Mobility and Recovery for MMA

Sarah Spaulding is a great friend of ours, and an amazing coach. Sarah worked at Steve’s gym for years so she understands the SGT Principals very well.

Sara has also been training a bunch of MMA guys lately and learning doing incredible job. That’s why we asked Sarah to write an article on what she thinks is the most important part of training MMA fighters.

Here is what Sarah had to say…..


Mobility and Recovery for MMA

Mobility and Recovery

One of the fastest growing sports in America is Mixed Martial Arts. Full hand to hand combat style of fighting dates back as far as 648 BC when Pankration was introduced into the Olympics. Pankration combined wrestling with boxing and had very minimal rules. The only rules were against biting and gouging of the eyes, nose, and mouth with fingernails. Ouch. Man has evolved since then and so has the sport.

Unfortunately the way we have evolved as athletic individuals has dampened our ability to move as well as we should. Mobility and recovery are some of the most misunderstood and important additions to an MMA fighter’s program.

Most combat athletes train hard to prepare for a bout. Most training programs consist of strength training 3 to 5 days a week, metabolic conditioning nearly everyday, (either in the form of sparring and technical work or a conditioning workout), all on top of cutting weight in a relatively short amount of time (maybe). These athletes are taking a beating before they even hear their walkout song. If they aren’t sleeping right, eating right, and adding some mobility and tissue work to their lives now, they will have a short career in the cage.

For our fighters, we use the FMS and Smart Group Training systems. I became a trainer at Complete Fitness Results and have been using Smart Group Training since it’s conception. I had to leave the great trainers at CFR and my mentor (Steve Long) to relocate out of state and be with family. I now own a Fitness Revolution facility in Utah and we continue to use Smart Group Training very successfully to ensure our athletes reach their goals and stay as durable as possible.

Using the FMS and SGT, you can determine if your fighters are coming into the game with mobility issues. Lack of t-spine rotation or ankle and hip mobility will cause energy leaks and a greater chance of serious injury in the cage. When grappling the fighter is at higher risk due to the fact that the opponent is trying to tie them in a knot. The more mobility we can create, the greater chance your fighter has of bending without breaking.

A week before a fight we have an active recovery week to allow the athletes to recover from the stresses of preparation. Using tissue quality, PNF stretching, breathing exercises, and corrective exercises we can enhance mobility, increase the ability to relax and recover quickly, while still stimulating the muscles and nervous system.

Here is an example of one of our recovery workouts.

Tissue Quality: 10 minutes of foam rolling and self massage using The Stick or a lacrosse ball.

5 Minutes crocodile breathing:

PNF Stretching: Hamstring, t-spine, and hip flexors

Mobility and Recovery


Workout: Corrective Circuit


Leg lowering 1

Upper body rolling

Cook hip lifts

Stride stretch


We usually use a time interval of 50 seconds of work to 10 seconds of rest and go for 6 rounds, alternating sides each round.

It is very important to coach the breathing pattern during the exercise.

For more mobility exercises, Smart Group Training is a great resource.


A balanced program is a necessity for all fitness enthusiasts and athletes. Make sure you are not overlooking 3 major components of an excellent program. Include tissue quality, mobility and recovery. Combat athletes have especially high stress loads placed on their body and nervous systems. It is our job to keep them moving well and reduce their likelihood of major injury.


Sarah Spaulding