Conditioning, training, fighting and age.


White Belt
May 29, 2008
Reaction score
Hey guys,

I'm curious to know how many guys out there are fighting and training MMA at 50 years old and over. I'm 51 and have been training in MMA for the past 4 months. I really love it and I think it's the best training I've ever done. I'm not new to training and have been training in martial arts and fighting in one form or another since childhood. Nothing on the level of MMA though. The closest I came to fighting this intensely was my years in Kyokushin karate which I did up until last year....actually my 51st birthday! But even that wasn't on this level.

I actually feel great and I do pretty good even though everyone there is in their 20's with the exception of the odd guy or two that is 30 and 31. But that's been the story of my life and I have never trained with guys my age (they usually can't keep up:icon_chee). Even in Kyokushin the oldest guy I fought was 10 years younger than me. But here is the thing. I feel as if some days I have it and some I don't. Sometimes, as in this week for instance, I have a low fire all week....I just don't have that high intensity. Even when I do have it; it is more during 'training" than fighting. I'm talking fight training as I haven't fought in a competition yet. When I fight I run out of gas too quickly. I know what I want to do and can hear all the instructions from ringside (most times I already know I should be doing what he is saying) but although the brain knows what to do the body is moving to slow to react to the message the brain is sending!! I can still move pretty quick but that is just "a fast technique." For a reaction or a strategy the brain to limb time is a step behind! Most times I know exactly what I want to do but don't for good reason. I have experience enough to know that I would need a follow up to defend against a counter and I already know that I don't have that kind of gas. That leaves me doing single techniques/attacks rather than combos. Also I know that certain things that "I want" to do will leave me susceptible to a clinch which, again, I know I don't have the gas to fight through if I get taken down...thus I hold back.

Lately I have been wondering if it is age or just not enough conditioning. I train hard and always have but find it hard these days to recover enough to go hot on consecutive days. I am taking longer to recover, most times a couple of days. Then again, I have to wonder if that is just a hump I need to overcome and just do it more. I really want to get in at least one (or two) cage matches in amateur competition before it's too late. But seeing how I gas out I have obvious concerns. Mind you, I'm not quiting!! When I say gas out it doesn't mean I quit or tap or stop due to lack of spirit or exhaustion. I have never done that! It just means I am lacking and have no where else to go in the match leaving me to weakly defend myself or hang on. If I'm on m feet I still do some decent damage but I also take more. On the ground I am fighting for my life and totally feeling like my lungs are going to explode! Like I said...I don't quit but man do I feel like it!!

Is there anyone out there that can identify with what I am saying? Anyone my age? How do you deal with it and what can I do to keep up? I guess at this point I can choose to train to just "stay in the game" or for the sake of training but I want more. I still feel good and like I have a lot more left in me and I want to use what I have while I still can. I didn't have this stuff when I was younger and even when it started to become more popular there weren't many places to train...otherwise I would have done this years ago. I really need to get a fight in before I really get too old which may be coming soon! So how about it? Any older guys out there? How are you dealing with fight prep and conditioning? Do you feel any thing like I outlined? Working long hours and all the rest of lifes requirements all weigh in also. I am often stuck doing some of my training at work in between gym workouts.

Sorry for the long post.....I'm frustrated sometimes.
I can't say anything about your age from experience, but you didn't mention anything about what kind of conditioning you were doing. Are you doing running, cycling, swimming, lifting, conditioning workouts or is your only conditioning the actual MMA classes?

If you are not doing any type of cardio or conditioning outside of class then you DEFINITELY better get started, but if you are already doing that then it makes me wonder if it might be a case of less being more. Fighting at 51 is something else, and the reality is your body doesn't work the same way anymore. If that is the case it's possible you may need to train a little less and give your body more recovery time, at this stage of your life it may be easier for you to overtrain now.

Just some of my thoughts, and really only relevant if you're currently training your conditioning hard outside the MMA gym.
Actually my time is limited these days due to my job , 10 hour work days with 3 hour travel time back and forth. I can only train MMA twice per week and then in my spare time (a lot of it at work) I do little bits here and there. Intervals mixed with longer runs. Hill sprints (sometimes with a 50lb sandbag). Stair runs at work up and down 3 flights for reps. Tossing objects like tires or odd objects in place of a medicine ball when I'm not at the gym. Weight lifting twice per week. Burpees/pushups crunches etc. Basically I do what I can with the time I have and not being able to actually have a specific schedule.

If I were younger I would chalk it up to needing more training. When I was younger I used to be able to train more than once per day but now...if I ran 3 miles in the morning (where I live is all hills...long steep ones!) I wouldn't be able to train MMA at night. I could probably "manage" but I would be worthless and pay for it later. Old injuries start to ache, recovery takes long etc. That all leads me back to the question of "should I just do more and get past that hump....maybe that's all it is, is a hump? "But" then I have to wonder why this never affected me before and maybe trying to get over what I think is a hump may just end up becoming overdoing it. Am I confusing you:D It's a little frustrating because I like to fight and I like to do good. I know I could do much better if I had a little room/comfort with more lasting power or stamina. I wish someone my age would start training with us....someone with experience. Maybe its just the young guys that I'm sparring with....these damn kids train all day and never get tired!!:icon_chee

I never use age as an excuse and I just like to keep going. I do train hard and put 100% in. It's just that lately I have been beginning to wonder and I never have anyone training who is my age that I can compare to or question. I often entertain the thought of just training and not concerning myself. Just train hard and let whatever happens happen. No real goals or expectations....if I really improve and get in the cage, great if not and all I can do is stay in great shape....then so be it. I mean if I were a kid I'd be looking to go somewhere or be the next great fighter or something. At this stage of the game for me I'm just riding out the years. But I still want to train seriously and am beginning to get curious about the conditioning of others in my age bracket. (since I'm so used to comparing myself to the 26 year olds!).
Well I have trained(he does BJJ only) with a guy in his early 50's. He's not really in great shape, definitely doesn't look like it, but he will roll with everyone. From what I see with the older people I've trained/trained with it just seems like there's a certain point where you have to just realize that all you can do is your best. You might never be able to compete with every 20something in the gym or cage, but you will still be in better shape than 80% of the population.

