UFC or ultimate fighting has been around since the early nineties and made an instant impact with fight fans but since the release of films like never back down and red belt mixed martial arts seems to have taken the world by storm and even threat tens to overtake boxing as the number one combat sport.
Since the early days of legends like Royce Gracie, UFC has gone from strength to strength and the new bread of fighters are some of the fittest, strongest and most agile athletes not just in mixed martial arts but in any sport as can be seen with champions like Anderson Silva.
With UFC or mixed martial arts clubs springing up every were there are many youngsters who like the idea of cage fighting and either want to to test themselves in the Octagon or just obtain the benefits of mixed martial arts conditioning and so I have designed a list of all the qualities needed to compete successfully in UFC as well as guidelines of how to get them.
As someone who has had numerous muay thai and boxing fights I know that more fights are lost because of a lack of stamina that any other reason and it is quite common to see not the best but the fittest fighter win and so if you want to succeed in UFC I advise you to spend more time developing fighting stamina than any other aspect of your physical conditioning. Take it from me spending an hour doing set after set of heavy weights with one minute rest breaks just won’t cut it in the ufc Octogan or boxing ring.
The type of stamina training needed for fighting has changed over the last 20 years with the knowledge gained from modern sports science and you only need look at the fight between Royce Gracie and defending champion Matt Hughes to see how things have moved on. The old days of boxers getting up at 5 am to do an hour of steady paced running are long gone and the reason is because sports science has shown that mixed martial arts and boxing fights are not steady paced but explosive in nature and require the ability to fight intensely for a number of seconds before a brief rest bite and then full intensity again. Therefore your stamina training should follow the principle of specificity (The more the training mimics the sport the more successful it will be) and you should try to incorporate the same quick spurts of intensity followed by short periods of lesser demand.
The best types of stamina training for UFC
This is one of the finest mixed martial arts stamina builders and should be incorporated in everyone’s training routine. A good starting point is to do 3 intervals of 3 to 5 minutes duration, were you run at a high pace for between 10 to 30 seconds and jog for 10 to 20 seconds before increasing the intensity again. Have a minutes rest after each round and then repeat until all 3 intervals are done.
I lived in the hilly valleys of Wales when I boxed and this was a big part of my own training. If you have access to a good hill take advantage and simply run up it with purpose and jog down before repeating. Be warned it is extremely demanding but very effective.
A circuit of bodyweight exercises
This a brilliant training method of developing both stamina and strength at the same time for UFC, Boxing or any other sport.
The best method is to design a circuit of standard bodyweight exercises such as press ups, pull ups, dips, sit ups , crunches, squat thrusts and burphees ect with the number of reps ensuring that each exercise lasts for 30 seconds. Place the exercises in an order that allows a rest from one body part as you work on another such as going from press ups to crunches and you can then do a circuit of 10 exercises of 30 seconds so that the circuit last 5 minutes. Have a minute rest and then repeat two more times.
After just six weeks of this circuit you will find that not only are you far fitter and stronger than you were before but also that you have far more muscular definition.
Strength is an important attribute in mma as it is in all combat sports and the strength to hold your own in cliches and groundwork is essential as without it your opponent will simply bully you into any corner of the octagon that he wants. Weight training is an excellent way of building strength but for combat sports like UFC I think bodyweight exercises have an edge because the constant practise of using your own bodyweight as the form of resistance means that you become far more effective at moving your own body through space with speed and explosive power which after all is essential in mma.
A bodyweight strength building program
To build strength you need to keep the repetitions of each set to between 6 – 10 and have one minutes rest between each set of each exercise. Remember strength building is the desired outcome of this part of your training so although these exercises do not build stamina the one minute rest between sets is essential for the aim. Once you can comfortably do 6-10 repetitions of each exercise move on to a more demanding version so for example once you can do 6 – 10 pull ups begin training to replace them with clapping pull ups instead.
A good starting point is to do 2 exercises of 3 sets of 6-10 repetitions of bodyweight exercises for each muscle group but remember you must increase the exercise overload by moving on to more demanding versions of the same exercise once the ones you are doing become to easy.
To find out which is the worlds best bodyweight program for beginners see the bodyweight exercise program guide.
Speed kills and in UFC it is devastating. In simple terms if you can do what your opponent can do but do it quicker you will most likely win.
The key to speed is muscle relaxation and although some are born faster than others you can dramatically improve your combat speed with the right practice. The best single way to improve your UFC fighting speed is to practise as much shadow boxing as you can concentrating on relaxing your muscles as you fire out quick combinations.
Also remember that although the heavy bag is a great way to develop power overuse of it will inevitably slow you down. I also recommend that you study the boxer Amir khan and the relaxed way Bruce Lee moves in legendary fight scenes such as the Bruce Lee Chuck Norris colosseum fight scene in Way of the Dragon as I don’t think there has ever been anyone who could surpass Bruce Lee’s speed.
(To see how muscular relaxation helps speed try this little test. Tense your fist, forearm and upper arm as hard as you can and while the muscles are still tense throw a punch. Now do the opposite and totally relax all the muscles in the same arm, do not make a fist instead keep your hand open and relaxed. Now throw another punch and only make a fist and tense your muscles at the last moment. After doing this I am sure you can now see how learning muscular relaxation dramatically increases speed.)
A good starting point to improve speed is 3×3 minute rounds of relaxed shadow boxing, 3×3 minute rounds of punching a floor to ceiling ball or you can try a paper target hanging head height from the ceiling (The idea is not to hit the paper but simply make it move with the air generated by fast punches), 3 fast one hundred metre sprints.
Flexibility is essential in UFC mixed martial arts to enable you to both Kick and knee effectively and also to prevent injury in the demanding positions of ground work.
Every training session should include 10 minutes of dynamic stretching at the beginning of the workout and 20 minutes of passive stretching at the end. For an in-depth understanding of stretching techniques see the Flexibility guide
For more information about the physical abilities needed in martial arts please readwww.martial-art-potential.com
See the best triceps exercises
For UFC flexibility have a look at the six week splits guide.