Strength Training For MMA


Hi Blake

Hope all is well

I have a few questions:

I am an MMA Fighter and I do cardio 3 times a week (Mon/Wed/Fri) they range from running, punching, sit ups, pushups , medicine balls and more.

I have tried gaining weight with supplements eg: mass builder , and seem only to pick up weight on my stomach. I want to gain muscle but loose body fat.

I could really use your advice! I am currently around 72KG , I used to be able to see my six pack before I started using the mass builder.

Kind regards



Hi Matthew,

Thanks for the question.

I guess the first thing you need to do is get rid of the Mass Builder. You have to be really careful about weight gainers because 8 times out of 10, they are loaded with sugar which can be very detrimental to your gut.

The second thing I’d do is re-evaluate my weight training program. From what I understand, MMA schedules are quite gruelling and cardio training is of utmost importance.

Since high cardio vascular training is first and foremost, it can be very difficult to gain quality weight since it takes a lot of calories to do these types of activities.

Because it takes up a lot of energy to do these types of activities, you could be burning up much needed protein as well, which might be contributing to you not gaining any weight.

I’m not sure what your weight training routine consists of so it’s hard for me to determine what you may need for a weight training routine. However, what I do strongly recommend is that you start to incorporate compound movements into your routine. By that, I mean to start concentrating on doing squats, dead lifts, bench press’, and barbell shoulder press’. These movements take up a tremendous amount of muscular effort to complete and will basically “force” your body to grow. Make sure to do these movements first in your weight training routine.

Here is a basic, compound training routine.

Upper Body - Day 1

• Power cleans 4 x 8 reps;
• Dead lifts 3 x 7 reps;
• Bench press 3 x 7 reps;
• Barbell bent over rows 3 x 7 reps;
• Seated barbell press 3 x 7 reps;
• Shrugs 3 x 8 reps;• Incline site up 3 x 20 reps.

Lower Body - Day 2

• Squats 4 x 7 reps;
• Leg Press 3 x 8 reps;
• Stiff leg dead lifts 4 x 8 reps;
• Lying leg curls 3 x 8 reps;
• Standing calf raises 3 x 20 reps.

Here is how the weight training routine will look:

Monday - Day 1 Upper Body

Tuesday - Rest

Wednesday - Day 2 Lower Body

Thursday - Rest

Friday - Repeat

The way I look at it, is that if you want to start to gain quality weight, you need to train for it. So, start incorporating compound movements into your routine and you’ll start to see the results your looking for after 4 to 6 weeks of steady training. I’d alternate cardio on my off days from weight training.

I’m going to assume that flexibility and range of motion is very important in MMA fighting. I’d strongly recommend you incorporate a flexibility and stretching routine in your overall program.

See the following pages for more information:

I suggest you keep up with your regular cardio routine but add in compound movements to force your muscles to work harder, and grow.

The second part of this equation is your diet. In order to grow, you need to eat on a consistent basis that nourishes your body with quality calories. One of the reasons your not growing is because your burning too much calories than your taking in. That is, the cardio you are doing is taking out the calories you need in order to grow your muscle base. What you need to do is add in more, quality nutrients that provide your body with:

1) Top grade fuel (complex carbohydrates);
2) Top muscle building foods;
3) Quality fats

I’d get rid of the weight gainer and try substituting that with a quality protein powder. Try having two to three protein drinks per day. Have the protein drinks at the following times:

• Have one first thing in the morning, as soon as you get up;
• Have one immediately after weight training;
• Have one as soon as you go to bed

This simple schedule will get you on the right track to proper weight gain (provided you start doing some compound weight training).

It is of utmost importance that you start eating on a regular and consistent basis. This is the real key to weight gain. Eat every two to three hours. Here are some tips for you to follow:

1- Consume at least one gram of protein per pound of body weight each day. For example, if you weight 150 pounds, you should be eating at least 150 grams of protein each and every day.

2- Consume at least 3 to 4 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight each day. Make sure that most of these carbohydrates come from complex sources such as pasta, rice, oatmeal, potatoes and yams and fibrous vegetables such as broccoli and asparagus. The only time you should be feeding your body fast acting carbohydrates is immediately after your workouts.

3- Ingest health fats from sources such as nuts and seeds, olives, flax seed and canola oils. Reduce your intake of saturated and trans fatty acids.

4- Take is about 20 calories per pound of body weight. If you weight 160 pounds, you should be taking in about 3,200 calories per day.

5- If you want to add muscle, you need to consume calorie dense foods such as complex carbs and quality protein drinks. See this page here for more information:

Gaining Weight

6- Spread your eating over a minimum of five to six meals per day, taking in at least 30 grams of protein per meal. By spreading out your meals in this fashion will ensure that the nutrients for the muscle building process are constantly being supplied.

7- Try drinking a protein shake immediately after training. The shake should be made up of 40 to 50 grams of whey protein and about 50 to 100 grams of fast acting carbohydrates. This is a very important tip! And will definitely boost your efforts.

8- Drink a lot of water! Try drinking at least one gallon of water per day. Water is essential for building muscle.

9- Try using a quality creatine drink to boost your strength levels. I recommend Dymatize Xpand or Nutrabolics NOZ supercharged.

Now, I'm by no means an expert on MMA training so I suggest you try other websites that have MMA training specific routines. Try going to for more information.

I hope this helps.


As the owner of Building Muscle 101, I am committed to providing you the best practical weight training advice. I've been training for over 24 years (and still train to this day!) and the advice and guidance I provide comes directly from my experience and knowledge.

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