Are you interested in an MMA training schedule for beginners and how it compares to a professional MMA training schedule?
In this article, we’ll look at a professional MMA training schedule and use it to compare and create an MMA training schedule for beginners.
When you see what the professionals do, you can implement their scheduling and strategies to create your own personalized MMA training schedule to fit your circumstances and meet your own goals.
What Do All MMA Training Schedules Include?
An MMA training schedule is created to help achieve the following goals.
- Improve martial skills – with the goal of attaining the ability to defend one’s self or for competing and potentially making a career out of MMA
- Improve athleticism – becoming faster, stronger, leaner, and more mobile
- Build confidence, self-discipline, and widen social circles – MMA is transferable to daily life
In order to achieve the above you need to train consistently yet avoid overtraining, and have great sleep, nutrition, and recovery. One of the best ways to make this happen is by following an MMA training schedule.
An MMA training schedule needs to include:
- Martial skills training – boxing, muay Thai, wrestling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu (Bjj), movement & technique efficiency
- Athleticism and performance training – strength and conditioning, mobility, stability, cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, and speed
- Sparring and/or competing – brings together martial skill and athleticism and tests them under pressure to check progression
- Cognitive conditioning – memory and pattern recognition, depth perception, eye-hand coordination, reactions, focus (professionals)
- Adequate rest – sleep is most important but there also needs to be the correct timing between different training sessions for daily rest
So, with this in mind, what do the professionals follow?
Professional MMA Training Schedule
Professional MMA training schedules have fighters training two times a day, and sometimes three if they feel up to it, 6 days a week, for a total of 12-18 sessions per week.
The seventh day is taken for rest, but most professionals take this day to do low-intensity cardiovascular workouts, cognitive conditioning, or mobility training.
There are many different directions MMA training schedules can take, but some of the most common involve one or a mix of the following.
- Most intense training session in the morning (AM) followed by an as intense as possible/less intense session in the afternoon/evening
- Alternating low and high-intensity days
- Two high-intensity days followed by one low-intensity day
Not only the intensity, but the type of training can differ each day.
- Skills training day
- Athletic performance day
- Cardiovascular day
- Hypertrophy weight lifting day
- Strength training day
- Mixed sessions each day or on some days
While all professional fighters have different MMA training schedules, the majority of them train most intensely in the morning AM session and as intense or less intense in the afternoon/evening, combined with a mix of different training sessions each day.
This MMA training schedule ensures they give 100% every day to the morning session when they’re energetic and fully recovered from quality sleep and breakfast.
Also, there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to train most intensely in the afternoon/evening despite a low-intensity morning session.
The majority of MMA fighters mix training sessions each day as they need to be the most well-rounded athletes of any sport in the world, and it also gives them ample recovery time between sessions so they can be as optimal for each one.
For example, they’ll do heavy weightlifting in the morning and intense afternoon skills training. There is no benefit of doing another heavy weightlifting session in the afternoon as their body is fatigued and they won’t perform their best.
It also makes sense to separate lower body weight training and skills training which require full power in the legs such as wrestling.
It’s better to train legs in the morning and combine this with skills training such as boxing or Muay Thai as they’re not as dependent on fully recovered legs.
Professionals are always thinking about these things and how their training schedule can be optimized for their current goals.
Here’s a table of a typical professional MMA training schedule.
|Day||Morning Session (AM)||Afternoon Session (PM)||Evening Session (Optional)|
|Monday||Lower body weightlifting (hypertrophic/strength)||Skills training (muay Thai)||Rest/mobility/Bjj/cardio|
|Tuesday||Skills training (kickboxing)||Sparring +/ cardio||Rest/mobility|
|Wednesday||Upper body weightlifting (hypertrophic/strength)||Skills training (Bjj/wrestling)||Rest/mobility/Bjj/cardio|
|Thursday||Skills training (wrestling/boxing)||Skills training (muay Thai/Bjj) / cardio||Rest/mobility|
|Friday||Sport-specific weight lifting (function lifts)||Cognitive condition +/ skills training||Rest/mobility/cardio|
|Saturday||Sparring sessions||Rest/work on what’s needed||Rest/mobility|
|Sunday||Rest/light cardio||Rest/light skills||Rest/mobility (stretching)|
For the most elite performance, UFC/MMA fighters will sleep after their intense morning session for an hour or two so they can recover and train as intensely as possible in the afternoon session.
If a fighter isn’t feeling as rested or energized in the afternoon, it can be a lower-intensity session.
If UFC fighter feels they have great cardio already, they can replace the cardio sessions with skills training.
Overall, this is an example of a professional MMA weekly training schedule, but as fighters are individuals with different strengths and weaknesses, the schedule can vary wildly for each.
They may also use a schedule like the one above, and then mix and match sessions differently in the next week.
MMA Training Schedule for Beginners
Most MMA beginners have similar goals to professionals but don’t have the same time available to achieve them.
An MMA training schedule for beginners needs to fit around working hours, so this means training once per day, 6 or 7 days per week, and adding sessions where possible.
As mentioned above, training sessions are most ideal in the morning as people are fully refreshed from sleeping, at their most focused, and haven’t used their body and brain energy on other activities.
However, everyone’s day is different and beginners should train when they can.
Here’s a table of a typical MMA training schedule for beginners.
|Day||Daily Session (AM/PM)||Second Session (If Possible)|
|Monday||Skills training (muay Thai/boxing)||Skills training/weightlifting|
|Tuesday||Weightlifting + optional skills training||Rest/mobility/cardio|
|Wednesday||Skills training (wrestling/Bjj)||Skills training/weightlifting|
|Thursday||Weightlifting + optional cardio/skills training||Rest/mobility/cardio|
|Friday||Skills training (muay Thai/kickboxing)||Skills training/weightlifting|
|Sunday||Skills training (wrestling/Bjj)||Skills training/weightlifting|
Where professionals may do non-MMA-specific cardio such as swimming, running, or cycling, an MMA beginner should only do their cardio with MMA-specific cardio such as bag and pad work, sparring/touch sparring, shadowboxing, or chain wrestling.
This is because MMA-specific cardio improves endurance while simultaneously improving skills/technique, and the main focus for beginners is on improving skills and also keeping up with heavy weightlifting days for building muscle and strength.
If more sessions become available, a beginner can fit in high-intensity cardiovascular sessions. Still, beginners are better served focusing on developing skills and increasing strength and muscle as these take the longest to build.
MMA training schedules for beginners can have them weightlifting in the second daily session (if possible) because their primary energy and focus should be on skills training first.
If a beginner is lacking muscle and strength, they can always fight/compete in a lower-weight class division.
Note: If a beginner is seriously pressed for time and resources, they can focus on Bjj for skills training and learn to strike via bag and pad intervals. If more time and money become available, add a striking martial art such as kickboxing or muay Thai, followed by wrestling to become a well-rounded mixed martial artist.
The Bottom Line
An MMA training schedule for beginners doesn’t look too dissimilar to a professional UFC fighter.
The only difference is professionals do at least double the weekly training sessions because they have the money and time to train more often and focus on recovery between sessions.
Both professionals and beginners are best suited to having their first session as the most intense of the day, and the second session as intense as possible (depending on energy and circumstances).
The second session can be scaled down in intensity if burnout/low energy arises. If burnout symptoms continue, have a low-intensity day or rest day.
Both professionals and beginners are also best suited to an MMA training schedule which splits the sessions each day into skills training and athleticism training (weights, cardio).
This allows fighters to recover before each session, and it also allows everything to get trained each week.