Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll almost certainly have heard of MMA, mixed martial arts, cage fighting, etc.
Over the last decade, it has been one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, earning fans from all age groups and backgrounds.
Some watch it for the thrill of the fight, others like to study the technical aspects of the fighter, but there are also those of us that tune in to see elite athletes, whose bodies operate like well-oiled machines, performing feats that seem superhuman to the average person.
As a result of that last point, MMA gyms have begun springing up all over to help you “train like the pros.” Now, while their fighting skills are where they make their money, they wouldn’t be able to do what they do without the attention to detail they put into their bodies outside of the octagon.
That brings us to today’s article.
I’m going to give you 5 steps to build an MMA fighters physique, so whether you want to compete or just look like you could, you’ll have all the tools you need to get that superhuman physique.
Table of Contents
What Is an “MMA Physique?”
When I use the term “MMA physique.” people may wonder exactly what I mean.
While you probably know what they look like on the surface, understanding what is going on inside may be somewhat less common.
We know that the majority of fighters look like a million bucks, but so do bodybuilders, fitness models, swimmers, etc.
What separates them from the rest is how their body is built to function while looking the way it does.
When looking at the body of an MMA fighter, you can guarantee they have to be:
That’s why training for an MMA physique is so beneficial for everyone, regardless if you actually plan to compete in the sport itself.
It will allow you to look fantastic while providing a substantial amount of physical benefits at the same time.
The 5 Steps
#1. Explosive Training
We start with one of the core components of any MMA routine: Explosiveness.
No matter how well-trained you are, you’ll never get anywhere in a combat sport if your opponent can see what you’re going to do before you actually do it.
That’s why it’s important for them to be able to execute sudden, explosive movements.
Beyond the world of MMA, this is an equally important physical attribute, as having good explosive strength provides you with good reactions and increased power.
Training for explosiveness is very effective as it allows you to combine muscle building and cardiovascular work together, giving a more well-rounded, effective workout.
It will provide a substantial amount of anaerobic conditioning, based on the short, yet intense, durations of the exercise. This helps to give the muscles that well-defined look MMA fighters are so famous for.
Some examples of explosive exercises include:
- Box Jumps
- Squat Jumps
- Kettlebell Swings
- Shuttle Sprints
#2. Strength Training
While being explosive is essential to the success of an MMA fighter, it would still be relatively useless if there were no strength behind their movements. This is why a substantial amount of strength training goes into their regime.
For those of you interested purely in how their bodies are built, this is also how they build that hard, dense facet of their physique.
Traditional strength training applies incredible pressure to the full range of fibers in a muscle, causing it to grow thick and strong. It also increases the strength of joints and connective tissues due to the large compound movements involved, which train multiple muscles in unison.
Without this in the routine, your physique will end up looking flat and soft, the exact opposite of what you’re going for.
The best exercises for building strength are the “big five,” which consist of:
- Bench Press
- Military Press
- Barbell Rows
Using these as the basis for your routine will help form the foundation of your physique.
A good routine to start with, especially if you’re looking to get shredded while improving your compound lifts, is the Warrior Shredding Program by Kinobody.
#3. Endurance Training
Once you’ve developed your strength and explosiveness, you technically have the tools to compete, provided you’re actually good enough on the mat, of course.
Unfortunately, unless you can win every match in its opening seconds, you’re going to struggle without being well conditioned and possessing great stamina.
This is why endurance training is so important for MMA fighters, as it allows them to perform to the best of their ability for extended periods.
It’s also how they maintain such lean physiques, as aerobic training uses fat to provide energy, which is why it needs to be a core element in the training of anyone who wants to look like they do.
When it comes to endurance training, you’ll be exercising at a moderate intensity for an extended period of time. Some of the most popular options are:
While everything we’ve looked at so far focused on what a fighter can do TO their opponent, this is just as much about how they cope with what happens to them as well.
Having good flexibility is important for your mobility when performing strikes and grapples, but is also essential for your own durability.
A good level of flexibility will allow you to be put in holds, without such a great risk of pain or injury, dramatically increasing a fighter’s chance of victory.
When it comes to how this plays a part in their physique, the answer is twofold.
Firstly, it improves posture, adding that composed, upright dominance to their appearance.
Secondly, it increases the range of motion at joints. This allows for muscles to be worked through a greater range, which leads to more well-rounded development.
Including a selection of stretches into your weekly routine will pay great dividends when it comes to the long term development of your physique.
You could follow everything I have said to the letter, and you still wouldn’t get anywhere without a diet that supports what you do in the gym.
This is where the fuel comes from to repair the damage you do during a workout and make your muscles bigger and stronger.
While it’s impossible to say exactly what you should be consuming as everyone is different, there are a few general rules to follow.
- Consume at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.
- Ensure you get enough fat in your diet (this is where athletes often slip up).
- Obtain your carbs from whole, brown sources such as oats, rice, and sweet potatoes.
- Aim for a balance of 20% fats, 40% carbs, and 40% protein in your diet.
- Keep hydrated.
- Eat plenty of vegetables.
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Now, while I can’t guarantee you’ll look exactly like your favorite MMA star if you follow these steps, it will certainly give you a fighting chance.
Remember, these are elite athletes, with access to the best equipment, supplements, trainers, and dieticians money can buy. This isn’t their hobby; it’s their livelihood.
So don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t achieved your dream body in 6 weeks time.
As long as you’re moving in the right direction, just stay committed, and before long, you’ll see that the superhuman physique you’ve always dreamt of might not be as unobtainable as you thought.
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