MMA Fighters need to have a steady focus on their lower body training. It’s a crucial aspect of their success.
Strength, power, and speed are all huge abilities needed in the kicking game for fighters.
These are all things that can be trained!
Too many fighters train the wrong way when they approach lower body training. Most fighters focus too much on long distance running for conditioning and low weight and high rep training for resistance. Both of these methods with strip the strength, power, and speed from a fighters legs in no time! I’m going to talk about the 5 different movements that are essential to have in an MMA fighters program.
Deadlifts are the grand daddy of all lower body lifts. Deadlifts help build up a strong back, hamstrings, and glutes. Deadlifts are essentially considered a full body exercise but I consider them mostly a lower body pulling exercise. Deadlifts are a must and they should be train with a heavy load. The best weight for a fighter to use to gain strength and power would be in the 3-6 rep range. Ideally, a strong fighter should be able to pull around 2 times their bodyweight if not more. Good form should always be a top priority when training deadlifts. Poor form can result in injury and decrease in performance.
2) Bulgarian squats
Bulgarian squats are essential for unilateral leg training. These help single out each of your legs and help build stability and strength at the same time. I like to use many different variations on Bulgarian squats. You can use dumbbells, kettlebells loaded up in the rack position, or simply just use a barbell. Sandbags can also be used very effectively as well. Either way, Bulgarian squats are a must to help build up strength and power in the glutes. Your core strength will be improved by using this exercise as well. Bulgarian squats are more of an assistance exercise that should be used with medium to light weights. You can do reps of 5-8 all the way up to 12-15. Just know when you go higher, the further away you get from building greater strength.
3) Heavy sled pushes / pulls
Every MMA Fighter should have access to a heavy sled, prower, or at least a tire that can be used to drag. These are essential. Probably one of the most important exercises to include into your program as a fighter.
These are real simple to do. Just load the sled, tire, or prowler up with some serious weight and push, pull, or drag! With these you’ll build a tremendous amount of strength and endurance to your legs! There are a ton of different ways you can use this in your program. Short sets can be used for ALL OUT power and strength or you can do longer sets for strength endurance and cardio. Every way will help build your cardio regardless. You can choose to do these before, in the middle, or after workouts. I prefer to do them at the end because they will take a ton of energy out of you. Get a sled and get to work!
4) Power skips
Not enough fighters focus in on plyometric training. Power skipping is an essential plyometric movement for MMA fighters. These do two things – build athleticism and power. Athleticism is build because skipping takes a bit of coordination to do. I’ve had fighters that weren’t able to skip but once they learned, they became even better athletes almost overnight! These build great amounts of power from the single leg explosiveness needed to perform the movements. There are a few ways to perform power skips. With power skips, you can focus in on height or you can go for distance. For reps, I like to go by yards. 20 yards is a good distance to train for when going for jump height. Then for distance, I like to go 60 yards with power skipping. Power skipping is best performed at the beginning of a training session when the legs are fresh. This will help in creating the most explosiveness in a fighters abilities.
5) Front squats
If Deadlifts are the grand daddy, front squats are the grand son! Front squats are an essential movement for fighters to also help build up lower body strength, but are also good for upper body core strength as well. The reason front squats work so well at getting fighters strong is based around how the weight is loaded on the body. When the weight is loaded in the front, your core is engaged a whole lots more.
With front squats, you build both core strength and lower body strength at the same time due to the load bearing on the front. Loading weight like this puts a ton of stress onto the abs to stay in good form. The lower rep range should be used when training front squats. Somewhere in the range of 3-6 reps should be used for best results.
These should be added in to all MMA fighters routines. They can be performed with dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, and sandbags. You can even go as far as using a partner to do front squats with.
So there you have it! Those are the Five essential lower body movements for MMA fighters. Add these into your program and you’ll see your kicking power, strength, and speed increase in no time!