Training Like a Mixed Martial Artist

Excuse the long break. I left a great bunch of great co-workers and a wonderful job and to move to the Pacific Northwest to be closer to family and spend more time on TOJ passions like blogging more and writing a  book about wellness.

One physical goal is to improve my overall stability and mobility, something very basic that mixed martial artists have known about for a long time. I don't plan to jump in the cage to fight anytime soon (ok, ever :-), but the way they train is useful for people of all ages and physical abilities. Many athletes, including TOJs, think because they can run a few miles or pump some iron that they must be in shape. But it ain't necessarily so.

Due to the grueling requirements of their discipline, mixed martial artists must possess strength, power, flexibility, agility and endurance -- attributes we can all use to one degree or another whether we compete in any sport or not. Everyday life offers plenty of physical challenges that result in injury, if not defeat in the ring.

I was reading the other day that the Denver Broncos strength and conditioning coach is incorporating more mixed martial arts techniques into their training routines. His goal is to help his players be more resilient and sustain a high level of physical performance throughout entire games, especially those in the last part of the season.  To accomplish this takes more than the same old, same old ten more bench presses or 40 yd. sprints.

Often mixed martial arts fighters need to attack or defend, very quickly, while exerting force, from awkward positions -- on their backs or bellies, or while twisting, or jammed in a corner holding off the weight of an opponent. To prepare for this they practice lots of explosive movements, plyometrics (jumping), and core conditioning, way beyond conventional plank positions and ab crunches. Their exercises strengthen not only the big primary muscles that make you move, but also all the smaller muscles that stabilize the entire body during the movement.

You'll find all kinds of excellent training routines, many using only body weight or dumbbells, in
MMA coach Martin Rooney's  Warrior Cardio: The Revolutionary Metabolic Training System for Burning Fat, Building Muscle, and Getting Fit. What you notice is how the exercises are designed to take you into multiple planes of movement, not just forward then backward, or one side to another. The exercises include movement in every plane, including rotation, thus enlisting almost all 600+ muscles in your body.

You don't have to be a lean, mean, macho fighter to benefit from these enhanced exercises. Check out this excellent video in which Jackie Warner demonstrates the MMA Drop Knee.

So what's the big deal? She's rotating the torso while supporting her body with asymetric points of contact. This requires tremendous strength and control, builds her shoulders and core, stimulates her nerves and muscles to stay in balance, and promotes flexibility.

Often the best exercises are very, very basic.

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