MMA Strength Training - Core Strength for Mixed Martial Arts
Strength In MMA
Strength goes hand-in-hand with conditioning in regard to importance in MMA. That said, conditioning refers to cardiovascular capacity, while strength refers to the ability to move objects for a short period of time. Explosiveness is more closely tied to strength than conditioning, for example, although the latter will allow you to be explosive throughout the fight. The purpose of this guide is to illustrate the importance of strength in MMA and how to properly train it.
Here's a list of the strongest MMA fighters. You can draw your own conclusions based on their credentials.
- Anderson Silva
- Brock Lesnar
- Georges St. Pierre
- Rampage Jackson
- Fedor Emelianenko
- Matt Hughes
- Vitor Belfort
- Nate Marquardt
- Dan Henderson
- Brett Rogers
- Alistair Overeem
Why Is Strength So Important?
MMA strength training is important because it allows you to more effectively control your opponent. When combined with good conditioning, even a relatively unskilled fighter can be almost unstoppable. He can only be beaten by opponents with much greater skill and similar strength and conditioning.
Having superior strength allows you to throw more powerful strikes. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of striking power does come from strength, if you use proper form. Rampage insists that punching power comes from the glutes. Who can argue with the man? He has some of the strongest strikes and crispest boxing in MMA.
Good grip strength will allow you to secure submissions more effectively. Minotauro Nogueira is said to have some of the best grip strength in MMA. It's no surprise, then, that he is able to so effectively control his opponent's wrists and get that armbar. Another fighter with great grip strength is Fedor Emelianenko, who also has a slew of submission victories.
Core strength is the most important bit in MMA, however. When I refer to core strength, I'm talking about the abdominals, the lower back, the legs, and the glutes. If you can build a strong core, you'll be almost unstoppable. You'll be able to control your opponents on the ground, sweep more easily, prevent or execute Greco Roman throws, and throw more powerful punches. If you've ever read anything about wrestling or boxing, you'd see that you're always told to use your hips when striking or taking someone down. This is because they are the strongest part of your body and the most explosive. This MMA training will teach you how to use them effectively in a fight.
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Good Lifts For Training MMA Strength
As I said before, you need a strong core in order to succeed in MMA. There are a few lifts that you should try to incorporate into your workout to ensure you get the most out of it.
- The deadlift is a fantastic lift that you can use to build lower back, hamstring, and glute strength. This'll make your hips much more explosive and is one of the best lifts around.
- Hanging cleans are fantastic for building core and shoulder strength (which is important in grappling).
- Squats will work your legs and lower back. They will help you push through takedowns and will also let you sweep better.
- If you can master the clean and jerk, it is one of the most explosive exercises you can do. It'll teach you how to use all of your muscles in unison, which is really key in MMA. Dumbbell snatches are also very good and can be substituted for clean and jerks.
- Pull ups will increase your endurance and strengthen your lats, shoulders, and grip. I recommend this exercise to anyone that's serious about any sport. It's really fantastic.
- The power straight is almost a modification of the pull up and is one of the best power exercises. This will strengthen your spinal erectors, shoulders, hips, and lats.
Functional Strength Is More Important Than "Gym Strength"
How much weight you put up in the gym is an important benchmark in regard to how effective your MMA strength training workout is, but it's not the end-all and it is by no means the thing you should be worrying about. What you want to build up is something called functional strength, which dictates your overall body strength in practical movements.
Functional strength is not just a product of hypertrophy, but of how well you're able to use your muscles in unison to achieve a certain movement. Balance is important when you're training functional strength and it should be taken into account as you're doing this.
Some of the best ways to build up functional strength are to just perform bodyweight exercises and athletic activities, like plyometrics. Pull ups, dips, and depth push ups are three of my favorite exercises that help build up functional strength. You can also try doing some work outs that incorporate things like rolling tires, lifting oddly shaped objects, or sand bags. Sand bag training is actually one of the better ways to build strength and will also increase your grip significantly.
Functional strength is also determined by your frame and strength of your ligaments. If you bulk up to a level that your frame can't really support, then your functional strength is going to suffer. This is why it's important to not try to bulk up when training and to just focus on increasing your strength. You want your muscles to fit naturally on your frame or you'll become slow and sluggish.