Having the ability to train effectively at home is a surefire way to improve your skill set, work on your technique and maintain a high level of fitness.
When it comes to creating a home MMA gym, there’s a wide variety of equipment to choose from. Unfortunately, the amount of equipment you can use tends to be limited by the amount of space you’ve got to work with.
With that in mind, this list is going to go over some of the main equipment needed to build a well rounded, useful MMA gym in your own home.
Let’s get to it.
Benefits of Home MMA Gym
Before we take a look at some of the different pieces of equipment, let’s touch on some of the benefits you can receive from having a home gym.
You Can Train When Ever You Like
First of all, you’re not limited by your gym or clubs time table. If you’ve got a full time job, it can often be hard to balance training with your daily life.
As such, having a gym in the comfort of your own home allows you to maintain your training frequency without having to make it down to a class.
Similarly, you can supplement your regular training sessions with a session or two at home. This could be going over techniques you’ve recently learnt, working on your cardio or running drills.
Focus on Certain Aspects of Training
Most of the time at the gym, there’s going to be a fair few other people with you on the mat. As such, you’re taught as a class, whatever the coach wants to teach.
If you’ve got some gaps in your game and haven’t been able to rectify this in class, you can focus on these areas at home.
You can learn new techniques where you feel your knowledge is lacking, which you can then bring to the gym and work on in sparring.
In order to get a decent quality MMA gym set up at home, there’s a few things you’re going to need.
First of all is space.
There’s a number of different places you can consider setting up a MMA gym such as a basement or garage.
Failing this, you can always get equipment that’s suitable for outside use and train in your garden or yard. This is obviously the less preferred option, as there’s a good chance you’ll have to carry your equipment back and forth a lot. Still though, it’s better than nothing.
Unfortunately, getting a good quality home MMA gym set up is going to cost a good chunk of change. With that in mind, it can often be a good idea to priorities which equipment you want first, then progressively add to your collection over time.
A good way to cut costs is to buy second hand equipment. Although this won’t be as good quality, it’s definitely a great way to maximize your budget.
Plus, a lot of people buy this kind of equipment thinking they’re going to use it everyday and get in the best shape of their lives. Once this plan fails, they’ll then look to sell their equipment, which allows you to snap up some nice bargains.
This isn’t going to be an overnight job, especially if you want to do it cost effectively. Time should be spent researching brands, the best type of gear, as well as browsing sites like Ebay for some nice deals.
Then you’ve got to either pick up the equipment, or wait for it to get delivered. By the time you’ve got your gym where you want it to be, weeks or even months could have passed.
Right, it’s about time we start to discuss what to fill your gym with.
One of the first things you’re going to need is some decent mats. You can get these online for a fairly affordable price, however the larger your gym, the more it’ll cost to line it in mats.
Generally, jigsaw design mats tend to be the most ideal for home gyms as they stay together well. You can also easily cut them down to perfectly fit inside your desired area.
A good quality heavy bag is probably one of the most important pieces of equipment you can have in a home gym. This is due to the fact that heavy bags allow you to work on your technique, power, endurance and throw a variety of combinations.
When it comes to looking for a heavy bag, you’ll have two options – a hanging heavy bag or a free standing bag.
Hanging heavy bags tend to be the preferred option for a number of reasons. Firstly, their swinging motion more accurately simulates an opponent’s movement. This in turn allows you to work on your timing as well as other aspects of your striking game.
They also tend to be more durable than free standing bags. A freestanding bag can often be knocked over if it’s hit with enough force. This in turn can completely ruin your workout if you have to stop every minute to pick up the bag.
As such, a hanging heavy bag is definitely the way to go. The only downside is you’ll need a stable beam or specialized heavy bag stand to hang it from.
While speed bags are definitely more associated with boxing, they’re also incredibly fun and do provide a pretty good workout.
They’re great for developing hand speed, hand-eye coordination and reaction times. However, if you’re strictly an MMA person and shopping on a relatively tight budget, it could be worth skipping the speed bag for now.
This is due to the fact you’ll need three components to get a speed bag set up, which can end up costing a lot. You’ll need a platform (see examples here), a swivel and of course, the speed bag itself.
A decent pair of gloves is a must have for any home MMA gym. The weight of the gloves needed will depend on how you plan on using them.
With that in mind, if you’re wanting to do bag work, then a well padded pair of 14-16oz gloves would be suitable.
Body Opponent Bag
Body Opponent Bags or ‘BOB’s’ are essentially a free standing punching bag in the shape of a person. These are actually pretty realistic, although somewhat expensive.
Body Opponent Bags allow you to practice striking certain areas of your opponent’s body, whereas a regular punching bag requires you to use your imagination. This is great for working on your accuracy, and allows you to throw combinations targeted at specific areas of the body.
Grappling/ Submission Dummy
If you haven’t got anyone to practice your ground game with, then a grappling dummy is your next best option.
These are designed to mimic the experience of training with another person. They feature life-like proportions and are weighted to mimic the experience of training with a partner.
Admittedly, these aren’t as effective as training with a real person who can provide resistance. They do however let you train drills safely, without relying on someone to train with.
You can also practice and learn new techniques, escapes and submissions at home, which you can bring with you to the gym to practice on a real person.
Unfortunately, with focus mitts, you’re going to need a training partner that knows how to both hold mitts and call out the correct combinations.
If you’ve got someone that fits this description, then focus mitts definitely are a must. They’re fairly affordable and allow you to develop your hand speed, work on your combinations and improve your cardio.
If you don’t have any friends or family that know how to hold mitts, there’s plenty of instructional videos online that you can show them. It might take a bit of time for them to learn, but it will definitely be worth it.
Skipping/ Jump Rope
A skipping rope is an incredibly budget friendly piece of equipment that’ll allow you to work on your cardio at home.
Unlike a treadmill or elliptical machine, a skipping rope barely takes up any room, which is particularly ideal for small home gyms.
Plus, you can pick up a good quality jump rope for a fraction of the price of a treadmill. With that in mind, it’s definitely one of the best value for money pieces of kit you can get for your gym.
Lastly, we’ve got kettlebells.
Kettlebells are an extremely versatile piece of equipment that offers dynamic training that works on multiple fitness aspects. They provide a wide variety of different exercises that can target specific areas you want to work on.
What’s more, kettle bells tend to be relatively budget friendly, usually costing around $150 for a full set.
Adding Some Flair
These things are very much optional and are by no means necessary. Still though, it’s always fun to kit out your gym and really make it your own.
What MMA gym would be complete without some motivational posters? Some “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” posters dotted around is a must in my eyes. Not really… but it definitely adds a bit of personality to the gym.
Having a TV screen in the gym is a great way to stay entertained whilst working out. Hit the gym, throw on some old fights on Fight Pass, and the time will absolutely fly by.
Playing some fast paced, thumping music can be a great way to get you amped up for your training. While headphones will definitely do, speakers are great if there’s more than one of you training.
Although creating a home MMA gym will require a somewhat hefty budget, decide which equipment is essential and get that first.
Over time, you’ll have your gym fully kitted out and will be able to effectively train on a daily basis, from the comfort of your own home.