Picture THIS situation… You’re 140lbs tops and stepping into the octagon for an exhibition match with an athlete around the same weight. The athlete you’re fighting has been performing traditional judo, BJJ, Muay Thai and boxing the same as you. Where is the separation here? Sure, technique is key in all sport and especially Mixed Martial Arts but what about absolute strength and global movement? This is where varied program styles and hybrid training can make or break that contract you scored.
One of the key principles behind any program is absolute strength. If it wasn’t for being capable of performing heavy maximal movements and projecting weight of yourself or an object at a higher, more consistent velocity, there would be very little separation between athletes on and off the mats. MMA Principles fall onto a mix of this and lactic acid threshold, VO2 max and recovery mixing a variety of absolute strength movements, assistance movements, varied rest times, cardio conditioning and rep schemes to press these thresholds and make them better. Translation of these would allow the fighter to have a higher output and more explosive response in the ring.
Like MMA, there is one other sport that falls into the same principles and concepts to push the boundaries of the athlete in not only strength and conditioning, but mobility and global movement as well. Strongman, like MMA, is a “jack of all trades” style sport where having a proper balance of technique, strength, conditioning and global movement allows the best performance and output of the athlete. Lacking in any of these specific departments can make or break the outcome of an event through odd-lift movements, unique events and feats of strength and recovery. Imagine trying to lift a stone appropriate to your weight for 1 minute over a 4 foot bar for maximum reps.... Not many of us can say we could hang with this event let alone accomplish even 1 rep given the skill needed.
Much like a Bodybuilder would benefit from performing power movements through their program, utilizing Strongman technique to develop an MMA athlete’s global strength in range of motion, conditioning and speed would drastically increase their abilities within the ring, much like applying the lactic acid threshold principles and conditioning practice of MMA to a Strongman would assist in developing their mobility, expenditure and recovery during events. A happy balance of utilizing like-principles and modality would apply greatly and would look much like the following…
Phase 1: Warm Up…
3x50 ft of the following... Side Step Lunges, Forward Jog, Backwards Jog, L Shuttle, R Shuttle, Bear Crawl
1 Round Mobility Programing
KB Clean to Strict Press working to 35-40% of Half Barbell Weight 1 clean + 3 press = 6 sets
10min AMRAP: 25ft Seated Sled Pull (HEAVY)+ 50ft Sprint
Phase 2: After Warm UP... then...
Pendlay Row w/ KB 3x Max Rep at Heavy weight
Banded Lat Pulldown using band doubled over overhead anchor 100 reps
Rolling Drills using Sand Bag or Punching Bag (Please perform for 15 min, utilizing 3 min on 1 min off using a round timer)
An MMA athlete with the strength output and absolute strength of a Strongman or a Strongman with the lactic acid threshold of an MMA fighter would be a violent combination both on and off the competition floor. Appropriate application of all principles as well as periodization and specialization help develop an athlete to be well-rounded, healthy and strong on all levels. A well-balanced athlete is a dangerous one.
Written by Rob Saeva of No Coast Strength and Conditioning
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