3 Tips to Train Like a UFC Fighter

The first time I stepped into a boxing ring, I fell in love with the sport. The training, the battle in the ring physically, and in your soul when you’re in the ring, makes any combat sport the purest form of competition there is. 

The world’s best conditioned athletes are fighters. The following is a guest post from Eric Wong, a good friend of mine who trains UFC fighters for battle. Take these lessons to heart, and build a Legendary Body.

I fell in love with the sport of MMA when I was watching a VHS recording of some guy in a bath robe (Royce Gracie) beating up guys much bigger than him in a no-holds barred tournament.

I can’t remember how my friends and I got a hold of this tape, but we all gathered around and watched it with an unmatched level of excitement.

bloodsportIt was like seeing a real-life version of the movie Bloodsport. Without Jean-Claude van Damme or the monkey style guy, unfortunately.

Soon after, I signed up for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lessons at a local club in my home town of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.  I trained a few months but had to quit as I was off to get my Kinesiology degree from the University of Waterloo.

When I returned to my parent’s nest (a broke university grad), I got a job as a trainer in a local big box gym, then, after a few paycheques, signed up to train at the martial arts club again.

Things sure changed in the 5 years I was gone…

The biggest change was that the head instructor, Jeff Joslin, began competing as a professional MMA fighter. I felt as if my Kin degree were going to waste training 40 year old fat women to lose weight, so I figured it’d be a lot more fun working with Jeff. So I offered to train him for free to help him with his S&C.

I was right.

He was the most committed and hardest working individual I’d ever worked with and a blast to train. We’ve remained good friends since. And on top of that, I got to see the results of my work with him not on the bathroom scale, but on the weigh-in scale before the fight and even better, inside the Octagon.

I’d found my passion.

This was back in 2006.

He fought twice that year, one for a championship belt (which he won) and another for his UFC debut. The UFC fight was vs. Josh Koscheck and Jeff was gracious enough to bring me along, which was my first live UFC ever and charged me up with electricity for that entire week.Eric Wong MMA

I’ve been training MMA fighters since and have had a blast doing it. The highlight was being inside the Octagon after another one of the fighters I’ve trained, Claude Patrick, won his UFC debut. That was crazy.

In this article, I’d like to share 3 tips to train like a UFC fighter – tips that I’ve used with the dozens of mixed martial artists I’ve worked with over the years.

These tips will not only help you get into top fight shape by developing explosive power, endless cardio and the various fitness attributes that a well-conditioned fighter requires, they’ll also come with a nice little side effect – the chiseling of a lean, athletic physique.

When you train and eat like a professional fighter, your body will look and perform like a fighter.

Not a bulky, bodybuilder’s body where you’ll have trouble scratching your back, but a body where you could run, jump, punch, kick and pick someone up and slam them and continue to do that for round after round.

Now, if you’re not a fighter or you don’t train MMA, you can just feel good about the fact that you COULD do these things, if you wanted to. :)

So here are the 3 tips to train like a UFC fighter, implement them in your training and develop well rounded athleticism. These aren’t your typical, “Squats are the best exercises for the legs”  tips, but a higher level of thinking that you can adopt to help you get better results, faster. I hope you implement them into your training and when you do, you’ll feel their power.

Tip #1 – Train the Right Things in the Right Order

Most of the fighters I work with have made the following mistake: working endlessly on their cardio before developing a solid base of Strength and Power.

The goal of getting into top shape for MMA can be summed up with two words: Power Endurance. The ability to explode through 3×5 minute rounds, whether it’s Round #1 or #3. If you have no Power, you can have no Power Endurance.

And to first develop Power, you need a base of Strength.

Training the right things in the right order is what the concept of Periodization is all about – training specific qualities in different phases (weeks or months) of training so that each subsequent phase builds on the previous gains you made to achieve your ultimate goal.

Periodization is what separates the pros from the amateurs.

It’s a scientific approach to training and is the most efficient way to train, minimizing extra work load to allow for more time and energy to be devoted to skill training. MMA fighters have to learn so many skills: boxing, Muay Thai, BJJ, wrestling, etc…

This requires at least 4 days/week of training. The pros I train work their MMA skills 6 days/week, sometimes twice a day.

This doesn’t leave a lot of room for S&C.

That’s why Periodization is key – with a plan and clear goals in mind, you can shave off the stuff that’s just extra work but doesn’t help you achieve your goal, giving you more time and energy to direct towards your skill development.

If you’re not a fighter, this tip will give you more free time and energy to devote to your family, or your business or job, or just chilling out and enjoying life, whatever that means for you. Read Tips #2 & #3 on Page 2 >>>

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  • KirkH

    this is great advice, as a mma fighter myself i have purchased the ultimate strength and conditioning and also the quickness kills programs off eric wongs website, and i can highly reccomend them both. his website is extremely good aswell, with some great articles in much the same vein as this site, complex topics broken down well for the modern man.
    having had 8 mma fights now, i can honestly say my cardio, or as eric puts it more realistically, power endurance, was horribly lacking. i never really got out of breath or was ever wheezing for air, but my endurance in my arms an shoulders prevented me massivly from competing at a level i wanted to. after completing just an 8 week program of erics, my last fight was the first time in 2 years where i could have gone another 2 rounds as i wasnt exhausted in my limbs.unfortunatly i lost a split decision(which most onlookers said was questionable as i inflicted the most damage an only really lost the “cage control” scoring element as i had my back on the cage for alot of the fight, but i suppose as they say, “never leave it to the judges “), but i enjoyed the fight for maybe the first time as i wasnt worried about gassing out.
    in conclusion, this site and eric wongs are my 2 favourites when it comes to physical fitness and “being a man”, and just wanted to show my appreciation for both :)

    p.s no i dont work or promote for eric or anyone, their programs are just solid gold!

    • http://www.chadhowsefitness.com/2011/01/20-characteristics-of-a-real-man/ Chad Howse

      Thanks for the note Kirk! Eric has some AWESOME stuff/programs/info…

      He’ll be sharing more of his wisdom for WARRIOR WEEK on the CHF Newsletter so make sure you’re signed up.

  • Spence

    This is just what I was wanting to find! I have wanted to achieve a fighter’s physique for a while but when I tried to find things on the web, it was very general. These 3 tips are very specific and extremely helpful, thanks!

    • http://www.chadhowsefitness.com/2011/01/20-characteristics-of-a-real-man/ Chad Howse

      Awesome!