By Sam Shan
It is no secret that fighters have some of the best physiques of all professional athletes. They’re ripped, have cardio for days and the mental toughness of a fighter is unparalleled – they really are modern day gladiators.
Most of us won’t have the time to train twice a day every day in a mix of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai and Wrestling, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have the body of a champion and the mental toughness to prepare you for anything life throws at you. Best of all is that this can be done at home with some very simple equipment.
Below you will find three sections and all three are equally important. We will show you the exercises needed to get that chiseled body as well as showing you some basics to cleaning up your diet, which is vital if you want abs to die for like Sage Northcutt. If you really want to take it to the next level you will need bucket loads of mental toughness to aid you in pushing through the pain barrier and having that never give up mentality.
This is not the time of the place to highlight every single exercise that the world’s top fighters use, but if you incorporate these into your workout you can really raise your game and challenge your body in new ways.
Now, not everyone has a gym membership, so these exercises will all be using either body weight or free weights – no machines here. Everything can be done from the comfort of your own home.
Fighters are all about being explosive and Kettlebells are where it’s at in terms of building that dynamic, flexible strength that is ideal for fighting. They’re hundreds of exercises and workouts available using kettlebells. I suggest you do some research and start using them as often as possible, but for that MMA body and legit upper body strength you need to make sure you’re doing the Gorilla Clean.
This one is a little tricky to explain, so take a look at the video below to help you understand it better.
Another must have for the fighters home gym is the medicine ball. Medicine balls have long been used by MMA athletes to improve rotational core strength and explosive power. Medicine balls offer a unique type of resistance and a huge array of different workouts and techniques enable you to mix up your workouts and keep things fun and interesting.
Grab a med ball and sit down with your back in a reclined ab position. Start with the ball straight out in front of you then explosively twist your body as far as you can to the right and then to the left, which is one rep. Three sets of ten reps will be a good start.
Tip – If you don’t have a med ball yet you can use any weight that you can comfortably hold to your chest. Too easy? Try slamming the ball down and catching it at either side to increase difficulty.
Couldn’t be simpler this one, but don’t let that fool ya, it is very effective. Keep an eye out for the handy tip at the end to vary your workouts and hit more muscle groups. Start with the med ball held behind your head, elbows bent and simply slam it down in front of you, as it bounces back up catch it and bring it back up. That’s one rep – simples. Again three sets of ten should do it.
Tip – If you have the space consider adding in a backwards med ball toss where you start in a squat position with the ball in front of you. Drive up through your legs and launch the ball over your head as you stand.
Start standing with the med ball towards one side around hip height, you then need to explosively swing the ball diagonally upwards to the opposite shoulder and then explosively swing it back to where you started. You will need to use your core to decelerate the ball. Do ten reps each side.Tip – Do all your reps one side before switching to your other side.
The thai plank is one of the many bodyweight exercises you can do to improve core strength which is huge in MMA. Start in the regular plank position and then roll your body onto one side, so you are resting on either your left or right elbow and leg. Now with your other side you want to bring your knee up and elbow down until they meet and then back again – that’s one rep.
There is no substitute for the real thing. Cancel that expensive gym membership, grab yourself some great home equipment and supplement your home workouts with real MMA training. Join your local MMA gym and take some classes. You will improve your strength, conditioning and so much more as well as having fun and meeting new people. It really is a no brainer.
Your battle to becoming MMA fit starts in the kitchen. All of the above exercises will count for nothing if you spend the rest of your time on the sofa stuffing your face with pizza, full fat carbonated drinks and ice cream.
Diets can be as simple or as complicated as you like, some people like to count calories, others like to go as far as working out all of the macros and crunching the numbers in terms of fat, protein and carbs based on their body weight and goals and others, like me, simply don’t have time for all that and like to keep things simple.
Keeping it simple is not a bad thing though and doesn’t mean you can’t eat clean and get the body you want. If your diet is not great right now then the following will be a great start for you. Nail this and then take it as far as you want.
Water – This one is easy, just drink lots of water and if you can nothing else. Two litres a day is what is recommended for the most part, but if you’re training and working out then this can be increased. Don’t just wake up, down three litres of water and assume you are done for the day. You don’t need a set schedule, but basically just drink water regularly throughout the day and you will soon be drinking 2 litres or more without even thinking about it.
Protein – In every meal try and have a good source of protein, some of my personal favourites are eggs, chicken and steak. If you can’t get in a natural source of protein then you can supplement instead.
Fruit and Veggies – Again at every feeding opportunity have a load of vegetables and finish your meal off with some fruit. Veg is great, you can eat bucketfuls of the stuff and it equates to nothing in terms of calories.
Carbs – Depending on your personal goals carbs are going to be your best friend or worst enemy. Firstly what are they? Well some of the most common and popular carbs include potato, rice, bread and pasta. If you are looking to bulk up a little then you can pretty much consume carbs at will which is awesome. However if you need to cut weight then you should avoid carbs at all costs except immediately after exercise to help refuel your body, spare protein and aid recovery.
Have you ever been sat watching one of your favourite fighters and thinking ‘man, how on earth is he still going’ or ‘what the hell is keeping him on his feet’. The short answer is mental toughness.
The fight game is just as much mental as it is physical. We see it in terms of the fighters playing mind games with each other pre fight and we also see it in the ring or cage come fight night. Some guys just will not quit and never give up.
Developing your own mental toughness will not just help you win fights, it will better prepare you for almost everything in life. You will be more emotionally resilient and able to push yourself harder and longer in the gym, at home or at work. Follow these few tips to help sharpen your mind:
Training your mind can begin the second you open them eyes. Most of us like to hit the snooze button at least once on a morning. Stopping this will help start you off on the right foot and up your mental game no end. So from now on he second you hear your alarm GET UP – no excuses.
Or better yet a Personal Trainer. Having someone push you is one of the best ways to increase your mental toughness. Talk to your partner in advance and ask them to really work you hard. PT’s often bring the best out of people because they push them that bit harder. For example they will tell you three more reps and after you have completed those they will push for three more. Little tricks like this help us a lot in terms of overcoming adversity.
Now this final one is a little easier said than done, but self belief is huge. Every time you swap out a pizza for a healthy option you have shown some mental toughness. If you manage to go through the above exercises despite them being super challenging you are showcasing your mental strength. Like most things in life it is about the long game – keep going and your mind and body will be improving daily.
If you follow the steps in this article you will be well on your way to getting that fighter’s physique, just remember to keep changing up your workouts to keep things interesting and challenge your body.
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