LEP Fitness


So you want to be a fighter?

So you want to be a fighter?

You could be blessed with all the natural talent in the world, but if you don’t work hard, you won’t reach your potential. The top-level MMA fighters are some of the fittest athletes on the planet and they endure a gruelling daily routine to maintain peak physical condition. Here we look at some of those routines and get an idea of what it takes to compete at the top level.

So, what’s it like to be a professional MMA fighter? Fighters dedicate their lives to training and staying in shape. Even when they’re not in a scheduled training camp for an upcoming fight, most fighters maintain a healthy diet and treat their training like a full-time job. Fighters take their training seriously, in the hope that one day, they could be fighting in big money fight against the likes of Conor McGregor or Brock Lesnar and could potentially win big against the Paddy Power MMA odds.

Every fighter will have different routines and ways they train, but the core aspects remain the same. Cardio, thai padsstrength and conditioning, reflex and movement and individual disciplines are all essential to an all-round game. MMA training is extremely tough. The sport requires a bit of everything in terms of athleticism and fitness.

Fighters need to be well-rounded and have at least some knowledge in all areas of mixed martial arts. It’s not enough to just be the strongest or the quickest. That means training in every discipline and following a regimented strength and conditioning programme that develops all areas. Training is usually 6 days a week, with three or four sessions a day. These sessions usually last 2 or 3 hours but all of this varies when a fighter is in camp preparing for a specific fight. Rest is also important to avoid injuries and reduce wear and tear. 

Fighters all have their different ways of training. For example, Conor McGregor prefers to train at random intervals and try new wacky and innovative training methods, like the infamous touch-butt in the park.

Bellator fighter Jason Radcliffe details a typical training regime:

“I train in Phuket, Thailand. The location and level of training partners are amazing. Mornings consist of cardio and s&c training, 3 days a week I will run 8 or 9 miles. After breakfast I’ll train Jiu Jitsu and then in the afternoons I usually train kickboxing, Muay Thai or wrestling. As I get closer to a fight the training becomes a bit more specific, working on different game-plans etc.”

(Jason Radcliffe)

A typical weekly training regime could look something like this:


AM – Cardio and Weight-Training

PM – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Wrestling


AM – Boxing and Muay Thai

PM – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Wrestling


AM – Sparring

PM – Cardio and Weight-Training


Same schedule as Tuesday


AM – Cardio and Weight-Training

PM – Boxing and Muay Thai


AM – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Wrestling

PM – Sparring


Rest day

Along with honing your skills, diet plays a massive part in getting the most out of training. Mostly what you eat comes down to personal preference, but obviously within the realms of healthy. Lean meat, fruit and veg mostly, along with the odd protein shake or bar. Meals are small but often. As an example, former UFC champion Georges St-Pierre fought at 170 pounds and would consume around 3,500 calories a day. Broken down, that’s 350 grams of carbohydrates, 250 grams of protein and 100 grams of fat. Post-workout meals should contain high amounts of protein and carbohydrate to replenish energy, while regular meals should be high in protein and fat but lower in carbs. Common supplements like casein protein, vitamin B complex and fish oil are also recommended. The new big trend in supplements is CBD oil.

Retired fighter Mike Neun shares his typical diet when he was competing. 

“For breakfast I would have protein only, like eggs, fish or steak with some broccoli or spinach and on carb days I would have porridge with water.  After training in the morning I would have lunch, usually a meat based meal with lots of veg and carb days would be rice or sweet potatoes instead of veg. After evening training, I would have potatoes, cottage pie or meat and rice, or fish and rice. Throughout the day, snacks would include: rice cakes with nut butter, jerky, fruit and nuts or my favourite, sweet potato pancakes with maple syrup.”

(MMA diet)

Keeping up a diet like this isn’t always cheap and adding in the costs of training and competing and you’ve got an expensive venture. Former Cage Warriors veteran Scott Clist gives a basic overview of the cost of being a professional MMA fighter: 

“My diet when fighting averages at about £20 per day. As a fighter you have to pay for good food and if you don’t have sponsors then you have supplement costs on top, luckily, I was sponsored by Bad Boy supplements.

If your gym doesn’t have a weights and cardio section you end up paying for different gyms and If you need high level training partners and you are not lucky enough to have some in your gym then you have to travel and that’s more expense.”

Scott Clist

“In this country things are changing (for the better) and if fighting at a high level you will need to be registered with safe MMA, that’s £120+ (blood tests etc) and on top you need MRI/MRA = £450, eye test £35, doctors medical £130. Unluckily I had something show up on my MRI before a fight and had to see a neurologist, that cost me an extra £250. Fight shorts, other clothing and training gear plus a decent gumshield rack up the costs and without kind sponsors who will usually help with these costs, a fighter would actually be paying to fight. If you want to go abroad to do a training camp, it is not cheap. A couple of thousand will cover maybe only a couple of weeks.”

Taking all that into account, going pro can be a daunting prospect requiring total dedication and without the right gym and team behind you, it would be very difficult to succeed. If you just want to train as a hobby then as long as you go in with the right mind-set and are committed and focused to your training then you will be on the path to improvement. You must learn the basics first but you will eventually be sparring and you will have to be prepared to be hit and taken to the ground etc. This is where your training will come into play and the quality of your coaching matters.

Below is a YouTube link for a beginners MMA workout.

So pick the right gym for you, stick within your limits and carve your own path to greatness!