MMA and MMA style fitness are all about developing the combination of speed, power, flexibility, and strength. Strength is perhaps the most important foundation to develop all other areas. It is the foundation for power, and also adds another dimension to speed in your fight game if you compete. If you are really fast and elusive on your feet, yet extremely strong in the clinch and on the ground, you are entirely dangerous as an opponent. Having superior strength allows you to dictate where the fight takes place.
The development of strength is not necessarily what many think it is. It has very little to do with the amount of weight you can lift, although lifting a lot of weight is a byproduct of strength development. It has even less to do with the size of your muscles. The true definition of strength is the force generated from tension in the muscles. In other words, the more tension you generate in your muscles, and the more force you are capable of applying, the stronger you are: whether it be lifting a weight or grappling an opponent.
MMA strength training does not increase muscle mass substantially, because it does not really train the muscles. True strength training is all about training your brain to generate more tension throughout your entire body. Learning to properly strength train is perhaps the very first lesson any athlete, fighter, or fitness enthusiast should learn, because once you have developed your strength, it can be applied to every other area of fitness. Should you wish to build muscle mass, learning to properly strength train first will enable you to lift MUCH heavier weight for the 8-12 reps required for muscle growth. This in turn will accelerate your growth exponentially. Should you wish to lose fat quickly, the most effective strength training is very short (20-30 minutes) and does not fatigue the muscles, leaving you more time and energy for an MMA style fat burning workout.
The true secret of strength: The primary goal of strength training is to maximize muscle tension in the entire body, NOT to lift the weight or build muscle.
The entire focus during your strength training regiment will be on contracting every single muscle in your body with maximum tension throughout the lift regardless of what lift it is. For example, during the bench press, your calves will be fully contracted, and during a squat, your grip on the bar will be as tight as you can. It may seem counter-intuitive to care about how tight your calves, feet, and quads are during an upper body workout like the bench press, but trust me, you will be blown away how strong you REALLY are when you learn to make full body tension a habit during weight lifting.
At first, your focus will be on increasing tension in the three most important areas: grip, glutes, and abs. No matter what lift, you will squeeze the bar as hard as you possibly can for every rep, your glutes will be contracted as tight as possible (as if pinching a penny), and your abs will be squeezed as if you were bracing for a punch to the gut BEFORE you even take the weight off rack or bench, and maintain tension throughout the entire lift. Just by focusing on these three important areas you can expect immediate gains in strength in every lift. After you have made it a habit (6 weeks of lifting) to maintain full tension in just these three areas throughout every lift, you can broaden your awareness to begin maximizing tension everywhere from your feet to your traps and lats. This second increase in tension will again increase your lifts and grappling/clinching strength drastically. This is how strong you really are and were always meant to be.
Action step of the day:
6 Week MMA Strength Training Regiment:
4-5 days a week you will train two and ONLY two lifts every day: the barbell bench press and the barbell deadlift. The formula is simple: on the first day, you will work up to a 5 rep max of the barbell bench press and the barbell deadlift (that is, you fail completely on the fifth rep). From there, on day two you will calculate 70% of this 5 rep max and you will do 2 sets of 5 with three-five full minutes rest between sets.
The first set will be 70% of the 5 rep max and the second set will be 10 lbs less than the first set. Then, every day you will add no more than 10 lbs to each set of 5 until you reach a new 5 rep max (again, with the second set 10 lbs lighter than the first).
Once the new max is reached, you again calculate 70% of this new 5 rep max and begin a new wave of the cycle. Feel free to incorporate cardio, fat burning, or bodyweight conditioning exercises after strength training, but whatever you do, DO NOT lift any more weights. We’re training strength (maximal muscle tension) which means we’re training our minds to fire higher tension muscle contractions. We’re not training the muscles to induce growth so we want to minimize muscle fatigue in between workouts. Most importantly, focus on maximum tension in the grip, glutes, and abs during every single lift.
Shoot me an email with your results. I can almost guarantee you will be blown away at how much stronger you have become in only 6 weeks (maybe even after the very first workout) and how this will translate to your grappling and clinching as well as your future weight training for muscle growth and power development.
For a much more in-depth and complete strength training program, check out Power to the People. It’s especially awesome for MMA fighters because the workouts are short, simple, and add significant strength without adding muscle mass (if you are trying to stay in the same weight class). It’s even better for those looking for that toned, lean, attractive physique without bulking up.
Train hard brothers and sisters and if you haven’t had the chance, please take a couple seconds to
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