Nothing beats the use of grappling bags when it comes to all round bang for your buck training efficiency in mixed martial arts. Also known as grappling dummies, or grappling punch bags, they reach the parts that other forms of training miss. Whether you are a stand up fighter, a BJJ exponent, a wrestler or have a Vale Tudo background, the use of this apparatus will benefit you no end.
In our modern sedentary world, most people have puny rotational muscle strength. Years ago, our ancestors would have used these muscle groups everyday. Activities such as digging, gathering crops, mining, chopping trees etc., rely heavily on the muscles of the core.
Grappling Bag Training Benefits
For the combat athlete, a grappling bag is the next best thing to a real opponent. They allow you to mimic movements in a fight, including, holds, slams, throws and ground and pound techniques. There are many varieties, but most are shaped to some degree like a human torso. Some have arms and legs too. Weights vary from 50lbs up to custom made 200lb versions.
It is unlikely that a training partner will want to allow you to pick him up and slam him to the floor over and over during a training session. So this is where the grappling punch bags allow you to perfect such techniques and at the same time, build the strength and endurance required to win fights.
They can be slotted into virtually any aspect of your MMA training. They are brilliant to use in conditioning workouts, maybe as a sub-component of a routine which makes use of other types of punch bags.
The other great thing about grappling bags, is they will instantly reveal any weaknesses you might have in tie ins between the abdominal muscles, and the pecs, hips, and lats. Too often, standard weight training performed on benches and machines, neglects to challenge the body as a whole. Enter the grappling bag. If you attempt throws and slams with even a moderately light one, you are most likely to discover any lagging areas instantly.
Getting strong with grappling dummies will have a great carry over not only to your grappling strength, but also to punching power and general physical preparedness (GPP). It is also worth noting, that training with these bags, is about as sport specific as it gets, as far as mixed martial arts training goes.
Physical Conditioning Benefits
Using a grappling dummy regularly will have many benefits, not only in increasing raw strength and power, but also increasing your cardio-vascular capacity. They challenge you to use your body in a way that simulates the many moves you will use in a real fight. Grappling bags, used correctly, will strongly condition many different muscles in the core.
The Multifidus, for example, are small stabilizer muscles located in the spine. If these small postural muscles are weak, the larger ones are unable to work at full capacity. This would set the MMA competitor at a great disadvantage. Grappling bags will, however, train the Multifidus and help correct any imbalances.
When throwing an opponent, the Erector Spinae muslces are heavily recruited. People often call these lower back muscles. This is a misnomer, as they run all the way from the sacrum (lower back) to the skull. You can work them hard with a grappling bag, in power movements that would be impossible to do with barbells and deadlift type movements. It is also unlikely that your gym owner will be happy with if you started throwing barbells around the place. But you are ok to do exactly this with the grappling punch bags.
People tend to train Glutes and Hamstrings with the usual suspects such as leg presses, deadlifts and squats. These are all fine, but for the combat athlete, those movements bear little resemblance to anything that happens in a real competitive fight. For a start they are linear in movement track. Using a grappling bag though, and a heavy one at that, you can train the Glutes and Hamstrings, to not only move a substantial amount of weight, but incorporate twisting power moves too. It is the closest thing to handling another human being.
In addition to having strength and conditioning benefits for the muslces of the core and posterior chain, you will find that training with grappling bags challenges the entire body in a way that conventional weight training does not. For example, grip strength when training with barbells and dumbbells, is in a limited range of motion, with the hand in an almost closed fist position. However, when dealing with a human opponent, you are going to be gripping with the hands much more open e.g. grabbing legs and arms, which have a greater circumference than a dumbbell handle. In other situations, your hands will need to be almost open flat, for instance when throwing an opponent from the waist. No weight simulates that. But a grappling bag does.
Upper Body Power
Training with a grappling dummy will also challenge the major upper body muscles, such as pecs and lats, to work in unison in planes of motion unchallenged by weights and machines. If you are new to training with a grappling bag, then begin with a 50lb one, and gradually work your way up to heavier 130lb bags over time.
MMA Training Equipment Must Have
So if you are serious about excelling in MMA, you cannot do without a grappling bag. It does not replace a live training partner, but it does enable you to focus on and develop the strength and conditioning needed to deal with an opponent. It is one of the most vital pieces of MMA training equipment. The bottom line is, you just must incorporate their use into your training, or you are going to have a huge void in your combat skills set.