In his 2008 book “Training for Warriors,” top MMA coach Martin Rooney recommends splitting your weekly MMA training into four sessions. On Mondays and Fridays you'll work the upper body and lower body respectively, while on Tuesdays and Thursdays you'll work on your cardio. This is in addition to your technique and flexibility training. Such an intense schedule greatly increases your nutritional requirements, so make sure you're eating well.
Rooney recommends that upper body workouts should work the neck, chest, back and arms. Do one exercise for each body part, but do three to four sets of eight repetitions. Alternate the exercise you do each week. For the chest, use the bench press and dips primarily, and work you back with pullups and rows. Arm work should focus on the forearms to aid grappling strength using exercises like plate pinches. Aim to also do some core work such as medicine ball crunches and throws.
Friday's lower body workout should work the quads, glutes, hips, hamstrings and calves. As before, alternate the exercises week by week. The usual compound movements are effective here, such as squats, deadlifts, Russian deadlifts and calf raises. Try to do four sets of eight repetitions for each exercises. Again, do some core work, too -- three sets of planks and other stability exercises would be ideal.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, work on your cardio. Rooney subjects his athletes to “Hurricane Training” -- nine sets of intense cardio bursts, such as treadmill sprints for 10 seconds, interspersed with bodyweight exercises like pushups and crunches. This is extremely difficult, so build up to this gradually over a period of weeks. If you are not already in good shape, it would be better to start with normal cardio work like jogging until your fitness improves.
To meet your nutritional needs for your workout, use a calculator such as the one at ExRx.net to calculate your caloric requirements per day. Once you've got that, follow the recommendations of John Berardi, diet coach for UFC Welterweight champion George St. Pierre, to break down your daily calories. If you are thin and it is hard to gain weight, you'd aim for 25 percent protein, 55 percent carbs and 20 percent fat.
If you are muscular and it is easy to gain muscle, your intake should consist of 30 percent protein, 40 percent carbs and 30 percent fat. If you have a large build and it is easy to gain weight, shoot for a diet of 35 percent protein, 25 percent carbs and 40 percent fat. When doing your calculations, note that carbs and protein have 4 calories per gram, while fat has 9.
Berardi classifies meals in two ways: anytime, or AT, and post-workout, or PW. AT meals should be higher in protein and fat, but lower in carbs, while PW meals should be high in protein and carbs but low in fat. Protein shakes high in carbs are ideas for PW meals, but you can use low-carb varieties as AT meals to up your protein intake. You can also add or substitute an AT meal if you're aiming to gain or lose weight.
- Training for Warriors - The Ultimate Mixed Martial Arts Workout; Martin Rooney
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