Wednesday, November 25, 2009

MMA Workouts

Author: Derek Manuel

If only strongman competitions were more mainstream then bodybuilding then perhaps more mixed martial artists would incorporate better strength and conditioning exercises into their mma workouts without the need of learning or knowing why.

One of the most common mistakes mma fighters make when the are new to the concept of adding strength and conditioning to their mma workouts is that they carry around the mindset of a bodybuilder. They go to the gym thinking they need to do all sorts of exercises for each muscle group and the only way to get a productive workout in is to get a good "pump."

But if you wanted a general idea of what type of strength and conditioning you need to develop with your mma workouts, then think of the type of exercises strongmen do: picking up heavy and awkward objects, carrying heavy weight for long distances, performing extremely powerful and heavy lifts as many times as possible in a certain time period, to name a few.

These types of exercises are MUCH more functional and carry over very well to mma fighters when it comes to the type of strength and conditioning they need. The reason being is that in a mma fight your opponent, unlike a balanced barbell, is a constantly shifting his awkward weight that you have to continuously push and pull from both balanced and unbalanced positions, such as the type of resistance a heavy and awkward object would give you.

Not only do the exercises themselves carry well and should be adapted into your mma workouts as opposed to your much more standard bodybuilding type workouts, but the tempo, intensity, and amount of reps and sets done in strongmen competitions are much more along the lines of how an mma fighter should train. Instead of doing 5 sets of 12 concentration curls with a 20 lb dumbbell to increase the "peak" of your biceps, carrying two heavy objects and doing the farmers walk for as far as you can will develop the leg strength endurance and grip endurance needed in a fight.

Strongmen lifts are very practical to add to your mma workouts as well because they develop the type of strength that is most optimal for mma fighters: power endurance. Doing 5 different isolation exercises for your chest in a way that stimulates hypertrophy - which essentially means an increase in muscle mass - won't do you much good in the ring or cage unless you're just their to impress the ring girls (though they probably won't be too impressed when you get your ass kicked).

On the other hand, push pressing a heavy weight for as many single repetitions as you can inside a few minute timeframe will develop the power endurance to continuously exert your maximum power in a fight without tiring out or getting sloppy.

As you can see, strongmen exercises and the way they are are much more practical for mma fighters. Eliminate any knowledge you may have on bodybuilding and building muscle mass if you want to create effective mma workouts. Instead think exercises and workouts that force you to develop strength endurance and power endurance.

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MMA Strength Training: Relative Strength

MMA Strength Training: Relative Strength

Author: Derek Manuel

One of the best examples of relative strength, absolute strength to body weight ratio, in mixed martial arts was the late Bruce Lee. It was said that he was pound for pound one of the strongest martial artists of his time, weighing between 130 - 140 pounds but doing feats of strength that most people that weigh 200+ pounds couldn't do. So how did he develop this phenomenal strength while still maintaining his desired body weight?

Bruce first began his mma strength training by building his strength using the most basic compound exercises. Exercises like squats, bench presses, deadlifts, rows, pull-ups, shoulder presses, curls, etc.

As he increased his strength with those exercises, he would continue to build strength in similar exercises, just switching his routine enough so that he wouldn't get stagnate and hit any plateaus or "sticking points" too early on.

It is important to realize here that Bruce, and many other athletes for that matter, spent his first couple years just building strength in this manner: with the most basic compound exercises. Out of all the types of strength one can develop, absolute strength, strength endurance, muscle endurance, power, power endurance, etc, absolute strength takes the longest to develop. Although absolute strength alone is only so effective for a mixed martial artist, it serves as the foundation for ALL other forms of strength.

Back to Bruce. After spending a good amount of time developing his basic absolute strength, he would then engage in some form of circuit training (today more often known as complexes in the mma strength training world) to build his strength endurance and lose any unwanted fat he may have gained during his basic strength building phase.

As he became more and more experienced with strength training, Bruce then began incorporating a type of exercise that is still to this day not very known publicly, and surprisingly still not taught in the mma world even though it develops some of the most functional strength a mixed martial artist can have: isometric training.

Isometrics is a type of strength training in which you either push or pull against an immovable object, or hold a static position against a resisting weight. Does this sound like a familiar type of strength utilized in mma? Often times mma fighters will be using isometric strength to either fight for or against a submission.

Isometrics are significantly better than dynamic exercises at increasing maximal strength at a single joint angle, though they won't develop strength in a full range of motion such as the more widely known eccentric and concentric exercises.

Isometric training is a great way to develop maximum levels of strength in various angles without increasing muscle mass. By incorporating isometric exercises in your mma strength training program, you will not only develop more relative strength, but you will develop more functional strength since mma fighters often times must push, pull, or resist against opponents who are pushing or pulling against you as well.

These positions happen a lot more often, especially for grapplers, then the standard eccentric/concentric movement where you are pushing or pulling an opponent through a full range of motion.

