Circuit training is a great form of exercise to acquaint yourself with if you plan to compete in mixed martial arts. It allows you to work on strength and cardio at the same time. In addition to that, circuit training has the potential to burn an amazing amount of calories, so if you are looking to drop some weight these are the exercises for you.
What is Circuit training?
Circuit training is a form of conditioning in which you string together a number of exercises completing one after another without rest or with minimal rest. The exercises that you string together form what is called the circuit.
How to do it.
There is a huge amount of room for creativity when it comes to creating a circuit. You can vary the overall length of time, the time spent on each exercise, the time in between exercises, what exercises you use, how much weight you use (if you are using weights), etc.
Let’s take a look at some of the things to consider when creating a circuit training program to improve performance in MMA.
- Time length – This one is pretty easy. You will usually want to try to mimic the length of time you will spend fighting and resting during a mma fight. For example, if you have a 3 round fight with each round lasting 5 minutes with 1 minute rest in between, then you would want to create a circuit that uses those times. Of course there are instances that you may not want to do it exactly that way. For instance you may want to increase the intensity of the workout beyond what you will experience in the fight e.g. less rest and longer periods of activity.
- Exercises – Well, I’m a big fan of exercises that use large muscle groups, since that is usually what you use in a fight. Think pull ups, push ups, bent over rows, and squats. Not exercises that isolate one part of the body like one arm bicep curls, calf extensions and tricep extensions. Also try to make the exercises as sport specific as you can. For instance, rather than doing squats, grab a partner and practice shooting in for a double leg, then pick him all the way off the ground, then repeat. You can replace wind sprints with an intense round of kicking the thai pads. That being said, you can pretty much use any exercise you want in your circuit providing it is safe and will push you in the direction of your goal.
- How often? – This is not an easy question to answer because it will vary from person to person. But it’s definitely an important one to ask so that you can prevent over or under training. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to get a better idea of how often you should be trying to fit this into your routine.
- Am I gearing up for a fight or just trying to maintain the fitness level I already have?
- How intense is the other training I am currently doing?
- Have I recently had a fight and need to recover?
- How intense is the circuit I created?
The answers to those questions will hopefully give you an idea of how often to implement circuit training into you conditioning program. Other than that, just make sure you listen to your coach, he is there to monitor your training and make sure you neither over nor under train.
No good article on circuit training would be complete without a demonstration. So I will turn it over to Randy “The Natural” Couture to give us a demo of a circuit.
Randy “The Natural” Couture Circuit Training
In mixed martial arts we usually see the more conditioned athlete with his or her hand raised at the end of the fight. Rarely do we see it the other way around. This being the case, if we want to be in the winners spot it’s our job to show up in the best shape we can. Circuit training gives us a great opportunity to improve both strength and cardio so that we can take not one, but two steps closer to being the more conditioned of the two athletes that step into the ring.