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Overtraining in Sports Part 4... MMA

In part one I covered how over training is an epidemic in modern day sports. The five overtraining signs we covered were fatigue, muscle soreness, forgetfulness, lack of motivation and injuries. Throughout this blog I will be briefly discussing the sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).

A typical training day for fighters can vary heavily, based on a wide variety of things, but most commonly it has to do with proximation of their next fight. Training Camps, which consist of high-volume training, typically begin when fighters are 2-3 months out from their next fight. A typical training camp consists of 6 days of training per week at 2-4 training sessions per day. On the contrary during non-training camp periods fighters typically train slightly less, which means 1-3 training sessions per day.

Mixed Martial Arts, key word ‘mixed’, forces athletes to gain insight into various forms of martial arts, which forces athletes to train / learn multiple disciplines. Sparring, kick boxing or Muay Thai, wrestling, strength and conditioning and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are some of the most commonly practiced art forms. Speaking from firsthand experience, your body breaks down quickly and a reduction in performance is a guarantee. All the aforementioned training techniques must be scientifically integrated into a full training schedule.

The schedule must place a cap on the athlete, with some individual considerations of course, to no more than two max effort sessions per training day. This cap should / must be kept in place during training camp to save the fighters from training fatigued. Choose one hard training session in the morning and another one in the late afternoon / evening. The middle of the day should be left open to work on technique, watch film, and recover. It should be noted that a high intensity lifting session should be considered a max effort training session.

Three to four (even up to five) sessions per week should be spent on a specific strength and conditioning (S&C) program that places emphasis on Olympic movements, plyometrics, power, functional strength, power endurance, energy training, speed, footwork and some specific movement patterns. It’s no secret that modern day MMA requires fighters to be athletic and good wrestlers; the S&C program should aid in this matter. The program should have some individual focus to work on specific strengths, weaknesses, and strategies. As the fight draws near the S&C training should increase in intensity but lower the volume to reduce soreness and promote recovery.

The other training sessions should consist of stand up, ground, and grappling. This training is usually where fighters over train. Therefore, specific structure must be utilized to prevent injuries and overtraining. For example, performing two grappling sessions can be unwise because of specific muscular breakdown and injury. As well, sparring multiple times per day is unwise. Every punch creates scar tissue and / or could lead to easy cuts, cob webs in the head, and fatigue from brain jarring. Full sparring should be safely utilized to only 1-2 times per week.

Strategic, smart, grappling, technique and athletic oriented training should be the main focus of fighters. Fighters work to complete exhaustion throughout their entire camp. By the end they can barely get through a training session. This leaves them flat and over trained heading into their fight, even with a 3 day rest. Smart quality over quantity (i.e. efficient) training should be the focus, not “balls-to-the-wall” training every session. Efficient training leaves the fighters training hard without being run down. By fight time the fighters are sharp, in-shape and ready to inflict damage.


1. Limit max training sessions to 2 days per week for a maximum of 5 days

2. Take one day off for complete rest

3. Focus on athletic training and grappling

4. Use one training session per day to game plan, focus on technique and/or specific fight technique.

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