How to Get Started in MMA Training: The Ultimate Guide

Mixed martial arts (MMA) are an excellent way to tone your body and improve strength. MMA can also help you boost your confidence while simultaneously providing you self-defense techniques. Getting into shape with MMA can be beneficial to your mind, allowing you to find a sense of discipline through physical training.

Here are some steps you can take to get started in MMA training:

  1. Identify your MMA training goals.
  2. Find a location to train.
  3. Select a fighting style.
  4. Learn about the basics of MMA.
  5. Research training classes.
  6. Adjust your diet.
  7. Create a training plan.
  8. Understand the benefits and risks of MMA training.
  9. Practice sparring.

This article will give you all the tips and tricks you need to get started in MMA training. Having access to this ultimate guide can steer you in the right direction with the training plan you decide to follow. Read on to learn more about getting started in MMA training.

1.  Identify Your MMA Training Goals

The key to identifying your MMA training goals is asking yourself this question: Why do I want to get started in MMA training?

People begin MMA training for various reasons: self-defense, sport, physical fitness, or just wanting to explore a new hobby. Whatever your reason is, it’s vital to create goals and milestones for yourself centered around this reason.

If you want to focus on self-defense, you’ll want to center your plan around perfecting techniques.

If you’re doing MMA training to become a fighter within the sport, you would center your plan around stamina and strength so you can survive and thrive in the octagon.

If you are doing MMA training for physical fitness, you would center your plan on higher-intensity workouts intended to build strength and muscle endurance along with cardio exercises.

Identifying your training goals will give you the building blocks you need to form your MMA training plan. With a training plan concentrating on your specific goals, you will be able to fully use MMA training to your advantage.

2.  Find a Location to Train

Before beginning your MMA training, you need to find a location that provides you with enough space to move around freely. If you have space at home, or a nearby gym you could attend, these are great places to get started in MMA training.

Most gyms will offer beginner courses for those just starting out. These are an excellent way to learn about the fundamentals of MMA fighting and develop your skills.

3.  Select a Fighting Style

There are a variety of different styles to use in MMA fighting. You can choose to focus on one or all of these styles during your MMA training.

Blending techniques from each style can help you form a fighting style that works best for you as an MMA fighter. These styles include:

  • Stand-up fighting. This involves two opponents standing on their feet while fighting.
  • Clinch fighting. This style involves trying to dominate an opponent and take control of the fight by grappling while still being on your feet.
  • Ground fighting. This style includes forms of grappling used to try to place an opponent in a submission hold on the ground.

Explore these combat styles to figure out which ones you want to practice in your MMA training program.

Stand-Up Fighting

  • Kickboxing is a stand-up combat fighting style that involves calculated kicking and punching moves to take down an opponent. This style of fighting originated in Japan and is well-known for using artful strikes to win a fight.
  • Muay Thai. Commonly referred to as Thai Boxing, Muay Thai blends the use of fists, elbows, knees, and shins to strike and attack opponents. This style of combat sport is sometimes referred to as the art of eight limbs.
  • Boxing is mainly focused on punching as a form of striking. With boxing, there are techniques for dodging and attacking an opponent while standing. These techniques can be valuable for those in MMA training.
  • Kyokushin Karate. This form of karate is centered around discipline and self-improvement. Kyokushin karate is a stand-up, full-contact style of combat that allows you to simultaneously train the body and the mind to prepare for a fight.
  • Taekwondo. This Korean fighting style uses punching and kicking techniques to take down an opponent. Jump-kicks, fast kicks, and high-kicks are standard moves unique to a Taekwondo practice.
  • Sanda. Formally known as Sanshou, Sanda is a martial-arts style focused on Chinese kickboxing methods. This stand-up style of fighting uses a combination of striking and wrestling techniques to win a fight.
  • Combat Sambo. This aggressive style of hand-to-hand stand-up combat focuses on strikes directed towards taking down an opponent. Originating in Russian culture, the word Sambo is an acronym for the Russian phrase “samozashchita bez oruzhiya,” which means self-defense without weapons.

Clinch Fighting

  • Judo. This form of clinch fighting prevents the use of striking but instead uses grappling to take control of an opponent during a fight. Judo is used to force a rival fighter into submission using chokes, locks, or holds.
  • Japanese Jiu-Jitsu. The clinch fighting style of Jiu-Jitsu is an ancient Japanese form of martial arts used to subdue opponents. This style emphasizes using an opponent’s weight and force against them. Using throws, takedowns, holds, and pins, jiu-jitsu techniques provide various ways to put an opponent into submission.
  • Freestyle. With a basic knowledge of different clinch holds, you can use freestyle clinch fighting to defeat another fighter. These techniques can also be valuable tools to help you gain more control in a fight.
  • Greco-Roman Wrestling. This fighting style involves many effective grappling techniques that can be advantageous when training MMA. Suplexes, throws, and takedowns are common elements of Greco-Roman Wrestling moves.

