Look, I know we’ve all got that dream of becoming the next Anderson Silva or Ronda Rousey, but who’s got time for all those gym hours? Well, guess what? The good news for you, my ambitious (and let’s admit, sometimes lazy) friends, is that you don’t need an expensive gym membership or a personal trainer who looks like they eat dumbbells for breakfast to get in MMA shape.
In this guide, we’ll dive into the ultimate home MMA workout – designed for your living room, backyard, garage, or whatever space you can throw a punch without knocking over your grandma’s urn. And, since I know we’re all about quality and efficiency here, this routine is built to give you the most punch for your push-up, so to speak.
Why bother with all this, you ask? Here’s why – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and boxing, the two areas of expertise of yours truly, are not just about brute strength. They’re as much about technique, flexibility, and endurance as they are about raw power. And guess what? You can work on all of these right at home, no octagon needed. You might not end up on a UFC fight card, but you’ll feel like you could – and hey, you’ll look darn good, too.
So, grab your workout gear, clear some space, and get ready to sweat. Your journey to become the best living-room-bound MMA champ begins right now. And remember, “It’s not about being better than someone else, it’s about being better than you were yesterday”. Now, let’s get into it, and remember – the floor is your friend, the sofa is your enemy!
Space and Equipment Needed for an At-Home MMA Workout
Alright, all set? Great. Now, let’s talk about the battlefield, aka, your workout space, and the armory, or your workout equipment.
First things first, you’re going to need a decently spacious area to train. By “decent,” I mean a spot where you can safely throw a roundhouse kick without sending your favorite lamp to the ceramic graveyard, or where a sprawl won’t result in an impromptu headbutt to your coffee table. That’s the dream, right? A space around 10ft x 10ft should do the trick – remember, we’re training like fighters, not like sardines.
Now, let’s move onto the gear. The good news? You don’t need a ton of fancy stuff to get fighting fit. But there are a few essentials that can make your home MMA workout training program much more effective and, importantly, safe.
- MMA Gloves: These are lighter than boxing gloves, offer more mobility for your hands, and are ideal for shadowboxing. You want your punches to feel as real as possible, right?
- Jump Rope: Yeah, I know, it sounds old school, but the jump rope is a cardio beast. Plus, it’s a great tool for improving your footwork and agility – both crucial in the ring (or in your living room, in this case).
- Yoga Mat: No, we’re not turning into yogis (unless you want to, then, by all means). A yoga mat is essential for your comfort and safety during ground exercises. It’s the next best thing to having a professional grappling mat at home.
- Dumbbells/Kettlebells: A couple of light-to-medium weight dumbbells or kettlebells can add resistance to your workouts, helping you build strength and power. But remember, in MMA, we’re not trying to be The Hulk; it’s all about compound exercises and functional strength training.
- Mirror: Not just for checking your hair. A full-length mirror can help you analyze and improve your technique, muscular endurance, and strength training.
- Foam Roller: To keep your muscles happy and ready for the next round, recovery is as important as the workout itself.
And there you have it – your very own home dojo setup. But remember, the best equipment in the world won’t mean a thing if you don’t use it, so let’s gear up, clear out, and get to work. Because the fight game waits for no one – not even the pizza delivery guy. Let’s do this!
Shadow Boxing at Home
The first thing you should always do is start your MMA workout with some shadow boxing. This is done best in front of a mirror so that you can see your style of striking and the improvements you need to make while striking. If you’re new to shadow boxing, a good rule of thumb is to always finish your punching combinations with knees or kicks.
If you’re a boxer then don’t worry about knees or kicks, just work on your punching combinations and your flow. Visualize the opponent in front of you and moved to create angles that could be used in a real life situation. Don’t be stagnant with your movement, allow yourself to be comfortable so that you can become more confident with your flow.
Your shadow boxing should be set up in rounds with non-stop shadow boxing so that you can establish a good pace, similar to one you would have in a real life fighting situation. You could do two rounds of five minutes each, or if it’s a quick workout one round will be enough to get your body warm and loose.
I like to wear hand wraps even if I’m just shadow boxing. I find it really gets me amped up, and I end up training longer since I went through the ritual and routine of wrapping my hands. If you need a pair of hand wraps, I like these ones (and here is a video from this brand on how to wrap your hands):
Some fighters find it beneficial to do more rounds and a shorter duration such as 30 seconds – one minute, with a 30 second break in between. Find the style that works best for you and execute. Another great way to warm up before stretching is jumping rope, many professional fighters/boxers swear up and down that jump roping helps establish a good fight flow.
Good Beginner Boxing Combinations:
Do these in both stances if you’re trying to master your technique in both Orthodox and Southpaw.
