One of the biggest mistakes that many MMA fighters make is with regard to strength training. Many MMA strength-training regimens consist primarily of bodybuilding exercises such as: barbell curls, bench presses, or even worse Nautilus machine exercises. At best, these exercises make your muscles stronger and bigger. However, most likely they will make your body tight and teach you how to isolate muscles instead of using your body as one unit. This is disastrous in an MMA fight.
While standard bodybuilding exercises are great for increasing muscle mass in order to move up to a heavier weight class, they do not have a significant sport specific transfer to MMA fights. In this article, I am going to go over two exercises that will build explosive strength and increased muscular endurance. You will have no doubt that there is a sports specific application for MMA athletes.
How I Got Into MMA ...
I have been a big fan of the martial arts ever since I can remember. I used to love watching Bruce Lee movies and other Kung fu movies. I was amazed at the body mastery that these martial artists had and I have been hooked ever since. When the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) came out several years ago I was fascinated. You never knew what was going to happen and the athleticism and mental toughness that the UFC athletes brought to the ring was incredible.
When I became a strength coach, I knew I wanted to focus on making fighters more explosive and stronger. I wanted to develop exercises that would have a sport specific transfer. I started watching MMA fights from the perspective of a strength coach and tactician. I watched how fighters took their opponents down, got out of the guard, defended being taken to the ground, and how they threw punches. The more I watched the more excited I got. I started coming up with moves that I knew would be tremendously beneficial to professional MMA fighters.
I showed a few of these moves to some of my martial arts friends and these guys were blown away. They saw the application immediately and got excited about incorporating the moves into their regimens. The feedback was so positive that I decided to work on a video and manual that would show all of the exercises that I came up with as well as several other exercises that I think are great for MMA fighters. Here are two of my favorites that are not for the faint of heat:
My Two Favorite MMA Exercise...
Full Body Attack
This is an incredible exercise that will teach you how to use your body as one unit and build explosive power from the ground up. Often in a fight you have to get from the floor to your feet explosively against the resistance of an opponent. That is exactly what you are doing with the "Full Body Attack." In addition to having sport specific application, the "Full Body Attack" will get you in incredible shape. Try using two 53-pound kettlebells or 50-pound dumbbells for ten reps and you will have no doubt that the "Full Body Attack" is effective.
Place two kettlebells or dumbbells shoulder width apart on the ground. Caution: if you are using dumbbells, make sure you use the ones that will not roll around on the ground. Get into the top position of the pushup with both hands on the kettlebells. Do a pushup on the kettlebells. The second that you complete the rep, hop forward explosively while holding onto the kettlebells. Now you are in the starting position of the clean. Clean both kettlebells and drive through with the hip flexors rapidly.
Your elbows should be tucked in and in line with your stomach at the top of the movement. Now reverse the motion and do another rep. Start off with three sets of five, two to three times a week until you get the hang of it. After you have the technique down, work up to three sets of ten. If you are under 200 pounds, have a goal of doing twenty-five reps straight with two 53-pound kettlebells. If you are over 200 pounds, have a goal of doing 25 reps straight with two 70-pound kettlebells.
Full Body Defense
In addition to learning how to go from the ground to your feet explosively, an MMA fighter needs to be able to go from the feet to the ground rapidly as well to avoid takedowns. That is precisely what the "Full Body Defense" will assist you with. Similar to the "Full Body Attack", the "Full Body Defense" will get you in shape and build incredible muscular endurance when done for high reps. Start the exercise by cleaning two kettlebells to your shoulders. Push your pelvis at the top of the clean so that that you can press your elbows against your stomach and keep the kettlebells tucked in. Take the kettlebells to the floor in the clean position.
Now jump back while still holding onto the kettlebells and arch your back. When executed properly, you will look like you are doing a yoga stretch. Immediately jump back into the clean position, clean the kettlebells, and then proceed with another rep. Again, work on doing three sets of five, two to three times a week. After you have the technique down, work up to three sets of ten. If you are under 200 pounds, have a goal of doing twenty-five reps straight with two 53-pound kettlebells. If you are over 200 pounds, have a goal of dong 25 reps straight with two 70lb kettlebells.
There you have it, two exercises that will get you in great shape and build sport specific strength that will carry over to the ring in no time. Next time, I will go over some other great exercises that will develop ballistic shock and wrist strength.
About The Author
Mike Mahler is a strength coach and a certified kettlebell instructor based in Santa Monica, California. For more information on Mike's new DVD, go to http://www.mikemahler.com/products.html.
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