The MMA Workout You Can Do at Home

Work Your Whole Body With This Boxing Bag Workout

You don't have to be a professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter to go a few rounds at home, but you might benefit from trying an MMA workout designed by a professional fighter.

Chris Camozzi, an 18-time UFC veteran who is constantly training for his next big fight, designed a program that gives you the MMA workout experience at home. All you need is a heavy bag, boxing gloves, hand wraps, and a jump rope to kick your conditioning routine into high gear.

If you don't have access to a heavy bag or gloves, check out the "bonus round"—it's an equipment-free circuit workout designed to mimic the heart rate changes that MMA fighters experience during a big fight.

MMA Workout

  • Jump rope
  • Shadowbox
  • Heavy bag work
  • The burn-out round
  • Core work and pushups
  • Equipment-free conditioning circuit

Jump Rope

Jumping rope is an excellent way to raise your heart rate (which is important to do at the beginning of your workout) because it combines cardiovascular exercise with agility, speed, and coordination.

However, Camozzi admits that it can be tough for beginners. If you're new to jumping rope, he suggests starting with five, 1-minute rounds with 1 minute of rest between sets.

As he explains, "You want it to be difficult, but it shouldn't be so hard that it ends your workout. Find the balance based on what your fitness level is when starting out."

Beginner Option

  • 1 minute of jumping rope
  • 1-minute rest
  • Repeat five times

Intermediate Option

  • 3 minutes jumping rope
  • 1-minute rest
  • Repeat five times

Advanced Option

  • 5 minutes jumping rope
  • 1-minute rest
  • Repeat five times

When you've completed your jump rope rounds, take a water break, wrap your hands, and put your gloves on. Keep this break as quick and efficient as possible.


Chris Camozzi shadowboxing
Chris Camozzi

The shadowboxing portion of your workout is optional, depending on how much time you have. Shadowboxing is pretty straightforward: You're sparring with an imaginary partner, throwing punches and moving around an imaginary ring.

However, just because it's a straightforward workout doesn't mean you should take it lightly. Camozzi stresses that you should push yourself, working at a quick pace with fast punches and lots of footwork.

"You will feel it in your legs after the shadowboxing, and that's what we want," he says. "Picture yourself in the ring fighting. No dropping your hands or walking around and throwing a combo here and there."

Camozzi typically completes two to three 5-minute rounds of fast-paced shadowboxing and moving. If you're short on time, you can opt for a single, 5-minute round. If you want to, you can even cut it from your routine completely and skip straight to the heavy bag workout.

All Levels

  • 5 minutes shadowboxing at a fast pace
  • 1-minute rest
  • Repeat up to three times

Heavy Bag Work

You can do heavy bag work alone or with a partner. Camozzi's heavy bag routine consists of three 5-minute rounds, each followed by 1 minute of rest. Each round focuses on a different aspect of training.

"I like to start with one, 5-minute round of just boxing, hands only. This should be done at a high pace with a high volume of punches," Camozzi says, adding that you should mix up your speed and power, working long-range and close-range punches. "A lot of times I'll throw three- to four-punch combos fast, making one of those punches as hard as I can. It's good to change up the rhythm."

The second, 5-minute round is similar in function to the first, but focused solely on kneeing and kicking movements instead of boxing.

"I kick low, high, and mid-range, and often double-up my kicks—meaning I throw a left kick, left kick, one after the other as fast as possible," Camozzi says. "I also mix up high and low. I might throw a low left kick immediately followed by a high right kick."

The point is to keep the pace fast and high-volume for the entire 5-minute round, but you're welcome to get creative as you go.

The third 5-minute round puts everything together, combining punching and kicking. This will exhaust you, but do your best to keep your intensity up—it's only 5 total minutes of work.

"No throwing single strikes!" Camozzi emphasizes. "I throw all combos and mix up speed and power throughout the round. High, low, hard, fast, double up strikes, burn those muscles and lungs."

In between each of the 5-minute rounds, give yourself a minute to rest. You can take this as total rest or active rest, depending on how you're feeling. Camozzi uses his minute-long "breaks" to do core work: "I do crunches, or I sit down, wrap my legs around the bag and do situps with two light punches at the top of each situp."

After you've completed all three rounds, give yourself a 2- to 3-minute water break before moving on.

