MMA has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years. This means that the talent pool of fighters is constantly growing.
Today’s MMA champions are 24/7 athletes, taking technique, recovery, nutrition, and training into account with everything they do. You only need to look at the state-of-the-art UFC Performance Institute to see that the sport has come on leaps and bounds, boasting the same attention to detail and utilization of sports science as many Premier League football clubs or NFL teams.
If you’re looking to step up your MMA game, here are some of the key areas you may wish to focus on . . . if you aren’t already:
Do your homework
If you’re tempted by the big wide world of MMA fighting, you’ll want to do a lot of research beforehand. Read up on the sport, speak to any fighters you know, ask around gyms and generally get an idea of what you’re in for.
Try before you buy
Once you’ve done your research, you’re ready to MMA a try for yourself. Lots of gyms will offer a free or discounted initial session for those interested in the sport, and if you don’t like it, there is no pressure to pursue it further.
When it comes to talking about your current fitness levels and overall health with your trainer, don’t be scared, to be honest. Claiming to be fitter and more active than you actually are will make things more difficult down the line.
As with any sport, you won’t become an MMA expert overnight. The first few weeks are guaranteed to be challenging, but take it slow and be realistic with your expectations. Remember, the only person you should be comparing yourself to is your past self.
Proper breathing is one of the most basic and yet overlooked skills in MMA, so be sure to practice. Some good tips are to exhale every time you strike and try to get used to breathing through your nose.
Boosting your technique
Find out what kind of fighter you are
The first step to mastering MMA technique is determining what kind of fighter you are, and the best way to do that is to answer a simple question: are you a righty or a lefty?
Most people are right-handed and use their left foot as their lead foot, meaning the hand they use to jab with is their left hand. Others however prefer a southpaw stance even if they’re right-handed, and this is the direct opposite.
Experiment with different options and find what is most comfortable – and effective – for you.
Get the basics down
Nobody is too good for the basics when it comes to MMA. Sharp focus and proper technique are key to getting power behind those strikes – these are the details that make a difference when it comes to the effectiveness of your performance.
You also need to listen to your superiors in order to improve, just like any other skill. Take on board what your instructors and trainers are saying and take the proper technique to hard. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can start building on your skills.
The technique is key, but so is power. Explosive movement can elevate your MMA skills, and the best way to build explosive movements is to build up your strength in general. Focus on exercises that target large muscle groups as well as fast-twitch muscle fibers, such as pull-ups and push-ups. Squats and calf raises can increase power in your legs, boosting your balance.
Develop your speed
Speed is an essential component of building up your power and technique. In combat sports, a speedy opponent is one of the most difficult things to deal with. And in order to boost your speed, you’ll need to improve your stamina. One of the easiest ways to do this is to practice throwing as many strikes as possible during your training. Building up your resistance to exhaustion means that, when you’re in a real fight, you’ll have a deep well of energy to draw from.
Making the most of your recovery
There are plenty of tools out there to help reduce your post-workout soreness, including foam rollers, massage, sticks, balls, and ART. Forcing your muscles to move beneath the effort of these measures can help reduce painful seizing and general soreness.
Try CBD oil
CBD is a cannabinoid extracted from the cannabis plant, but don’t let this fool you. It won’t get you high, but it will boost bodily functions like appetite, sleep, and mood. It’s also shown promising results for pain relief, fighting inflammation, easing joint pain and supporting recovery from sports injuries.
CBD is a perfectly legal food supplement and won’t compromise you on drug tests as long as you choose a reputable supplier like SmartCBD. While cheap, badly extracted CBD products may high levels of THC (the psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant which is legally problematic), a responsible brand that manufactures with care and batch-test products extensively can be trusted to offer you all the benefits without any risk.
How much CBD oil should I take?
CBD comes in the form of oils, balms, capsules, and pastes. With CBD oil, you need only put a drop under your tongue once or twice a day.
Sleep is when our body naturally recovers. Both your body and your mind are recovered during sleep, so establishing a good sleep regime is key. Aim for 7-9 hours per night, going to bed and getting up at the same time every day.
Watch what you eat
Food is fuel. If you aren’t getting the right nutrition, you’ll find training hard and proper recovery even harder. Stronger bones, muscle recovery, strength, higher energy levels, and a better mood are all determined by getting the right food, so start tracking what you eat and make sure you’re enjoying a healthy, balanced diet.
Try ice and heat
Something as simple as the temperature can play a big part in boosting your recovery process, so never underestimate the importance of ice and heat. There are a few simple ways you can ease your soreness.
Follow one minute of hot water with 30 seconds of cold water while in the shower, and repeat the process 5-10 times. It might be a shock initially, but it’ll also increase the blood flow to your muscles and help speed recovery.
Ice and heat packs
Heat is great for reducing tension and tightness in the muscles, while ice packs can help to reduce inflammation, boosting the effectiveness of your rest time.
Take time off
Even the most esteemed athletes aren’t in the gym 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In order to get better at MMA and feel the benefits in your body, your rest time is just as important as your training. Training breaks down the body, but rest builds it up again.
The bottom line
MMA is about more than just showing up and fighting. In order to get ahead in the sport, you need to take a holistic view of your training – one that includes preparation, technique, learning the basics and recovery. By supporting your recovery with the help of ice, heat, and products like CBD oil, you can take your MMA training to the next level.