It's also worth noting that everyone respects the hell out of "the old guy" in our gym. He comes in ready to try his best, he doesn't have the ego BS alot of us younger guys have, and he works as hard as he can. Everyone can see that and no one has anything but good to say about him.
I think I'm going to try to up my training a bit. Maybe I'll start getting up an hour early and getting extra running in and also start doing sandbag training again.
I did train in BJJ last year for about 7 months and my wind for rolling was good after a month or two. I could actually roll for a long time while training there. I rolled a bit here at the MMA facility also (strictly rolling after training) and did ok. Its when I combine the stand up "and" rolling. I'm gonna assume it is due to "not enough" training at the moment. I'll kick it up a notch and see what happens.
A few random thoughts:

You are at an age when testosterone drops dramatically so keep that in mind when pondering aches and pains and when to rest. At 37, with my own physical challenges, I'm one of the oldest guys at my place and I'm always hurt and nursing something so I can imagine being 51 (eventhough I really don't want to think about it). The oldest guy at my gym is 51 and he is a hard as nails tatted up mohawk sporting freak of nature. He is the exeption at almost at any age and he got there by being smart and flowing with the go. I will quit training when they lock me out of the gym.
I remember reading in one journal for runners a guy asking experts a similar Q, he was like 45 and athough training as usual was getting worst and worst. However the answer was that after aprox the age of 40 you must decrease training volume if you want any results. Cos your body do need more time to recover and you will acomplish nothing if you keep pushing it beyond its recovery limit.

It makes sense actualy if you consider that you must recover first from your first sesion if you will procede to the next, right? So maybe the answer is not more training in your case but less training. Try for 3 months to decrease your training volume by 30-40 % and see what happens.

Regarding your fighting considerations, its a dumb idea IMO, you can get hurt and when hurt in that age it may last for life so think about it.

Trin for good health and for fun, do not push it too hard - its just stupid
Thanks...there is a lot to consider. I'm not used to not going "all out." I've never really slowed my training as I aged. Up until this past January I was still doing full contact bare knuckle (Kyokushin) and training just as hard as the younger guys. I know that I have a limited time on how much longer I can realistically do this....a year? two? When I fight now, with the younger guys we have some pretty good goes. They have strength and stamina on their side but I've been around a long time so I have decent technique, good and strong kicks and experience which enables me to give them somewhat of a hard time "if" they're not careful. Because of that they fight me as they would any of the guys their age....I take my knocks....but I give em' out too. They are a great bunch and they respect me (mostly because of my legs/kicks (and my drive). I'm going to have to continue to feel this out over the next few months and then go from there. About 4 years ago I tore my rotator badly and had to get surgery to insert and anchor holding it together. That took me two years to come back from and it still acts up when I'm not careful. I won't go through that again...I don't have the time for that kind of comeback. One more injury and I'm out.

I'll play this by ear and see how things go over the next little while. As for today? I had one hell of a killer workout!:icon_chee

Thanks guys.

On a last note....I really feel great and I love the training as well as fighting. I always have but this is the best yet. And the condition I'm in (and get commented on by others) and for what I am doing...I do feel pretty proud of myself. That alone is enough to keep me in the gym.

Thanks again
37 and going strong here. We have a few guys over 50 and a couple over 60 that are real tough. My advice is pick your training partners well and you will have lots of good years.
Sorry to bring up this old thread. I'm new here and a complete beginner to MMA with no experience whatsoever in any combat sport, yet I'm in my 40's. Still not as old as my fellow 50-year old colleagues, but old enough to know that my body just can't do what it once could do a couple decades ago. My main interest in MMA is to help me stay in shape and learn a new sport. I feel like I'm too old to compete anyway, especially against much younger folks, so I've resigned myself to live vicariously through the exploits of you younger competitors while I do my best to go to class when I can and hope I don't injure my aging body.

With that said, I became intrigued to learn of Dara Torres success at this year's Olympics. Some of you might remember that she is the 41-year old Olympic swimmer. A google search of her training reveals that part of her technique is to actually do less than what the younger athletes do (aside from lots of muscle massage and stretching techniques for better recovery). Here's a link to an article that has a brief summary of her training:

Training Secrets of Olympian Dara Torres Fitness Insights by Jamie Atlas

I think she may be on to something for us older folks. I noticed that when I do the full 2-hour MMA class, I almost always end up with a nagging overtraining type of injury that sidelines me for at least a week. But if I cut it down to just one hour, I lessen the chance of injury and improve body recovery (as an aside, I never used to use the word "recovery" in my vocabulary until I got older). I also noticed that adding swimming to part of my exercise regimen helps with recovery.

I'm curious to know about any of you other middle-aged MMA enthusiasts, including newbie beginners like myself, and how you've been able to cope with recovery and risk reduction of age-related injuries in this sport.