3 Unconventional Exercises to Get Abs Like a UFC Champ

TJ Dillashaw
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Mixed martial arts fighters are some of the fittest, most physically gifted athletes in sports.

But MMA fighters don’t need to do situps and crunches to have flat, defined abs. Their training is so intense it works their abs hard (and incinerates fat) without them even having to think about it. As they work out and prepare to fight, MMA stars get the abs everyone wants: a hard six- or eight-pack that leaves everyone at the gym (and the PPV audiences at home) staring in disbelief.

The good news? You can train yours the same way—you just need a little guidance in your workout. Try throwing in these moves and you’ll get the abs of an MMA champion in no time.


Perform them as a circuit, completing one set of each move, and then resting as needed after all three. Complete 10 reps for each, and repeat for three sets.

Suspended body saw

Attach a suspension trainer (such as a TRX) to a pullup bar and secure your feet. Get into pushup position, and then rest on your forearms. Use your forearms to push your body like a saw. Backward and forward once equals one rep.

Pro tip: Learning to resist force helps a fighter control his position better, and the core of this strength comes from—wait for it—his core.

Rotational med ball throw

Hold a medicine ball and stand a few feet in front of a wall. Extend your arms and rotate to one side. Explosively twist back and throw the ball into the wall hard. Pick it up and repeat on the opposite side. Complete 10 reps on each side.

Pro tip: Throwing a medicine ball is one of the best ways to build explosive punching power (outside of optimizing punching technique). Twisting your torso with such high speed also recruits a large amount of muscle fibers in your abs.

Gymnastics L-sit (shown on box)

Sit on the floor with legs in front of you. Plant your hands on the floor, and push downward so your butt raises off the floor (brace your core so your legs come up too and stay straight). Push your hips back a few inches and sit again. That’s one rep. Continue moving backward across the floor in this manner. Alternatively, practice on a box.

Pro tip: Ever see a fighter escape from the bottom position when his back is on the mat? This move mimics it, and the abs supply the strength.

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