Hurricane Training

Build cardio fitness and torch fat with MMA strength and conditioning coach Martin Rooney’s Hurricane Training.

Words Joel Snape  Photography Tom Miles

There’s a horrible trend in training right now that you always go for circuits to the death, says coach Martin Rooney. “You get guys who measure the effectiveness of a workout by whether it leaves them lying on the floor feeling crushed. I’m measuring heart rate, weight, body fat — I’m looking for improvement.”

Instead of simply smashing his athletes into the ground with endless circuits, renowned MMA strength and conditioning man Rooney has developed his own system of training.

It mimics the demands of professional fighting by emphasising rest just as much as hard work. “If you wear a heart rate monitor during a fight, you see it’s not max heart rate for 15 minutes — there are periods of recovery,” he explains. “So I created a system that mimics that exactly.”

Storm force

He calls it Hurricane training, a name that comes from one of Rooney’s sessions with multiple-time world grappling champion and undefeated MMA fighter Roger Gracie. “He was tired but not destroyed and he said, ‘Man, I feel like I’ve been hit by a hurricane’. And I got to thinking, well, what is a hurricane?” Rooney says. “It’s a powerful storm that’s very brief, but leaves destruction in its path. People come back stronger from it and rebuild. And that’s what these workouts are designed to do.”

Winds of change

The routine below illustrates a Category 3 Hurricane workout, which is the sort that Rooney most frequently uses with already well-conditioned athletes. If you’re not certain you can handle it, work your way up with a couple of weeks’ attempts at the Category 1 and 2 Hurricanes, adding your own moves according to the template. Once you’ve got the hang of it, test yourself with a Category 4 — and if you’re feeling brave, attempt the Category 5.

Just remember you’re aiming for improvement, not agony. “If pain and fatigue are by-products of getting results, that’s fine,” says Rooney. “If you’re using them to decide whether a workout’s any good, that means you’re an idiot.”

Fight Special Guest Trainer – Martin Rooney

Rooney is a world-renowned MMA conditioning coach, a black belt in judo, purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu and former member of the US bobsled team. He has travelled the world to research different styles of fight training for his book Ultimate Warrior Workouts and currently works with UFC standouts Frankie Edgar and Jim Miller. To find out more about Rooney’s workouts and certification events, go to


How To Do This Workout

  • Each Category of Hurricane routine contains nine intervals in total, with three in each round. Each of the rounds should take approximately five minutes to finish, making the whole workout 15 minutes long — the length of an MMA fight.
  • Choose a cardio activity — Rooney recommends the treadmill, but sprints or skipping are almost as good. The workout consists of nine 25-second intervals of this activity with a superset of two exercises between each interval.
  • After three cardio intervals, change the exercises you’re doing to make sure you tax your entire body. Do the same after another three intervals. The moves get less demanding with each round so that you can keep pushing yourself without risking injury.

Category 3 Workout

Intervals          Exercises

1-3                          Close-grip snatch,overhead jerk

4-6                          High pull, bent-over row

7-9                          Standing triceps extension, standing barbell curl

Hurricane Training Workout

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