July 6, 2010 @ 12:00 am

MMA Training | Conditioning Movements


We’ve touched on the importance of beginning your conditioning program with planning and we’ve discussed the requirement of broad fitness and skill for MMA. Let’s get into which movements form the core of a strength and conditioning program.

Calisthenics are exercise movements that are performed without weights. Bodyweight provides the sole form of resistance. This form of exercise aims to enhance kinaesthetic awareness (body control) and  has the ability to increase one’s strength to weight ratio like no other mode of strength training. Calisthenics also improve coordination, balance, agility, accuracy and flexibility. The foundations of calisthenics include the pull up, push up, dip, handstand, tumbling, jumping and climbing. The results of performing calisthenic movements are evident when observing competitive gymnasts who display phenomenal whole-body strength and control. These movements form part of the resistance exercise component of a comprehensive strength conditioning regime. The other movements use external loads to develop whole-body strength.             

Weightlifting as opposed to “weight training” refers to the Olympic sport which includes the clean and jerk and snatch movements. These lifts are based on the deadlift, clean, squat and overhead press. These movements are essential to everyday life and athletic performance and should form the core of any resistance training program. Olympic weightlifting develops strength, speed and power and requires substantial flexibility. The requirement of moving heavy loads in a technical manner also improves balance, coordination, accuracy and agility. Furthermore, weightlifting has been shown to have a significant impact on cardiovascular fitness and is proven to stimulate positive neuroendocrine adaptations. Traditional weightlifting is performed using a barbell. However the movements can be modified to be performed with dumbbells and kettlebells, both of which provide valuable variety to the training stimulus and adaptation.

Strongman movements are based on the disciplines found in Strongman competitions where the aim is generally to move extremely heavy objects either for distance or volume and as quickly as possible. The movement patterns for Strongman lifts often mimic those found in weightlifting, with the primary difference being the shape of the object being moved. Examples of Strongman disciplines include the farmer’s walk, vehicle pull, tyre flip, object carry and drag, and atlas stone lift. The goal of this form of training is brute strength but also requires advanced agility, accuracy, balance and coordination.

Mono-structural activities are your “cardio” activities that include running, swimming, skipping, rowing and cycling. While it is important to perform these activities in a slower continuous fashion such as a 5km run, they are best applied in an interval format. Interval training has been proven to be superior to continuous training in improving the capacity of all three energy systems. Moreover, interval training more closely mimics the stop/start nature of sports.

These are the primary components of a strength and conditioning regime. An effective regime will use resistance training to improve cardiovascular capacity and interval training to develop strength. Now that I’ve provided some background information about strength and conditioning regimes I’ll begin to provide samples of how to combine these components to develop the broad fitness that MMA demands.

 By Imtiaz Desai

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