There are many training modalities/components to deal with when preparing for MMA. Strength, mobility, flexibility, conditioning, and on top of that, you still need enough gas in the tank to develop your sports specific martial art skills. The goal of all of this is directed towards being able to stand and bang for five minute rounds while maximizing all the above variables.
When it comes to setting up a strength training routine for MMA, the one obvious thing is that we need to truncate the volume and likely frequency as well, as all the major muscle groups are going to be taking a pounding with all the extra pushups, core work, burpees, etc in the warm-up components of your MMA training sessions. So we need to be efficient and use some basic compounds and get the biggest bang for our buck.
The routine below is what I used (in my late 40s) while doing Muay-Thai 2 days a week. Our typical Muay-Thai sessions were 90 minutes and started with 15 minutes of jump rope, about 15 minutes of boot camp style body weight stuff, and then an hour of a mix of bag work, drills and sparring. After two days a week of getting my ass kicked with this stuff, the last thing in my mind at that time of my life was pursuing a bodybuilding routine! (oh yeah, here is an awesome free Muay Thai e-book)
2 Day a Week Minimalist MMA Routine
Week One – Day One – Lower
Week One – Day Two – Upper
Week Two – Day One – Lower
Week Two – Day Two – Upper
The loading I used for the first two movements on each day was 2×5, 2×8, 2×12-15, cutting the weight by 10-15% each time. I started off with 85% 1RM for the 2×5, then 70% for the 2×8, and then 55% for the 12-15%. There was no deloading required as I was only hitting the weight room 2 days a week.
For the supplementary exercises (Dumbbell Swings and Hip Thrusts) I used 2×15.
For the paused incline bench, I counted two second pause at the chest. I found that this greatly helped me get upper body tightness and increased strength on this movement.