You are currently viewing Calisthenics vs. Weights: What’s Best For MMA?

Calisthenics vs. Weights: What’s Best For MMA?

MMA fighters undergo diverse methods of training to achieve their peak levels of strength,
conditioning, flexibility and agility.

These are vital to their ability to compete in this grueling, tasking sport.

Two of the major training regimens they use to achieve these are calisthenics and
weight training.

In this article, we’ll be looking at which is more effective, and why.


Calisthenics are strength-building exercises that focus on using one’s own body weight to create

This involves a variety of rhythmic movements such as pulling, pushing, jumping and
bending, which exercise multiple muscle groups simultaneously.

They require minimal to no gym equipment.

The emphasis of this workout is laid on improving strength, agility, coordination, balance,
conditioning, flexibility and posture by challenging the full body.

Common calisthenics includes pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, squats, dips, and skipping.


Weight training involves building strength and muscles through lifting heavy objects as

It requires the use of weighted equipment such as dumbbells, barbells, weight machines, etc.

Common weightlifting exercises are bicep curls, tricep extensions, bench presses, and deadlifts.

Weight training allows for both compound muscle workouts and isolation of single muscle

The focus is on challenging and overloading muscles, causing them to tear, and repair, leading
to muscle growth.

This process is known as hypertrophy.

Weights are more effective for building bigger muscles and faster strength development.

Which is better for MMA calisthenics or weightlifting?

Calisthenics is better than weights for MMA because it is beneficial to the body in many more
ways that are vital to a fighter.

Weightlifting is great for building strength, and large muscles.

But of course, a professional fighter needs much more than just strength and doesn’t need large muscles.

Having large muscles can actually be detrimental to performance in MMA because bigger muscles require more oxygen to function, and this leads to bulky fighters tiring out faster.

Where calisthenics will improve your flexibility and agility, focusing on weightlifting slows you down, and stiffens your body. Focusing on weights increases wear and tear on your body.

Training for and competing in MMA is very demanding on the body, creating a lot of strain.

By adding additional tension to intense lifting, one becomes more susceptible to injuries.

Calisthenics focuses on training the full body, and helps develop the following:

A strong core:

As the name implies the core is the center of body strength.

It generates back, upper and lower body strength.

Also importantly, the core generates the power of punches, kicks, and a base of strength for grappling. Calisthenic workouts like planks, burpees, push-ups and squats contribute to strengthening the core.


The aerobic exercise incorporated in calisthenics such as skipping, burpees and jumping jacks improve endurance and conditioning.

This grants the ability to train longer, and last longer in the cage without succumbing to fatigue.

Agility, flexibility and balance:

These vital requirements of MMA are the primary benefits of calisthenics.

The fine motor skills developed by practice are paramount to success in combat sports generally.

The importance of the ability to move, twist, turn and bounce around lightly cannot be stated enough.

Calorie burning:

A by-product of aerobic calisthenics is that they burn more calories than weight lifting.

This rids you of flabby fat and tones the body.

Standing alone, calisthenics is the more beneficial of the two when training for MMA.

However, a certain level of weight training is required to help develop the necessary strength your body needs.

A combination of both; focusing on calisthenics while incorporating weight training, is the optimal regimen to achieve peak physical conditioning to succeed in MMA