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MMA Training You Can Do At Home | A Complete Guide

Man training with a kettlebelll for mma conditioning.

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MMA or mixed martial arts is, for the most part, an individual sport. While most fighters do have their gym and team behind them. What about if you want to train MMA at home, how much can you actually do?

You can do many of the techniques and conditioning exercises used in MMA training at home. These include exercises to build stamina and conditioning. Working on your striking and takedown defence to prepare for the dojo or gym.

One of the keys to training MMA at home is making sure you are in a comfortable and well-aired space. It is not advisable that you simply clear some space in your dining room. As you will be doing some pretty dynamic and explosive movements which could end up hitting off something.

So my advice is to clear a good size area, preferably in your garage or even better outdoors if the weather is good. Actually in a perfect world working out on your lawn on a dry day is about as good as you can get!

MMA is an extremely demanding physical activity, so if you dive in headfirst and do not get properly prepared for the session, you may pay for it later on. So let’s jump right into this and knock this one out of the park.

The Warm-Up

Being warmed up correctly before you undertake any physically demanding activity is key to staying healthy. So with that in mind, it is essential that you warm up correctly before you get into the more intense MMA training workout.

I am going to quickly run through some warm-up and stretching exercises we use in the gym, to make sure your MMA workout goes as well as possible. Staying injury-free and able to train will be the key to you moving forward and growing in the sport.

Your Pre-Workout Stretching

A man stretches during a warm-up session.
Stretching before you begin your warm-up.

Stretching is key to maintaining elasticity in the ligaments and muscles. now in MMA, your body will sometimes be put in unusual situations and positions. The idea behind stretching is that your body is ready for the stresses involved and working to its full range of movement.

  • Knee Raise – knee up to your chest with one foot on the ground. This position helps stretch your leg ligaments. Hold for 20 seconds.
  • Standing Hamstring Stretch – Stand up straight, knees together, slightly bent. Place your hands on the side of your legs and slide them down as you bend forward. The idea is that you bend at the waist, stretching both the spine, back and legs. Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Triceps Stretch – Standing or kneeling, bend your elbow and reach behind and touch the top middle of your back. Grab the elbow with the opposite hand and pull toward your head, repeat. Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Butterfly Stretch – sit on the floor, very upright, placing feet sole to sole. Place your elbows on the inside of your thighs and gently lean forward. Use your elbows to push down and stretch the groin ligaments as you lean forward. Hold for 45 seconds.
  • Lunging Hip Flexor Stretch – Kneel on one side leaving your trailing opposite leg behind face down touching the ground. Lean forward on the bent knee stretching the other trailing leg, stretching the hip flexor. Hold for 1 minute.

You Should Try Jumping Rope

Jumping rope is one of the best all-around exercises you can do to warm up the entire body. The action of skipping or jumping rope involves both the upper body, especially the arms. As well as the legs, where you can work on a series of different types of skips and jump combinations.

  • Start by doing some basic skipping and try to mix in some variations as you get more confident.
  • Skip for maybe a total of 3 – 5 minutes, whatever feels comfortable as skipping can be quite tiring.
MMA Training You Can Do At Home | A Complete Guide
Jumping rope to warm up the body.

Warm-up Exercises Can Start With Simple Movements

  • Head rolls – right to left, then left to right: Roll your head down so your chin almost touches your chest, then your ear to your shoulder, your head tilted back and finish off with your head on the opposite shoulder. All of this should be done in one smooth movement, first clockwise, then anticlockwise.
  • Shoulder rolls – roll your shoulder in a forward, then a backward motion. Don’t over-exaggerate the movement.
  • Ankle rolls – raise your foot slightly off the floor and roll your ankle in one, then another direction. Do this for both ankles for 20 seconds on each foot.
  • Knee rolls – slightly bend your knees, place the knees together and place your hands on each knee cap.
  • Windmills – standing with feet shoulder-width apart, with one hand touching toes, the other arm should be above the head in a mirrored position. Alternate arms touching toes in a windmill-like movement.

How About Body Weight Exercises

When you don’t have sets of gym weights to work out, nothing can quite beat bodyweight exercises. I regularly do bodyweight exercises as they are free and you can do them anywhere.

