Since I’m not in Vancouver right now, I’ve been doing training at an MMA Gym up here in the Great North.  It’s actually pretty solid and the teacher knows his stuff (especially grappling) so it’s been good.  I’m going to focus specifically though on the warm-up / exercise section in this post.

Valkyrie WMA

The breakdown of warm-up for the class is relatively simple.  It generally is only 30 minutes long before we go to focused training, so I’ll discuss that part here.  It breaks down into:

  • Animal Walks / Springs- 10 – 15 minutes generally
  • Gymnastics strength training  – 5 – 10 minutes
  • Movement work (handstands, six-steps, cartwheels, etc.) – remainder 5 – 10 minutes.
  • Break

That’s the general breakdown.  There are numerous short breaks after each portion – e.g. after we do a single animal walk, we have a short (10 second break) then move on.

So, what do we see with the training? From experience, the focus seems to be on muscular strength (absolute) and power (explosiveness), with power the main focus.  In addition, there’s more focus on developing a ’rounded’ core and improving general mobility.

WMA Training

Now, WMA strength training at the gym I’m at seems to be more ‘traditional’.   It’s pretty much a 30 minute workout using traditional exercises – pushups, situps, jumping jacks, wind sprints, wheelbarrows, standing jumps, etc.   If you did it at Physical Education class, we’ve probably done it.

Quite often there’s no breaks between each exercise, so you go full-out completing each repetition of exercise before switching to a new one.

From my experience, even after my time with Valkyrie; I’m ‘gassing’ out.  The focus seems to be on cardio (muscular endurance) more than anything else.  Some muscular power obviously and probably a bit of hypertrophy added in.  However, endurance seems to be the major focus of this – classes are a constant ‘go-go-go’ (other than grappling, where things have to slow down).

Traditional Martial Arts

From my experience (and obviously, this is a very broad term I’ve used), TMA warm-ups are more focused on stretching and gentle warm-ups.  We might do 10 push-ups, 20 sit-ups the entire warmup and the warmup is often only 15 – 20 minutes long.

The goal is to get the body mobile and ready for class, not to improve physical strength at all.  In my years doing TMA, while my overall endurance and strength might have gone up; it’s more a by-product of the training (forms, punches, etc.) rather than a specific focus.

Again, this varies – I’ve had TMA warm-ups / classes which are much more vigorous than others; but compared to the above two, the differences are still striking.


It’s interesting to see how the different systems of warm-ups work.  TMAs, due to their need to be ‘everything’ for most people have extremely simple / relaxed warm-ups.  The focus seems to be on getting through the warm-ups fast so that you can focus on learning the ‘art’, with some expectation that individuals will develop their strength / etc outside of class.

Valkyrie’s system seems to work very well at getting people who have little to no experience at exercise to exercise.  The idea of ‘play’ is important, as does the constant mini-breaks.  While cardio / muscular endurance doesn’t increase at the same rate as the MMA training, I couldn’t see some of the students I’ve known / had doing WMA coming to an MMA gym.  They’d be frightened off / wiped immediately.

MMA training is in some ways the most intense.  The expectation is that most people have some minimum level of fitness.  While the Beginner classes might be less intense, they are still intense.  There is little directed training, with the focus on ‘go-go-go’ exercises.  It’s great if you are already fit, but I’m not sure I’d put someone who is new into it.  It’s also less useful as mentioned for building absolute strength – there’s an expectation people are going to go out and lift weights if you wanted that.