Derek Manuel has been involved in MMA and physical fitness for over 12 years. He is in the process of becoming certified as NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES) to train professional fighters and athletes. When he is not training he is discovering the fastest way to both efficiently and effectively improve physical strength, conditioning, and overall performance as an MMA fighter. To see Derek's reviews of the top MMA strength and conditioning programs on the market, visit:

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MMA Strength Training: How Much Can You Bench?

MMA Strength Training: How Much Can You Bench?

Author: Derek Manuel

"How much can you bench press?" We've all heard this question which most of the time has an underlying meaning that the person asking is trying to figure out - usually something along the lines of, "can you beat me up?" But how relevant is your 1 rep max in the bench press to a fighter's mma strength training?

It is, of course, a silly assumption to think that whoever can bench press more between two people is a better fighter. Let's dive into that question even deeper though. What the person is often thinking when he asks that question is, "if he can bench press more then me, he is stronger then me, if he is stronger then me, then he can hit harder, throw me around more easily, and can take more punishment from a less stronger opponent."

For some reason, the bench press has become the symbol of overall strength for many people. To the uninformed, absolute strength is basically a measure of how much weight on can push or pull, without any other consideration to speed, endurance, whether the movement is static or dynamic, the body weight of the person, the exact type of movement and it's functionality, and so on. They just believe that if you can bench press a whole bunch of weight, you are stronger then anybody who cannot bench the same or more weight and therefore you can pretty much push these people around with ease.

Although the sport of mma is still relatively new, it has been around long enough to prove that just having absolute strength, your one rep maximum lift for a given exercise, is of very little use alone in fighting ability. The most important type of mma strength training is power, which is basically strength times speed, with the endurance to continuously exert the same or similar levels of power during a given time period (such as the scheduled length of an mma fight).

A good example in the difference between absolute strength and power is Bruce Lee's infamous 1 inch punch. Lee often stressed the fact that the one inch punch is still a punch, in that you are using power, not strength to push your opponent several feet back. Instead of starting off slowly and then pushing your opponent when you make contact, you are actually executing a quick and explosive movement right from the beginning and the speed times strength (power) knocks your opponent back by the time you make contact.

Rarely in mma does a fighter have the need to push a very heavy (balanced and stable I might add) weight in the full range of motion. 90% of moves need to be executed explosively, such as striking, throwing, take-downs, sprawling, escaping your hips, etc.

So even if you can bench press a lot of weight, it is only potential power, and is of little use in a fighter's mma strength training routine until you can transmute it. However, if you can bench press a lot of weight AND move that weight quickly, explosively, in different angles, with various types of resistance (dumbbells, sandbags, other heavy awkward objects) and in many other forms, THEN you are turning a simple bench press into an exercise that will become more and more functional as a fighter. And this doesn't just go for bench pressing; it goes for ALL the major muscle groups.

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Strength Training For MMA

Author: Derek Manuel

When it comes to mma strength training, most people get it mixed up with either bodybuilding or general fitness, simply because the majority of what the average person is exposed to in weight training are these two types of training. Often time's people assume that building strength is the same thing as building muscle mass, though these are entirely two different things.

It is important for a mma fighter to understand the difference between mma strength training and bodybuilding. You can easily point out the difference when you look at the end goal for each of these two respective sports. In bodybuilding, the goal is to build as much symmetrical muscle mass including all of the major visible muscles in your body. In other words, the purpose of the muscle developed is for show.

The purpose of mma strength training on the other hand, is to supplement the fighters skill and ability to perform at the highest level physically for a given time period. In other words, the purpose of the muscle is to improve strength, endurance, and technique in a fight.

It should be obvious by now that since the purpose of each of theses sports is completely different, that the type of training itself is different. I know, this is some real rocket science here. And I KNOW you already knew this, and you're just reading this article so that you can pass it on to OTHER people who aren't a smart as you (wink, wink).

When training for the sport of body building, bodybuilders are taught to perform resistance training in a way to that involves muscle hypertrophy, which basically means you are increasing the size of muscle cells. MMA strength training requires you do resistance training exercises that will carry over to fighting, such as explosive power and muscular endurance involved in striking and grappling.

MMA strength training requires you to perform certain exercises and in a way that is functional and will enhance either the fighters technique itself or allow the fighter to continue executing a technique or techniques without tiring. Bodybuilding requires you to train a certain muscle so that you build mass and symmetry; in terms practical use for the muscle, there is none outside of how it looks in the eye of the judges or your girlfriend.

Keep this in mind for every exercise you do if you are strength training for mma. Isolation exercises, such as concentration curls, serve no purpose for fighters, so don't do them. Deadlifts, where hip and core strength is quite often used in fighting, are an example of an exercise that carries over to combat.

The goal of mma strength training is to first develop maximum levels of strength, transmute that new strength into power, and to develop power endurance so that the fighter can continuously exert maxim power with his technique throughout the whole fight if it goes the distance.

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