Top 11 Recovery Methods For MMA

How the hell do you fit it all in?

Anyone that trains in combat sports knows how grueling it can be. From stand up to grappling, strength and conditioning, it’s exhausting. It’s tough to fit it all in, let alone have the energy reserves for all of it.

I’ve decided to compile a list of all the recovery methods I know of, and personally use/have used that are tried and true.

While they won’t be a substitute for correct training programs and they’re definitely not the answer to someone over-training, you will get benefit from them. (If you use it!)

1. Sleep

This is obvious but you’d be surprised how many athletes miss the point on this one. SLEEP!! I mean, your body only recovers when it’s sleeping.

  • Get around 8-10 hours sleep if possible

  • Establish a routine (same time each day)

  • Set the mood (keep the room as dark as possible)

  • Cool off (68-70 degrees Fahrenheit OR 20-22 degrees Celsius room temperature is ideal )

  • Get to bed before 11pm if possible.

  • Empty the bladder! (don’t drink to much immediately before bed. Interrupting your sleep cycle to piss really sucks)

2. Take Naps

I don’t know about you but I LOVE naps. I try to fit them in whenever I can. I realize this isn’t possible for everyone but if you can manage, try to throw them in.

  • 20-60 minutes of nap time

  • 1x per day if possible

3. Stretch

We all know we “should” stretch, but, most of us don’t. Stretching is incredibly important for recovery but also your general health.

  • Static stretching on your off days (I like to hold the stretch for 3 full breaths & repeat for each muscle group in my entire body 3x)

  • Dynamic- (I use it each morning for my joints and as a warm up/cool down during my training sessions)

4. Active Recovery

This is actually my favorite recovery method (besides rest). It keeps the blood flowing and it feels amazing.

  • Low impact (Make sure it’s a low impact activity like the one’s listed below)

  • Walking

  • Swimming

  • Tai Chi

5. Soft Tissue Work

I have a love/hate relationship with this recovery method! Basically, some of them feel great while other one’s are painful. You’ll see what I mean

  • Deep Tissue Massage (massage therapy has numerous health benefits & should be a staple in your recovery)

  • Water! (drink lots of water before your massage)

  • Self Massage (foam rollers, lax ball, golf ball. Use different one’s for different parts of your body & experiment. These can be very painful so ease into it. I like to combine this with both dynamic and static stretching. They complement each other very well. )

6. Post Work-out shake

This one is a bit controversial in the fitness & health community but I think it has its benefits. Just make sure you avoid sugar and processed crap. Stick to grass fed whey or use something like 100% non gmo Hemp.

  • Drink it within 30 minutes of your training session

  • Get the ratio’s right! (2-1 ratio, meaning carbs to protein.)

  • Electrolytes (ensure you’re getting all your electrolytes)

7. Cold Therapy

Oh boy, I HATE this method. I guess I’m a pussy because I’ve never been able to get used to this brutal form of therapy. I still use it, but I don’t like it until it’s done! Either way, I’ve seen incredible results from this.

  • Ice Baths

  • Cold showers

  • Ice packs on joints and sore muscles

  • Ice massage (grab a paper cup, fill it with water, freeze it, peel the top off to expose the ice and give yourself a massage for about 5-10 minutes.)

  • Cryotherapy

8. Heat Therapy

This one is much more relaxing and I personally love it. Most people have done a form of heat therapy, but in combination with the others is where this one shines.

  • Hot packs

  • Hot Baths (I like using Epson salts too. Make sure to drink lots of water in a hot bath to rehydrate)

  • Saunas (my personal favorite)

  • Steam bath (Ideally filtered to avoid chlorine etc)

9. Carbohydrates

Oh boy, another very controversial topic, especially with all the hype of the low carb diets these days. For this one, I would say to gauge how you feel. There are many factors such as insulin sensitivity, your body composition, goals, amount of training etc.

For me, I like to load up on carbs on my training days especially because it helps me feel better. Usually a post workout shake after my training session and I go heavy on the carbs in the evening for dinner as it relaxes me. (Again, gauge how you feel & check your blood levels, body type etc)

  • Eat more on training days

  • Go for non GMO, and organic whenever possible

  • Load up on the vegetables and don’t be afraid of some fruit.

  • Sweet potatoes, yams, pumpkin, squash, white potatoes etc.

  • Rice (keep it Basmati, wild or Jasmine- Non GMO, organic)

  • Brown rice pasta (my favorite but don’t go crazy here)

10. Take Time Off

Most people treat their cars better than their own bodies. Just like anything else, your body needs a rest. Not just daily for relaxation and sleep, but also a break from training all together. It seems counter intuitive but you’ll come back stronger and feeling better. Most combat athletes are seriously over-trained.

  • Every 8-12 weeks take a full week off (focus on mobility and flexibility)

  • Take at least 1 full day off per week.

  • Every year take a couple weeks off. (Focus on mobility and flexibility)

  • Incorporate mental rehearsal techniques on your “off” days. ( practice in your mind)

11. Manage Your Stress

I’ve read somewhere that over 80% of diseases are caused by stress. While I’m not sure how accurate that is, I will say that I believe it’s higher. There’s no doubt that stress is the “silent killer” and probably the biggest hurdle to progress in your training. Bottom line, you’ve got to do your best to get that shit handled.

  • Practice deep breathing (I love this ratio 1:4:2. So, you inhale for 1, hold for 4, and exhale for 2. You would adjust for your lung capacity. I like to do this 3-5 times per day or as needed for about 5-10 times each cycle.)

  • Meditate ( To date, the Silva method is my meditation of choice)

  • Laugh more (watch funny movies, less news, standup comedy, YouTube video’s etc)

  • Nature (walk in nature if possible and take in the beauty around you.)

  • Solitude (Be alone sometimes. It’s good to connect with yourself and just be)

So there you have it. I really hope you enjoyed this post, but more specifically, I hope you put it into practice.

Please help grow this community by sharing this post on social media and leaving some feedback. It would really help me out and I appreciate it very much.

Train Hard & Smart,


About the Author Ricardo Vasquez