The Covid-19 pandemic changed the world. Training in dojos were prohibited for a while, and fighters had to discover their own ways to stay fit and healthy. For example, the former UFC 145-pound champion Max Holloway confessed that “Zoom training sessions” were everything he had during the first few months of the pandemic. There were no spars or mitt work ahead of his title bout against Alexander Volkanovski.
Yet, it was one of the best performances we’ve seen from the all-time greatest Hawaiian mixed martial artist, and a majority of fans believed he won three rounds in his 5-round belt affair versus Alexander Volkanovski. But the judges disagreed, and Holloway lost via split decision.
If you make a thorough comparison between Max Holloway before UFC 251 and the post-UFC 251 version of the same fighter, you’ll notice massive improvements in footwork, ducking, and slips.
So what the heck was Max doing at home when he nearly won the current division champion? Well, he adjusted to the new circumstances.
Which Is The Best Routine For Me?
Well, there are many lovely MMA home workout routines for beginners that can boost your performance to the next level in a very short time. But before you start, you must answer a few questions. We will try to help you discover your priorities and the easiest way to progress. Please read carefully.
1. Did You Train Some Other Martial Arts Or Are You A 100% Rookie?
Striking and grappling are very much different bases. Your training sessions will be different.
2. Which Is Your Greatest Problem In MMA?
For example, if you’re an elite-level kickboxer, you might get destroyed or submitted as soon as the fight gets dragged to the ground. Focusing on your weak spots is the key to quick progress.
3. Do You Plan To Compete In The Future?
If your answer is “yes”, it demands a more serious approach to the training sessions and hiring a strength/conditioning coach. A beginner with good or elite-level cardio is more dangerous than a top-notch athlete in round three, mark my words!
4. Do You Have Some Kind Of Equipment At Your Home?
If you have no equipment at all, it makes the job harder. You can’t boost heavy bag skills, ground and pound plus transition and submission game (unless you have a partner), and clinch work. Shadowboxing is good, but it’s only one aspect of the game. You’ll have to visit your dojo for cage control and fence transitions, as a majority of us don’t live in a villa.
5. Can You Adjust Quickly?
If you can’t, you’re in big trouble. For example, I’ve noticed many fighters improved their shadow boxing skills during the pandemics because contact was not allowed. That’s an example of a world-class adjustment. Also, Wilson Reis trained a lot with a grappling dummy (he is primarily a submission specialist), and later submitted his opponent via arm-triangle choke in the first fight after the lockdown.
There are thousands of high-quality training routines, but when it comes to beginners, you must focus on the basic aspects of the game.
It includes three basic punches, low kicks, and middle kicks. You’ll want to learn some basic takedowns and submissions, as well as good back control, and punches on the ground (unfortunately, elbows are prohibited in the majority of amateur competitions, which might be a huge problem for Muay Thai specialists).
Stamina is important everywhere, from amateur competitions to UFC and Bellator. When your gas tank is empty, it is empty – you are turning into a sitting duck or a standing heavy bag and you’ll be doomed.
Beginners will have hard time landing combos, plus their overall defensive skills are… well, let’s be honest – terrible. First of all, we have a question for you. Do you have a mirror in your garage or room? If the answer is yes, then you can control your mistakes easily. It will improve your defensive skills too.
It is easy to control the position of your other arm when you strike the opponent with the rear or leading arm. If you have a mirror, just check whether the fist stays in the level of your mouth/cheeks or not. Now here are some good combinations.
Boxing is one of the trickiest martial arts. One punch can turn the lights out on your opponent, but you can also end up on the ground in a split second. There are many lovely potential fight-ending combos. Yet, beginners are limited on basic strikes and combinations.
Let’s learn the names of strikes now – 1 means jab, 2 means cross, 3 is lead hook, 4 is rear hook, 5 is lead uppercut, while 6 refers to the rear uppercut.
Here are some good combinations (note – this count works for both orthodox and southpaw fighters):
We encourage you to try other combinations out, but don’t forget that feints and feinting combos are very hard for beginners.
Kicks are a great way to confuse the defensive opponent who constantly fights on his backfoot. Yet, beginners are comfortable with front kicks, low kicks, and maybe oblique kicks and high kicks; any other kick demands a lot of training.
- Jab – rear low kick;
- Jab – rear high kick;
- Jab – rear cross – right low kick;
- Rear cross – front high kick;
- Lead low kick – rear front kick;
- Rear front kick – lead middle kick;
- Jab – rear hook – lead low kick;
- Rear cross – lead hook – rear hook – lead high kick.
If you’re a beginner, there are two types of MMA home workouts for beginners when it comes to the area of shadowboxing.
Number one is technical shadowboxing. Stand in front of the mirror or, if you don’t have one, train the technical aspect of the game. For example, throw strikes slower, but work on your technique and think about the move all the time. You can do this for five to ten minutes, or more. But this must be low-intensity workout. The focus is on the technical aspect of the game.
