The Benefits of Mixed Martial Arts Training

The Benefits of Mixed Martial Arts Training

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is beyond self-defence and brutality and it can help you be in tune with your body and mind.

It has quickly removed its no-holds-barred image and has emerged as one of the world’s fastest growing sports.

Growing in popularity for many as a preferred choice of exercise, the benefits MMA can have for your mind and body are enormous. The hybrid combat sport many know it as incorporates techniques taken from boxing, wrestling, judo, jujitsu, karate, Muay Thai, and other disciplines.

The sport requires you to be observant and focused on your opponents and techniques while using your movements to advantage yourself.

The benefits of MMA go unnoticed, which stems from a lot of misinformation surrounding the sport. While there is common misconceptions around MMA, more education and a new following by “weekend warriors” are starting to highlight the significance of the sport for training and how helpful it can be towards day-to-day life .

The health benefits

There are many benefits of MMA, both physically and mentally – it’s a great way to get in shape and improve how we feel.

Improves cardiovascular health:

MMA is a great way to stay healthy and is rewarding to all age groups and skill levels. A significant benefit of martial arts is its increase in cardiovascular health. It’s a fantastic cardio workout and is effective in preventing various chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and depression.

MMA is one of the best workouts when it comes to fat or weight loss. It’s an intense cardiovascular activity, similar to a HIIT style workout. HIIT workouts are intense bursts of high-intensity exercise, followed by varied periods of low intensity active rest or complete rest. Most MMA classes are structured to be short but sweet, resulting in maximum results for fat burning.

Improves strength:

It’s a total body workout, combining strength with cardio together. MMA improves various structural muscles, based from the movements of punching, kicking, grappling, and wrestling. The nature of MMA includes a lot of core muscles and muscles that regularly are neglected inside a gym.

Improves confidence:

With physical transformation at the forefront of MMA classes, improved confidence and self-esteem is as well. By working out together, you enhance your interpersonal skills, and gain the confidence to test your techniques and movements against one another in sessions. This equips you with real-life self-defence skills while empowering you with the confidence to take up challenges in life.

Reduces stress and improved concertation:

Stress happens to all of us at some point during our lives. The good news is exercise is one of the best forms of stress relief.

MMA will give you an endorphin boost that will positively affect your brain and body to feel amazing. The true purpose of any martial art is to be both a physical and mental warrior. This will train all of your coping mechanics against stress such as decision making, fear, confidence, and anger, and will also make you feel good while doing it!

Everybody knows the practical importance of self-defence, however, most disregard the improvement it can have with peoples self-steam.

Hear from a professional:

Exercise Right had the pleasure to speak with Accredited Sports Scientist (Level 2), Paulo Barroso.

Paulo is the founder of Solid Sports and has been working for 25 years in the health and sports environment, experienced in Sports Coaching, Sports Science and Exercise Physiology.

His impressive career has worked with high-performance swimmers, and teams and individuals in a variety of other sports including fighting, motorcycle racing, triathlon, hockey, skateboarding, surfing, and sailing, among others.

Paulo discusses the benefits of Mixed Martial Arts and the impact it can have on people’s lives.

In your opinion, why should more people try MMA training? 

MMA training has enormous benefits not only in the physical aspect but physiological and psychological:

    • Martial Arts emphasises mental and physical connection
    • Requires different energy systems activation
    • Teaches the importance of energy and recovery systems management
    • Develop strength, power and endurance
    • Dynamic and Fun
What type of training is involved? 

Technical and tactical specificity of different martial arts, such as Boxing, Grappling, Maui Thai and Jiu-Jitsu, to name a few:

    • Different positions and situations are trained to recreate a fight environment.
    • Training and enhancement of the correct technique (attack, scape or defence) must be close to perfection to be applied in an MMA scenario.
    • On the Strength and Conditioning side, you have developed different training systems that have to be prepared and planned according to the level, goals and schedule of each athlete.
      • Professional athletes have a periodisation and a training camp for each fight. It can vary according to the opponent, location and martial arts background, etc.
    • Periodisation and sessions are prepared to develop endurance, strength development, anaerobic and clearance systems improvement and also power development in different phases of training in order to get ready for a fight.
    • Talking about fitness, MMA classes are more and more common nowadays because of the high calories consumption, cardio and strength improvement, power development, all of this a ludic alternative to get fit.
What are the associated benefits to training (as an athlete or weekend warrior)?

The benefits for athletes are the same benefits of any other high-performance sports: improve all physiological systems, strength and power development, and psychological aspects:

    • Endurance improvement
    • Anaerobic System optimisation
    • Strength improvement
    • Power development
    • Optimise recovery
    • Anxiety control, among others

For the Weekend Warrior, as mentioned before, this is a terrific exercise alternative:

    • Ludic
    • Raise body awareness
    • Anxiety control
    • Improves self-esteem
    • Self-defence
How well can it improve someone’s mental well-being as well?
    • MMA has been used to improve PTSD and anxiety of veterans and first responders
    • Improves social integration among members
    • Used as a place to release daily tension
    • Improves psychological aspects – anxiety control, resilience, self-trust

Using the chess analogy, you have to learn different ways of attack and defence and also to learn how to read your opponent’s next move. You don’t have to know only how to submit or KO in a fight – you have to learn how to manage your energy to go for it or to be able to go to the distance if necessary.


Injuries – such as any other sport, bad management on the periodisation, intensity zones, and strength and conditioning could lead to overtraining outcomes. The fact of involving two persons trying to move around, control, submit, or knock the opponent down, injuries is part of the risk involved in MMA.

Prejudice – The image of professional MMA fights may lead people to think that MMA training could be like that. However, you can find MMA training a great alternative to get fit with all physiological benefits pretty much anywhere in the world.


Martial arts can definitely help you with health and fitness. Along with a full-body workout that enhances endurance and strength, and your focus and concentration is also improved.

If you haven’t joined MMA yet, now is the time to get some motivation and start!


Want some additional help to improving your training and performance, your local accredited exercise professional can help.

They will be able to prescribe safe and effective exercises that are tailored to your specific needs. They will also help you to set realistic goals and stay motivated.

The Nike Run Club gives you the guidance, inspiration and innovation you need to become a better athlete. Join Nike Run Club to reach your goals and have fun along the way. Download to get started. 

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We have partnered with Nike Australia Pty Ltd for this article series.

The views expressed in this article, unless otherwise cited, are exclusively those of the author, Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA). ESSA is a professional organisation committed to establishing, promoting and defending the career paths of tertiary trained exercise and sports science practitioners.

Nike had no role in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data or research or the writing of this article.

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