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The conditioning programs that MMA fighters go through to prepare for a meet are intense and not for the faint at heart. Their multi facet approach to training makes them some of the most elite athletes on the planet. However, some of these same training modalities can be very beneficial to many of those who are not professional athletes. “But Michael,” you say, “I’m only a weekend warrior. How can training like an MMA fighter help me?” Let me count the ways.

Muscular endurance and conditioning

First and foremost, MMA is an anaerobic sport, that is, it varies in its intensity. It’s a type of sport that starts and stops regularly, or has very short periods of energy needs. Anaerobic activities make up the majority of sports, and include others such as football, sprinting, and Olympic weightlifting.

Short bursts of power are the name of the game with anaerobic sports, and the body uses the sugars that are in it to fuel itself through these activities. However, a waste product of this fuel is lactic acid, and we have all felt that familiar burn in the muscles while training. With conditioning, MMA athletes are able to extend the time before their muscles shut down due to that burn. In turn, they are able to last longer during a fight, which may be the difference between a victory and a tap out. Since so many sports are anaerobic and demand this type function, just about any type of backyard athlete can benefit from this type of conditioning and improve their overall performance in everyday life.

Speed, agility, and technique

Who doesn’t want to be faster and stronger? Whatever you are trying to accomplish in life, you can never afford to have a short supply of either. MMA is an extremely technical sport. The footwork, handwork, body maneuvering, etc., all require a tremendous amount of very particular technique training. There’s not a physical activity that cannot benefit from more power and better coordination. Imagine how many times in your life when your arms are doing one thing, and your feet are doing something else. Hand eye coordination, first step quickness, rapid change of direction…. All of these, plus more, will improve when you train using MMA methods in addition to your regular regimen.

Full body strength

Every sport starts at some point with the feet on the ground. From there, power is generated in the legs and hips, and can then be transferred up through the trunk and, if necessary, into the upper body and arms. And MMA is not any different: kicking, jumping, pushing; and when on the ground, grappling, driving. Development of overall body strength is beneficial to all aspects of life. Who wants to have strong “looking” arms, but can’t push their car if it runs out of gas? Now there’s functionality!

Staleness

Let’s face it: we all get stale and hit walls in our training regimens, no matter what we’re trying to accomplish. Including MMA-type sessions will revitalize any exercise program and get you back on track to where you want to go.

Exercise Examples:
  • For Power
    • Power cleans
    • Medicine ball throws (chest, overhead, etc.)
    • Plyometric jumps
  • For Conditioning
    • Battle ropes
    • Tire flips
    • Hammer hits
    • Shuttle runs
  • For Strength
    • Squats
    • RDLs
    • Incline bench press
    • Deadlifts
    • Landmines
    • Planks