Never Get Tired

Condition yourself like a cage fighter.

By Martin Rooney

Cardio for fighters used to be all about “road work”— running for kilometres at a time. These days, mixed martial arts athletes rely more on metabolic training, otherwise known as high-intensity intervals, which allows them to increase their endurance in less time and with less risk of lower-leg injury.

Metabolic training essentially means alternating brief but intense bouts of activity with intervals of lighter work or rest. The upside is, compared to light jogging, it improves your muscular and cardiovascular systems in a way that’s much more specific to fighting and it helps you add muscle while burning fat. The downside is that it’s really bloody hard. But if you’ve got the guts to push yourself past the pain barrier, you can get in fighting shape without wearing out your running shoes. Choose from the list of metabolic exercises you’ll see in the box at right and incorporate them into your training as suggested.



When: After an upper-body workout, or on a separate day, twice a week.

How: Find a decent set of stairs (a grandstand is ideal). Sprint up the stairs and then walk back down. Repeat 10-15 times.


When: Same time as the interval stair run.

How: Run 30 to 100 metres at 80-90 percent of your top speed. Rest four times as long as the sprint takes (hint: time yourself). Repeat eight to 10 times, twice a week.


When: After any workout, or on a separate day, twice a week.

How: Place a 20kg plate on the floor, wrapped in a towel (see photo, left). Bend, grab the outer edge and push it 20-30m. Rest four times as long as it took to push; repeat eight to 10 times.


When: Same time as plate push.

How: Throw punches, kicks and knees for one to three minutes. Rest for the same time. Do five rounds up to three times a week.


Martin Rooney is the author of Ultimate Warrior Workouts and CEO of

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