Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters are in amazing shape because their training regimes encompass everything you could possibly want from a workout. The power, strength and stamina required by these athletes is astonishing and the result is that they look great, they feel great and no one dares say anything negative to them because their bodies are destructive weapons! Even if you never intend to step foot in an octagon, MMA training can be an amazing way to get in shape! Many studies have also shown that training in martial arts can reduce stress and improve mental stability. There are 7 primal movements that humans perform and even if you didn’t know this, you will recognise them as the movements you do at each machine in the gym in a bid to strengthen your muscles, improve coordination and increase your range of motion! The movements are; pushing, pulling, lunging, squatting, bending, twisting and walking. MMA training encompasses all of these primal movements without you even realising. If your gym workout is becoming a bit tedious, you want to meet new people or you want a fun and effective way to burn fat, this could be perfect for you!
The explosive power of boxing and kick-boxing combined with the enduring strength needed for grappling make MMA training a great choice for improving your functional strength. Of course, MMA fighters also have harsh conditioning regimes to promote strength and power. Bodyweight exercises are a great way to improve functional strength and can help engage those muscle groups which often get left out in the cold during weight training sessions. If you want to try out some bodyweight exercises, see our article on increasing strength with bodyweight exercises for specific training tips and exercises to try. Weight training is important to MMA fighters because it improves their relative strength and power. Exercises with kettle bells and sand bags are useful to improve take downs and controlling the opponent. Heavy squats and deadlifts are great for engaging all muscle groups and grip strength exercises are vital for success in grappling and submissions.
The combination of partner skill training, interval training and high intensity cardio sessions make MMA fighters some of the fittest people on the planet! If you want to try to enhance your endurance through fighting skills and are unable to join a club, try this simple routine at home. Set up an interval recording clock where you can train for 2 minutes with a 30 second rest period for 20 minutes. Shadow box for 3 x 2 minute intervals, kick box for 3 x 2 minute intervals and box skip for 2x 2 minute intervals. Go flat out in each interval. You will be surprised how tired you are after this workout, even if you are in good shape!
Learning and acquiring impressive skills will give you a sense of pride and achievement. Many people join martial arts to give them peace of mind that they can effectively defend themselves should a violent situation ever arise. It can also give you a greater sense of self-worth in an ‘alpha’ kind of way. The improvements you will feel in health, looks, brain performance and skill will leave you feeling very confident and happy with yourself too! Plus you never know who you might meet at training...
The ability to stay balanced on your feet and control body positions on the ground is vitally important in MMA. Balance and coordination are also the foundation for powerful strikes and take-downs, so development of these attributes are key in good fighting technique. Skill training will improve these for you, but most fighters use balance-board training and core stability exercises to ensure that when sparring or competition come into play, they are already well-honed qualities.
Flexibility is such an important part of martial arts. Passive flexibility is necessary for grappling, because the more mobile you are, the more submissions you can perform and the more work your competitor/partner has to do in order to submit you. And the more tired you make them; the more likely you are to win ;). Active flexibility is necessary because it combines strength and control with flexible movements that are used in fighting and dynamic flexibility is important if you want powerful and high kicks. If you want to improve flexibility, check out yesterday’s article for specific examples of exercises that will help you.
Knowing effective techniques to defend yourself will help put your mind at ease. This is not to say you should go out and inflict pain on others just because you know how to injure someone. This is not what mixed martial arts is about. The majority of fighters have amazingly calm temperaments, saving the intense macho stuff for competition. If you can improve overall fitness and decrease your vulnerability to violent attacks (which sadly are increasing with the amount of binge drinking that goes on in this country) then it is a win, win situation!