Should You Lift Weights If You Train MMA?

Mix Martial Arts (MMA) is a complex combat sport where its practitioners rely on agility, technique, and some amount of strength to succeed at the highest level. Lifting weights for martial arts is an often-debated topic in MMA circles. One side will say that lifting weights will make you slow and stiff while the other camp will say that lifting weights will only make you stronger. At MMA Life, we believe that strength training has its place in a well-rounded training regimen. However, we believe that it should not a core component of your training. So let’s discuss if you should lift weights for MMA—and if so, how often you should do it.

Bodyweight and Mobility Workouts

It is not uncommon for strength and conditioning coaches, from different gyms, to disagree on how to build the best athlete. However, they do mutually agree on the significance of using bodyweight exercises and mobility workouts to develop their athletes. The following are alternative exercises to compound lifts that are beneficial to MMA practitioners.

Kettlebell Workouts - Kettlebell workouts are unique mobility exercises that introduce weight resistance. Start with something simple like kettlebell swings and progress to a harder workout, such as Turkish get-ups.


If you do not compensate strength training with cardiovascular exercises, then your overall stamina will suffer. It is typical in MMA to see a more physically imposing fighter dominate their opponent with strength and power in the beginning and then considerably slow down over time. If this more muscular fighter is unable to finish their opponent early, then the lactic acid buildup in their body and depleted “gas tank” will put them in a considerable disadvantage.


Adding strength training sessions to the numerous martial arts classes needed for an individual to be competent in MMA makes it easy to overtrain. Exceeding what your body could handle will result in mental and physical fatigue. Arriving to class with a sore and fatigue body from an previous night’s intense lifting session is disadvantageous since you will be sloppier in your movements and have a higher chance of getting injured.

Maximizing the Benefits of Lifting Weights for Martial Arts Training

Overwhelming your body past its threshold limits can have prolonged damaging effects. The following are remedies for mitigating these occurrences and keep you in tip top shape, without sacrificing endurance, flexiblity, and agility.

Avoid Lifting Maximum Reps - To avoid being sore and have fatigue detrimental to your training, focus on lifting moderate weights instead of trying to find your one rep max weight. Additionally, you could increase the number of sets performed instead of completing the exercise to failure. 

Efficiency - Being efficient and coordinated in your techniques means less wasted movements. Therefore, less energy is expended, the movement is faster and you could complete the technique with more precision.

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