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Cross Training for the MMA Fighter

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Cross training is a term that gets tossed around a lot in the fitness world.  People try to make it sound more elaborate than it really is and don’t give it enough credit toward taking your game to the next level.  I’ve heard the saying several times, “that if you want to be a fighter then you have to train to fight.”

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This is extremely true, but if you want to be a great fighter then you have to train to fight as well as train your body to be ready to from start to finish at a high level of intensity.  The thing is if you are training in the gym all the time at that high level you are putting your self at a higher risk to sustain injuries.  It’s okay to add cross training into your workouts because it gives your muscles a different workout and helps you develop different areas that fighting alone doesn’t work.

What is cross training you may ask? 

This method requires the athlete to train in several different activities to work their bodies in multiple ways giving them greater strength, increased lung capacity and aerobic fitness, flexibility, and more.  When it’s actually time to step into the cage the martial artist should have an easier time performing the task at hand.

By far the best way to train for MMA is by hitting the pads, the heavy bag, sparring and grappling; however these methods will only strengthen your muscles and increase your cardio to a certain degree, which is why you see many fighters lifting weights and running.  Weight lifting will increase your strength and make it easier to hit, kick, and clinch with an opponent.  Cardio fitness is probably the easiest way people can visualize cross training.  Both swimming and running are popular ways that a lot of fighters train in these areas.  Swimming and running work the respiratory system and muscles differently than from fighting alone.  These methods are very good because they place the fighter at a relatively low risk of injury.

Now that you know what cross training is you need to figure out how to incorporate it into your workout plan.  It will depend on what type of training you do (professional or recreational) and how much time you can devote to cross training.  The more time you can give to train the more time can be spent doing this cross training.  If you train hard core and want to be a professional fighter then it shouldn’t be hard to include 4-5 cross training sessions in your weekly schedule.  If you are a recreational athlete then 2-3 sessions of cross training will be good.  These sessions should consist of additional cardio and weight lifting.

If you look at MMA itself you will see that it is a good form of cross training too which is probably why so many people do it to get in shape.  Stand up classes such as kickboxing will burn roughly 700 calories in an hour session.  Many classes and gyms are devoted to this clientèle and use the income to support the professional fighter classes.  If you are a mixed martial artist then you need to cross train and if you are an average person then MMA is an good way to cross train as well.  Either way cross training is a beneficial way to develop your body and get in the best shape possible.


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