Ground Fighting

  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Similar to Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is centered around using an opponent’s weight and force against them. However, BJJ focuses more on ground fighting. BJJ techniques involve more chokes and locks to subdue a competitor.
  • Sambo. Sambo is slightly different from the stand-up combat sambo style. Traditional Sambo blends ground fighting with grappling, focusing on throws and holds. This clinch fighting style uses a different point system than Combat Sambo.
  • Submission Wrestling. With submission wrestling, you will be concentrating on using submission holds to overcome another fighter. Submission wrestling is a style of ground fighting that uses grappling methods to win a fight.

The various fighting styles are all unique in their own way and bring their own advantages to fighters. Each type is helpful in different situations. Typically, MMA training classes will teach a blend of these styles to fighters in training.

Once you begin to familiarize yourself with the different fighting styles, you can choose a fighting style that helps you accomplish your MMA goals. If you want to start MMA training for self-defense purposes, you may want to focus on a fighting style that involves submission holds and chokes.

If you’re beginning MMA training so you can become a competitive fighter, you may want to dip your toes into all the different styles of fighting. The fun thing about martial arts is you get the chance to experiment with various fighting styles and use techniques from each one within your own form.

4.  Learn About the Basics of MMA

When beginning your MMA training, you will need to learn and familiarize yourself with the three fundamental components of MMA. These components are the building blocks to every single move and combination used in combat sports. Knowing these components will help you create a training plan that focuses on perfecting these moves.

Striking

Punches, kicks, and elbow strikes are all different forms of striking used in MMA fighting. When striking, it’s essential to focus on speed and force. Practicing striking moves consistently will allow the movement to become second nature so you can focus on having maximum speed and impact.

Strength training can help maximize power with your strikes. Also, having a training plan that includes an emphasis on increasing flexibility and mobility will allow you to have a wider range of motion when striking.

Flexibility will help your muscles with passive resistance and allow you to move in striking position while grappling without dislocating joints. Mobility exercises allow you to work your muscles at full strength from a number of positions, increasing your ability to slip in shots from less than ideal positions.

Grappling

Takedowns, throws, and clinch fighting are all different methods you can use when grappling. Grappling techniques help you take down your opponent during a fight. Escapes, reversals, and turnovers are all defense techniques you can practice with grappling.

These defense techniques can help you control a situation where you are being pinned or put into submission during a fight.  The best grappling training comes on the mat with trainers and partners. But you may also find a grappling dummy of suitable weight will provide you with resistance when you are practicing alone.

Submission

Submission moves allow you to take control of your opponent during a fight. You can use different submission holds, such as joint locks or chokes, to get your opponent to tap out. These moves can help you pin your opponent to the mat, preventing them from moving or defending themselves. Submission moves are a great tool to win a fight once you get your opponent on the ground.

By mastering these three fundamental components of MMA fighting, you can learn to mix and match moves to use in a fight. You can also research existing combinations to learn, which can assist you in your journey as a fighter. Once you master these three components, you can put them into action in the octagon against another fighter.

5.  Research Training Classes

Whether you’re MMA training at home or at the gym, you’ll want to find a training class that provides you with the workout you are seeking to accomplish your goals.  While you can learn a lot online, sooner or later you will want to train with other fighters. Look for local gyms and dojos in your areas.

6.  Adjust Your Diet

Before you begin any heavy-duty MMA training, it’s vital to make sure your current diet will be able to supply you with the energy and nutrients you need to endure combat sports. People actively training for MMA tend to thrive from high-calorie diets that include plenty of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.

High-calorie diets provide the fuel a fighter needs for intense MMA training. Be sure to eat lots of whole, nutritious foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Assess your current diet to make sure you’re getting the fuel you need to begin MMA training.

7.  Create a Training Plan

Getting started in MMA training is a great approach to getting your mind and body in shape. However, it’s essential to follow a training plan to avoid injury effectively and improve your combat skills. You need a program that will focus on building endurance, strength, flexibility, and technique.

When beginning MMA training for the first time, it’s essential to have a game plan. Without a plan, you won’t be able to focus on the aspects of training that are fundamental to MMA. Having a program that focuses on endurance, strength, flexibility, and technique will pave the way for your successful journey as an MMA fighter.

Even if you are only training for fitness purposes and do not plan to become an active fighter, forming a plan will help you accomplish a more effective workout. Including cardio, weight training, resistance training, and stretching within your training plan will help you thrive as an MMA fighter.