When you are training or fighting in MMA, you will usually be facing people your own size, especially in competition. So what better way than training with your own body weight. Your own body weight will give you the most realistic feeling of countering your opponent.

  • Squats – 5 x 20 Hands out in front for balance, as though you are sitting down bring your thighs parallel with the floor or slightly below.
  • Burpees – 5 x 20 Legs shoulder-width apart, bend at the knee, then a jump with hands above head to a push-up position.
  • Lunges – 3 x 10 (each leg) an exaggerated step forward, the front leg will be at a 90-degree angle. The trailing leg sits with the shin on the ground.
  • Push-ups – 5 x 10 (work your way up to more) Try to mix these up from diamond to close grip and regular. Keep good form with your body parallel to the floor.

Boxing Training While At Home

A boxer throws a right hand during training.
A boxer wearing headgear and hand wraps.

Now that you are well warmed up and your body feels solid. It’s time to work on your boxing. And of course, boxing is one of the fundamentals of mixed martial arts. And boxing is also one of the sports which you can train at home on your own.

While you won’t have someone in front of you returning punches. What you can do in boxing is practise your technique and how you throw a punch. Where your feet are planted under you and your weight distribution.

Shadowboxing Is a Great Workout

Shadowboxing is all about you working on your positioning and punching technique. It is not meant to be an exhaustive workout, but rather a flowing routine where you try several combinations that flow from one to another.

One of the key differences between the traditional boxing stance and that of MMA is that boxers do not have to worry about kicks or takedowns. And so as a result, how they place their feet.

It is important that you mentally put yourself in the fight, by imagining there is an opponent in front of you. Allow yourself to circle around left and right, avoiding punches using good head movement, but always protecting yourself from trikes.

It’s good to imagine yourself taking both high kicks and low kicks. So parrying kicks to the head by using your hand with your elbow clenched in tight to defend. When it comes to low kicks you will do what is called checking kicks.

Checking kicks is done by raising the leg at the knee on the side you are being kicked. You then turn that leg outwards like opening a door, so that your shin blocks the incoming kick. We saw Chris Weidman use this against Anderson Silva, so we know how effective it can be.

Beginner Boxing Combinations

Having some solid boxing combinations that you can later build upon will get you a long way. It’s better to initially stick with the basics and work your way up when you are under supervision in the gym.

5 crucial punch combinations.
  • 1-2 (Jab-Right cross) – The first basic combination, a solid opener and go-to combination.
  • 1-1-2 (Jab-Jab-Cross) – As your opponent may be expecting a 1-2 combination, this can be a nice surprise.
  • 1-2-3 (Jab-Cross-Left hook) – Shift your weight as you throw the cross and set you up perfectly for the left hook.
  • 1-2-3-2 (Jab-Cross-Hook-Cross) – The jab opens the guard, followed by a right hand, the left and right again to finish.
  • 1-2-5-2 (Jab-Cross-Left uppercut-Cross) – Almost the same as the previous combination, but you add the uppercut for good measure.
  • 2-3-2 (Right cross-Left hook-Right cross) – start with a right hand on an advancing opponent, followed up with a left hook and a hard right hand to finish.
  • 1-6-3-2 (Jab-Right uppercut-Left hook-Right hand) – Start with the jab, then mix in a right uppercut. Following it up with a left hook and a right hand to finish.

Learning Kickboxing Combinations

Remember how I talked about defending against kicks. Well, now you need to start being the aggressor and throw some kicks. Set the kicks up with some punches, then end the combination with a high or low kick.

Remember that when you kick, you can also leave yourself open to takedowns and counters. This is the huge difference between traditional boxing and kickboxing in that takedowns can result in you ending up on the ground. So use kicks only in the right situations and try not to get into the habit of leaving yourself exposed.

Beginner Kickboxing Combinations

A class for American style kickboxing with students.
A kickboxing class with a trainer.

As orthodox is the most common stance for the sake of this tutorial I will talk about some basic combinations in the orthodox stance. If you are a southpaw fighter, then you can simply swap the left for the right.

