By Karen Tonnis

Imagine what it takes to punch, kick, and wrestle your way through three 5-minute rounds against a relentless 250-pound opponent. That’s the kind of extraordinary stamina required of an MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter. MMA uses techniques from several fighting styles, with an emphasis on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Greco-Roman wrestling, boxing, freestyle wrestling, Muay Thai, and karate. (The best fighters kick butt in all of them.)

Small wonder that the world’s fastest-growing sport is also one of the most demanding when it comes to training—training that can be beefed up with the P90X® program.

How P90X punches up MMA training.

If you’re training for competitive fighting, you’ll focus on three technical areas: standup, clinch, and ground. That means not only do you need to train like a boxer (which is killer in itself), but you also need to build power for grappling, as well as developing balance and agility for kicking. Bottom line, you’re training for overall strength and conditioning. And that’s where P90X comes in.

There’s not an athlete on earth who doesn’t benefit from cross-training. Cardiovascular conditioning, speed drills, strength training, and flexibility are all important aspects of a fighter’s training, and P90X nails it all. Twelve different routines work just about every muscle in your body, incorporating weight training, kenpo, yoga, plyometrics, and more.

“The beauty of the P90X program is, it literally improves the athlete in every way at the same time.” —Julian R., MMA assistant trainer, PKG Training Center, Los Angeles

For many fighters and trainers, the very fact that P90X doesn’t focus on one specific thing makes it that much better.

Today’s MMA athlete needs to gain strength without losing endurance, increase endurance without sacrificing speed, and so on. And P90X is structured to do just that. It’s a well-rounded routine that will give you a stronger base, improve flexibility, and build core, leg, bicep, tricep, forearm, shoulder, and back strength. All simultaneously.

Why Coach wants you to do Mary Katherine lunges. And the rest of P90X.

Look at how the program can take you up a notch:
  • Muscle building. Develops lean muscle without bulking you up. This not only helps you stay agile, it can help you keep within your weight class.
  • Strength training. Adds power to your punches and kicks. And gives you the incredible strength needed to outpower opponents on the ground.
  • Core training. Helps with kicking, punching, balance (especially when you’re in the clinch), and grappling. Works your core, an area—neglected by too many fighters—that supports and reinforces everything.
  • Yoga. Good for flexibility, focus, and breathing. Also strengthens through isometric movements.
  • Plyometrics. Creates explosiveness for punching, kicking, and shooting in or lifting for takedowns. Also helps in takedown defense and scrambles.
  • Cardio. Shocks the system and lifts you up to the next level.
Tips for serious fighters:
  • Don’t add extra lifting to P90X. This will only lead to overtraining.
  • Use P90X in the off-season or up to 2 weeks out—not right before a fight. The very nature of the program breaks a body down and rebuilds it. You need time to do this.
  • Train hard and aim to improve 1 percent each time you work out.
  • Don’t expect this to get easy or comfortable. It never does (if you’re pushing yourself the way you should.) Training will leave you sore. But remember, it will pay off.
  • If you’re going to talk trash, be able to back it up.
Eat right or why train at all?

Want lightning-quick reflexes and muscle strength that can go a full 15 minutes? The food you choose to put in your body will directly affect your training and performance. In fact, bringing the discipline of your workout regimen to your daily nutrition is essential to taking your game to the next level. And the P90X Nutrition Plan provides a structured foundation to guide you.

To keep your endurance up and fuel your body sufficiently, you’ll need a balanced diet of protein sources like meat, fish, eggs, and milk. Round this out with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. And don’t forget the supplements.

There are no absolutes in MMA. A fight is totally unpredictable, requiring the fighter to be able to change in an instant. It could mean going from an explosive mode of trying to land shots and closing the distance without getting knocked stupid to being an endurance fighter, locking your opponent in a hold. Train with P90X and you can be ready for anything.