why mma fighters suck at weight lifting

why mma fighters suck at weight lifting

Why MMA Fighters Suck at Weightlifting

Weightlifting is a crucial aspect of any combat sport, including mixed martial arts (MMA). However, many MMA fighters struggle with weightlifting and fail to achieve optimal results. This article aims to explore the various reasons why MMA fighters often struggle with weightlifting, examining different aspects that contribute to their difficulties.

Lack of Specialization

One reason why MMA fighters struggle with weightlifting is their lack of specialization in this particular discipline. MMA training requires a diverse range of skills, such as striking, grappling, and conditioning. As a result, fighters often spread themselves thin, dividing their time and energy between various training aspects, leaving less time for dedicated weightlifting sessions.

Furthermore, MMA fighters must focus on maintaining weight for their specific weight class, which can limit their ability to prioritize weightlifting. This lack of specialization and divided attention can hinder their progress in weightlifting.

Training Priorities

MMA fighters prioritize skills that are directly applicable to their fights, such as striking techniques, takedowns, and submissions. While weightlifting can enhance overall strength and power, it may not be seen as a top priority when compared to other aspects of MMA training. As a result, weightlifting sessions may be shorter or less intense, leading to slower progress and suboptimal results.

Moreover, MMA fighters often prioritize functional strength training over traditional weightlifting. Functional strength exercises focus on movements that mimic those used in the octagon, such as kettlebell swings and medicine ball throws. While these exercises are valuable, they may not provide the same benefits as traditional weightlifting for building maximum strength and muscle mass.

Lack of Proper Technique

Proper technique is crucial for weightlifting to be effective and safe. Unfortunately, many MMA fighters lack the necessary knowledge and experience to perform lifts such as the squat, deadlift, and bench press with proper form. Without proper technique, they may not engage the correct muscles or generate optimal force, limiting their progress in weightlifting.

Additionally, MMA fighters often prioritize explosive movements and plyometrics over slow and controlled weightlifting exercises. While explosive movements are important for MMA, neglecting slow and controlled lifts can hinder overall strength development and limit muscle growth.

Inadequate Recovery

MMA training is incredibly demanding, with fighters often engaging in multiple training sessions per day. This intense training schedule can lead to inadequate recovery time, which is essential for muscle growth and strength development. Without sufficient recovery, MMA fighters may struggle to make progress in weightlifting and may be more prone to injury.

Furthermore, weightlifting places additional stress on the body, which can further hamper recovery. MMA fighters must strike a delicate balance between their training load and recovery to optimize their performance in both MMA and weightlifting.

Limited Access to Equipment and Coaches

MMA fighters often train in mixed martial arts gyms that may not have the same level of equipment or specialized weightlifting coaches as traditional weightlifting gyms. This limited access to equipment and coaching can hinder their progress in weightlifting. Without proper equipment, MMA fighters may not be able to perform certain lifts or progress to heavier weights, limiting their strength gains.

Additionally, without a knowledgeable weightlifting coach, MMA fighters may lack guidance on proper programming, technique, and progression. This can result in suboptimal training methods and slower progress in weightlifting.

Weight Cutting

why mma fighters suck at weight lifting

Weight cutting is a common practice in MMA, where fighters aim to shed excess weight to compete in a lower weight class. This process often involves severe calorie restriction, dehydration, and sauna use. These extreme measures can significantly impact an athlete’s strength and muscle mass, making it difficult to excel in weightlifting.

Moreover, weight cutting can lead to muscle loss, decreased energy levels, and impaired recovery, further hindering MMA fighters’ ability to perform well in weightlifting.


While weightlifting is an essential component of MMA training, many fighters struggle to excel in this area. Factors such as lack of specialization, training priorities, inadequate technique, limited recovery, access to equipment and coaching, and the impact of weight cutting all contribute to MMA fighters’ difficulties in weightlifting. Addressing these factors and prioritizing weightlifting can help MMA fighters improve their performance and achieve better results in the gym and the octagon.

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