8.  Understand the Benefits and Risks of MMA Training

As with any new sport or hobby you undertake, you should take time to understand the benefits and risks of what you will be doing. MMA training is a very active contact sport that comes with a multitude of benefits and risks.

MMA Training Benefits

Many physical and mental benefits come with MMA training. The intense physical activity involved will help improve body image, regulate your sleeping patterns, enhance your endurance, and boost your coordination. You will also learn self-defense techniques that give you the capability to defend yourself against attackers.

In addition to strengthening your body, MMA training can strengthen your mind. Your sense of focus will improve, along with your ability to endure pain. Confidence can also be gained from training for combat sports. MMA training will help you achieve discipline and will teach you to have patience with your body. Your mental and physical stamina will increase, along with your ability to persevere through pain and stressful situations.

Risks of MMA Training

Similar to many other contact sports, there are risks that come with MMA training. When beginning your journey in MMA training, making yourself aware of the risks involved can help you prepare your body for any trauma that may occur. MMA fighters are at high risk of being injured during a fight.

Here is a list of possible injuries that MMA fighters are susceptible to:

  • Cuts
  • Bruises
  • Fractures
  • Broken bones
  • Muscle tears
  • Concussions
  • Brain injuries
  • Sprains
  • Joint dislocation

 By properly warming up your body and stretching your muscles, you can attempt to prevent some of these injuries. However, other than self-defense, there is no guaranteed way to avoid these injuries. It’s essential to be aware of the risks that come with combat sports.

9.  Practice Sparring

Finding a sparring partner can allow you to be able to practice the techniques you’ve learned on a real person. Sparring will teach you to stay present in a fight and to be able to focus on form and stance in a high-intensity situation.

Finding a sparring partner will be a lot easier if you attend an MMA-focused gym, but it’s not impossible to find a partner at a conventional gym. You can even practice sparring with a friend who is also training MMA. Sparring gives you hands-on experience and prepares you for competition and self-defense.

How to Start MMA Training at Home

If you have adequate space, your home is a great place to begin MMA training. Starting your practice at home can help you practice the fundamentals you need to further your MMA training at the gym. At home, you can learn the basics of MMA and begin increasing your endurance and strength.

Here are five steps you can take to start MMA training at home:

  1. Designate a training space. Designating a training space within your home is essential to your journey. Without adequate space, you risk injury or accidental destruction of your personal property. You can use a garage, home gym, an outdoor yard, or even extra space in your living room or bedroom as a designated training space.
  2. Warm-up and stretch. Warming up your body is essential before any training workout. Stretching your muscles can prevent tears and injuries while simultaneously improving your flexibility. Having a warm-up routine can prevent injury and prepare your body for training. A standard warm-up for MMA fighters is jumping rope or going for a run to get the heart pumping.
  3. Practice shadow boxing. Practicing shadow boxing allows you to get comfortable with some of the movements involved in MMA. If you have access to a mirror, practice your shadow boxing in front of it so you can pay attention to your form. If you don’t have one, take a video of yourself, and watch it to see what your form looks like.

You can learn some combinations from this Youtube video:

4. Incorporate endurance and resistance training. Cardio is a tried-and-true method to work on increasing your endurance. Doing short bursts of sprints in between jogging can help you maximize your stamina so you can hold up in a high-intensity fight. Resistance training using weights and resistance bands will help increase your strength and will lead you to succeed in your MMA training.

5. Research online training classes. The internet is full of tons of free resources for people seeking to begin MMA training at home. You can choose to stick with one online training class that you like, or you can mix and match, taking pieces from different workouts that are suitable to your specific training plan. Check out this Beginner’s MMA Crash Course you can find for free on YouTube:

 

Helpful Equipment for MMA Training at Home

Twomaples Freestanding Punching Bag

Using a punching bag in your training will help your body get accustomed to the act of striking a heavy object. The Twomaples Freestanding Punching Back from Amazon.com is an affordable option that is easy to assemble. No hassle of having to hang a heavy bag from the ceiling! With this freestanding bag, you will be able to focus on increasing power and stamina with your strikes.

A punching bag will also allow you to practice combinations and grow comfortable with these movements. With enough practice, the striking movements and combinations should become muscle memory.

Sanabul Elastic Professional 180 Inch Hand Wraps

Wrapping your hands before practicing with a punching bag will protect the bones in your hands and wrists. Sanabul elastic handwraps from Amazon.com are used by many professional fighters.

They are comfortable, affordable, and easy to use. You will be learning proper form for striking during your training, but one wrong move can cause severe injury. Use hand wraps to prevent these injuries during your MMA training. Hand wraps are also commonly used in MMA fighting, so it is good to become used to wearing these while training.

