10 Best Strength Building Exercises for Fighters (Video)

As a combat fighter in MMA, Muay Thai, BJJ, Wrestling, Judo, Sambo, Boxing, Kickboxing, Karate, Taekwondo and other martial arts, strength is the container from which all other physical qualities or training goals can be added.

If your goal is hypertrophy – the stronger you are the more weight you’ll be able to lift, the bigger you’ll get.

If your goal is power – the stronger you are, the more weight you’ll be able to lift at a faster pace, the more explosive you’ll get.

If you goal I explosiveness the stronger you are the more explosive you will be through the plyometric movements.

If your goal is endurance – the stronger you are, the more weight you’ll be able to lift for a longer, more metabolically demanding duration, thus building endurance.

Even cardiovascular (of all things), the stronger you are, the better you will be at any endurance event.

1. Deadlifts
2. Barbell Squat Variations
3. Weighted Pull Ups
4. Barbell Bench Press
5. Turkish Get Ups (KB/DB)
6. Barbell Military Press
7. Barbell Lunge Variations
8. Barbell Bent Over Rows
9. Weighted Step Ups – Unilateral strength
10. Weighted Parallel Bar Dips

The squat, deadlift, bench press, and shoulder press are the best strength-building exercises, period. The pull-up and row are great moves too.

Below are the 10 best strength exercises for all fighters

1. Deadlifts
The deadlift is a amazing exercise for building your posterior chain (Hamstrings, glutes, lumbar) which are all extremely important for almost all physical movements in MMA and other combat sports.

A strong posterior chain is important for explosive movements like shooting for takedowns, throwing knee strikes in the clinch, hip throws and even sprawling to prevent takedowns.

The deadlift should ne the core strength workout for all fighters wanting to add strength and muscle to the entire body.
Other variations include sump deadlifts and trap-bar deadlifts

Learn how to Deadlift for strength and power  – CLICK HERE

2. Barbell Squat Variations
Even though in the video I showed the back squat, I prefer the front squat and Zercher squats are the extremely effective for building upper and lower body strength. The front and Zercher squats allow you to fully extend the hips and force better technique.

The Zercher is easy on the wrists, elbows, and shoulders. The back and the front squats demand good flexibility and skill in carrying the bar.

I include both these exercises in our Elite Strength & Conditioning program in the power and strength workouts – CLICK HERE 


3. Weighted Pull Ups – Pull Up program

Weighted pull-ups is an upper body strengthening exercise where the body is suspended by the arms. Pull-ups increases punching power because when doing pull-ups the back and the core strengthens, which is a key element that adds power, along with the hips, when you throw a punch.

Also grapplers and strikers can benefit from the grip strength that you develop with pull and chin-ups.

The pronated or neutral grip are better for shoulder, elbow, and wrist durability. This is a must do for all fighters.

Learn how to do 20 pull ups even if you can’t do one – CLICK HERE

4. Barbell Bench Press

Bench Press Builds Strength and Power: if you are looking for a reliable strength-training workout, bench press is your best option.

Technique is very important with bench pressing as it may place strain on the scapulae or shoulder blades and the rotator cuff when done incorrectly.

Practicing proper form – including keeping your feet firmly planted, maintaining a straight back and keeping your shoulders and glutes flat on the bench at all times – helps prevent these injuries

I wouldn’t use the bench press all year round, but would put together a benching program to increase your overall

LEARN how to increase your benching reps with good technique – – CLICK HERE FOR Bench For Reps

5. Turkish Get Ups (KB/DB)

The Turkish Get-Up is a highly functional movement that requires all the muscles of the body working together in order to accomplish the task.

The Turkish Get-Up is a highly functional movement that requires all the muscles of the body working together in order to accomplish the movement. You need shoulder flexibility, stability and wrist strength.

The kettlebell method also has a strong effect on strengthening your grip, which is important for boxers, MMA and muay thai to help you punch harder

The Turkish get-up strengthens your core, all your major muscle groups, smaller stabilizers, tendons and ligaments.

6. Barbell Military Press

When this is performed correctly, the basic barbell military press is an exceptional upper body, trunk and cores strengthening exercise.

You can use the seated or standing military press versions. Because your rotator cuff is vulnerable when using this exercises, it is very important to perform the movement with proper form.

During the exercise keep your body tall and straight.
If executed properly, the hard work you put in on Standing Military Presses will pay out dividends to your overall conditioning.

7. Barbell Lunge Variations

The benefits of doing exercises for your legs one leg at a time are numerous. You will develop better coordination, get rid of muscle imbalance between your limbs and last but not least become athletic in a very functional manner.

You will also increase your hip flexor flexibility, which is key for grappling and throwing powerful kicks and punches. Doing lunges puts your body in a position to isolate and activate the glutes, which are used in most movements in martial arts.

The lunge will also help improve core stability. Variations of lunge that are effective are dumbbell and Zercher lunges.

CLICK HERE for a lower body strength program 

8. Barbell Bent Over Rows

The Row is a great pulling and back exercise. You will also improve the posterior chain. It is important to practice good form when performing this exercise by never allowing your spine to bend throughout the exercise.

With all of the upper body benefits it’s easy to overlook the full body stabilization effect of the barbell row. The bent over barbell row requires strength from the hands all the way down to the feet. The feet, legs, hips and core have to work just to maintain a stable position throughout the exercise.

9. Weighted Step Ups – Unilateral strength

All martial arts fighters can benefit from the weighted step-ups for lower body strength development. The strength and endurance benefits from this exercise transfer to many movements in martial arts. The quadriceps and glutes are the primary movers during the step-up exercise.

Secondary movers include stabilizers, which help stabilize the body during the movement, and synergist, including the adductors, or inner thigh muscles of the leading leg, and the calf muscles of the following leg. The hamstrings and calf muscles of the leading leg act as stabilizers, as do your lower back and stomach muscles.

10. Weighted Parallel Bar Dips

The dip is one of the best exercises to build chest, tris, shoulders muscles in a different angle and range of motion than pushups and bench press.

This is also an amazing exercise to develop upper body and push strength,. Because the parallel dips have no support you are forced to lift your entire bodyweight

Using these 10 exercises and lifting maximally builds the quality of absolute strength, which is just a quality that all fighters need. Your goal as a fighter is to develop enough absolute strength so you can fight and develop and improve your combat skill level and overall conditioning, so you can improve as an overall combat athlete.

Need a program to help you strength and conditioning workouts, scheduling and planning training sessions and Done For You meal and nutrition plans – CLICK HERE 

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