Mixed Martial Arts is a combination of strength, explosive power and endurance, and strength is the foundational element of them all. Therefore, strength training exercises that build leg, arm and core are extremely important for successful MMA bouts. If you don’t have strength then explosive power and endurance are pointless. Once a strong foundation has been laid, you can focus on explosive power through plyometrics and other techniques and then on endurance training… in that order.
Following are 10 effective Mixed Martial Arts training tips that will make you a solid contender in the cage.
1. Perform a Dynamic Warm Up
Muscles need to be effectively warmed up before use, especially when they are being required to perform grueling bouts of strength training exercises. However, not only is warm up good for your muscles, but it wakes up your central nervous system as well. Warming up excites your CNS which causes it to direct more strength, energy and power to the muscles being utilized.
2. Deadlift – A lot
Deadlifting is an essential exercise when contending in the MMA cage. It dramatically increases strength in your back, traps and thighs which are key foundational elements when grappling. Therefore, do a lot of deadlifting.
3. Strengthen Your Grip
Not only does a strong grip give you an edge over your opponent in the cage, but is also allows you to deadlift more. (See a previous article on 5 Tips for Maximizing Your Deadlift Grip for further help.)
4. Lift More Than Your Maximum
In order to build strength, you need to constantly push yourself beyond your maximum weight ability. Lifting above your maximum causes the muscles to tear down more readily which can then be built to greater mass through a proper diet and sufficient rest.
5. Lift with Maximum Acceleration
MMA consists of strength delivered with explosive power. Since muscles “remember” how to respond, you should lift every repetition as quick as possible to ensure your muscles are programmed with a rapid response time. This will give you quicker and more powerful moves and strikes in the ring.
6. Give Attention to Your Push/Pull Strength
Grappling is a major part of MMA sports and therefore your push/pull abilities should be developed as much as your lift and press. Give effort to rowing at least as much weight as you can bench press in order to build strong back and shoulder muscles. This will give you greater push/pull force as well as help protect you from shoulder and back injuries.
7. Include Bodyweight Exercises
Although bodyweight exercises, such as pushups, pull ups, burpees and lunges, may seem futile after lifting, pressing and pulling free weights, they actually play an effective role in strength training. Bodyweight exercises utilize a variety of muscles at the same time causing weaker surrounding muscles to be strengthened compared to weight training exercises which tend to target specific muscles.
8. Work Your Core at Every Chance
Both strike and defensive power comes from the core. Therefore, include good core strengthening exercises in your program as well. Even when executing exercises that do not target the core, attention should be given to tightening it. The less your core moves when doing limb exercises, the stronger it will become.
9. Train From a Standing Position
Try to train from a standing position as much as possible. Executing rows, certain presses and other sitting or laying exercises from a standing position will help tremendously in further strengthening your leg muscles and core stability.
10. Do Not Run
Long distance running does the MMA contender absolutely no good. It actually trains the muscles to slow down and pace themselves and, since MMA bouts are all about rapid and explosive movements, you are harming your ability in the cage more than helping.