Strong physical, emotional, and mental strength is essential in becoming an MMA fighter, which can be achieved through proper training. For many, strength and conditioning are crucial to help them toughen up — many don’t believe in running for MMA, though. So, do MMA fighters run?
Do MMA Fighters Run?
MMA fighters do run in practice or warm-ups, but not much. Some MMA fighters don’t run because they believe that running is bad for the knees and is less effective in improving MMA performance. However, many MMA fighters do sprint workouts to increase their muscle strength and lung capacity.
This article will discuss if running is essential for MMA training and why some MMA fighters run but others don’t.
Why Do MMA Fighters Run?
MMA fighters run to build up their stamina and improve their performance in the ring. Some fighters will also jog when warming-up before beginning a training session.
Jogging and running are great — especially for MMA beginners — but more experienced MMA fighters don’t always add them to their training.
Why Running Is Not Necessary for MMA Training
Many MMA fighters don’t prioritize running because they believe that running won’t benefit them much in training, and it’s bad for the knees. In addition, compared to other conditioning techniques, running is less effective as it doesn’t suit the MMA’s biodynamic structure. However, it doesn’t mean an MMA fighter shouldn’t run.
MMA focuses more on fighting techniques and muscle strengths, so MMA fighters typically will work on burning fat, strengthening their bodies, and improving flexibility instead. When fighters get in the ring, they don’t run but work on their defense and combat skills. Many experienced MMA fighters who do run in training do it because they’ve attained the key essentials that make them better fighters.
Fighters must achieve high aerobic and anaerobic power levels to prevent them from injuries. To do so, they train at least twice a week, every day. As a result, fighters increase their training intensity while also reducing body fat (in combat sports such as MMA, a low-fat level — 12.25 ± 0.54% — is recommended).
For most MMA athletes, running is not enough to help them improve their fight performance. Sure, running long-distance can be beneficial for your stamina, but not good enough for a sport like MMA that requires high agility. Technical MMA already covers this, anyway, so running is not necessary.
Again, nothing is stopping you from running, so if you want to add it to your training routine, by all means, do it. Every fighter is different, after all. However, lots of intense training (not to the point where it can injure you, though) is your key to success in becoming the next best fighter.
How Much Do MMA Fighters Run?
MMA fighters who run usually spend between 30 minutes to an hour on endurance running. Most don’t prioritize running as part of their regular training and may skip running altogether.
Many MMA schools will encourage their students, especially beginners, to run around the training hall or out on the streets or in local parks. MMA schools typically don’t discriminate against anyone who wishes to learn MMA. You can take lessons even if you have the worst stamina or zero experience in MMA.
Considering that not everyone is physically fit, it makes sense to encourage new students to run in training. Running is one of the most basic conditioning techniques, after all. As students make their way to the top, they can choose to focus on other conditioning techniques to make them better fighters next time.
Unless you are Georges St. Pierre (who doesn’t believe in strength and conditioning), there’s no reason to drop running or any form of conditioning from your training. Many MMA fighters who don’t rely on running do sprints instead. Sprinting is basically running but at the highest body speed over a short time, usually 400m (0.4 km) or less.
Which Is Better for MMA: Jogging or Sprints?
Sprints are better for MMA because it helps athletes burn fat and increase lung capacity. In MMA, having a low-fat level is necessary for better performance. Higher lung capacity, on the other hand, is necessary for endurance.
Many people take breathing for granted; thus, they tend to take shorter, shallow breaths, which are not helpful to the body. However, taking a deep breath is important because it can give you a balanced mind and reduce your stress level. In MMA, breathing well is, in fact, a skill.
The goal of breathing well is to help you fight longer. Both jogging and sprints can help you improve your breathing quality. However, sprints can also help MMA fighters achieve stronger legs and burn fat quickly.
Sprints are useful, especially before fighters need to get their training done quickly, like for an upcoming match. Since sprinting is a high-intensity workout, fighters can achieve more effective results in a short timespan only — plus, sprinting promotes EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) that allows your body to burn calories even after training. On the other hand, jogging takes much more time (since it’s lighter) and burns very little fat.
Do MMA Fighters Have Rest Days?
MMA fighters have rest days. Rest days are important to help athletes replenish their energies after a long week of training. In addition, more rest days are necessary for MMA beginners because the first few weeks of training may be too tough for them.
Young inexperienced MMA fighters can also take fewer rest days (even one day of rest) as long as they can cope with training. More experienced MMA fighters usually don’t rest as much unless they’re badly injured. High-level MMA fighters are used to hardcore training, so training has become part of their lifestyle thanks to conditioning. As a result, MMA fighters typically take only one day of rest a week.
Of course, when MMA fighters take extended rest days, they do that to recover from a match or before facing their upcoming matches. New fighters usually struggle to know if their training is too much, putting them at risk of injuring themselves. However, more experienced fighters would know when to call it a day and give their body a rest.
MMA fighters do run, but usually at high speed, like sprints. Many MMA fighters don’t run much because they would rather focus on more effective conditioning techniques for endurance. However, sprints are more popular among MMA fighters because, unlike jogging or long-distance running, sprints can help them burn calories in a shorter period.
MMA fighters can’t fight all day long, so they must rest. Experienced fighters usually dedicate a whole day to resting but will take extended rest days if they’re recovering from injuries or preparing for an upcoming fight. For MMA newbies, taking more rest days is recommended.
- Researchgate: The Use of Performance Tests for the Physiological Monitoring of Training in Combat Sports
- Researchgate: The Effects of Conditioning Training on Body Build, Aerobic and Anaerobic Performance in Elite Mixed Martial Arts Athletes
- Bloodyelbow: UFC 124: Georges St. Pierre
- Webmd: Sprint Burpees