Train Different: 5 UFC Workout Moves for Beginners

Tens of millions of Americans have tuned into Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) matches on television — which is a blessing and a curse for UFC Gyms popping up nationwide. “People are afraid to come in,” says Ramzey Prentiss, co-owner of UFC Gym Soho in New York City. “Some people are like, ‘I’ve been wanting you to come in here for two months,’ and I say, ‘Why didn’t you?’ They say, ‘I thought I was going to get punched!’”

While true UFC fighters might end up bloody and bruised, that’s not what UFC Gyms are about, says Prentiss, who opened the Soho location in fall 2014. In reality, only five percent of the people at UFC Gyms are training to be competitive fighters, Prentiss says. The other 95 percent just want a good workout. “You’re not going to get hit.”

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What you will get inside UFC Gyms (there are more than 120 nationwide) is a fully equipped workout facility, complete with treadmills, bikes, free weights and group workout classes, ranging from Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) to Muay Thai to Kickboxing. There’s also a popular Daily Ultimate Training class that offers up an intense circuit training workout. The only thing that distinguishes UFC Gyms from your typical fitness center is the ‘Octagon’ (the UFC’s term for a fighting ring), and the rows of punching bags hanging alongside it.

“It’s fun — it’s not like getting on the treadmill and staring at the wall,” Prentiss says. “You come here and someone is putting you through a workout, and it’s so much stress relief when you’re hitting the bag, too. You can never get bored.”

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Want to get a feel for what you’re in for, before stepping in the Octagon? Try these five workout moves from Anthony Feliz, Fitness Director at the UFC Gym at NYC’s Soho location. Do each full-body move for 45 seconds, resting for 15 seconds in between, for four rounds.  Afterwards, you might just feel ready to go to battle, Ronda Rousey style.

5 Boxing Workout Moves Fit for the UFC

UFC Gym Workout: Russian Twist

1. Russian Twist
How to: Sit on the ground, knees bent to 90 degrees in front of you (a). Grab your boxing gloves with both hands. (b). Lift your legs off the ground, balancing on your tailbone, while engaging your abs. (c). Twist to your left, tapping your gloves to the ground. (d). Switch sides, twisting to the right, tapping your gloves to the ground. Repeat for one minute.

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UFC Gym Workout: Roundhouse-Roundhouse-Sprawl

2. Roundhouse-Roundhouse-Sprawl
How to: Get into fight stance: Knees slightly bent, toes pointing forward, gloves shielding your face. (a). Perform a roundhouse kick: Pivoting on the ball of your left foot, strike the bag with the shin of your right leg. (b). Return to fight stance, then perform a roundhouse kick with your left leg, pivoting on the ball of your right foot. (c). Jump back into a sprawl (the UFC’s version of a burpee), with your arms and upper body in a plank position, hips lowered to the ground. (d). Return to standing. Repeat for one minute.

UFC Gym Workout: Fast Punches

3. Fast Punches
How to: Bring your hands up, forearms parallel to each other, making two fists. (a). Strike the bag with your left hand, making contact with your first two knuckles, while twisting your hips to the left and pivoting on the balls of your feet. (b). Strike the bag with your right hand, twisting your hips to the right and pivoting on the balls of your feet. (c). Repeat for one minute.

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UFC Gym Workout: Jack-Push-Climb

4. Jack-Push-Climb
How to: Starting from a standing position, complete one jumping jack (a). Then, drop to the ground, and do one push-up (learn how to do a perfect one here) (b). Next, execute one mountain climber, bringing the left knee to your chest, then the right knee to your chest (c). Return to standing. Repeat for one minute.

UFC Gym Workout: Boxing Sit-Ups

5. Boxing Sit-Ups
How to: Sit on the floor, in front of a boxing bag, with your feet hugging the sides of the bag. (a). Recline, knees bent, arms over your head. (b). Engaging your core, perform one sit-up. (c). Then, grab the bag, and stand up from a seated position. (d). Lower yourself gently back to the ground, making sure to keep your core engaged. Repeat for one minute.

Know Before You Go: How to Wrap Your Hands

Just like runners don’t put on shoes without socks, fighters don’t put on gloves without hand wraps. “You have two goals when you’re wrapping your hands: Supporting your wrist and protecting your knuckles,” Prentiss says. Follow these steps, and watch the simple video above, to learn how to pad your punchers before you hit the Octagon.

  1. Put your thumb through the small band at the end of your wrap.
  2. Loop the wrap around your wrist three times.
  3. Make an X by crossing the wrap over your hand, between your thumb and pointer finger, and then under your hand and back up between your pinkie and ring finger.
  4. Lock it in by looping the wrap around our wrist again.
  5. Then, loop the wrap under the hand and through each finger and thumb, keeping your fingers splayed wide.
  6. Lock it in by looping the wrap around our wrist again.
  7. Build a cushion around your knuckles, keeping your hand wide, by looping the wrap around your knuckles five or six times, until the wrap is nearly gone.
  8. Loop the wrap around your wrist one last time to lock it in, secure with Velcro, and make a fist.

Now that you’re prepared to embrace UFC’s “train different” approach, jump into the Octagon for a workout that will get you in fighting shape from head to toe.