All Levels

  • 5-minute punching round, fast pace and high volume
  • 1-minute rest (active or passive)
  • 5-minute kicking round, fast pace and high volume
  • 1-minute rest (active or passive)
  • 5-minute kicking and punching round, fast pace and high volume
  • 2–3 minutes rest and water break

The Burn Out Round

heavy bag mma workout
MrBig_Photography/Getty Images

The burn out round is like a final, high-intensity battle between yourself and the bag. You can do this alone or with a partner, although most workouts are more fun (and challenging) when you have a partner there to push you. "If you do it alone, you really have to challenge yourself," Camozzi explains.

All Levels

Set an interval timing app to time five intervals of 30 seconds work and 30 seconds rest. If you're doing the workout without a partner, you'll be pushing yourself as hard as possible during the 30-second work period, then resting during the 30-second rest period.

If you're working with a partner, you'll simply switch off, one of you doing your work during the work interval, and the other doing your work during the rest interval:

  • 30 seconds punches as fast and hard as you can
  • 30 seconds rest (or your partner performs their work interval)
  • 30 seconds kicks as fast and hard as you can
  • 30 seconds rest (or your partner performs their work interval)
  • 30 seconds punches as fast and hard as you can
  • 30 seconds rest (or your partner performs their work interval)
  • 30 seconds kicks as fast and hard as you can
  • 30 seconds rest (or your partner performs their work interval)
  • 30 seconds punches as fast and hard as you can
  • 30 seconds rest (or your partner performs their work interval)

Core Work and Pushups

If you have time, complete two to three sets of push-ups, doing as many as you can for each set while maintaining good form, then finish your workout with a series of ab exercises, including planks, sit-ups, medicine ball oblique twists, and leg lifts. Use this as an opportunity to target the chest and abs. Adding just 5 to 10 minutes is a great way to finish.

Bonus Round: The Equipment-Free Conditioning Circuit

Push-ups circuit mma workout
JohnnyGreig/Getty Images

If you don't have access to a heavy bag, or you need a workout you can do in a hotel room or small space, there's a solution.

In fact, according to Matt Marsden—a fitness instructor at Beacon College in Leesburg, Florida, who has a training and coaching background in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, boxing, Muay Thai, and Tae Kwon Do—this workout is common for MMA fighters because they travel frequently and sometimes have to train outside of the typical gym setting.

Marsden also makes it clear that bodyweight conditioning workouts are every bit as important for MMA training as throwing punches in the ring.

"If there's one thing for certain in this sport, it's that your heart rate will change several times over the course of a 5-minute round due to the many battle styles a fight can take. It may start as a boxing match, move into Olympic-level wrestling, then return back to the feet," Marsden says. "To train in this manner, take the idea of rep schemes, ball it up, and toss it in the trash. There are no reps anymore, just timed rounds."

Fighting your way through a series of timed conditioning rounds is an excellent way to mimic the training MMA fighters implement. Marsden offers the following workout as a good example:

Rest for 1 minute after completing the 5-minute round (just as you do in an MMA fight), then repeat, completing three total rounds of the circuit.

After completing the three bodyweight rounds, Marsden suggests you finish off with a final, high-intensity interval round. Perform 5–10 intervals of 30-seconds work and 30-seconds rest, where you sprint or jump rope as fast as you can for the 30 seconds of work.

Marsden adds that this type of bodyweight circuit is inherently flexible, which means you should feel free to mix up the exercises as you wish. However, he does offer one word of caution:

"Feel free to change up the movements but be cognizant of varying the exercises to maximize heart rate changes. By this I mean don't do three high-intensity movements before ending with two rounds of lower-intensity planks and flutter kicks."

Rather, switch back and forth between higher- and lower-intensity exercises when planning your bodyweight circuit.

A Word From Verywell

There isn't a home-based MMA workout that will completely mimic the adrenaline rush of getting in the cage with another fighter. If you're serious about training in mixed martial arts, find a facility with coaches who can help you gain the specific skills needed to fight your way through three tough rounds.

It's not just about punching hard or throwing a solid kick—you have to learn how to grapple and wrestle, break out of holds, and take a punch without faltering. While they can offer benefits, home-based workouts can only take you so far in the MMA experience.

3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Fountaine CJ, Schmidt BJ. Metabolic cost of rope trainingJ Strength Cond Res. 2015;29(4):889-893. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182a35da8

  3. Kostikiadis IN, Methenitis S, Tsoukos A, Veligekas P, Terzis G, Bogdanis GC. The effect of short-term sport-specific strength and conditioning training on physical fitness of well-trained mixed martial arts athletesJ Sports Sci Med. 2018;17(3):348-358.

By Laura Williams, MSEd, ASCM-CEP
Laura Williams is a fitness expert and advocate with certifications from the American Council on Exercise and the American College of Sports Medicine.