Number two is throwing quick combos and strikes for a shorter time. The intensity is MODERATE-TO-HIGH, and the round lasts one to five minutes. You are simulating the fight with the opponent, throwing strikes from the list above from time to time.
And please, if you’re a beginner, train counterstrikes later, learn to attack properly in the first place. Rest between rounds one to three minutes, depending on your levels of stamina, and do at least five to eight rounds.
This sounds like a fair stand-up routine for beginners.
Sorry guys, but Muay Thai strikes are not for beginners, as elbows and knees are not allowed in amateur MMA. If you become an intermediate or advanced striker, we might discuss that aspect of the game.
Sprawling + Core Training Sessions
Sprawling is the key to successful takedown defense and keeping the fight on the feet, especially for beginners who come from striking martial arts. A top-notch striker with poor grappling/wrestling experience must make learning takedown defense a priority.
You need good timing to stuff a takedown attempt, but let’s stick to basics. The drill that helps you most with takedown defense is burpees. Here is how to do it:
- You must stand with your hands slightly wider or slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart, depending on your martial art. Distribute the weight evenly between your toes and heels, keeping your arms at your sides.
- Push your hips back bending your knees, but lower your body into half-squat or 3/4 squat (MMA version of squat, forget about deep squat or your opponent will end up on top of you).
- Put your hands on the canvas slightly in front of your feet, shifting your weight onto the palmar side of your hands.
- Explode backward, landing on the balls of your feet in a plank position. Your spine and glutes don’t have to be perfectly straight because MMA sprawl differs from regular burpee, but at least try to keep your glutes and back straight.
- Jump your feet back to finish the MMA sprawl. To get back into the starting position, reach your arms over your head, jump, and land on the tips of your toes. Continue until the remainder of the set.
We will provide you with some extra core drills to boost your MMA performance:
- Fingers over knees – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8PpjUbFOco – this is an excellent drill for transitions, strengthening your neck flexors, and absorbing ground strikes.
- Cobra rotations – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zo3S5C2hdE – you’ll strengthen your back, but the drill indirectly improves your transitions from full guard to half guard and vice versa.
- Spider walk – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53376rOyFcs – the drill helps your control the opponent on the ground while you’re on top of him.
- Neck plank – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksGwUnu8NlI – the drill affects your ability to explode and flip the opponent on the ground.
- Lash sit-up – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RM3II9aLbAM – guess what? This drill leads to better rolling.
I will call the next part of the article “equipment routines”. If you don’t have a partner, stick to your training accessories and boost your skills.
My recommendation is to perform at least 20 burpees, 20 fingers over knees, 30 cobra rotations, 10 neck planks, and 30 lash sit-ups, then do at least 10 yards of spider walk. Rest 2-3 minutes, then repeat for 3-5 sets (feel free to make your own sets; maybe you have a different fighting style).
Equipment MMA Routines For Beginners
First of all, I must ask you a question. Do you have training equipment inside of your home? If your answer is yes, which items are available? Is it wrestling dummy, grappling dummy, heavy bag, free-standing heavy bag?
I hope you’ve learned the names of basic strikes as of now. Please look at the video below; it offers a great example of a stand-up strike workout. The majority of basic shots are included, plus it might boost your stamina and give you a critical advantage in the later rounds.
Wrestling Dummy Sessions
If a beginner comes from wrestling or wants to improve his clinch/throw game, a lovely wrestling dummy will do the job for you.
Unfortunately, amateur competitions do not allow slams, so you might improve basic trips and throws. But if you plan to turn pro one day, we recommend you to buy a good dummy, it’s a good long-term investment. Here is an example of a training session.
You can train throws for 3 minutes, then rest one to three minutes and think about the fight. Three to five sets should be ok for a beginner, but if you want to feel a real burn in your muscle, go for more!
These drills are very useful for submission and top control experts. Grappling dummy offers longer arms and legs, which lets you work on your leg locks and arm locks and train transitions at the same time. Beginners with good control off the top will have greater chances of finishing the fight via ground and pound TKO.
We know these are basic drills, but a beginner could boost his skills quickly. These sessions should last at least 30 minutes, but please, focus on the technical aspect of the game, learn transitions and submission switches properly. You’ll boost your stamina later.
And now, let’s focus on the ground and pound training session. One heavy bag is all you need.
Heavy Ground And Pound Shots
During Covid-19 time, many fighters were doing this training at home. For example, Canadian mixed martial artist Mateo Vogel improved his GNP game by more than 100% by hitting a heavy bag on the ground from all kinds of positions.
Look at this video, it will help you.
Movement And Footwork
Footwork is the key to a successful takedown defense and wonderful counters. This might be hard for beginners, but try to learn it, as it might help you later.
Never stop training! A beginner can turn into an intermediate or advanced athlete in a year or two. Stay persistent and the result will come for sure!