Training Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)
MMA is no joke. This sport is for diehard competitors who spend many hours training and practice a healthy dietary regimen. Nutrition can mean the difference between winning and losing. Train to fight and eat to stay fit. In order to reach top physical condition, increase speed and endurance, improve dexterity and flexibility, and sharpen your mind, it is essential to fill your body with the right balance of nutrients.
As any true fighter knows, being in fighting shape is more than simply looking fit. There are plenty of wannabes who appear to be bastions of physical fitness, but have done little more than create a false image, through the use of performance enhancing drugs, cutting agents, and the like. You know the type, the guy who brags about bench-pressing his own weight, but doesn’t have the endurance to walk up a flight of stairs, let alone hold out for 10 seconds in the ring. Fight Fit is a state of being, achieved through intense dedication and training, in which the optimum balance of strength and stamina is reached, that allows a fighter to maximize his skills when put to the test.
A few general rules always apply in this realm of physical conditioning:
- Never skip your warm-up or stretching exercises.
- Gradually increase your physical activity as you become stronger and more agile.
- Don’t push yourself too much when first starting a physical fitness program.
- When working out, wear climate appropriate loose fitting training clothing, and remove layers as you warm up.
- Don‘t skimp on footwear. If you are serious about training, quality running shoes are a must. Replace them often enough to avoid impact stress injuries.
- Like warming up, cooling down is essential.
- Always drink plenty of fluids and eat a healthy diet.
Training Kickboxing (and its kinds):
One of the most intense physical fitness routines we know of is that of the traditional Kickboxing & MMA fighter. Considering the physical abuse these guys subject their bodies to in the ring (destroy the body and the mind will follow) it’s no surprise that they train so hard. Only those in the best possible shape can go the distance in five three-minute rounds.
- Wake up at 6:00 a.m. and stretch for approximately 30 minutes.
- Perform a five-mile run, partially up hill, at a moderate pace.
- Follow the run with at least 30 minutes of shadow-boxing with three or five pound weights in each hand, and another half-hour of drills including knee strikes, elbows, roundhouse and push kicks.
- At least one hour of pad work follows with an instructor. The colder and harder the Muay Thai pads the better. Combinations of punches, elbows, knees, and kicks are thrown with full force and intensity in 15-minute rotations per student. When a student is not performing pad work with the instructor, he is practicing on a banana bag, partially filled with shredded tires to ensure proper firmness.
- After the pad work is complete and each student has had three or four rotations with the instructor, sparring begins. Full force kicks and punches are the norm, but elbows and knees are "pulled" except for the most advanced fighters. The instructor takes pride in being able to withstand roundhouse kicks from his students without the use of shin pads. Anyone who understands a Muay Thai kick knows getting hit with a conditioned shinbone is the functional equivalent of being whacked with a baseball bat.
- Following the morning training a meal is enjoyed and students are free to rest and nap at will.
- At 5:00 p.m., the second session of the day is held.
- This training is usually six days a week
Nutrition for Fighters
Although there are many schools of thought as to proper nutrition for athletes and plenty of fad diets that come and go, true Mixed Martial Arts fighters understand there are certain basics essential to their craft.
It is better to eat many smaller meals throughout the days than a few larger ones. Carbohydrates are necessary sources of energy that must be replenished regularly while training. Complex carbohydrates from natural food sources such as oatmeal and fruit are ideal. Best practice is to eat them three hours in advance of a workout, unless of course you are using a quick boost energy drink during a session.
Try to eat natural foods, free of preservatives and dyes. Processed foods like white bread should be avoided at all cost in that they have very little nutritional value. Go with whole grain products instead. Sufficient protein must be eaten while training to support muscle healing and growth. While many fighters supplement their intake with protein shakes, adequate intake of lean beef, fish, and eggs, will also do the trick.
Avoid soda and other high sugar drinks and snacks. Nothing packs on unnecessary weight quicker. Drink plenty of water. Deep fried and fatty foods are a no-no for every fighter who takes his nutrition seriously. Baked and broiled items are much healthier.
Watch your fat, especially saturated fats. They are killers. Don’t confuse them with essentially fatty acids found in fish. By following these few simple principles, maintaining or losing weight for a fight should require little additional effort, aside from intense fitness training.