If only strongman competitions were more mainstream then bodybuilding then perhaps more mixed martial artists would incorporate better strength and conditioning exercises into their MMA workouts without the need of learning or knowing why.
One of the most common mistakes MMA fighters make when the are new to the concept of adding strength and conditioning to their MMA workouts is that they carry around the mindset of a bodybuilder. They go to the gym thinking they need to do all sorts of exercises for each muscle group and the only way to get a productive workout in is to get a good “pump.”
But if you wanted a general idea of what type of strength and conditioning you need to develop with your MMA workouts, then think of the type of exercises strongmen do: picking up heavy and awkward objects, carrying heavy weight for long distances, performing extremely powerful and heavy lifts as many times as possible in a certain time period, to name a few.
These types of exercises are MUCH more functional and carry over very well to MMA fighters when it comes to the type of strength and conditioning they need. The reason being is that in a MMA fight your opponent, unlike a balanced barbell, is a constantly shifting his awkward weight that you have to continuously push and pull from both balanced and unbalanced positions, such as the type of resistance a heavy and awkward object would give you.
Not only do the exercises themselves carry well and should be adapted into your MMA workouts as opposed to your much more standard bodybuilding type workouts, but the tempo, intensity, and amount of reps and sets done in strongmen competitions are much more along the lines of how an MMA fighter should train. Instead of doing 5 sets of 12 concentration curls with a 20 lb dumbbell to increase the “peak” of your biceps, carrying two heavy objects and doing the farmers walk for as far as you can will develop the leg strength endurance and grip endurance needed in a fight.
Strongmen lifts are very practical to add to your MMA workouts as well because they develop the type of strength that is most optimal for MMA fighters: power endurance. Doing 5 different isolation exercises for your chest in a way that stimulates hypertrophy – which essentially means an increase in muscle mass – won’t do you much good in the ring or cage unless you’re just their to impress the ring girls (though they probably won’t be too impressed when you get your ass kicked).
On the other hand, push pressing a heavy weight for as many single repetitions as you can inside a few minute timeframe will develop the power endurance to continuously exert your maximum power in a fight without tiring out or getting sloppy.
As you can see, strongmen exercises and the way they are are much more practical for MMA fighters. Eliminate any knowledge you may have on bodybuilding and building muscle mass if you want to create effective MMA workouts. Instead think exercises and workouts that force you to develop strength endurance and power endurance.