Training to be a Mixed Martial Artist?

Combine strength training & conditioning will give you those results


Written by: Christopher Miller, Professional Trainer & Health advocate


Not everyone is lucky enough to do what they love as a career. You hear that from actors and musicians all the time. Well, I’ve been lucky to incorporate what I love to do and call it work. I’ve been active all of my life and working in the physical world of health fitness from more than a decade. Over the course of my career, I have been blessed with coming in contact with both local and regional professional athletes, listened to their stories and best practices, and have experimented with many different types of training.


Part of my approach as a trainer and advocate for health professionals is to watch, listen and incorporate what I see into my training. As I walk through gyms across the country, I see the traditional barbells, dumbbells, cardio and strength machines that heavily populate these facilities but that is all I see – machines and equipment.  Many trainers believe that these traditional pieces of equipment and methods are the best way for a Mixed Martial Artist to train, build superior strength and obtain optimal cardiovascular results. However, I have three training tools that will give a Mixed Martial Artist peak results.


Battling Ropes:

 1.Increased aerobic and anaerobic capacity

 2.Increased power and strength

 3. Increased performance

 Brute Force Sandbags:

1.  Produces Real Core Power

2.  Engages muscle groups that traditional fitness equipment doesn’t!

3.  Promotes Explosiveness, and increased performance

 Heavy Chains:

1.  Increased strength and strength endurance

2.  Increased explosive power and power endurance

3.  Increased core stabilization


I am a firm believer of interval training and functional training for Mixed Martial Artists. I have found extreme benefits when training with “battling ropes,” “brute force sandbags” and heavy chains. These three tools are proven effective, in Mixed Martial Artist training. The use of the term functional training, is often misused by trainers so let me define the term in this context. Functional training is the ability to mimic the exact results you are training to obtain and experience in real life activities and fights. Mixed Martial Artists need strength, power, speed, agility and flexibility in order to compete with today’s athletes.


The exercises below will give you the essential tools needed to obtain strength, power, speed, agility and flexibility.


1.       Sandbag Squat Jumps

Place the sandbag on the upper part of your back with your hands on each handle. Make sure your feet are shoulder width apart and drop your hips. Perform a traditional squat and as you reach your full squat, jump off your feet into the air. Repeat this exercise for 10-15 reps (see picture for clarity).


2.       “Battling Rope” Punching Hooks

Using a 50 ft “Battling Rope” that is 2 inches in diameter, place the rope around a rounded pole or anchor for support. Stretch the rope out with both handles and assume a fighters stance — with the handles in each hand. Set clock or timer for 60 seconds and start throwing live hooks. You want to keep the core stabilized, and make sure to pivot off the proper foot (see picture for clarity).


3.       Chain Pulls

This exercise can be done with any size chain. Loop the chain around a kettlebell or pole and connect the ends using a loop ring to secure the ends together. Stretch the chain out and start chain pulls for full 3-minute rounds with a full 60-second rest in between rounds. Repeat exercise for 5 rounds (see picture for clarity).



The above training is based on experiences used during my training, although there are many training tools, and techniques that can be used in lieu of the mentioned tools above.  Safety and awareness is most important for these fighters and athletes. It’s always important to research a certain exercise or technique before jumping on the training bandwagon. Seek out a certified Strength and Conditioning coach or trainer for best results!

Chris Miller

Strength Coach







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