From the Octagon to the Gym – How MMA is Shaping Fitness Trends

March 30, 2023
From: Spartacus
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MMA has evolved from its early days as a spectacle to a highly regulated and respected sport, with organisations such as the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), Bellator, ONE Championship and Spartacus MMA leading the way. MMA has also become a global phenomenon, with events taking place all around the world and fighters from various countries and cultures competing.

The popularity of MMA has also had a significant impact on fitness culture, with MMA-inspired workouts gaining popularity in MMA gyms and studios. These workouts typically combine elements of MMA training, such as striking and grappling, with traditional fitness exercises to provide a challenging and intense workout experience. MMA-inspired workouts have become a popular option for those looking to improve their fitness and challenge themselves in new ways.

The connection between MMA and fitness culture has also led to the development of specialised fitness facilities that offer MMA-inspired training programs. These facilities provide a unique and challenging workout experience that appeals to individuals who are looking for a more unconventional approach to fitness. Additionally, MMA training and workouts have gained popularity among women, challenging the notion that MMA is a male-dominated sport.

What are MMA-Inspired Workouts

MMA-inspired workouts are fitness routines that incorporate techniques and training methods commonly used in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) training. These workouts are designed to provide a full-body workout that targets different muscle groups, improves cardiovascular endurance, and enhances overall fitness levels.

The training methods used in MMA-inspired workouts include striking drills, grappling, and conditioning exercises. Striking drills include boxing, kickboxing, and Muay Thai techniques. These exercises help to develop hand-eye coordination, speed, and agility while improving upper body strength.

Grappling exercises include wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and judo techniques. These exercises help to improve core strength, balance, and overall body coordination.

Conditioning exercises include high-intensity interval training (HIIT), plyometric exercises, and callisthenics. These exercises are designed to increase endurance, build muscle strength, and improve flexibility.

MMA-inspired workouts are suitable for individuals of different fitness levels and backgrounds. They offer a challenging and varied workout that keeps participants engaged and motivated. Additionally, these workouts can be modified to meet specific fitness goals such as weight loss, muscle gain, or overall fitness improvement.

There are various types of MMA-inspired workouts that incorporate different martial arts techniques. Here are some examples:

  • Boxing: Boxing workouts focus on improving your punches, footwork, and defense. These workouts usually involve heavy bag drills, shadowboxing, and speed bag training. They also incorporate cardio exercises like jumping jacks, burpees, and high knees.
  • Kickboxing: Kickboxing workouts combine elements of boxing and martial arts. These workouts involve punches, kicks, and knee strikes, and usually incorporate heavy bag drills, shadowboxing, and focus mitt training. Kickboxing workouts also include cardio exercises like jump rope, squats, and lunges.
  • Grappling: Grappling workouts focus on techniques like takedowns, submissions, and ground fighting. These workouts incorporate wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and other grappling techniques. They usually involve partner drills, sparring, and conditioning exercises like push-ups and sit-ups.
  • MMA Circuit Training: MMA circuit training combines elements of all of the above workouts into a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) format. These workouts incorporate striking drills, grappling techniques, and cardio exercises to improve overall fitness and conditioning.

mma inspired workouts

Benefits of MMA-inspired workouts

MMA-inspired workouts have become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. These workouts offer a variety of benefits that can help individuals achieve their fitness goals.

  • Strength and Muscle Toning: These workouts often involve resistance training, such as lifting weights or bodyweight exercises like push-ups and squats. These exercises can help build strength and muscle tone, particularly in the arms, shoulders, chest, and legs.
  • Cardiovascular Endurance: These workouts are high-intensity and require a lot of energy, making them excellent for improving cardiovascular endurance. The fast-paced movements and explosive bursts of energy mimic the cardiovascular demands of a fight, helping to increase stamina and endurance.
  • Flexibility and Mobility: These workouts often include dynamic stretches and movements that require flexibility and mobility. This can help improve range of motion, reduce the risk of injury, and improve overall flexibility.
  • Stress Relief: The physical intensity of these workouts can also have a positive impact on mental health. These workouts can serve as a healthy outlet for stress and tension, allowing individuals to release their frustrations in a productive way.
  • Full Body Workout: These workouts typically engage the entire body, from head to toe. This means that participants are working multiple muscle groups simultaneously, leading to a full-body workout that can help individuals achieve their fitness goals more efficiently.

