MMA athletes can learn a lot from other sports. Athletes that participate in very skill based sporting events like 110 m hurdles, Cycling and Rowing, must design their power training sessions on a base of drills and timing patterns which will profit them when competing. At the highest level of competition, such as national, international and Olympics, coaches constantly test and evaluate what elements of an athletes training program are improving their performance. In athletics, for example, the goal is pretty straightforward – faster, longer, higher etc. On top of this, coaches also know from past experience what will generally work, and then refine their athletes training programs to discover what specifically works for an individual competitor.
In MMA, the vast majority of us are left to our own devices when it comes to strength and conditioning. Sure, we can join in a strength and conditioning class if our gyms provide them. But that does not give us the one on one individual feedback that a top pro athlete gets. However, there is a lot we can do to assess the efficacy of our strength training.
This is an obvious one. But a lot of guys pump away for hours on end, week after week, without getting much stronger. If that is you, not only is your training not having any carry over to MMA competition, it isn’t having any carry over to anything at all! Be your own coach and keep a record of your major lifts in large compound movements such as bench press, squat, deadlift, pull up, power clean etc. You might find that keeping a record itself can increase your strength because it gives you something to aim for. If you constantly try to beat your previous lifts, that itslef can trigger a neurological stimulus that breaks through plateaus.
Does It Make You Punch Harder For Longer
If you are a stand up fighter that punches a lot, you need to know if what you are doing in the weights room is improving your striking ability. The easiest way to assess this is with a partner and a stopwatch. Test yourself every week with various heavy bag drills, with a partner holding the bag and assessing your punching power over timed intervals. He should be able to tell if you are hitting with more force and sustaining it for long enough. I found for a long time that the basic bench press increases I was getting in the gym, were not carrying over to punching power. So I switched to a lot of unilateral upper body work, such as one arm dumbbell floor presses, one arm dumbbell incline presses, one arm push ups etc. This sorted out the missing component in my punching ability which was rotational strength and core stability.
Some people may find that the addition of a speed day (dynamic effort) of upper body work helps them to generate a lot more explosive power. Remember that a punch is thrown with as much acceleration as possible, so you will need to work out in the weights room with that in mind. Explosive lifting will be required in your workouts to increase that aspect of your punching ability.
Don’t Be Afraid To Change
You might have to alter various elements of your training program if it is not helping you to improve endurance, speed and the reaction time necessary for your sport. After that, make sure you train keeping that in mind. Sport specific training does not necessitate that it’s a must to mirror specifically what you do during a match, fight, game or whatever. Even so it will have to improve your overall performance, or specific parts of it. If not, it is a waste of time as far as the athlete is concerned. Most pro athletes have a busy enough weight training program as it is, without adding anything more to it that won’t give them some kind of an edge. Therefore, a UFC pro, who needs as much wrestling strength as possible, like Vladimir Matyushenko or Carlos Condit, would use constant tension training in movements like the Reverse Cable Curl. Someone involved in a sport where force and speed of arm extension is important, such as kickboxing, may want to use movements such as the Cable Concentration Triceps Extension using fast load speed to improve performance and maximize power.
How’s Your Form?
When you perform any exercise with poor form, you will not trigger a response in the muscles efficiently. So it may be worth evaluating your form with an expert fitness instructor, or perhaps researching exercise videos. For these kinds of lifts, correct exercise technique can be as important as brute strength.
Finding Your Ideal Fighting Weight
Burning off sufficient abdominal fat to actually see your abdominal muscles requires a total body conditioning approach that increases fat utilization, VO2 max and stresses the abdominals as well as large muscle groups. Keep in mind that to get down to an ideal fighting weight, you need to elevate your metabolic rate working with lots of muscle groups. It’s by working multiple muscle groups that you will reach this weight and acquire a toned and flat stomach. Continually striving to do better than you did in your last exercise session will make sure that you get a sense of achievement every time you hit the workout room.
Any time you stop and evaluate what you do by habit, you ususally end up finding that a lot of what you do is actually counter productive. This should be a cause for celebration though, rather than regret. What’s more, when your overall conditioning and peak oxygen uptake improves, your system will increase its capability to burn up calories from fat day after day. You’ll find out how to gain the benefits of a wide range of completely new techniques that you can easily fit into your workouts.