing the negative phase.  Be very careful of injury though, especially with chest and shoulder exercises, these can really stress the shoulder joint.  Also, don’t try it with isolation exercises like flyes or cable exercises, you may end up injured.  Which is not cool.

Example Gym Programme:

Monday –
Dumbbell Bench Press 2 sets of 8-12 reps
Barbell Bench Press 1 set of 6-8 reps
Barbell Bench Press / machine press Negatives 6 negatives
Medicine ball slams or throws – 3 sets of 8 reps
Tricep (elbows tucked in) Dips 2 sets of 8-12 reps
Medicine ball Russian twists 2 sets of 20 reps
Weighted jumps or Jumping Lunges 1 set of 8 reps (you can do more sets but this exercise can place a lot of strain on the back and knees)
*Negative Barbell Bench Press – 2 sets of 6 reps (Partner/spotter helps you to lift the bar up (he takes as much of the strain as possible) then you lower the bar down to your chest as slowly as possible).

*Be very careful, start with a low weight and build up to avoid injury.
If you train alone, you can do negatives on a machine by pushing the weight up with 2 arms, and then lower it with 1. Obviously adjust the weight so it can be lowered under control with 1 arm.

Wednesday –
Chin ups 1 set of 8 – 12 reps
Partial Deadlifts 3 sets of 6-8 reps
Power Shrugs 2 sets of 6 reps

Explosive lunges 2 sets of 10 reps on each leg
Machine Row – 1 normal set of 8-12 reps then max amount of negative reps after failure on  normal reps.
Plank 2 sets for 90 secs

Military Press 2 sets of 6-8 reps
Lateral raises 1 set of 12 reps
Squats 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Explosive clap press ups 2 sets of max reps
Hanging Leg raises 2 sets of max reps (be careful with these if you have a bad back, you can do 1 leg at a time but you’ll look like a knob)

Spend around 3 months training in Stage 3
Mix up the order of the exercises and some of the rep ranges
Add in some isolation exercises now and again too.  Bicep curls, Tricep extensions, not great exercises but good to throw in now and then.

Stage 4 – Functional Exercises – Specific MMA Strength

If you’re training for MMA then this is the time to make your strength functional for your sport.

Example Gym Programme:
Incline Barbell Bench Press x 3 sets of 4-6 reps (increase rest in between sets to around 3 mins)
Single arm medicine ball throws x 2 sets of 6 reps with each arm
Deadlifts x 3 sets of 4-6 reps
Kettlebell renegade row x 2 sets of 12 reps

Tuck jumps x 2 sets of 10 reps
Stability ball jackknives x 1 set of 20 reps

Weighted chin ups x 2 sets of 6-8 reps
Power shrugs x 2 sets of 6 reps
High Pulls x 4 sets of 3 reps
Barbell Row x 2 sets of 8-10 reps
TheraBand Guillotines (video to follow shortly) x 2 sets of 10 reps of 15 second isometric holds

Medicine ball russian twist x 1 set of 30 reps

Overhead squats x 3 sets of 6 reps
Military Press x 2 sets of 6-8 reps
Push Press x 3 sets of 3 reps
Kettlebell cleans x 2 sets of 8 reps on each arm
Stability ball plank x 2 sets of 60 secs
Bicep Curl with kettlebell x 1 set of max reps (hold kettlebell as if you are gripping the back of a head in a Thai clinch)

Stage 5 – Add Advanced Techniques

Add in Drop Sets, Super Sets & Complex training but keep the core of your workouts around heavy compound movements.

Drop sets Example – doing bench press with 100kg until failure, then dropping the weight to 80kg and carrying on until failure, then dropping the weight to 60kg…

Super Sets Example – You can do the same body part twice or different body parts.
E.g. Barbell front squats – do 1 set of 20 reps
Chin ups – do 1 set of 10 reps
back to front squats – 1 set of 20 reps
back to chin ups – 1 set of 10 reps

Complex Sets – Do one normal bodybuilding exercise followed by an explosive exercise
e.g. 1 set of barbell Bench press, followed immediately by medicine ball chest passes or explosive clap press ups.
Rest 3 mins and repeat.

An example gym programme:

Warm Up

  • 4 sets of Deadlifts of 4-6 reps
  • Dumbbell Row Drop Sets. 2 sets per arm.
    Start with a ‘heavy’ weight & complete 8 to 12 reps
    Immediately after your last rep with the heavy weight, use a dumbbell that is 50% lighter and complete another 6 reps, explosively.
  • 2 sets of medicine balls throws

Stage 6. Use the 5 3 1 Routine

Read more here

1 Week of 5 reps

1 Week of 3 reps

1 Week of 1s (90% of 1-rep max)

Then do a de-load week – so your Central Nervous System and joints aren’t fried

the 5,3,1 is not recommended for beginners.  Instead look at the 5 by 5 routine – 5 sets of 5 reps.

Stage 7. Periodise your training

This stage takes a lot of planning.

You need to divide your training period – e.g. leading up to a competition, or an annual year into sections.
e.g. 2 months for hypertrophy, 2 months for strength, 2 months of converting strength to power with Olympic lifts, etc.
Some people do not advocate periodisation, as other parts of your fitness/strength may regress when you concentrate fully on one aspect.
Do your own research and make your own mind up.  There are ways around it, you could for example, throw in a couple of normal strength sets into a power/olympic lifting programme.
Here is a good olympic lifting programme
Here is a good article on periodisation

Final Thoughts

– Think about the “benefit to risk ratio” of exercises.

For example, some Olympic Lifts and plyometric are brilliant exercises, but carry a relatively high risk of injury, compared to something like high-rep bicep curls.  Therefore you may want to restrict Olympic Lifts and plyometrics to a restricted volume, unless you are competing in a sport and/or have professional guidance with technique. If you are just training to look good in a T-shirt, then consider replacing Olympic Lifts with bodybuilding exercises.

– Be kind to your knees, shoulders and lower back.
If you are going to do squats and deadlifts, make sure your technique is perfect.
Be careful with barbell bench press, it puts lots of pressure on your shoulders.
Do rotator cuff exercises to help prevent shoulder injury

– Stay flexible
You MUST stretch. Foam roll and stretch for at least 15 mins post-workout.  Get a specific stretching-routine.
Consider yoga

Download our workout here – MMA S & C

Download a pdf of our workout system here

2 Responses to MMA Strength & Conditioning .pdf – Beginner to Advanced

  1. Pingback: Workout System | seoandmma

  2. Liam says:

    How can I incorporate cardio/running into this?

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