Reverse Periodisation for Mixed Martial Arts

Traditional periodisation models involved planning training in a linear fashion working on aerobic work before anaerobic, hypertrophy before power etc in the hope of carrying this transfer over into the next phase of training. More current practice is to use what I refer to as a concurrent model. In this periodisation system qualities are trained simultaneously with an emphasis on one or two qualities. For example your programme may have a strong emphasis on strength but you still have power work in the sessions and you may still have aerobic work in there too.

Generally these models still tend to follow the classic periodisation sequencing where your emphasis will be on adaptation before hypertrophy before strength before power, and conditioning will be aerobic before anaerobic in line with the resistance programme.

My view for MMA is that this is not the optimal system. My experience with fighters over the years is that actually the aerobic system is not the main area for development. This system tends to be adequate due to the volume of sparring and drilling that is done in practice sessions. The main areas that need work with fighters coming in is in force production and power development. Clearly weight gain is rarely desired so hypertrophy specific sessions are not in the programme unless moving up a weight class in which case functional hypertrophy should be trained.

My programmes tend to work from 12 weeks out and focus on relative body strength whilst concurrently working on introductory power exercises and some anaerobic conditioning. Moving towards fight time the percentage of anaerobic conditioning increases, as does the power endurance and strength endurance work. The key here is that it is built on a solid base of relative strength and power and this is what is important.

The conditioning work stresses work capacity through opponent specific and gameplan specific methods.  This design of the conditioning is absolutely fundamental to the outcome of the fight. If your strength and conditioning programme is not designed in accordance with your gameplan and opponents strengths and weaknesses you are not optimising your time and I would strongly suggest adapting your programme sharply!

Let me know if you want any more info on this guys,



  1. benjamin May 30, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    defiantly a really good article, this is something i would like to study more. (programme design)

  2. Nick Smith August 5, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    Really interesting article, I would be very interested in reading any further thoughts you have on the best way to tailor a plan before a fight. I have an athlete fighting next week and have used a number of the ideas you talk about in the article but am always looking to improve things before the next fight camp.
    Keep up the good work

    1. Brendan Chaplin August 6, 2012 at 4:45 pm

      Hey Nick,

      I’ll be bringing out an ebook on cutting weight pretty soon as well as the free stuff on the site. Appreciate the feedback glad you enjoyed the article. Give me a shout if you have any further questions 🙂