There are many popular MMA-inspired workouts available on the market, with different approaches and styles. Here are a few examples:

  • P90X: Created by Tony Horton, P90X is a 90-day fitness program that includes a mix of cardio, strength training, and flexibility exercises. The program includes a workout called Plyometrics, which is inspired by MMA training and involves explosive jumps and movements.
  • Insanity: Created by fitness expert Shaun T, Insanity is a high-intensity workout program that includes a mix of cardio and bodyweight exercises. The program includes a workout called Max Interval Plyo, which is inspired by MMA training and involves explosive movements, jumps, and agility drills.
  • Tapout XT: Created by professional MMA fighters Dan “Punkass” Caldwell and Tim “SkySkrape” Katz, Tapout XT is a 90-day workout program that includes a mix of MMA-inspired exercises, such as shadowboxing, kicks, punches, and ground-and-pound movements.
  • UFC Fit: Created by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), UFC Fit is a 12-week workout program that includes a mix of strength, cardio, and flexibility exercises. The program is inspired by MMA training and includes workouts such as Power Punch, Plyo Shred, and Combat Core.
  • Les Mills Combat: Created by the Les Mills company, Les Mills Combat is a high-energy workout program that includes a mix of martial arts-inspired moves and bodyweight exercises. The program includes workouts such as Kick Start, Power Kata, and Muay Thai.

The growth of MMA-inspired fitness programs and gyms reflects the increasing popularity of MMA as a sport and the recognition of its benefits for overall fitness and athleticism. These programs and gyms offer a unique and exciting way to get in shape, build strength and endurance, and improve overall health

The Appeal of MMA-Inspired Workouts

  • Connection between MMA-inspired workouts and MMA fandom: These workouts have gained popularity not only because of their fitness benefits but also because of their connection to MMA fandom. As MMA has grown in popularity, fans have become more interested in the training methods and techniques used by their favourite fighters. These workouts allow fans to emulate their favourite fighters and experience the physical and mental benefits of MMA training.
  • Simplicity and effectiveness of MMA-inspired workouts: These workouts have gained popularity due to their simplicity and effectiveness. Unlike other fitness programs that require specialised equipment or training, these workouts can be done with minimal equipment and can be easily modified for all fitness levels. The combination of cardio, strength, and agility training in MMA-inspired workouts provides a full-body workout that can improve overall fitness and athletic performance.
  • Inclusivity and accessibility of MMA-inspired workouts: These types of workouts have also gained popularity due to their inclusivity and accessibility. Unlike traditional combat sports that can be intimidating to newcomers, these workouts are designed to be inclusive and welcoming to all fitness levels and backgrounds. They provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals to improve their fitness and learn new skills.
  • Celebrity and influencer endorsements of MMA-inspired workouts: MMA-inspired workouts have gained further popularity due to celebrity and influencer endorsements. Many celebrities and influencers have promoted the benefits of these workouts and shared their own experiences with the programs. This has led to increased exposure and interest in these types of workouts among a wider audience.

Criticisms and Concerns

Safety concerns related to MMA-inspired workouts are a valid consideration. While most of these workouts are designed to be safe and effective, they still involve high-intensity movements and potential contact. Participants should have a good understanding of proper technique and safety protocols to reduce the risk of injury.

Another potential issue is the overemphasis on appearance and aesthetics that can come with the rise of MMA-inspired workouts. While these workouts do offer a range of benefits beyond just physical appearance, the pressure to achieve a certain look can lead to unhealthy behaviours and body image issues.

Additionally, there is the issue of appropriation and commercialization of combat sports. Some critics argue that the rise of MMA-inspired workouts and gyms is just a way for mainstream fitness culture to profit off of the popularity of combat sports, without properly acknowledging the cultural and historical significance of these practices.

It’s important to approach MMA-inspired workouts with a critical eye, to ensure that they are promoting safe and healthy training practices, and are not contributing to problematic cultural trends or appropriating combat sports for profit.

To ensure the safety of MMA-inspired workouts, proper training techniques and equipment should be emphasised. In addition, it is important to focus on the health benefits of training, rather than solely on physical appearance.

Inclusivity and accessibility should be prioritised in MMA-inspired workouts, making them accessible to people of all skill levels and abilities. This can be achieved through modifications and variations of exercises to accommodate different fitness levels.

Lastly, it is important to be cautious of commercialization and appropriation of combat sports. This includes avoiding cultural appropriation and ensuring that combat sports are not commodified solely for profit. Instead, the focus should remain on promoting the health and fitness benefits of MMA-inspired workouts.


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