Is Calisthenics Good for MMA? 🤸(6 Best Exercises For Improvement)

Callisthenics exercises have become popular with the fitness community and are publicly endorsed by many professional athletes. This can make an MMA enthusiast wonder if these exercises can help in the octagon.

Doing calisthenics exercises is always a good thing to do for MMA training; they don’t need much equipment, and you can have them anywhere, plus you get the bonus of strength and conditioning in a short amount of time.

In this article, we will cover what calisthenics are and the top six exercises that will help you in the octagon. You will also learn the best practices that will help you stay safe during your workouts.

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What Is Calisthenics?

The term calisthenics refers to a sub-genre of exercises that relies on a person’s own body weight to work out different muscle groups. Generally, calisthenics work muscle groups but are not very good at isolating specific muscles. The intensity of these exercises depends on the type of workout but also on the weight of the person engaged in the exercises. 

It is not uncommon for many lightweight fighters to perform hundreds of reps of calisthenics every day. Heavyweights, on the other hand, might perform exercises like push-ups but would rely on free weights to maintain and build mass.

What Calisthenics Exercises Are Good for MMA Athletes?

Calisthenics is a great way to train multiple muscle groups and build muscle without relying on lifting weights in the gym. It’s popular among those entering fitness who don’t want to sign up for expensive memberships. Fighters are completely different, though – they rely heavily on calisthenics as they build their muscles and help them take down opponents more easily if need be!

Calisthenic exercises help increase your muscle mass while barely using any equipment at all, perfect for people interested in fitness but not wanting an expensive membership or bulky weights laying around the house. The reason some fighters get involved with this practice has little to do with building lean arms and legs; instead, these workouts allow you to take down opponents easier due to increased strength gained from calisthenic training.

Fighters want to master their body weight and perform these exercises to support their weight in the octagon no matter which position they find themselves in. This means that calisthenics popular with the general crowd will differ from the ones used most commonly by MMA fighters. Below are a few of the top calisthenics for MMA.


Imagine being in a match-up and wanting your opponent at a distance. The best way to achieve this while maintaining an advantage is to strike with precision and not lose too much of your energy. IF you avoid getting tackled by running away from your opponent, you will be exhausted pretty quickly and, to make matters worse, not have enough energy once you are taken to the ground. 

By mastering pull-ups, you will build your lat muscles and upper pecs simultaneously. This will stabilize your shoulder and help you strike with force. Pull-ups are popular among all classes of MMA fighters, including featherweights and heavyweights.

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Chin Ups

Whether you take your opponent to the ground or like to KO your way to the victory, you need incredible arm strength. Chin-ups help you develop your bicep muscles without restricting your arm motion. When you are engaged in chin-ups, you are effectively lifting your entire body by the strength of your upper arm. 

This gives you a significant grappling advantage, especially when you want to control the opponent alongside the cage. Strawweights often rely on chin-ups and related calisthenics as their only upper body workout, while heavier weight classes mix their routine with free weight exercises like bicep curls.


The general fitness community appreciates push-ups for the focus they put on one’s chest and arms. Of course, upper body exercises have a significant aesthetic appeal. Fighters appreciate push-ups because they help condition the body overall. 

If you master push-ups, you will learn to use your upper body to balance yourself on your toes. This comes in handy when you find yourself on your back as you can spring into a better position before the opponent has the opportunity to put you in a submission hold. 

Lightweight and lower weight classes rely on push-ups to build arm and chest muscles, but heavier weight classes use the exercise to master mobility in the crucial moments when their back is exposed. Try clapping push-ups to get better at springing into action when you find yourself facing the floor.


One of the most important aspects of an MMA bout is who retains the most mobility. In fact, most submissions can be reduced to the complete lack of mobility due to the hold applied by one’s opponent. Inchworms are great calisthenics you can include in your routine to improve your mobility and to work out your mid-section alongside your legs. 

If you focus solely on your legs for mobility without paying attention to your core, you will not cultivate the right balance. With ears affected by strikes and the high-adrenaline environment of the octagon, you want to make sure you instinctualize your balance as much as possible. Core-building exercises that also focus on your legs are great for that, so make sure to include inchworms in your workout regardless of your weight class.

Broad Jumps

Muhammad Ali is famous for the saying, “float like a butterfly sting like a bee.” The sting refers to precision as well as the speed of striking. You will realize that most strikes and takedowns in MMA rely on turning motion into force. Since it is nearly impossible to increase one’s weight in the moment, the mass part of the equation is irrelevant. 

And even if you are to build up your mass and make higher weight, you will only be matched up with fighters within the weight class. That brings the force advantage down to whoever can make the fastest move.

Broad jumps will help you generate your highest possible speed of motion using your leg muscles. You can use broad jumps to train yourself to be lightning-fast and use the energy you generate to take down opponents. You can condition your punches to draw from your forward body motion. 

And most importantly, when you are on the ground against your will, you can rely on the leg strength you built with broad jumps to get back up on your feet and even deal some damage on your way up.

Hill Sprints.

How many times have you seen a great MMA bout cut short by one of the players losing steam too early? The signs of exhaustion become too clear too quickly, and you can see their strikes losing force. And as the fighter becomes more and more eager to reach back in their corner, you find yourself shouting, “you’re tired already?” 

To avoid this unfortunate fate, you have to build your endurance. You want to have the capacity to last in the octagon for the highest number of rounds possible.

Murphy’s Law dictates that whatever can go wrong will go wrong. In MMA, you should assume Whichever round the fight can go to; it will go to. Hill Sprints build your endurance by combining cardio with bodyweight training. These high-intensity exercises will condition you to use air efficiently and hold on to your energy to last a longer period. You never know when that can be the deciding factor in your victory.

How to Avoid Muscle Injuries While Doing Calisthenics

While calisthenics has a host of benefits, the improper application can lead to injuries, just like the wrong form in free weight exercises. You want to take the following precautions and adopt the best practices listed below to make sure your workouts are safe.

  • Watch multiple videos of the exercise to see whether you are applying force at the right angles. If you learn how to perform an exercise by just reading an article, you may workout your muscle in the wrong direction and cause undue stress on your ligaments.
  • Feed your muscles enough protein to make sure you are recovering sufficiently from your exercises.
  • Cool down after a workout using a vibrating foam roller or other muscle relaxation devices.

Final Thoughts – Is Calisthenics Good for MMA?

Calisthenics helps you master your body weight while working out major muscle groups. Advantages of these exercises can be drawn into the octagon, where you can find yourself striking with more force, making stronger takedowns, lasting longer during bouts, and springing into action more quickly than your opponent, all thanks to specific calisthenics listed in this article.