Skip to main content
UFC Performance Institute

Eight Exercises Used by the UFC Performance Institute

The UFC Performance Institute put together a list of exercises that can be completed in a living room. Check it out:

The UFC Performance Institute (PI) is the home for many MMA athletes from around the world, providing elite-level programs to support athletes with their development, nutrition, fight preparation, rehabilitation requirements, and more.

Bo Sandoval is the UFC’s Director of Strength & Conditioning. He and his team (Gavin Pratt - Shanghai, Matt Crawley - Las Vegas and Kyle Larimer - Las Vegas) design comprehensive performance training for UFC athletes.

With the current COVID-19 restrictions put into place, it’s no secret that athletes will have to get a little creative with their home workouts. To help athletes and readers at home, Sandoval and his team compiled eight exercises that can easily be completed from the confines of a living room.

Alexander Volkanovski Quarantine Workout
Alexander Volkanovski Quarantine Workout

This is a full body exercise that can be used individually for building torso strength and coordination, or it can be incorporated into metabolic circuits. Here’s the breakdown of how to perform the movement:

    1. Start standing 
    2. Squat down then roll into the candlestick position: back on the ground, arms on the ground with palms down, legs straight up towards the sky, toes pointed.
    3. Roll forward, tuck the feet towards your hips as you place both feet flat on the ground, reach your arms forward
    4. Stand up
    5. Repeat by going from the standing position right back into the seated position and into your next roll


  1. Stand up with one leg at a time instead of two
  2. If using in a circuit, jump at the top of each rep to increase intensity
  3. After standing, perform one pistol (single leg) squat before repeating Sets x Reps: 3 x 6-10
Low Split-Squat Stance Switches and Goblet Get-Ups

This is a lower body exercises that targets muscular endurance and has the most impact when incorporated into a circuit. Here’s the breakdown of how to perform the exercises:

  1. The stance switches are easy. Simply get into a low lunge position with the back knee about an inch off the ground.
  2. Then, while staying as low to the ground as possible, switch the front foot to the back and back foot to the front.
  3. Repeat this as fast possible while staying as low as possible and maintain balance for the prescribed time or reps.
  1. The head should stay at about the same height the entire time. If it is bouncing up and down, it is rising too much when the legs are switched.

Sets x Reps: This exercise should be included in a circuit with 2-4 other exercises for 3-5 sets with 15-20 reps or 15-30 seconds each time.

  1. During Goblet Get-Ups start with both knees on the ground and hold a small (<20 lb) dumbbell or kettlebell in front of the chest. Bodyweight is fine if no weights are available.
  2. To start, step one-foot forward, followed by the other foot, staying as low as possible the whole time, finishing in a squat position.
  3. Then step one-foot back, followed by the other foot, finishing in the tall kneeling position we started from.
  4. Repeat as fast as possible for the prescribed time or reps making sure to switch which foot goes up and down first.
  5. The head should stay at about the same height the entire time. If it is bouncing up and down, it is rising too much when the legs are switched.

Sets x Reps: This exercise should be included in a circuit with 2-4 other exercises for 3-5 sets with 15-20 reps or 15-30 seconds each time.

Pushup to T

Want to add a little spice to these social media pushup challenges? Extending your body into a “T” will help you build your upper body, hit your core and increase thoracic mobility. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Starting position:  Start off on hands and feet, arms and legs extended, keep body in straight line and descend body to the ground, push up, open up the chest and bring 1 arm up to reach to the ceiling, come back down and alternate
  2. 3 sets x 8-12 each side---rest 1 min between sets
      1. Progressions: move feet closer together, double stack legs when opening up to one side
Michelle Waterson Quarantine Workout
Michelle Waterson Quarantine Workout
Iso-Prone I-Y-T’s

Continue the upper body build by working in multiple stretches from the I, Y and T positions.

  1. Starting position:  Start off on stomach with arms and legs fully extended, head and toes on the ground, fully lengthen arms as if you are being stretched like Superman, hold thumbs up for position (I-Y-T)-reach
  2. 2-3 sets x 10-30 sec in each position---rest 1 min between sets
  1. Progressions:  add light weight (1-2 lbs), switch to high volume reps 15-25
Plank Drag

Get after that core by adding a little extra resistance to your plank.

