Weight Training for MMA

weight training for mma

This article is an introduction to the basic principles you need to understand, in order to make your gym time effective. The first thing I’m going to say to you all on this subject is – Stop and think! I’m sure that most of you who have found your way here know a little something about weight training already. But what was the source of that information? If it was a bodybuilding magazine or website then understand this – its purpose is two-fold:

  • To provide information that will make you better at being a bodybuilder, and
  • TO MAKE MONEY!

Now there is nothing wrong with wanting be a bodybuilder or make money. However, a bodybuilder’s main purpose is to get bigger muscles. He uses weights for that sole purpose. But the goal of a mixed martial artist is TO WIN FIGHTS! And this must be the end result of weight training for MMA.

Back to the Money

Bodybuilders don’t make much money on the whole by competing. Only a top dozen or so earn a living out of the sport. They are funded mainly by endorsements to supplements companies and magazine contracts. Some of them promote their own lines of protein powders.

The bodybuilding magazines’ main source of income is not the price you pay for the publication itself, but revenue from supplement companies advertisements. This is why the magazine articles sing the praises of supplements. They want to keep their customers (the advertisers) happy. And round and round it goes. But I’m sure most of you knew that already.

Back to the Weights Room

Now if you have ambitions to compete in mixed martial arts, your time spent weight training for MMA must have as its primary purpose the goal of winning fights. Obvious right? So it follows then that every single exercise must do its work towards that goal.

No point spending a year in the gym getting big and buff and then getting your backside kicked by some skinny guy in your first fight. The funny thing is though, I see that happen all the time in the smaller MMA organisations.

Why? Because some people are driven more by ego and trying to look intimidating in a tight t-shirt than preparing seriously for competition. But that’s fine. Lets hope you come up against some steroided ego maniac because most of them have glass chins. Yeah that’s right. Steroids raise your blood pressure to such a degree that you become much easier to knock out. Not to mention that you’re carrying too much muscle for your lungs to sustain over 3 hard rounds. Some people just won’t learn will they?

A word of warning to those of you on steroids reading this. Your size and strength may carry you a little distance if you’re lucky to come up against some real losers. But if you are serious about making money in MMA, the top divisions are thorough in dope testing nowadays. So give it up now and get serious my friend.

Fight Specific Movements

Get that phrase in your head and don’t forget it. What it means is that anything you do in the gym, should be as close as you can get to something you do in a fight. Lets take the example of a straight punch delivered while standing. The movement begins in the feet, the torso twists, the upper body turns, and the fist is then released. Its a chain reaction that transfers your bodyweight into your opponent via your hand. I won’t go into all the variations of it here, suffice to say that we can identify the movement and musculature involved.

An inexperienced trainee would think that a bench press would be the ideal exercise because it involves the chest, shoulders and arms. Of course it does, but hang on a minute. There is too much missing from a bench press when compared to a straight right.

  • There is no torso twisting.
  • No drive from the ball of the right foot.
  • No chambering or snapping of the fist etc.

Getting a big bench will get you – a big bench. Sure, there will be a little carry over to punching power. But MMA training is multi-faceted and YOU HAVE TO MANAGE YOUR TIME EFFICIENTLY.

So what could we do in the gym to improve out straight right? I would rather get you to answer this question yourself, than tell you here. Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. TEACH a man to fish and feed him for life. Are you with me? So here is a little quiz.

  • Can you think of a piece of equipment in the gym you could use to mimic a straight right?
  • Can you think of a way to bench press that would mimic a straight right?
  • (Clue – do you throw both arms out at the same time when you punch, or just one at a time?)
  • Can you think of a way to use dumbbells that will hit your torso AND shoulders, chest and arms all at once mirroring the punching action?
  • Can you think of something you could and SHOULD be doing with a dumbbell to increase punching power – but would get you thrown out of your gym!? (This is the most effective exercise too).
  • Can you think of a way of using a barbell in the air, but never leaving the floor, which mimics a punch?

Confused? Good! My main goal here is to get you to think out of the box not to give you all the answers at once. Effective weight training for MMA takes intelligent planning, gut busting intensity, and perseverance. If you have been training like a bodybuilder, you have got some big changes to make. But I can guarantee that if you’ve got the guts, not only will you improve your fight game no end, you’ll probably end up with a better body than most guys pumping away with the same old exercises. Welcome to Weight Training for MMA!

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