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Body Building Workout Program For an MMA Fighter?
Question: I am an aspiring MMA fighter. I currently train jiu-jitsu and kickboxing a total of three to four times a week. My question is regarding weight lifting/cardio. I want to make sure my training is appropriate for my goals. Here’s a breakdown of what I’m currently doing. Does this look good?
1 hour cardio before I train (chest and triceps 🙂
Flat bench dumbbell press 3 x 14-20
Incline dumbbell press 3 x 14-20
Decline press 3 x 14-20
Cable floor 3 x 14-20 (Dips 3 x 14-20
Cable pushdown 3 x 14-20
One arm pronated pushdown 3 x 14-20
1 hour of cardio 2 hours before I train
Shoulders and abdominals
(Smith Military Press 4/5 x 10-12
Lateral increase 4/5 x 10-12 (Front increase 4/5 x 10-12
Shoulder rest 4/5 x 10-12
Same cardio as day 1
Back and biceps
(Lat Pull down 4/5 8-12
Seated row 4 x 8-12
Cable row upper 4 x 8-12
Back Extension 4 x 12-20
Preacher curl 4 x 6-10
Dumbbell curl 4 x 4-8
Seated curl 4 x 8-10
Cable curl 4 x 8-12
1 hour of cardio
Same Chest routine as Monday
45-degree leg press 4 x 8-12
Leg extension 4 x 8-12 (Leg curl 4 x 8-12)
Calf raises 4 x 8-15
Answer: This is a typical bodybuilding style program and it is not of much use to an aspiring MMA fighter, any wrestling sport, or any other sport for that matter. Here are some problems with your current program:
1) You train too often. You don’t get stronger from lifting weights, but from the recovery process that needs to take place. Based on your program you only rest one day and for all I know you still do jiu-jitsu or kickboxing on that day because you didn’t state which days you do them.
2) You are doing too many sets per muscle group. On Day 1 alone, there are 12 sets for chest only. This is too much. You should aim for the minimum amount needed to elicit the desired training adaptation. Any more than that and you’re just cutting into your energy reserves that can be used for recovery.
3) Several of the exercises chosen are poor choices (leg extension, smith machine press, front raise, cable flyes, etc.) or redundant. For example, all your elbow flexor exercises (bicep exercises) are with a supinated grip and again, you don’t need 16 sets to get the job done.
4) The strength qualities needed for MMA or any grappling sport are: Relative strength, explosive strength, and strength endurance. (Functional hypertrophy can also be included unless your body fat is very low and you are already within your weight class.) The majority of your rep ranges are for strength/endurance. No work has been done for the other two strength qualities.
5) You do straight sets when you need to super set antagonistic muscle groups. This allows you to get more work done in a shorter given unit of time and will ensure that your body is balanced on both sides of the joints so that you are structurally sound.
An example of straight sets is doing a set of a barbell bench press, resting, and then doing another set of barbell bench presses. An example of super setting antagonistic muscle groups would be doing a set of the barbell bench press, resting the desired amount of time based on your goals, and then doing a set of seated cable rows.
6) The cardio workouts you do are too long and close to your weight training workouts. Stop doing cardio before lifting weights and don’t do steady state, traditional aerobic based cardio. You need to get enough effective conditioning when training in your sport. If you aren’t, you should time your rest intervals between rounds and make sure they are progressive. If you can’t do this, let your coach do it for you.
Since there is no off-season for your sport and you train in it three to four times a week, you have to worry about time so that you don’t overtrain, so you have to select exercises that give you the most return on your investment. I would also only weight train two to three times a week. I can’t promise that you won’t be able to over train yet because I don’t have enough information from you (namely diet) but there is certainly less chance than what you are currently doing.
Here are some better exercise choices. Select only one exercise from each group:
Inclined dumbbell press, palms facing each other
Parallel-bar dips (Close-grip bench press, shoulder-width grip
Barbell or dumbbell floor press (Standing barbell press
Pulling exercises for the upper body:
Parallel grip chin-ups
Supinated shoulder-width chin-ups (Wide grip pronated grip chin-ups)
Dumbbell Rows (One Arm Dumbbell Rows)
Rope face pulls (Parallel grip seated rows)
Leg exercises, hip and knee dominant:
Back squats (Front squats)
Dead lifts, clean-grip, sumo, or snatch-grip
Romanian dead lifts
Lunges, decelerative or accelerative
Elbow flexor family (bicep)
(Elbow extension family (triceps)
(External rotator family
So here’s a three-day sample routine that shouldn’t take more than an hour. (List are exercise, sets x reps, pace, and rest interval):
(A. Power Cleans: 4 x 3-5 x 11X0 x 240 second rest
B1. Standing barbell press: 4 x 3-5 x 20X0 x 120 seconds rest
B2. Parallel grip chin-up: 4 x 3-5 x 3010 x 120 seconds rest
C1. Lying waste dumbbell triceps extension: 3 x 6-8 x 3010 x 90 second rest
C2. Seated zottman curls: 3 x 6-8 x 3010 x 90 second rest
(A. Clean-grip dead lift: 3 x 6-8 x 2110 x 180 seconds rest
B1. Dumbbell floor press: 3 x 6-8 x 31X0 x 90 second rest
B2. Dumbbell row with one arm: 3x 6-8 x 3110 x 90 second rest
C1. Incline bench powell raise: 3 x 10-12 x 60 second rest
C2. Incline garhammer raise: 3 x 10-12 x 3020 x 60 second rest
(A. Telemark squat: 3 x 12-15 x 2010 x 75 second rest
B1. Parallel dip: 3 x AMRAP (as many reps as possible) w/ body weight x 2010 x 60 seconds rest
B2. Pronated grip seated cable rows: 3 x 12-15 x 2011 x 60 second rest
C1. Seated dumbbell external rotation, arm on knee: 3 x 10-12 x 3010 x 60 second rest(C2.) Seated calf raise: 3 x 15-20 x 2210 x 60 second rest
Take one day off between workouts.
Once every four to six workouts you should change all loading parameters: sets, reps, tempo, rest interval, and exercise selection.
Keep in mind that this is only an example program and there are many other great exercises you can do that will help you, also, to have a weight lifting program more specific to you, I would recommend a review of structural balance should do on you and get more detailed information.
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