How can you improve as an MMA fighter using resistance training exercises? Your lower body generates all your movement, takedowns, footwork, knees, kicks, and punches. Therefore, for performing your best in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), you must develop excellent mobility, stability, strength, and power in your lower body.
We know MMA fighters for their quick reflexes and upper-body strength. However, their natural source of power is balance and coordination. While watching a professional MMA fighter, have you ever noticed their power, their impactful punches, and takedowns? Their upper body might make powerful moves, but tremendous power doesn’t come from the upper body. In combat sports, like MMA, the actual power comes from the lower body.
A professional MMA fighter knows he can’t have knockout power without excellent footwork and lower-body strength.
When an MMA fighter uses poor footwork combined with a weak lower body, they struggle to take down opponents. Unfortunately, a lot of fighters neglect their lower-body muscles. They are unaware of the best lower-body training approaches. Ignoring one significant part of your body makes you vulnerable to injuries. And that is why groin strains, hamstring strains, ACL injuries are common in MMA fighters. Just stretching isn’t enough. For developing actual power, you must focus on your eccentric control, along with explosive kicks and a rapid shifting of your body. Failure to train any muscle group can cause painful strains and muscular tears, especially when you are an MMA fighter.
Some MMA fighters perform lower-body workouts that focus on strengthening quads, glutes & hamstrings while overlooking the sensitive muscles within their hips & lower body.
Overlooking muscles can spell difficulty for performance and injury prevention. For example, the groin injury sustained by snapping kicks and quick lateral moves is usually the result of a weakened hip adductor. Another critical aspect of lower-body strength training that is overlooked is ankle stability. The ankle joint plays a very crucial role in balancing your body. An MMA fighter who once was prone to ankle injuries develops an 80% chance of sustaining that injury again. You can efficiently address this just by adding a few new moves into your MMA training.
Lower body strength training for an MMA fighter
The human body is a temple that starts at your feet and ends at the top of your head. A great MMA fighter shows no weakness from top to bottom. A strong and well-developed lower body makes you powerful, boosts your athletic performance, and makes your everyday life easier. It takes an unmatched mental toughness to improve your lower body because of the pain and energy required to do the work. Improving it might feel harder, but it’s worth it. Most people skip leg days because they want to avoid the fatigue and pain that comes with it. Here the most effective leg exercises that are sure to take your fight to the next level when you stick with them:
Your lower body strength begins and ends with performing squats. Squats are a functional exercise that MMA fighters can use to get up off the floor. This incredible lower body exercise primarily targets your glutes while engaging all the muscles from your feet to your back. But it is crucial to perform the technique correctly. Just as doing it well strengthens your muscles, the wrong move can cause injuries. A bad squat can cause an imbalance while making you vulnerable to injuries.
To perform a standard squat perfectly, place both of your feet firmly on the ground at shoulder distance apart. Make sure you keep your back straight and upright during this movement. Then slowly lower your hips till they become parallel to your knees. Keep lowering down your hips till your hips become parallel to your knees. Pause for a split second, then explode back up to your starting position.
Make sure you breathe during this exercise because it is going to suck the air out of you. Also, keep some water close by. Your body will need oxygen and water if you perform this exercise correctly and long enough. You will need mental toughness to do squats consistently and correctly over the long haul.
Deadlift replicates the action of picking up something heavy from the ground. An MMA fighter must use every muscle in their body to overpower opponents.
For performing a traditional deadlift, by placing your feet shoulder-width apart. Next, start with gripping the barbell. Make sure you keep your back straight while pushing yourself from the ground with your feet. Then start lifting the weight until you are standing tall with the weights at your waist level. This exercise targets every muscle in the body. Performing it wrongly can cause severe back pains. Like the squat, it requires a lot of oxygen and water. The best exercises cause you to breathe and sweat hard. The same reason people run from this exercise is the same reason you should run to it. To be great, you must do what others won’t and can’t do.
3. Walking Lunges
Lunges are a great strength move, but they offer much more than that. Adding a few steps to your regular lunges builds incredible strength while burning a lot of calories. It is an excellent cardio exercise. It is precisely what an intense MMA fighter needs to go the distance in a tough fight. Fatigue can make a coward out of the bravest man.
Start this lower body exercise by placing your feet shoulder-width apart. Then step the left leg forward and put the right leg into the lunge position, with both of your knees bent at an angle of 90 degrees. After that, step the right leg forward and put to left leg into the lunge position, with both of your knees bent at an angle of 90 degrees. Keep on performing this movement back and forth. Ensure you keep your chest straight during this movement and land by placing your foot firmly on the ground. As you walk and lunge, use your arms to keep you balanced or add weights for a challenge. Perform this exercise until your legs burn, then take a 30 second to 1-minute break before you start again.
4. Bulgarian Split Squat
This exercise tests your balance at its max by significantly improving your core strength. An MMA fighter needs strength and balance to dominate opponents. The Bulgarian Split Squat works very well in strengthening your quads, calves, and hamstrings. The best thing about this exercise is almost every activity that involves your lower body demands you to drive off one leg at a time. If you lack unilateral work in your training plan, you are missing the trick. Bulgarian split squat is your key to improving that. Not only is it easier to learn and master, but universally doable. Undoubtedly this exercise helps a lot with injury prevention. Here is how you can do this exercise.
Start this exercise by putting a foot on a bench. First, make sure it is about your knee height. After that, go forward in a lunge position with your torso held upright, your core braced firmly, and the hips in a square with your body. Then elevate your back foot from the bench slightly.
The leading leg should be at half a meter or more from the bench. After that, start lowering yourself and keep on doing it until your front thigh becomes horizontal with your knee. Next, align your knee in a straight line with your foot. Make sure your knees do not travel beyond your toes. Then drive up with your heel to your starting position. Repeat this exercise until your legs burn or tremble, then take a 30 second to 1-minute break before repeating the exercise.