Are You Tough Enough To Tackle This MMA Full-Body Workout?

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If you’re starting to feel that your regular workouts aren’t quite hard enough for you anymore, then we have just the thing. This circuit training session from Jude Samuel, former MMA fighter and current BAMMA matchmaker, works the entire body and, well, it’s just savage.

If you think we’re overplaying how hard it is, consider this: during the workout, which is just shy of 50 minutes long in total, you’ll have a grand total of six minutes of rest. The rest of the time it’s all-out action, and some of that action involves a sledgehammer.

Complete all the exercises in each round without taking a break. Rest for 45 seconds between rounds, and aim to complete two to three circuits of all three rounds in total. You’ll need to have all the equipment to hand before you start, as there won’t be time to get it during the workout itself.

One of the exercises calls for the use of a sledgehammer and a tyre, which is a lot of fun, but might not be possible depending on how laid-back/well-stocked with equipment your local gym is. In case they’re not game, we’ve included an alternative exercise.

Round 1


Time 1min

Lie down supported by your hands and feet, with your arms straight. Bend at the elbows, trying not to flare them out to the sides too much, and lower your chest towards the ground. Push back up.

Jumping jack

Time 1min

Stand with your feet together and arms by your sides. Jump into the air, throwing your hands up above your head, and land with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart. Immediately jump again and return to the starting position.

Bench dip

Time 1min

Place your hands on a bench behind you and straighten your legs out in front of you – you can bend at the knees to make the exercise easier, or put your feet on another bench to make it harder. Dip down until your elbows are bent at a 90° angle, then push back up.

Burpee with dumbbells

Time 1min

Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand (Samuel recommends a 7kg weight) – ideally you want a hexagonal dumbbell for this exercise because you’ll be supporting your bodyweight on it. Squat down and put the dumbbells on the floor besides your feet. Kick your legs out behind you into a press-up position. Do a press-up, then power back up into a standing position and leap into the air, raising the dumbbells over your head as you jump.

Dumbbell clean and press

Time 1min

Grab a pair of dumbbells (Samuel recommends 11kg, but adjust to suit your ability – this is an explosive exercise and you don’t want to overdo it). Lean forwards slightly, bending at the hips, and let the dumbbells hang in front of you with straight arms. Then curl them up to your shoulders and press them overhead. Reverse the exercise to return to the starting position.

Round 2

Split squat

Time 90sec

Take a big step forward into a lunge. Lower down until both knees are bent at 90°, then push back up, but keep your feet planted in the forward lunge position. Then drop again into another split squat. Do 45sec on one leg, then switch and do 45sec on the other.


Time 1min

Lie face down supported by your toes and forearms, with your body forming a straight line from your head to your heels. Brace your core and glutes and hold this position.

3 Jumping jack

Time 1min

Another round of the classic move.

Goblet squat

Time 1min

Hold a weight against your chest in both hands – a kettlebell is ideal but a dumbbell will also work. Lower into a squat, keeping the weight against your chest and your elbows inside your knees. Once your thighs are parallel to the ground, push back up to a standing position.

Round 3

1 Medicine ball wall touch with squat

Time 90sec

Stand about a metre away from a wall holding a medicine ball in both hands in front of you. Reach out and touch the wall with the ball, then bring it back against your chest and drop into a squat. Push back up and touch the wall with the ball again.

2 Tyre sledgehammer

Time 90sec

Whack a tyre with a sledgehammer, swinging the sledgehammer diagonally. Alternate the shoulder you take it back over each time.

If you don’t have access to a tyre and/or a sledgehammer, perform medicine ball slams instead. Raise the ball over your head in both hands and throw it straight down into the ground as hard as you can. Either catch the ball on the bounce, or pick it up off the floor, and repeat.

Abs roll-out

Time 1min

Grab a barbell, or a dedicated abs roller if your gym has one, and kneel down, holding the roller in both hands in front of you. Lean forward and roll the bar out in front of you as far as you can, then slowly roll back to the starting position.


Time 1min

Finish with perhaps the toughest bodyweight exercise of all. Leap up and grab the bar using an overhand grip (palms facing away from you). Hang with your arms straight, then pull up until your chin is above the bar. Slowly lower and repeat.

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.