Balance and stability are nearly as important as strength and even technique in many facets of MMA and fitness in general. In a fight, great balance can mean the difference between being taken down at will and losing a decision or getting taken down and getting your face beaten into a bloody mess….
In MMA fitness, improper balance and or misalignment can result in muscular over and underdevelopment in each limb: causing a lack of total power. Its very common for bench pressers at the gym to lag heavily behind with their left arm (or weaker arm whichever it may be), thus lowering their potential for greater all around strength development.
Instead of developing balance, these amateurs will just keep loading more weight on as the weeks go by (while their spotter is really just lifting more of the weight) and before you know it THWAP! Torn pectoral!
As you can tell, stability isn’t only important for superior performance, but for injury prevention as well. Balance exercises must be incorporated at least every other week, but I prefer to incorporate a couple of balance exercises in my warm ups as of late and it’s REALLY paying off in my take down defense (I can hop around like a jack rabbit on one leg and it frustrates the hell out of my training partner trying to secure that single leg…fun times)
There are plenty of great balance exercises that can be done with just your body weight, but there are also a couple of tools that are bloody wonderful for building balance.
The stability ball: these are a staple of most gyms and are great for developing core strength and flexibility as well as practicing your grappling and ground and pound as well: ala Frank Shamrock
The bosu ball: is very similar, but you can use it for lower body workouts as well. I love to use it for lower body exercises like squats and jumps to really practice balance and stability at weird angles.
Balance boards: these things are awesome, but not a lot of standard gyms have these. They’re worth every penny however to own and aren’t that expensive (usually around 50 bucks). If you’re a striker like me, you’ll want any advantage possible to defend the take downs. There’s nothing more annoying as a fighter or boring to the fans as a wrestler taking you down at will and grinding out a slow boring decision because he’s too much of a coward to stand and bang….(I’m just being a sore loser though haha. WORK ON YOUR WRESTLING so you don’t complain like me.)
The Kettlebell: For one limbed exercises, nothing beats the kettlebell. One legged kettlebell deadlifts, one armed kettlebell swings, snatches, and cleans should be a staple of every single fighter and MMA fitness trainee.
I know I may sound like I’m on my soap box about the kettlebell, but if you don’t have one GET ONE! They’re around $100 bucks (or much less depending on your fitness level) you only need one of them, and to me at least, it’s the best $100 you can possibly spend in the fitness world.
Here’s a link to where I got my kettlebell: it’s the very best value on the net by far and they’re having a sale this month so like I said, if you don’t have one, GET ONE!
Yoga: With just a yoga block, you can accomplish miracles in terms of flexibility, balance, and stability, as well as mental clarity, focus, and concentration. I’ll be writing a total article on yoga in the very near future. Many of the best pro athletes and fighters in the world alike practice yoga.
Action step of the day:
Incorporate one or two balance/stability exercises per day in your warm up. My favorites as of late are the one armed kettlebell swing and one legged kettlebell deadlift (both for high reps with low weight: 35 lb kettlebell). Also, if you are lifting in the gym, try setting new personal records in the one-arm dumbbell press, pistol/weighted pistol squat, elevated lunges, one leg deadlift etc: any exercise that requires one limb at a time.
Set new records in max weight (for 3 rep or 5 rep max) and max repetitions (lighter weight to failure in between 15-25 reps) in all of these exercises and watch how all of your two hand/leg exercises (barbell squat, deadlift, bench, etc), as well as grappling and clinching strength shoot through the roof. You’re only as strong as your weakest link: develop balance in all aspects of your fight/MMA fitness game for the best possible results in the least amount of time.
Train hard brothers and sisters!
Technorati Tags: Balance Stability, MMA Balance, MMA fitness, MMA Kettlebell, MMA Stability
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