MMA strength training has to take into account all the various types of movements and the speed of execution of those movements that you intend to use during your fighting career. If you analyse a fight on video you will see what I mean.
For example, in a contest involving at least one grappler the concept of static strength comes into play. You’ll not often see guys in the gym holding weights in specific positions but rather moving them through a plane of motion.
The mixed martial artist who wish to develops some sports specific strength needs to do both as there is a big difference between the two. My advice for wrestlers and grapplers is to do a lot of work using their own body weight using different positions and grips during pull ups and chin ups. For instance, try holding the ball up bar with one hand on the bar and the other hand around the gripping hands wrist. If you try to raise your body weight in this manner your develop an incredible grip strength and also stimulate the muscles are involved in a submission are wrestling to a great degree. There are limitless variations of chins that you can use to increase your grappling strength.
If you wish to punch and kick with more power then the type of strength that you will have to develop to accomplish this involves training with moderately heavy weights and accelerating them.
What this entails is taking an exercise such as the bench press, and instead of training repetitions of 6 to 12 reps as most people normally do, you instead:
- limit the reps to about three,
- select a weight that is about 50% of what you could do for one repetition,
- and rep it from the chest as fast as you can upwards,
- and then back down in a controlled manner.
Do this for eight sets of three repetitions each with about 30 to 60 seconds rest in between each set. Power lifters have been using this technique known as dynamic effort method for years to increase their power and speed.
Another important aspect of MMA strength training is to try as much as you can to mimic the plane of movement that occurs in a fight. To give you an example of this, take a left hook.
- It is delivered not with two hands at once but with just one.
- It involves the musculature of the chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps and abdominals, especially the obliques, all in one coordinated movement.
The best way to mimic this in strength training would be with unilateral dumbbell presses, i.e. just using one arm at a time. You’ll find this quite difficult at first if you have any weak points in your midsection as it really stresses the same groups of muscles and tendons that are needed to deliver a decent left hook (or right hook). But after several sessions training in this manner you will strengthen your body’s ability to work as a unit. This is key to developing strength for MMA.