Strength and conditioning are two important aspects of MMA that are generally overlooked, especially by less experienced fighters. If you look at the champions in many of the divisions, you’ll see that all of them share one common quality: fantastic conditioning. The reasoning for this is two fold: 1. championship fights are 5 rounds, which require a better gas tank; and 2. strength and conditioning are so overlooked that people with really elite S&C can rise to the top much more easily than those without.
A good example of a fighter that uses his great strength and conditioning to his advantage is Georges St. Pierre, who likes to grind his opponents into submission with his incredible strength and gas tank. Georges is able to steamroll is competition so easily because of his superior wrestling and the fact that he never gets tired. If you’ve watched a lot of fights, you’d see that many end because one guy gases before another.
In order to avoid gassing like that, you’ll need to take on a solid MMA workout. The best thing to do is to follow a circuit similar to crossfit, but one that emphasizes anaerobic training because that’s what you’ll use most while in the ring. A lot of people don’t realize that running won’t do much for you in a fight because you’ll be wrestling and throwing the other person around for a good amount of it, which means you’ll be utilizing anaerobic metabolism and not aerobic.
In order to best train anaerobic endurance, you’ll want to do lots of power exercises in relatively high reps. The best exercises that you can do for MMA are the various cleans. These will build great core strength and will condition your muscles to last for a long time. They are very tiring exercises for a reason, you know. In order to utilize them to their fullest extent, you shouldnt’ do them more than once or twice a week. Your body needs time to recover between workouts and overworking it will actually hurt your conditioning.
If you’re going to follow an anaerobic program, make sure you also do some aerobic exercise as well. This will help you recover in down time and will also teach you how to keep your pace. While I don’t think aerobic conditioning is as important, I still think it’s a vital part of any MMA strength and conditioning workout.
If you want to learn more about conditioning for MMA, check out Eric Wong’s Ultimate MMA Strength and Conditioning program. This will teach you how to go for a full three or even five rounds without any issues.