>In my opinion there is no sport that has ever nor probably will ever exist that epitomizes athleticism quite like the sport of mixed martial arts.
I have so much respect for the true athletes of MMA for many reasons:
•To be successful you must follow a good nutrition plan
•You have to be a jack of all trades in the various martial arts
•You need to develop serious stamina, power, strength, flexibility
•You must have incredible focus and the right mindset
The sport is still fairly new and the optimal strength and conditioning program has yet to be found (so the research reads) but the greats like Martin Rooney, J.C. Santana, Alwyn Cosgrove and Jonathan Chaimberg sure are lighting the way for how things should be done.
In MMA it is of the utmost importance to practice specificity in your training. You need to train in standup like Muay Thai and boxing, in ground work like judo and wrestling, and you need to train your timing specific to a bout. You also must practice many static holds like the clinch, while also working on your grip strength to keep your opponents wrists controlled. You must be fast on your feet with exceptional reaction time and be able to deliver some serious power behind your attacks like a lion vs. repeated kitty swats that do no damage and just tire you out.
There must also be interval training and strength and power training. All of this is very taxing on all of your energy systems which again are one of the reasons that this is the toughest sport out there. To give you a better idea what these athletes go through in a week in addition to their various treatments, yoga and meditation (oh yes there is a soft side and quite a beautiful side to the sport for some), here is a sample week of training often seen with each session averaging from one to two hours each:
•Sunday – OFF
•Monday – AM: Power Training; PM: Jiu-Jitsu Training
•Tuesday – AM: Muay Thai Training; PM: Strength Training
•Wednesday – AM: Low Volume/Light Intensity Grappling and Stretching (or day off)
•Thursday – AM: Interval Training; PM: Sparring
•Friday – AM: Speed Development or Power Training; PM: Wrestling Training
•Saturday – AM: Boxing Training; PM: Strength Training or Active Recovery
Some of these strength and power exercises would incorporate box jumps, tire flips, sledgehammer and medicine ball work, power snatches, cleans and deadlifts, to name a few.
Because this type of training is so taxing, it is of utmost importance to fuel properly to optimize performance and aid in recovery. Depending on the athlete, the caloric needs can vary anywhere from 2500 to 6000 per training session! This is a hard amount of calories to get in without having negative gastrointestinal effects or other side effects that can affect training if done incorrectly. Aside from regular meals, whey protein shakes are often consumed throughout the day, as well as an intra-workout protein shake to fuel the training and aid in recovery. Sipping some BCAAs in a coconut water during, a creatine and beta-alanine stack before training will help facilitate a quicker energy system recovery, allowing for better training performance and sets up a positive environment for recovery.
Post workout is an essential time to refuel and capitalize on recovery with a quick protein shake containing creatine, BCAAs , whey protein isolate and some antioxidant rich berries with a fast carb like maltodextrin, waxy maize or dextrose. For meals throughout the day, get your calories from healthy fats like walnuts, almonds and coconut oil and add them to your meals of protein and veggies. A high quality Omega-3 fish oil supplement is a must. This will also aid in reducing inflammation that is often a part of intense training. If you find you need more carbs in your diet, try quinoa, yams and whole oatmeal or add in a serving or two of fruit, if you are not trying to cut weight.
This is just a very basic look into what goes into the insanely intense sport of MMA, but even scaling this down to a more realistic, non-competitive level, you can condition yourself for the daily battles of life.
Strength and Conditioning Considerations for Mixed Martial Arts. NSCA Strength and Conditioning Journal. February 2011: Vol. 33, 57.