As a coach I’m always looking for angles to help my students get a leg up on their competition. And when talking about the sport of MMA, I mean that phrase “a leg up” in the literal sense. After all, kicking is allowed right?
If a fighter is going to compete they have to have a grip on three solid characteristics. In the eyes of this strength coach, a solid ring (or cage) presence is all about: quality movement, power, and conditioning.
Effective Training for the MMA Athlete
A great way to build these characteristics is to make sure you implement a sound hybrid training program stressing the importance of both power and endurance development. If you remember the three necessary qualities that I just mentioned a couple sentences ago this training program covers two-thirds oft that pie. The last third of the pie (quality movement) can be built with intelligent exercise selection and attention to detail by the strength coach.
In a nutshell, the physical preparation of a fighter has to involve traits that support the active attempt of knocking other human beings unconscious, choking them out, or submitting them in some other fashion depending on which opportunity presents itself first. Ha, I know what you’re thinking, “Coach, where can I sign up?”
Well, pump the brakes, my young Jedi of strength. Before you go any further in your training, continue reading first. Some effective methods that I prefer to employ involve putting my serious competitors through various strength and athletic performance drills to promote the big three of quality movement, power, and conditioning.
The beauty is that in many cases I have actually done this with little equipment – nothing other than a heavy kettlebell, a track, and the fighter’s own body resistance in the form of some heart-pounding interval work. Check out this demonstration I did out at the local track while testing out my GoPro:
The workout you just witnessed involved me performing the given kettlebell drills of the double-arm swing, jerk, and a push up variation, each followed by an intense sprint burst of fifty yards. This workout is a real smoker and will definitely humble anyone depending on how it’s scaled.
I realize I’m not talking baseball today, but this workout is a homerun for fighters looking to get an edge in the ring. Here's the breakdown so you can try it yourself:
Dynamic Warm Up
2×50 Jumping jacks
2×15 Stretch kicks (kicking one leg up at a time keeping it straight to stretch the hamstrings and glutes)
5×20 Kettlebell swings (with a 72lb bell) + 50 yard sprint
Perform sprint after each set of 20 swings
5×3 Kettlebell jerks (with the same bell) for 3 reps on each arm + 50 yard sprints
5×5 Push ups, isolating off of one arm at the top of the push up (5 on each arm) + Stadium sprints up 88 stairs at the football stadium.
Note: Sprints can be substituted for stadiums if no stadium is available.
The Essential Fourth Trait of the Successful Fighter
As you probably noticed from this workout, the needs of being a well-rounded athlete that can physically go to the limit also requires a fourth trait that I failed to mention. The trait of mental toughness is a must if you’re going to acquire optimal performance in MMA – or any sport for that matter.
In ending, I do believe there are certain foundations and principles that can be applied to any athlete in any sport. However, I believe that specificity is the absolute power and key to the success of any given athlete. This is exactly what I’m always trying to communicate and offer to my students. In my opinion, coaches who believe solely in a cookie-cutter approach end up neglecting the definite needs of the athlete(s) in question.
I teach my students that most anyone can train hard, but only the best train smart. This mantra is something that I’m always shouting from the rooftops! So keep training smart, my friends.
Photos courtesy ofShutterstock.