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3 Top HIIT Workouts For MMA Fitness

3 Top HIIT Workouts For MMA Fitness

The original publishing date for this post was back on January 23, 2018. I wanted to pull this article out of the archives today because it still gets a lot of attention.

If you’re currently training in martial arts, or MMA then you need to have your fitness and athletic performance dialed in to perform on the mat, or in the ring. Today’s article is going to be a great resource for you to tap so that you can start to implement these HIIT workouts into your strength and conditioning program if you haven’t already.

  1. Do you feel that your fitness level and conditioning have hit a plateau?
  2. Do you feel like you’re not improving with your MMA and Combat skills as fast as you should?
  3. Aside from being functional for fitness, MMA, and Combat are you also frustrated that you aren’t leaning out and developing a lean body composition from your training?
  4. Are you familiar with HIIT workouts?

If you answered YES to any of the above questions then this article (particularly with question 4 relating to HIIT Workouts) then this should be of great help to you. So everybody is hung up on the high intensity programs these days and as a strength coach I’ve always had a love–hate relationship with this because I think some training fads tend to get blown out of proportion. I think this is because with the tremendous influx of information due to the internet it often seems like people tend to offer solutions to training by painting with a broad brush, or by defaulting to metaphorically trying to use a hammer for both nails and screws.

3 HIIT Workouts For Your MMA And Combat Fitness 

The point here is that there is a time for you to train for strength and there is a time for you to ramp up the intensity and push yourself towards that anaerobic threshold. The key to smart training is figuring out how to program in order to undulate your intensity to allow your body to recover so that you can achieve optimal performance. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts are great, but it isn’t something you want to implement 6 days a week with our ongoing training.

Regardless of that HIIT is a tremendous methodology to employ for your conditioning and today I’m talking about offering some athletic specific conditioning and HIIT for your fitness, MMA, and Combat conditioning needs. These are great for getting you into optimal shape whether you’re looking to compete in the ring, or to be in the best shape of your life.

Here are 3 top conditioning and HIIT workouts for you to employ on your anaerobic conditioning days to ramp up your MMA and Combat fitness! I absolutely guarantee you that these will be a game changer for your performance, fitness, and as an added bonus will help you to torch some unwanted body fat as well.

1. HIIT Workouts: The Jump Rope Skip Interval—3 to 1 Or 5 to 1 Interval


First of all, I want to preface by saying that this particular workout is not quite the HIIT interval in terms of all out intensity, but it will stress the cardiovascular system for the purpose of conditioning practices specifically for MMA and Combat needs. It’s safe to say that jump roping is an inherent part of fight training for several reasons.

For starters, jump rope skips are a low grade plyometric and emphasize coordination and cardiovascular fitness. When we are talking about your body’s energy systems you essentially have three different energy systems that you can draw from based on what activity you are involved in performing.

This is highly relevant because it’s smart to incorporate training that emphasizes the energy demands that are inherent with your relative sport, or life demands. Your energy systems break down in the following list and essentially display how your effort is tapered down from all out intense effort down to longer lasting less intense effort when addressing your performance. 

Your Energy Systems: 

ATP-CP (A-Lactic): 0 to 10 seconds

Glycolytic (Anaerobic Lactic): 10 seconds to 2 minutes

Oxidative (Aerobic): 2 minutes and up

So what is the point here? Well a typical Muay Thai fight consist of a 3 to 1 ratio meaning that the round last 3 minutes followed by a one minute rest interval. A typical MMA bout can consist of a 5 to 1 ratio meaning that the round last 5 minutes followed by a one minute rest interval. With these ratios you can see how you’re getting into more of that oxidative system.

The Workout:

This is why the jump rope skip workout is so valuable. I recommend doing the following to enhance your MMA and Combat fitness and to address those specific work to rest demands that are involved in your sport.

Muay Thai:

Jump Rope Skips: 10–3 Minute Rounds–1 Minute Rest (10 push ups during the 1 minute rest interval)

MMA & Combat: 

Jump Rope Skips: 6–5 Minute Rounds–1 Minute Rest (17 push ups during the 1 minute rest interval)

2. HIIT Workouts: Kettlebell Swings To Sprints


As I mentioned earlier your energy systems vary. This occurs across a spectrum that range from all out intensity and taper down to less intense, but longer lasting sustainable effort. So what about the effort demands that occur between these two spectrums?

This would involve your Glycolytic energy system. An example of this would occur with the next workout here by performing a set of kettlebell swings coupled with sprints. This combo may be highly intense, but may extend beyond that 10 seconds of work which is isolated to the ATP-CP energy system.

The Workout:

Mark off 30 paces, or 30 yards of running distance. Set up and perform 20 kettlebell swings with a moderately heavy kettlebell followed by a 30 yard sprint. Rest for 2 to 3 minutes and repeat. Do this for 10 rounds.

Kettlebell Swings: 20

Sprints: 30 paces/yards

x10 rounds=200 swings and 300 yards in sprints.

3. HIIT Workouts: 40 Yard/Paces Loaded Sprints 


So far we’ve covered 2 out of the 3 energy systems. This is what will complete meeting the demands of your MMA and Combat fitness needs. With this loaded sprint workout you’re going to be in full on HIIT mode. This will tap into your ATP-CP energy system.

Obviously sprints and sprint variations are great for HIIT. However for this workout I want you to try to progress up to more intense sprint work. You can do this by eventually (ideally) loading your body. Now what do I mean by loading your body?

Basically I’m referring to adding extra weight to your body in the form of a weighted vest. With sprinting you’re going to be giving all out effort for a distance you can cover up to the 10 second mark. This is what you will do in order to tap into that ATP-CP energy system.

Like we progress in strength from increasing load or volume we do the same when progressing in sprint conditioning. For this workout I want you to be able to work up to performing 20 x 40 yard sprints for a total of 800 yards of sprint work.

Once you’ve adapted and are able to achieve this level anaerobic work capacity I want you to then load your body with either a 15 or 20 lb. weighted vest in order to perform the same 20 x 40 yard sprints.

The Workout: 

Perform 20 x 40 yard sprints with proficiency. Then transition to loading with a 15 to 25 lb. weighted vest to perform the same volume. Gauge how much you should load by your speed. You should still be able to move with good speed with the added load. If you slow too much after loading then your load is too heavy. The load should be matched so that the focus is on both speed and conditioning.

The Takeaway From These HIIT Workouts

When applying a pure HIIT workout into your training make sure you undulate your intensity. This will allow for sufficient recovery and it will optimize performance. I included a progression of conditioning workouts here for you to essentially progress up to a full blown HIIT workout.

Be smart about your progressions and scale the intensity and volume to match your fitness and ability level. You want to do this until you are able to progress further. You can effectively undulate your intensity by cycling through workouts 1, 2, and 3 in the order I’ve presented here. If you do this on your conditioning days it will take you a long ways.

Do you have some HIIT workouts of your own that you are currently using? Post up here below and tell us about it. 

Do you include kettlebells and weighted vest into your HIIT workouts? 

Make sure you check out my brand new 90 Day MMA Strength And Conditioning Program right here below!


It’s changing lives already!

Related Articles:

Jump Rope: The Most Underrated Conditioning Exercise

How To Enhance Your Fitness And Physical Work Capacity

3 Dynamic Kettlebell Movements For Optimal Mobility

4 Point Hip Stretch Series: Squat Prep Your Hips

5 Unique Strength Drills To Enhance MMA Performance And Serious Fitness



I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

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