MMA Training: Type
Just like with cardio intensity, the type of cardio that you perform should mimic the conditions found in a fight. Meaning, you should perform the same movements and actions that are commonly used in a fight. Of course the best type of cardio you can do for a fight is fight training.
You can run miles upon miles, yet you’ll never get in “wrestling shape” like actual wrestling practice will. Not to say that there isn’t a cardiovascular benefit to running; your heart and lungs are still getting more efficient, but you need to use the same muscles in the same way you’ll use them in competition.
However, sometimes your body needs a break from the beating your body can take from intense wrestling, jiu jitsu, or sparring. In those cases, extra curricular cardio can help fighters lose weight and gain endurance, without risking acute injury.
Full Body: This could be an elliptical, Airdyne bike, swimming, or any other type of cardio that forces you to use your arms and legs at the same time. Using both upper and lower body forces at the same time helps to condition the core and increases the translation of power from your legs to your arms. You can be strong in the legs and strong in the arms, but if you’re weak in the core, you might as well be weak all over.
Running: Running doesn’t help greatly with wrestling or jiu jitsu endurance, but it does help with striking. In boxing and kickboxing, you have to be relaxed in the upper body while the legs an core does all the work. Your legs and core do all the work, while your upper body relaxes and swings. Since running teaches your legs and core to work while your arms relax, you can see why boxers are always shown running miles upon miles before their fights.
Sprints are great for preserving muscle and enhancing explosive power while long distance runs will be better for losing weight and gaining straight endurance. So if you’re strong, explosive, and overweight, you should try to do more long distance cardio to balance out your abilities.
Resistance Circuit Training: Weight lifting, medicine ball training, or TRX type circuit workouts are also good modes of cardio for MMA. Circuit training is just going from one exercise to another with little or no rest.
There is a fine line between strength training and cardio training. If your circuit training sets have too much rest between sets, you’ll be working more strength and muscular strength and less endurance. Take no rest between sets, and you’ll gain more muscular endurance instead of strength and power.
Again, your cardio routine should mimic the movements, duration, and intensity of the fight. Not everyone is the same, so if you need more endurance and weight loss and less explosive strength, then you should focus on long distance, slow pace cardio instead of high intensity interval training.