By Jillian Bullock
When it comes to MMA training to become a top notch fighter the old way of training has become obsolete. Utilizing only basic weights, treadmills and elliptical machines have become old school. To build optimal strength and conditioning, along with the skills necessary to excl in Muay Thai, Jiu-jitsu, boxing and grappling, mixed martial artists must always look for new and different forms of exercises and equipment to aid their training skills and help them reach the next level in their fight career.
Below are some of the best pieces of equipment to help increase your strength, power, speed, agility, and endurance, along with transforming your body into an elite athlete and a MMA fighter, which will give you an edge over your opponent.
Using this piece of equipment is beneficial because it’s not linear like dumbbells and barbells. You don’t fight in a straight line, because there are many twists and turns that take place during a bout with your opponent. Sandbags help you adapt to these changes. They also force you to hold tight and when lifting you use your whole body to control the sandbag.
As you move, the sand in the bag moves, making it unpredictable, which is how your opponent will be during a fight. The awkwardness of lifting a sandbag also helps condition your core and stabilizes your body.
Another great reason for training with sandbags is it will help improve grip strength, which MMA fighters need during grappling and Jiu-jitsu. Because of the way the sandbag is designed your grip, fingers, wrists and forearm muscles will strengthen over time.
Other than boxers, most athletes, including many MMA fighters, don’t take advantage of the benefits of jumping rope. But this form of exercise is excellent for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which conditions the anaerobic and aerobic energy systems.
Jumping rope, which is one of the oldest methods for training, also increases coordination, endurance, foot work, balance, agility, and speed.
It jumping rope is new to your fitness program you will experience frustration in the beginning. You definitely won’t pick up the skill as fast as actors do in the movies. Even actors, who portray fighters, have to train for months to master the jump rope skills before the cameras roll. However, the benefits will be worth the time and effort you put into learning or perfecting this conditioning drill.
Start off slow, 30-60 seconds without tripping over your feet or the rope, and then work your way up to jumping for a straight three minutes; the same time as a round in a match. When you get up to three minutes, take a 30-60 second break and then do another two-three rounds with breaks in between. If you really want to push your cardio conditioning work to jump rope up to one hour straight. It is a challenge for even the more seasoned MMA fighters.
You can also alter your footwork patterns once you’ve become skilled. This will keep jumping rope exciting and fun. Try doing knee raises, leg criss-cross and rope criss-cross, shuffle your feet side to side, and run in place. These are a few variations you can add to your training program.
Unlike traditional dumbbells, kettle bells are an excellent way to lift weights, but they are designed to be more functional and aids in vastly improving your speed, flexibility, endurance, cardio, strength, stamina, core strength, forearm strength, and reduce body fat.
Kettle bells are now becoming a staple in many MMA fighters’ fitness programs because this piece of equipment also helps reduce injury to the body and isn’t as hard on the joints as dumbbells or barbells.
To succeed at MMA fighting you need to be incredibly fit and kettle bells will help you achieve that goal.
If you really want to challenge yourself and test your cardiovascular conditioning the Versa Climber is a must. As a non-impact machine, the Versa Climber is safer on your joints than running or jumping rope, especially for large or heavier athletes. At the same time this machine mimics unlimited sprinting action, which allows for explosive movement during competitive competition.
The Versa Climber is a great tool because it engages the entire body. The faster you can sprint, the more you build explosive power over a prolonged period of time, which is crucial to endure the rigors and intensity of a three or five round fight.
“The best cardio machine out there for real professional athletes. Versa Climber’s no walk in the park. All my fighters use the Versa Climber on non-running days. Sprint work, longevity, great all around cardio machine.”– Freddie Roach, MMA Trainer
Sledge Hammer Hits & Tire Flips
Over the past few years, sledgehammer training has become increasing popular with MMA fighters. The dynamics behind using a sledgehammer to strike an SUV or tractor trailer tire is to develop your strength, power and cardiovascular fitness. It is definitely a great exercise to develop your core, shoulders and arms.
Many MMA schools have this equipment available. If you want to give it a try begin by performing reps of 12 to 20 strikes to focus on power. Work your way up to doing sets of two to three minutes to develop fitness.
While you have the tire available, you can also incorporate tire flips. The movement of squatting to lift the tire and then using your core and arms to push the tire over repeatedly is great for the muscle mechanics it takes to perform takedowns.
Due to the nature of MMA and the demands for physical conditioning in order to do well in a fight, a mixed martial artist should plan his training in such a way that he is constantly evolving and improving. Training programs should focus, not on building big bulky muscles, but rely more on exercises that integrate overall functional body movements, speed, power, cardio conditioning, and movements that are aligned with how one’s body must move during a bout.
You can buy DVDs and see training videos on YouTube for all of these exercises.
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