  • Jab plus opposite (right) low leg kick.
  • Cross plus (left) low leg kick.
  • Jab plus (right) Hight head kick.
  • Cross plus left High head kick.
  • Jab plus (right) Overhand punch.
  • Jab plus right cross plus (left) High head kick.
  • Cross plus a jab plus (right) Low leg kick.
  • Cross plus (left) Hook to the body plus (right) High head kick.
  • Front kick plus Cross plus (left) Hook to the head.

Practising Takedown Defence

While continuing your shadowboxing, try to mix in some random double-leg takedown defence moves, also known as sprawl. This is done by imagining your opponent shooting in to try to grab you in the thigh area. If they are successful, they will end up on top in a dominant position and we don’t want that.

  • In reality, you would be in the top position in a north-south position with your chest on your opponent’s back.
  • You can then move from this position, keeping one hook under the stomach as you pivot so that you are now facing in the same direction around and trying to take their back.
  • You practice defending takedowns by bending your knees slightly. And as the opponent shoots in, you throw both legs under and behind you.
  • So that you end up in a dominant position with your hands on the ground.
Working the takedown defence during MMA training.

MMA Metabolic Workout Plan

Your MMA workout plan needs to consist of a good balance of both techniques a conditioning exercises. Outside of what we have already discussed, you should also be working hard on your overall metabolic conditioning and this can be easier said than done.

Conditioning is one of the hardest aspects of MMA training on your own as it’s one of the most demanding. We love to throw smooth combinations with punches and kicks. But, if your conditioning is not up to par then you will be in trouble when it comes to sparring on fighting.

Metabolic conditioning will give you the explosiveness and gas tank that will take you from a good competitor to a great competitor. What I want to do is give you a breakdown of one of the best in the business from trainer Funk Roberts.

This is an overview of a more extensive workout you can find in the link to this article where he gives the full workout and its benefits when it comes to training MMA on your own. It’s recommended if possible that you have some of the equipment for training. Including dumbbells and a kettlebell of something which replicates it for some of these exercises.

Each of these Exercises offers a full-body workout that targets all parts of the body that are essential to conditioning:

  1. Kettlebell or Compound Strength Movement
  2. Lunge or Squat
  3. Abs or Core
  4. Push or Pull
  5. Press

Instructions For Metabolic Conditioning Workout

A professional male athlete stretches in his warm-up before training.
A man stretches in the park.

Perform as many of the exercises in 40 seconds as possible, with 20 seconds of rest, before moving on to the next movement! Make sure to warm up before and warm down after the workout. The whole idea behind this type of interval training is to train the body’s own natural energy systems to be more efficient.

These high-intensity workouts with their work then rest structure. This means that the body becomes more accustomed to explosive bursts of energy requirements. Very much in the same way as we see in mixed martial arts. With fighters competing at ultra-high intensity, then trying to get small rests where needed.

MMA Metabolic Workout One:

  1. Side-to-Side Kettlebell Swings – step side to side while swinging the dumbbell between your legs.
  2. Alternating Single Leg Burpees – horizontal burpees, slightly throwing alternating legs in the air.
  3. Alternating Abs Bicycle Kicks – sitting down with hands behind you, with legs off ground using a cycling motion.
  4. Plyo Push-Up Burpees – push clap to burpee.
  5. Zercher Forward Lunges – As you alternate stepping forward, hold the barbell in the groove of your elbow.
  6. Dumbbell Burpees – Hold the dumbbells in your hands, while doing burpees. Keep arms by sides and don’t raise overhead.
  7. Barbell High Pulls – With an overhand grip, throw the bar from the lowest point up to the chin area.
  8. Speed Climber Burpees – While horizontally facing the floor, do a stairclimber but add in a burpee jump.
  9. Dumbbell Punches – With a medium to a heavyweight do punching motion.
  10. Burpees – Traditional jumping motion burpees.

