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Best exercises for MMA fighters

If you’re training to be a fighter, success in combat sports such as boxing, Mauy Thai, Jiu-Jitsu, or Mixed Martial Arts, weighs heavily on your physical conditioning and mental fortitude. Since these activities can be very physiologically demanding, your strength and conditioning sessions should be equal in intensity or slightly above to ensure peak performance. Develop your explosive power, speed and endurance with these kettlebell and plyometric based exercises to keep you competing at the top of your game.

Plyometrics was first coined the shock method derived from a methodology Soviet trainers used for their Olympic athletes.
Plyometrics was first coined the shock method derived from a methodology Soviet trainers used for their Olympic athletes.
Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Training Key points:
• Always start with dynamic warm-up to properly prepare your body for a training session and reduce risk of injuries.
• Perform the following exercises in an equal 30 second work- to-rest ratio. As you become more conditioned to the exercises, increase the work time and decrease the rest time for more intense workouts.

Front Barrier Hop
You will need between two to five barriers, such as cones or hurdles to perform this basic plyometric exercise. Space the barriers evenly about one meter apart. Stand facing the first barrier and get into a comfortable position with your feet shoulder-width apart. Swing your arms behind you as a counter-movement to prepare yourself for the hop and proceed to jump over the first barrier. Make sure to land in the starting position and immediately repeat the jump over the sequential barriers. You can also perform variations of this plyometric exercise by hopping backwards, lateral, turning 80 degree or using single-leg.
Tip: By landing gently ensures your using proper body mechanics and helps in preventing joint injury.

Depth Jumps
Depth Jumps can be performed using plyometric boxes or similar stable surface between 12 to 42 inches tall. Stand on top of the plyo-box with a comfortable, upright, shoulder-width stance. Begin the exercise by stepping off the box and land on the floor with both feet. Upon landing, immediately jump up as high as you can and minimize the time spent on the ground. To increase intensity, use a taller box or try jumping to a second box.

Plyo Push-ups
Plyometric push-ups are an effective tool to build upper body strength, power and endurance. To perform the Plyo push-up, first place your hands and toes on the floor keeping your body in a straight line position. Bent your elbows to lower your body down and explosively push yourself up off the ground using both hands and feet. Clap your hands together at the top of the movement and return them to the starting position in order to catch yourself. Try to get as much height as possible while maintain a straight body line position to maximize this plyometric exercise. You can also try a variation of a plyo push-up using a medicine ball; exploding on and off the ball using both hands while keeping the feet on the floor.

Kettlebell Clean

Perform the kettlebell clean to build shoulder strength and stability, improved breathing and overall endurance. Straddle kettlebell with feet slightly wider apart than shoulder width. Squat down keeping your back straight and grasp the kettlebell handle with one hand using an overhand grip. Then, pull the kettlebell off floor by extending hips and knees. Explosively lift the kettlebell over the shoulder and catch the kettlebell on the outside of your arm and brace the impact by moving into partial squat position. Then, lower the kettlebell to ground between your legs by squatting down keeping your back straight and trunk close to vertical. Make sure to control your breathing and exhale at the top of the movement.

Tip: Do not jerk weight from floor; arise steadily then accelerate. Keep wrist straight and arm close to body during catch. You can easily bruise yourself if your not able to control the weight of the kettlebell. Start with a lighter weight and build by gradually.

Kettlebell Backward Lunge

This amazing exercise build core stability, quad and glute strength which is essential for maximizing your sprawl. Perform the kettlebell backward lunge by picking up a kettlebell and hold it with one hand while keeping your shoulder in a racked position. Then, step back with one leg ideally to get your front knee to a 90 degree position. Return back to the starting position and repeat. Maintain an upright position throughout the exercise and breathe after each lunge. You can increase the intensity of this exercise by either holding a kettlebell in each hand or incorporate the kettlebell clean after each rep as you perform the backward lunge.

Pike Jumps

Try pike jumps to build a strong core. Get into a comfortable upright stance with your feet shoulder-width apart. Begin with a counter-movement and explosively jump up. Lift your legs to the front and keep them together and straight. Try to touch your toes with your hands while you are in the air. Then, after landing in the original position, quickly repeat the jump. Try to get as much height as possible and use proper mechanics while landing.

Tip: Don't rush through your plyometric jump; always use good form to maximize the benefits of the exercise.

RESOURCES

ExRx: Plyometric and Power Exercises

REFERENCES
• "Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning"; National Strength and Conditioning Association; 2008
• "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research"; Strength and Conditioning Considerations for Mixed Martial Arts; Paul La Bounty; FEB 2011