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Training Tools for MMA

by Tom Reynolds on April 3, 2011

Mixed martial arts is arguably the most physically demanding sport out there.  It is one of the few sports that I can think of where completely different types of strength, conditioning, speed, and flexibility are demanded at once.

Sparring and weight training with a barbell can be great, but it’s not enough if you’re serious about your fitness level for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or MMA. Below is a list of the training equipment that I use when I’m training myself and my clients.

Fat Grips

Fat grips will give you a crazy forearm workout while you’re doing your normal lifting routine. These started getting really popular in the last year or so, but fat bars have been around forever.  The advantage of fat grips is that they can be carried with you and added to any barbell or dumbbell.  They also are pretty cheap. has the best that I’ve come across.

Bottom Line: Fat grips are cheap and can be added to any barbell or dumbbell. Buy a pair if you want a great grip, but I recommend using them towards the end of your workout.

TRX Suspension Trainer

Suspension training has been around for a long time.  The TRX system isn’t as innovative as they would have you beleive in terms of allowing people to do new types of exercises.  Instead, it is innovative in terms of how easy it is to setup and adjust so that you can create basic workouts and advanced circuits.  I personally know several professional athletes that swear by these bands.

Bottom Line: You can take TRX bands with you anywhere. Great for full body workouts with an emphasis on the core. They’re a little expensive, but I’ve seen them pop up on eBay for pretty cheap.

Sandbag Core Training System

Sandbag training can be good because it lets you duplicate picking up awkward weight rather than barbells or dumbells. Sandbags shift and are unpredictable just like your opponent.  Because of the shifts in weight, your body has to constantly adjust and stabalize which is great for creating that “farmer’s strength.”

Bottom Line: Sandbag training is a great alternative to dumbbells. They are not very mobile so plan on keeping them where you train.  Buying them online is great, but the can be built easily as well. The advantage of buying specific training bags is that they are durable and have handles.

Battling Ropes

Battling ropes are fun, but at the same time extremely strenuous.  I’m hard pressed to find a piece of equipment that tires me out as quickly as battling ropes. If you want to work on your cardio and overall arm strength, this tool works out great.

Bottom Line: Best choice for cardio and overall arm speed and stamina. They’re heavy and tough to move around.  You may be able to buy them locally at specialty stores.

Here’s a great video showing how Sean Sherk adds Battling Ropes to his workouts:

Giant Tire

Tire training is great and versatile.  Used giant tires can be had for free from just about any tire store.  They are expensive to discard for the stores so they’re often given away.  Checkout the link above from Nick Tuminello for some great training options with the giant tire.

Bottom Line: Tire training is cheap and versatile.  Keep it in your backyard or wherever you’re going to be using it. Avoid flipping the tire for the risk of injury and checkout the article.

I’ve listed my favorite training tools.  What’s your favorite training tool?

I’m trying to offset the costs of hosting and webdesign. In order to keep ads to a minimum on Couch2Cage, I’ve added affiliate links that give me a small commission on sales in some of the highlighted links above.

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  • The most important thing to remember is that these are accessories, not a necessity. They will, like any good supplement to training or anything else, get you to progress faster if everything else is laid down.

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