The Importance of Power-Endurance for MMA

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Many fighters have the power to be dangerous inside an MMA cage. But that doesn’t mean it can be sustained over the duration of a fight. In my experience, as a fighter and strength and conditioning coach, mastering power-endurance can be the difference between a fighter being dangerous in the first five minutes, or being dangerous all the way to the final seconds of a bout.

The Importance of Power-Endurance for MMA

Mixed Martial Arts is a fairly new sport in contrast to others, same goes for the physical preparation of training. Coaches have to realize that they must work all aerobic systems in order to have optimal preparation for each fighter. One of the most important aspects of these modalities would be power. Endurance in this specific system must be prevalent in order to sustain proficiency. This is where power-endurance comes into play.

What is Power-Endurance?

Let’s first break down each word and its importance in MMA. Power is defined as the ability to move or travel with great speed or force. This is important for fighters to develop, if they want to posses one-punch knockout power. Power is considered to be more anaerobic (without oxygen) in nature, for no more than five seconds of work. This can be beneficial, but not for a long duration fight.

So what happens when this cannot be sustained throughout a five minute round? This is why developing power-endurance is important for sports like MMA, that use mixed aerobic systems during the action. Endurance–the ability to withstand existence for an extended period of time–is what must be present in order to keep a pace to outwork your opponent. When combined, this is a combo that will take a fighters ability to the next level.

How do you develop it?

As a strength and conditioning coach at American Top Team, I’ve seen many fighters that cannot sustain there power. And sustaining power is a vital component towards success. In order to achieve this,  there are certain techniques that can aid improvement. For example, utilize power movements in 20-30 second sets, and only rest for 10-20 seconds. This can be applied in upper body exercises such as reactive med ball throws, slams or explosive push-ups. For improvements in the lower body, reactive box jumps, hurdle hops, squat jumps, or bounding broad jumps are useful exercises.

I use a linear progression approach to increase difficulty over time. An example of this is to start at 10 second sets, with 10 second rest periods. Do this for 2-3 weeks, then increase time by 10 seconds, in three week waives. For instance:

Week 1-3: Lower body/Upper body

-Reactive box jumps – 10 seconds on, 10 seconds off

-Reactive med ball throw 10:10

Week 3-6: Lower Body/Upper Body

-Reactive switch steps (on box) 20:15

-Med ball slams 20:15

Week 6-9: Lower Body/Upper Body

-Broad jump (bounding): 30:20

-Reactive rotation slams: 30:20

Every third week increase the duration, while keeping rest time as minimal as possible. Fighters must be able to recover quickly in fight circumstances. With that being said, it is important to not push to fast. Doing so will lead to a breakdown in form, and develop negative movement patterns that can lead to diminished performance and injury. The main goal is be able to keep tempo with proper form, for up to one minute of overall work.

Utilizing active rest is a good way to develop mental toughness. Along with the ability to recover after aggressive outputs of energy. The frequency of this training can be as high as four days a week to as low as two days a week. Since it will have no real hypertrophic effect, this will not leave your body sore, enabling you to train more frequently.

Who should this be importance to?

In my personal opinion I believe every fighter should practice this system in order to take their game to the next level. If you want to have knockout power in the first to the fifth round, I would make this a staple in every strength and conditioning program. This can be worked into any fighter’s style no matter if you have a kickboxing, boxing, or wrestling background. All fighters need to be able to utilize their power at any time in the fight.

I’ve coached many top fighters. Including Bellator fighters King Mo Lawal, and featherweight champion Daniel Straus. UFC fighters like Tecia Torres, Kyogi Horiguchi, Nina Ansaroff, Walt “Big Ticket” Harris, and most recently, strawweight champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk. My overall goal is to get them physically prepared to dominate their opponents. I’ve seen the most turnover when utilizing power-endurance training with every fighter I’ve worked with. This training modality can prepare you to have many victories in the cage and in the ring. Try it out, you won’t be disappointed!

Phil Daru

  • MMA Strength & Conditioning Specialist
  • American Top Team Physical Preparation Coach
  • Sports Medicine, Exercise Science Degrees
  • FMS Certified Member
  • Former Professional MMA Fighter

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Phil Daru is a former Division 1 football player for Alabama State University, where he recieves undergraduate degree in Exercise Science and later a Sports Medicine degree from Keiser University. After college Phil began a career as a professional MMA fighter with American Top Team for 8 years, where he also began training athletes and fighters while pursuing a career as a fighter. Now 28 years old Phil has competed in Strongman, bodybuilding, and now an active competitive Powerlifter. Daru has worked with and continue to work with a number of top fighters such as King Mo Lawal, Tecia Torres, Amanda Nunes, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Daniel Strouse, Cole Miller, and many more. Daru is a dedicated and strong minded individual with determination to help others and to help educate and inform others on become stronger!


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