Jayefo Beast 58 Grappling Dummy

Having a grappling dummy around for your training will help you practice your grappling techniques. A grappling dummy is an excellent tool to use in your combat sports training.

The Jayefo Beast 58 from Amazon.com is one of the best on the market, and the most affordable! This dummy is perfect for beginners.

You can check out this video of beginner grappling dummy training drills on YouTube for free:

Using these will help you learn techniques to take control of your opponent during a fight.

Pinroyal 4-in-1 Adjustable Dumbbells Set

Dumbbells and kettlebells are valuable tools for resistance training and strength building. The Pinroyal adjustable dumbbells set from Amazon.com has all the tools you need for weight training.

Maximizing your strength will allow you to have powerful strikes during an MMA fight. You can master all the techniques in the world, but without strength building, it can be hard to succeed in MMA fighting. Use dumbbells or kettlebells to build strength during your workout routine.

Amazon Basics High-Density Foam Roller

Throughout your training process, you must pay attention to taking care of your body. This Amazon Basic foam roller from Amazon.com is highly-rated by consumers and is guaranteed to relieve your muscle pain. Using a foam roller on sore muscles will help relieve any tightness.

Foam rollers for muscle recovery can help you ease muscle pain after a strenuous workout. Making foam rolling a habit after exercises can also help you increase muscle mobility.

Disadvantages to MMA Training at Home

While it is definitely possible to get started in MMA training at home, there are some disadvantages to only having a home practice. Going to a local gym can provide you with tools you need that you don’t have at home.

Here are some reasons why you should consider taking your MMA training to the gym if possible:

  • Partner practice is more available at gyms. If you want to practice sparring, you’ll need a partner and the space to do it. Going to an MMA-specific gym can help you find a partner to practice with. Sparring with a real-life partner will help you learn to think quickly on your feet in a fight. With a partner, you can practice submissions and escaping submissions–something you simply can’t do with a grappling dummy.
  • Self-defense training takes two (at least). If you’re beginning MMA training for self-defense purposes, you’ll need another person to practice with to perfect your techniques fully. Even if you fully familiarize yourself with combat methods, not having a person to practice them with won’t let your body become accustomed to using these techniques in a real-life situation.
  • Trainers can help you perfect your form. A gym trainer who is knowledgeable about MMA can help make sure your forms and combinations are accurate. Without proper form, you risk injuring yourself or having a less effective fighting style. A trainer can make sure you are practicing the correct stances and forms to succeed as an MMA fighter.

How to Start MMA Training at a Gym

If you’re deciding to take your MMA training to the gym, you will find many resources available there for people wanting to begin MMA training. The variety of equipment and availability of trainers can help you gain strength and work on increasing your endurance. It’s also a great place to network with other people interested in combat sports. 

Here are four steps you can take to start MMA training at the gym:

  1. Find a gym that meets your needs. The most crucial step to starting MMA training at a gym is finding a gym that is suitable to your needs. If you have an MMA-focused gym in your neighborhood, that would be ideal for getting into MMA training. However, a typical gym will be adequate to provide you equipment to succeed in your MMA training journey.

It’s essential to keep in mind that attending a non-MMA-focused gym could make it harder to find a sparring partner.

  1. Explore the possibility of working with a personal trainer. A personal trainer can help you develop a training plan that will fully maximize your body’s potential. If the personal trainer you find is experienced with MMA fighting, they can help make sure your stances and forms are accurate in your practice. Personal trainers can help identify any errors you are making and provide adjustments to help you succeed as an MMA fighter.
  2. Attend MMA-specific fitness classes. Some gyms, mainly MMA-focused gyms, offer fitness classes geared towards people in MMA training. Practicing in a class can help you meet people on a similar journey to yours. You also have the opportunity to practice your moves in person with other fighters. MMA-specific fitness classes can help you learn techniques for attack and defense that can further your MMA training.
  3. Utilize gym equipment for your training plan. Having access to gym equipment during your MMA training can facilitate your training process. Gyms have a variety of equipment you can use to focus on strength-building and endurance. Cardio machines, like treadmills, ellipticals, and stair machines, can be used to improve your stamina and endurance while fighting. Gyms have a machine for every single muscle group you want to focus on.

In Conclusion

There are many benefits to getting started in MMA training. When forming a training plan, take time to develop one centered around your personal purpose. By creating goals for yourself, you can improve your skills as an MMA fighter. Training for MMA will enhance your mind and body’s health while providing you tools for self-defense.

Whether you’re training at home or a gym, creating a specific plan for yourself will help you succeed as an MMA fighter. We hope we have provided you with the building blocks you need to formulate this plan to get started on your MMA training today!

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