Weight Lifting for MMA and Life

I’ve been an avid weight lifter for most of my life. It's a great way to stay in shape and look great. You also see results more quickly than with other types of fitness. Usually, 2 weeks is enough time to see some results. That can be extremely motivating, making it easier to stay consistent with it. 

Weight training is also vital in unlocking your full athletic potential. Power, speed and explosiveness are all impacted by lifting weights. Not to mention making your body and joints stronger helps you avoid injuries. I have tried just about everything to find the best way to maximize my strength for Mixed Martial Arts.   

I don’t do things the way I see a lot of other people doing them. I see a lot of strength and conditioning coaches working with MMA fighters and they just don’t get it. Most of the time they are just wearing down the athlete and making it harder for them to get anything out of their technical training. 

I needed a way of doing things that allowed me to build and maintain strength while being able to get the most out of my other workouts throughout the day. While I was doing this I realized that your average person probably feels pretty similar. 

Most people aren’t trying to be bodybuilders or fitness models. They also aren’t trying to be competitive at fitness like with CrossFit or preparing for a sports season like football. They just want to look and feel good. 

There is nothing wrong with training in this way. I just don’t see it as manageable for the long term. Since you typically train for 6 to 12 weeks for a competition and then stop until the next time you get ready for a competition. Too much up and down with the body's fitness levels. I want a solid foundation year-round. And so should you.

That's when I decided that you should look at fitness like hygiene. You wouldn’t want to intensely brush your teeth for 8 weeks and then stop for a month. Gross! 

If you are training to compete in boxing, MMA or any other martial art, lifting in the wrong way can hold back your technique training. What is the point of being strong and looking good if your technique sucks? 

For those of you that are working a manual labor job and you have to use your body intently every day you don’t want to lift in a way that makes you sore and unable to do your job properly. Being extremely sore at a desk job is no party either and it will most likely turn you off of lifting. 

The first thing I recommend is blocking off a time of day that you always train at. All you really need is 30-35 minutes. The body responds well to schedules. Be consistent with your training schedule the same way you are with brushing your teeth. Your body will respond and it will become easier to stay on your routine. 

What I like to do is lift 4-6 days a week. I do this year-round whether I’m prepping for a fight or not. I’ve been doing things this way for almost 3 years now and it is working for me. Even if I don’t have time to do all of my other workouts. 

As long as I stick to my meal plan and lifts, my strength and physique stay at an optimal level. That makes it easy for me to get into shape quick when its time to start training for a fight. Plus I’m ripped and look good year-round. I also haven’t had any injuries since I started doing things this way. 

So I’m going to give you some ideas on how you could train. My lifts consist of 4 sets of 6 reps. My goal is to be explosive through the movement. Not just pushing through slowly. If I can hit every set and every rep explosively I will increase the weight.  

This is monotonous to some people but I don’t care if I’m doing the same things over and over again. I care about results. I only do 4 exercises max per session. That way I don’t break my body down to much for all the other training I need to do. It also keeps me from being to broken down for my normal day to day activities when I’m not training for a fight. 

If things come up or I am worn out from other training I can always adjust my lift. I can cut back on the number of sets I am doing to 2 or I can do less of the exercises. Some times I’m so worn out from fight training that I will only do one lift. 

To keep from getting too bored with the lifts you can do variations of the same exercises. I will list some possible substitute lifts and you can choose which ones you want to do. If you are really getting after these lifts you can get through them in 30-35 minutes. That will give you more time to do cardio, technique training or just get back to life. 

You can do a quick warm-up of push-ups and free squats to get loose before you start. Also, make sure you do some stretching throughout the day to stay limber and loose. Everyone has different needs when it comes to stretching so just make sure you are doing as much as you need.  

I make sure to always do my Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday lifts (Essential Lifts). My Wednesdays and Weekend lifts (Beach Muscle Lifts) are extra. If I’m worn out during a fight camp those are the days I will take it easy on or skip it altogether. 

Talk to your doctor first before attempting any exercise.

Choose one exercise from each line.

Monday and Thursday Lift (Essential Lift)

Squats, Front Squats, Leg Press 


Straight Bar Bench, Dumb Bell Bench, Iso Bench Machine. 


Sumo Dead Lift, Dead Lift. 


Straight Bar Bent Over Rows, Dumb Bell Rows, Seated Rows. 


Tuesday and Friday Lift (Essential Lift)

Stiff Leg Dead Lift (RDL), Leg Curls.  


Pull Ups (4 sets of max) change grip each set. 


Single Leg Squats, Pistol Squats.  


Clean Pulls (up to chest)


Wednesday and one day on the Weekend (Beach Muscle Lift)

Straight Bar Bicep Curls, Curl Bar Bicep Curls, Dumb Bell Bicep Curls.            


 Lying Tricep Extensions, Seated Tricep Extensions or Tricep Push Downs       


Straight Bar Behind the Neck Press, Military Press or Dumb Bell Behind the Neck Press.  


Straight Bar Behind the Back Shrugs or Dumb Bell Shrugs.                             


 Here are some items that I use with my lifts.

Lifting Wrist Straps




Weight Belts




 Hand Chalk




Protein Powder

Pure Whey


Leah Lee