Training To Increase Speed For MMA

What can an athlete do to increase their speed. What exercises should they do and how often should they be done. Unfortunately the answer will differ greatly from individual to individual. Training for speed is complicated, and anyone who thinks it’s as easy as simply lifting weights needs a swift kick. 

Training Age

Training age is how long an athlete has been training for, an example of this would be if an athlete started training at the age of 22 and they are now 24, their training age is two years. An athlete’s training age will change how you program for speed.   

Training ageBeginner Intermediate Advanced

Less that 1.5 years1.5 – 3 years 3+ years

Strength Training (building a base)

Strength goes hand in hand with speed. To many people have this picture of strength in their minds and think of large muscle size, (hypertrophy) and forget to look at other smaller stature athletes to see great feats of strength #gymnastics. When training strength we are not looking to increase muscle size but to increase the force of muscular contraction, this type of training will help prepare the body for more explosive speed based training later on. The length of this training period will vary depending on your training age (see above). For a beginner, the phase is longer as you need to build a proper foundation of strength (base strength), advanced level athletes typically progress quickly and focus more on sport specific exercises. 

The way I go about assessing an athletes maximal strength base is by testing their strength performance. An example of this is below

1RM Strength Test
Advanced 2x BodyweightAdvanced 1.25 Bodyweight
Intermediate 1.8x BodyweightIntermediate 1.1 Bodyweight 
Beginner 1.5x BodyweightBeginner .75 Bodyweight 
5RM Strength Test
Back SquatDeadliftPin Press
Advanced 1x bodyweight Advanced 1.5x bodyweight Advanced .67x bodyweight 
Intermediate .9x bodyweightIntermediate 1.3x bodyweightIntermediate .5x bodyweight
Beginner .75 bodyweightBeginner .85 bodyweightBeginner .4x bodyweight

Explosive Strength Training

Although maximum strength is an important aspect of an athlete’s training, when looking to improve short bursts of speed & power, it’s important to focus on applying force rapidly, rather than focusing on the maximum amount of force that you can supply.

Explosive exercises are used during strength training to increase speed as they require the athlete to perform accelerated actions. This requires the athlete to continue accelerating throughout the movement until the point of release or take off.

During this stage, athletes are able to improve their power production through using explosive movements under heavy loads. Due to the heavy loads moved and high speed, training facilitates a higher threshold of motor units. These exercises produce higher muscle activation not to mention more force, power and velocity than traditional maximum strength exercises.

A great example of an explosive exercise is a resistance banded kettelbell swing, at the bottom of the swing the weight will feel light and the athlete will be forced to drive it out of the starting position hard & fast, as the bands stretch and add resistance to the bell the athletes strength will come into play, if the weight and band resistance is calculated correctly we allow the athlete to move fast and exert the maximal effort required to keep the athlete challenged and strong.Remember regularly moving fast will train you to become fast. 

  Explosive SpeedWarmup SetSet 1Set 2Set 3 
Reps 50% 1 RM x 1260% 1RM x 760% 1RM x 760% 1RM x 7
Resistance Banded High Bar Back Squat 

Resistance Banded Trap Bar Deadlift 

Power Cleans————–


Push Press————–

Box Jumps – Bodyweight or Vested————–

Looking to increase your speed & want to take the guess work out of your training, Click Here

Smarter Training – Superior Results

Written By: Derek Frohlich

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