MMA Strength and Conditioning Workout Two:

  1. Heavy Kettlebell High Pull Swings – Swinging the kettlebell or weight between your legs.
  2. Burpee Sprawls – Burpee to MMA sprawl, instead of a pushup.
  3. Rotational Mountain Climbers – Stair or mountain climber, but crisscrossing rotating legs and foot placement.
  4. Side-to-Side Slalom Burpees – Like traditional burpees with some side-to-side feet together foot jumps.
  5. Ground and Pound – Alternating Dumbbell Rows
  6. Double Burpees – Double pushup followed by a double burpee jump.
  7. Stability Ball Roll Ups Grasshopper Burpees – With feet on a stability ball and hands flat on the ground. Roll the ball under your toes from foot to knee, all the time keeping your balance.
  8. Grasshopper Burpees – Alternate one foot then the other side to side under your body into a burpee.
  9. Dumbbell Side-to-Side Rows – With knees bent and a bent-over back, use alternating weights in each hand in a rowing movement.
  10. Burpee Speed Thrusters – regular burpee form, but done quickly with little jump elevation.

MMA Conditioning Workout Three:

The navy with a military fitness trainer working out on a foggy morning in park.
People doing workouts outdoors.
  1. Dumbbell Deadlift Curls – Bending at the knee, as your stand curl the dumbells.
  2. Slalom Burpees – burpee into both legs jumping side to side in horizontal movement.
  3. Abs V-Ups – Lying on your back, with arms and legs stretched out straight in line with your body, leaving your lower spine touching the mat, raising your hands and feet to form a V.
  4. Double Knee Tap Burpees – Jumping the knees double-tap the outstretched hands at waist height, into a traditional burpee.
  5. Dumbbell Step Ups – Find a box or step and alternate step up while holding weights at the sides.
  6. Double Push-Up Burpees – Simply a double pushup into a burpee.
  7. Hand to Hand KB Depth Rows – Standing on a height, bend over and in rowing motion alternate kettlebell between hands.
  8. Quad Thrust Burpees – Like a Stairclimber with both legs four times into a burpee.
  9. Alternating Side-to-Side Lateral Raises – Lifting dumbells out to the side to shoulder height, alternate between both arms.
  10. Alternating Kick Thru Toe Touch Burpees – Burpee into passing alternating legs under your body.

MMA Grappler Workout Four:

Two MMA fighters grappling for dominance in the gym.
Two guys grappling.
  1. DB Clean And Press – Dumbells in hands going from down by sides to overhead, shoulder height first then overhead in two movements.
  2. Burpee Kick Thrus – Burpee into horizontal alternating leg kicks.
  3. Alternating Knee Hip Thrusts – With your back on the ground, knees bent push off raising one leg over your head, then alternate.
  4. Rotating Burpees – Regular burpees, but rotate roughly 45 degrees each time until you do 360 degrees rotation, then repeat.
  5. Goblet Lunge – Holding a dumbbell upright with both hands in front of your chest. Step backwards with alternating legs, dropping down a little each time.
  6. Bunny Hop Sprawls – Crouched down on your knees, hop five times followed by a burpee, then repeat.
  7. Inverted Rows – using some TRX (or alternate rope) with feet to the ground lean back at 70 degrees. Use arms to extend then pull yourself back to the same position.
  8. Rolling Burpees – Burpee to later rolling of your body across the floor, then repeat burpee.
  9. Sandbag Shouldering Side To Side Cleans – Using a sandbag or heavy bag, bend your knees and from the floor throw the bag over alternating shoulders.
  10. Burpee Thrusters Speed – burpee/sprawl to knees bent armed outstretched position, then repeat.

There are up to four more MMA workouts in the series by Funk MMA that you can check out at the link above. But the conditioning aspect of MMA cannot be overemphasised.

Some of the greatest fighters in the world have been found wanting when they faced a fighter with superior conditioning. If you can get the conditioning aspect of your MMA training down, you can go on to then multiply your results inside the cage.

The MMA Workout Cool Down

Cooling down is something that is recommended. I personally do relatively little cooling down, just some light stretching. Combined with some neck strengthening exercises.

If you are in the MMA gym, most people will do some light rolling combined with simply walking around the mats. Perhaps some additional stretching just to cap things off.

If you have had a really tough MMA session you probably won’t be much good for anything else. Having brought right to the edge of getting physically sick from how hard the training can be. The last thing I then want to do is a long warm-down session, just give me that hot shower, please.

So I hope this overview offers you some insight and practical advice from my own lived experience. That you can then use to bring you to the next level in your personal goals. MMA training at home can be done to supplement your training in the gym, but nothing beats the real thing. So see you there soon!