  1. Starting position:  Start off by setting up in the top of a push-up plank, keep hands underneath shoulders, back flat, don’t tip hips, position the weight directly under the chest, pull the weight directly under the chest, then pull the weight from one side to the other, alternate each side
  2. 3 sets x 8-15 reps each side
  1. Progressions:  create different patterns, push the kb, move forward & back
Stephen Thompson Quarantine Workout
Stephen Thompson Quarantine Workout
Burpee Sit-Out

I know what you’re thinking, “Oh no. Not burpees.” But this full-body exercise is totally worth it and will help you work on your dynamic mobility. Here we go:

  1. To begin, start standing straight up, Squat down to a crouched quadruped position with your hands on the ground
  2. Pick your left hand up and sit your right leg through parallel to the ground but not touching the ground
  3. Pull your right leg back to the crouched quadruped position while placing your left hand back on the ground and repeat the sit out to the other side
  4. Once the Left leg has been pulled back to the crouched quadruped position, drive your feet explosively into the ground squat jumping into the air while extending your arms and reaching our hands over head. 
  5. When your feet return to the ground, drop back into the crouched quadruped positions to begin the next rep
  6. Perform 3 –5sets of 8+ repetitions alone or as part of a circuit. 
  7. To progress the difficulty these can be performed with a weighted vest

Not everyone has access to equipment, but if you can get your hands on some dumbbells or kettle bells, Sandoval and his team have a few exercise suggestions you can complete at home.

Kettle Bell Forward and Reverse Lunge

There’s nothing like the burn from some good lunges. Use this exercise to work on your lower extremity strength endurance, dynamic balance and core stability.

    1. To begin standing upright with 2 kettlebells in a front rack position across the front of the chest and shoulders drop your right foot back into a reverse lunge.
    2. Driving with your left leg begin returning to the start position but do not put you right foot on the ground.
    3. Continue moving your right leg through the start position and into a forward lunge.
    4. Continue back to front in rhythmic motion maintaining strong / upright posture until the prescribed reps are completed front and back. 
    5. Complete the equal number of reps with the right foot fixed to the ground while dropping the left back in the reverse lunge position then transitioning forward into the forward lunge position. 
    6. Perform 3-5 sets 5+ repetitions on each side alone or as part of a circuit.
    7. to progress the difficulty, the Kettlebells can be positioned in an overhead lockout position which challenges your shoulder and core stability quite a bit more.
Dumbbell or Kettle Bell “See-Saw” Row

Challenge your core strength and your upper back strength some rows. Here’s how to get the done:

  1. Begin by standing upright while holding the KB’s/DB’s by your sides.
  2. Perform a hip hinge bending forward until your pack is parallel to the ground, with a rigid flat back posture, arms straight with both KBs touching the ground.  Bend the knees to comfort.
  3. Row the right arm by pulling your shoulder blade back and finishing with by bending your elbow and a slight rotation through your mid-section.
  4. Return the right arm to the start position placing the KB on the ground and immediately initiated the same row on the left arm.  The should have a “see-saw” action back and forth as you row one side to the other.
  5. Perform 3-5 sets of 8+ repetitions on each side alone or as part of a circuit.

Give these eight exercises a try and see if they could fit into your home workout routine. Also don’t forget to check out the UFC Performance Institute website and Twitter for more information on the awesome services provided by the PI team.

For more information and updates, sign up for the UFC Newsletter here.

Zuffa, LLC and its affiliates, employees, directors, officers, parents, subsidiaries, representatives and agents (collectively, “Zuffa”) strongly recommend that you consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program. You should be in good physical condition and be able to participate in the exercise. Zuffa is not a licensed medical care provider and represents that it has no expertise in diagnosing, examining, or treating medical conditions of any kind, or in determining the effect of any specific exercise on a medical condition. You should understand that when participating in any exercise or exercise program, there is the possibility of physical injury. If you engage in this exercise or exercise program, you agree that you do so at your own risk, are voluntarily participating in these activities, assume all risk of injury to yourself, and agree to release and discharge Zuffa, from any and all claims or causes of action, known or unknown, arising out of any exercise program you participate in. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Never disregard professional medical advice, or delay in seeking it, because of something you have read on this website.  Never rely on information on this website in place of seeking professional medical advice. Zuffa is not responsible or liable for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or products that you obtain through this site.  You are encouraged to consult with your doctor with regard to this information contained on or through this website.  After reading articles, watching videos or reading other content from this website, you are encouraged to review the information carefully with your professional healthcare provider.