MMA? How To Train To Take The Top Phil Oscarson January 31, 2017 News As Dana White would say, “do you want to be a fighter?” In the interest of being accurate, that’s the expletive-free version of his iconic quote. Mixed martial arts (MMA) is growing by the day, and there’s plenty of aspiring fighters looking to make it to the UFC, Bellator, or any of the many professional MMA organizations. It takes hard work and desire to make it to the top, and the most important factor in your success is how you train. Training Frequency How often you train is crucial to developing your fighting skills and athleticism. Every fighter has their own training schedule, but you have to put in the work. Amateur and professional fighters typically train five or six days per week, giving themselves a rest day to relax mentally and let their bodies recover. A normal training session is 1 ½ to 2 hours, and full-time fighters often have two or three training sessions per day. When you’re starting out, it’s better to take it slow and let your body acclimate to the workload. Once you’ve adjusted, though, you’ll need to be training at least five days per week if you want to be a professional fighter. If you can’t commit that much time, then the sport just isn’t for you, because your competition will. What to Train MMA requires you to be well rounded. You need striking and grappling ability, along with explosive strength and the endurance to fight for up to five 5-minute rounds. It’s hard to develop all of those attributes, which is why most fighters devote training sessions to one or two of them. A standard fighter training plan would include the following: Striking Session: Focuses on boxing, Muay Thai, or another striking martial art. Includes drills and possibly sparring. Grappling Session: Focuses on wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or another grappling martial art. Includes drills and rolling (live grappling training). Strength Work: Weightlifting or other resistance exercises. Endurance Training: Running, swimming, or other cardiovascular exercises. Fighters also usually have MMA sessions that focus on bringing everything together into an MMA setting. These may include MMA sparring, as well. How do you divide your training session? You need to evaluate your own abilities and athleticism to decide where your time is best spent. If you’re new to the sport and still getting into shape, skills training should take up the bulk of your time. Technique is the most important part of fighting, and you’ll become more physically fit from the skills training, anyway. Otherwise, you should focus on any areas where you’re deficient, without completely abandoning your strengths. For example, if you’re a Golden Gloves boxer but a white belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, it makes sense to focus on your grappling more and develop that. Just don’t focus all your training on that. Even in the UFC, there have been multiple fighters who neglected their best skills, thinking that they didn’t need in that area anymore, and paid the price for it. Intensity How hard fighters train is a point of contention at every level of MMA. There’s a reason that online sports betting sites always say that bets are only valid if the fight actually happens, and that’s because injuries are so common and fights are often canceled. Your training needs to strike a balance between preparing you for the intensity of a fight without breaking down your body and leaving you riddled with injuries. Mix up low, moderate, and high-intensity sessions into your routine. Don’t feel like you always have to spar hard, either, as light to moderate-intensity sparring still has plenty of benefits. Becoming a professional MMA fighter is a difficult road, and you truly have to commit your life to it. If you’re going to do it, make sure your training plan is on point to give yourself the best chance at winning a title.