- 1-2 (Jab-Cross)
- 1-1-2 (Jab-Jab-Cross)
- 1-2-3 (Jab-Cross-Lead hook)
- 1-2-3-2 (Jab-Cross-Lead Hook-Cross)
- 1-2-5-2 (Jab-Cross-Lead Uppercut-Cross)
- 1-6-3-2 (Jab-Rear Uppercut-Lead hook-Cross)
- 2-3-2 (Cross-Lead Hook-Cross)
The reason why we use the wording “Lead” and “Rear” instead of “Left” and “Right” is because when switching stances this can get confusing. Someone who is trying to master all styles of fighting should be able to fight in both Orthodox (Left foot first) and Southpaw (Right foot first). This is obviously better suited for MMA because it gives your opponent a different look for takedowns, while in boxing you’re only using punches and most boxers preferably only master one stance.
Good Beginner Kickboxing Combinations:
- Jab-Rear Leg Kick
- Cross-Lead Leg kick
- Jab-Rear Head kick
- Cross-Lead Head kick
Again, the reason MMA Guru uses the wording “Lead” and “Rear” instead of “Right” and “Left” is because these combinations are meant to be used in both stances (Orthodox and Southpaw). A true martial artist should learn both stances so that they become a more technical striker, which is highly beneficial in a real life fighting scenario.
Good Advanced Kickboxing Combinations:
- Jab-Cross-Lead Head kick
- Cross-Lead Hook-Rear Leg kick
- Jab-Cross-Lead Hook to the Body- Rear Head Kick
- Cross-Lead Knee (switch or step)-Lead Hook-Cross
If you’re more advanced don’t hesitate to throw in a couple of elbows after punching combinations or even after knees. Whenever you’re doing a lead kick or knee you always have the option (depending on how far your opponent is from you) of stepping into the kick/knee or switching your feet into the kick/knee.
A video example on the technique of the “switch kick”:
If you want to take your boxing workouts up a notch, you’ll want to pick up a heavy bag, hand wraps, and heavy bag gloves. Also be sure to check out my favorite heavy bag workouts as well as my favorite speed bag workouts. Another new and extremely popular at-home boxing option is FightCamp (check out my full FightCamp Review) which is commonly referred to as “the Peloton of boxing.”
MMA Workouts at Home
If you don’t have access to a heavy bag, or if you need a workout you can do from a hotel room or small space, don’t worry, there’s a solution. In fact, according to Matt Marsden, a fitness instructor at Beacon College in Leesburg, Florida, who has a training and coaching background in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Boxing, Muay Thai, and Tae Kwon Do, this type of workout is pretty common for MMA fighters because they travel so frequently and sometimes have to train outside of the typical gym setting.
Marsden also makes it clear that bodyweight conditioning workouts are every bit as important for MMA training as throwing punches in the ring. “If there’s one thing for certain in this sport, it’s that your heart rate will change several times over the course of a five-minute round due to the many battle styles a fight can take. It may start as a boxing match, move into Olympic-level wrestling, then return back to the feet,” Marsden says.
If you’re interested in a bodyweight MMA workout designed by the pros, definitely check out Phil Daru’s Body Armor program. Phil Daru is the head strength and conditioning coach for the world famous American Top Team. He has trained the top fighters in the world including Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Dustin Poirier, and Colby Covington.
In Coach Daru’s Body Armor program, he shares the bodyweight techniques he used to help his roster of fighters optimize their mobility, power, and strength. The program includes loads of instructional videos, and best of all it doesn’t require any gym equipment.
The Guru’s At-Home MMA Workout
I previously talked about HIIT workouts in my Lose Weight With MMA Article. This type of workout has the same concept.
- Shadow Boxing or Jump Rope 30-45 seconds, 30 second break
- Burpees 30-45 seconds, 30 second break
- Shadow Boxing or Jump Rope 30-45 seconds, 30 second break
- Jump Squats 30-45 seconds, 30 second break
- Shadow Boxing or Jump Rope 30-45 seconds, 30 second break
- Matrix Pushups (or normal if you can’t do matrix) 30-45 seconds, 30 second break
1. You’re going to start out Shadow Boxing for 30-45 seconds and afterwards you’ll have a 30 second break. Use the combinations we talked about above. If you want to make this workout more difficult, add sprawls in your shadow boxing.
2. Next, you’re going to do “Burpees” for 30 seconds straight, Burpees are a great way to get your heart rate up. Burpees are also great because they are an amazing fat burning exercise that works your chest, shoulders, back, as well as your core and legs.
How to do Burpees:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, weight in your heels, and your arms at your sides.
- Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body into a squat.
