To be successful at Mixed Martial Arts, you need strength and good conditioning. To gain those, you need to make sure you avoid these five common mistakes.

Training Like a Bodybuilder

We get it: looking like a bodybuilder is cool. It makes you look tough, but the problem is that it doesn’t actually make you tough. In fact, having all that muscle can be a huge burden if you have to use it in a fight. It requires a ton of oxygen and, if you’ve ever tried to do BJJ with a lot of muscle, you know that it doesn’t take long before lactic acid shows up and shuts your party down.

Fortunately, if you train right and eat well, you can do MMA and look good at the same time. However, if, for some reason, you need to pick between the two, don’t make your beach body a priority or it will soon become a beat body.

Not Varying the Speed at Which You Train

MMA is a chess match played out over several different speeds. It might begin lightning fast before quickly hitting a plateau. Other times, two fighters may circle each other for what feels like an eternity before they ever engage. The longer the fight goes, the more proper training comes into play.

One big – and often overlooked –part of this is training at all different speeds. When you spar or do interval training, it’s fine to do it at 60% to 70% intensity. This can’t be the only way you ever train, though, because that’s not how fights happen. Fighters who train this way don’t have the staying power to keep going after a 30-second flurry. If their opponent is better conditioned and recognizes this, it won’t be long before they’re overwhelmed and finished.

You can’t always go 100% either or you’ll quickly burn out, but make sure your strength and conditioning mixes up the reps, weights, lengths, rests, etc.

Be Patient and Ditch Your Ego

If training MMA hasn’t already tamed your ego, this will need to be a priority before you start lifting weights or otherwise pushing yourself in the gym. It’s very easy to become fixated on the weight, for example. Maybe you’ve been deadlifting the same amount for months now.

However, you have to keep a few things in mind. First, you’re a fighter, not a weight lifter. You do the latter to support the former, so as long as you’re becoming a better fighter, that’s all that really matters.

Secondly, if you’re training MMA regularly, your body can’t be expected to make strength gains the way it would if you were just lifting weights or doing interval training. Don’t forget this when you’re scrutinizing yourself.

Be patient with your workouts. You’ll see progress eventually. If you push it, you’ll see injuries.

Doing Crossfit

To be clear, I’m not generalizing all of Crossfit. Many successful fighters have leveraged this popular form of exercises and, on paper, this would make sense. Crossfit married cardio to weightlifting and many see it as the perfect complement to MMA.

There are a couple of issues, though. First, much like with MMA gyms, not all Crossfit gyms (or “boxes”) are the same. You need to be very careful about just signing up for one and doing whatever you’re told. At best, you may be wasting your money. At worst, you may get seriously hurt.

Replacing Sparring

At the end of the day, nothing is going to beat actual practice and sparring for becoming a better fighter. While doing kettlebell swings, hitting a tire with a hammer and doing deadlifts is all well and good, make sure you still make time for actually putting your strength and conditioning to work.