Unfortunately, gyms today make people weak. Commercial gyms are just not designed for those with the MMA mindset. Rows upon rows of cross trainers with HDTV’s attached just don’t cut it when you are MMA training. Try to do any sort of throw or med ball slam and you either get booted out or at least frowned upon.
Training at home or outdoors is always my go to option. Being outside in your own “gym” setup is an amazing feeling. You can play your own damn music loud. Do whatever the fuck you want. But, what do you really need for a hardcore home gym setup?
Kettlebells are a somewhat touchy subject. Some see them as a gimmick, others see them as a waste of money and something a dumbbell can replace. I personally love kettlebells. The thick handle makes for excellent grip training. By the way I have a free book to download now all about grip training for MMA. There are over 30 exercises specifically designed to strengthen not only your grip, but your forearms, hands and wrists too. Shameless plug over, kettlebells are a great tool for MMA. Each exercise is ballistic in nature. The power from the majority of the movement comes from the posterior chain making them great for MMA specific muscles.
I love sandbags. They again, are unfortunately pinned as the poor mans barbell or just another gimmick. Train with one and you will immediately see the cross over they have to MMA. The centre of mass is off. The weight is off and constantly shifting. With no handles your grip is constantly being taxed. (Don’t forget the sign up for your free grip training book!) You are able to perform all manner of traditional exercises like deadlifts, squats and presses, but the sandbag also offers unique exercise, like shouldering or bear hug squats. Do not get fooled into buying anything with a handle though. These bastardized versions completely take away from the difficult nature of the sandbag. I have mentioned this numerous times before on this site but I swear by IronMind bags. Check them out here.
3. Something to Hang From
Pull-ups, chin-ups or any variation of the two should already be a staple in your MMA training. They are a compound movement hitting all the muscles you use in the clinch, wrestling, cage control, takedowns and grappling. They are never going to be mastered or considered easy with all the options for harder progressions. You can do chin-ups? Move onto pull-ups. Pull-ups easy? Move onto archer pull-ups. One handed, slow negatives, weighted, plyo, there a literally hundreds of variations available for you to do. To make them even more MMA specific, utilize a Gi or towel to grip onto as you do your chosen exercise. Alternatively, make use of a pair of Fat Gripz.
4. An Open Space
This is kind of a strange list item, but bear with me. With an open space you have room to perform Farmer’s walks (check them out here), sandbag medleys (check them out here) and animal drills (check them out here.) Enough said.
5. Tractor Tire/ Sledgehammer
If you have never performed sledgehammer swings, then you are missing out. The conditioning benefits and core development alone make them a staple in my routines. Not to mention just how much fun it is to swing a hammer as hard as you can repeatedly into a large tire.
The tire itself can be used for tire flips. These have become a staple in nearly every MMA gym and with great reason. Flipping a 300lb tire requires full body control and awareness, power, strength and endurance.
The sledgehammer can also be used to train your grip and forearms. This is something covered in the free book.
These can be picked up for free from your local garage as they have to pay to get rid of them. They will happily send you home with one. These smaller tires can be used to throw, drag and again hit with a hammer.
Fill these with water or sand and you have one hell of a tool. They are awkward and a staple in strongman circles. Utilize these in big lifts like squats and presses. Clean and throw them for reps or carry them as part of a medley.
Loading up a heavy prowler or sled and pushing it for time is brutal. Great for conditioning, great for posterior chain development, they are an excellent addition to any hardcore home gym.
Don’t be fooled. You do not need a traditional gym set-up for your MMA training. Conditioning with a set of hill sprints is so much more beneficial to you than running on a treadmill. Lifting a heavy, handle-less sandbag is closer to controlling an opponent than a barbell is. Pull-ups can be done anywhere you can hang, kids play area, bus shelter, tree branch.
Get out and train hardcore.