Get in the Ring: An MMA-Inspired Workout

Bring out the eye of the tiger in your clients with this full-body MMA-inspired workout. It will have them kicking and punching their way to the best body of their lives.

Get in the Ring - Full Body MMA-Inspired Workout


With MMA-inspired training, your clients get a high-intensity workout that incorporates elements of stabilization, strength, endurance, and power. “When you look at a wrestler, boxer, or martial artist’s body, you see a physique many workout enthusiasts are trying to get for themselves,” says MMA fighter Nolan Hyland, NASM-CPT, FNS, MMACS, Master Trainer, of Scott’s Training Systems in Chandler, Ariz. “Part of the reason those fighters have that body is because of sport-specific workouts that use athletic movement to force the body to adapt and change.”

You can bring those benefits to your own clients through the following MMA-inspired workout, created by Hyland. This high-intensity routine blends the best of boxing, wrestling, and myriad martial arts-training moves to keep clients coming back for more as they work their way into top form. Clients will perform some of these moves on their own (designated “Solo”); others require your assistance (designated “Partner”). Rest 45 seconds between sets for all exercises.

Warm-Up: Bob and Weave Under Rope (Solo)
1. Warm-Up: Bob and Weave Under Rope (Solo) 
Set up a rope (like a clothesline) at shoulder height. In a boxing or fighting stance (keeping one foot forward), stand with your right shoulder facing the rope.

B. Keeping a straight back and your head up, without leaning forward, bend your knees, duck under the rope, and raise back up on the other side by drawing a U with your head and shoulders while stepping to the other side. Repeat 10 to 12 steps. Turn around and repeat, leading with the opposite side.

Ground and Pound (Solo)
2. Ground and Pound (Solo) 
Set up a suspension body-weight system (such as TRX or CrossCore) so that when you grasp the handles at shoulder height and lean forward, you are standing at approximately a 45 degree angle.

B. Keeping hands and elbows at shoulder height, extend one arm forward while the other arm stays bent. Return to start and repeat with the opposite arm. Alternate at a steady but brisk pace for 45 seconds. Perform three sets.

Back Lunge into Muay Thai Knee3. Back Lunge into Muay Thai Knee (Partner)3. Back Lunge into Muay Thai Knee (Partner)
Have client step into a back lunge (no weight added) and hold that position. Hold a kicking shield or muay Thai pad and stand about two feet in front of the client.

B. Have the client push through the front leg and drive the back knee into the middle of the pad while slightly leaning back and twisting body toward the kneeing side. Repeat 20 times per leg. Perform two sets.

Arm Sprawlers (Solo)
4. Arm Sprawlers (Solo)
Hold a rubber barbell plate at the 3 and 9 o’clock position, elbows bent, plate against your chest. Stand in a staggered stance and hinge from the hips, bending forward between 45 and 90 degrees.

B. Thrust the weight straight out from your chest as rapidly as possible, while maintaining control. Bring it back to your body, raise your torso about 10 to 15 degrees, then extend arms again. Repeat, each time raising torso 10 to 15 degrees until you’re standing straight (about 12 reps total). Switch feet and repeat. Perform two sets per side.

Rolling Uppercuts (Partner)
5. Rolling Uppercuts (Partner)
Have the client slip on MMA or boxing gloves while you put on boxing mitts. Hold the mitts in line with client’s shoulders about a foot away and facing downward and slightly turned in. Have the client assume a staggered stance, arms bent 90 degrees.

B. Keeping elbows bent, have the client rotate their hips to the left and strike the boxing mitt with a right uppercut, then rotate back and immediately follow through with an uppercut to the mitt with the left. Keep shoulders relaxed and core tight. Continue for 45 seconds. Perform three sets.

Hip Toss on Battling Ropes (Solo)
6. Hip Toss on Battling Ropes (Solo) 
Kneel down on your right knee (on a pad) with your left leg out in front, foot planted on the floor, both legs bent at a 90-degree angle. Grasp a pair of battling ropes using an underhand grip, palms facing in, about six inches apart.

B. Keeping elbows bent, swing the ropes up and slam them toward the right side of your body. Rapidly bring your arms back to center and repeat for a full set of 20 slams. Switch knees and repeat a full set in the opposite direction. Perform two sets per side.

Sprawl into Front Kick (Partner)
7. Sprawl into Front Kick (Partner) 
Hold a kicking pad two to three feet in front of your client. Have the client perform a burpee.

B. After they return to a stand, have them immediately throw a front kick into the middle of the pad. The kicking leg should lift straight up with a slight bend in the knee. As the leg comes parallel to the ground, have the client press their hip forward to give a push and kick “through” the shield. Repeat the sequence with the opposite leg. Alternate for a full set of 20 kicks. Perform two sets.

Elbows in Guard (Solo)
8. Elbows in Guard (Solo) 
Lie on your back with a boxing heavy bag on top of you. Wrap your legs around the bag so that one foot crosses over the other. Engage your adductors to keep the bag firmly in place, slightly angled up. Place your hands in relaxed fists under your chin.

B. Lift shoulder blades off the ground and rotate to the left, striking the side of the bag with your right elbow. Retract and immediately repeat with the left. Alternate strikes in a controlled manner, focusing on using the obliques to drive the elbow into the side of the bag for 30 strikes. Perform three sets.

Blast Takedown into Carry (Partner)

9. Blast Takedown into Carry (Partner) 
Stand a heavy bag in an upright position by placing your hand on top of the bag and standing off to the side. Have your client stand about two feet away in a fighting stance. 

B. On cue, have the client run into the bag, leading with their shoulder and keeping a neutral spine as they lift the bag atop their shoulder and run 16 to 20 strides before stopping and slamming the bag to the ground in a controlled manner. Reset the bag and repeat six to eight times, alternating shoulders. Perform three sets.
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