- Place your hands on the floor directly in front of, and just inside, your feet. Shift your weight onto them.
- Jump your feet back to softly land on the balls of your feet in a plank position. Your body should form a straight line from your head to heels. Be careful not to let your back sag or you butt stick up in the air, as both can keep you from effectively working your core.
- Jump your feet back so that they land just outside of your hands.
- Reach your arms over head and explosively jump up into the air.
- Land and immediately lower back into a squat for your next rep.
An example on how to do Burpees below:
3. After Burpees, you’ll shadow box again for 30-45 seconds, followed by a 30 second break.
4. Next you’ll be doing Jump Squats for 30-45 seconds. Jump Squats are an absolute cardio killer that will help fighters with their stamina. This will really burn your legs out quickly and helps fighters with their kicking power and explosion. You can make this workout harder by doing a 180 spin during each jump up.
How to do Jump Squats:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Start by doing a regular squat, then engage your core and jump up explosively.
- When you land, lower your body back into the squat position to complete one rep. Land as quietly as possible, which requires control.
An example on how to do Jump Squats below:
5. After you complete your Jump Squats you’ll shadow box for another 30-45 seconds. This is when most fighters start getting really tired (which is when the real growth starts). Keep going, you’re almost finished!
6. Finally you’ll be doing Matrix Push Ups (Do matrix push ups on your knees or normal push ups if you can’t do standard matrix yet).
How to do Matrix Push Ups:
- Start in the normal push up position.
- Lean to one side (left or right) and go down in a full circular motion.
- Once you get back to the top you’ll reverse and go in the opposite direction.
An Example on how to do Matrix Push Ups below:
Jiu Jitsu Gi Pull Ups
Another one of my favorite exercises is pull-ups with my Jiu Jitsu gi. All you need for this one is a BJJ gi (a belt works too) and a pull-up bar. These are killer for upper body strength and athletic performance.
This is actually how the founder of the popular TRX bands got the idea for his product. The inventor of TRX bands was a Navy SEAL named Randy Hetrick who only had his Jiu Jitsu belt to train with while on deployment. He wanted to stay in shape in the field, and so he used his Jiu Jitsu belt to assist him in his body weight workouts while on deployment.
You can use this technique too, just loop your Jiu Jitsu gi or belt over a pullup bar and do either strict pullups or inverted rows. BJJ gear is typically made from really strong cotton weaves and will easily hold your body weight. I particularly like these exercises because they build your grip strength fast. They’re a great addition to an MMA training program – just work your way up slowly and do as many reps as you can.
The MMA Workout Cool Down
So, you’ve punched, kicked, and grappled your way through our home MMA workout. Kudos to you! Now, it’s time to bring that heart rate down and give your muscles some much-needed TLC. This part, my friends, is the cool-down, and it’s just as crucial as the sweat-soaked madness you’ve just endured.
The aim of the cool-down is to gradually bring your body back to its restful state and reduce the risk of injury. It’s the sequel that’s as good as the original – so let’s get into it!
1. Light Cardio: Begin your cool-down with about 5-10 minutes of light cardio. This could be a brisk walk around your room or even some light shadowboxing. Just keep it gentle. The goal is to lower your heart rate, not to launch into another round.
2. Stretching: After your light cardio, it’s time for a full-body stretch. Start from the top and work your way down – neck, shoulders, arms, torso, hips, legs, and don’t forget those calf muscles. Hold each stretch for about 20-30 seconds to let those muscle fibers elongate.
A couple of crucial stretches for the MMA fighter:
- Chest Stretch: Clasp your hands behind your back, straighten your arms and gently lift upwards to open up your chest. This is great for releasing tension after all those punches.
- Hip Flexor Stretch: Step one foot forward, bend your front knee, and keep your back leg straight. Lean forward slightly to stretch the hip of your back leg. This is a savior after all those kicks and takedowns.
- Downward Dog: Yes, more yoga – but trust me on this. This stretch is great for your hamstrings, calves, and shoulders. Get into a high plank position, then push your hips back and up, keeping your legs and arms straight.
3. Foam Rolling: You remember that foam roller we talked about? Now’s the time to use it. Roll out your major muscle groups to relieve tension and reduce muscle soreness. It’s like a free massage (though somewhat more painful), and who doesn’t want that?
4. Hydrate and Refuel: Finally, make sure to hydrate and eat a balanced meal to replenish lost energy and nutrients. Your muscles are crying out for some protein, so don’t keep them waiting.
And there you have it! Your cool-down routine, signed, sealed, and delivered by your friendly neighborhood MMA Guru. So, next time you’re sprawled on the floor after your workout, don’t skip the cool-down. Your body will thank you – and you can thank me later!