There are many reasons for female mixed martial artists to gain muscle mass. Stronger muscles help improve your striking, wrestling, and grappling. Increased strength can also improve your chances of knocking out your opponent while making it harder for opponents to take you down. Finally, bigger muscles can better protect some of your more vulnerable organs, such as your kidneys.
While building muscle often requires hard work, you as a female MMA fighter should be happy with the results. Here are some ways for you to grow your muscles.
Change Your Diet
Adding protein to your diet is an easy way to build muscle. Try drinking a smoothie or shake within 20 minutes of your workout. Companies such as Le-Vel also offer protein bars with delicious flavors. You can also use Le-Vel Thrive mixes and capsules to support your muscles and improve your fitness. While some athletes are wary of supplements, the Thrive side effects are minimal.
There are plenty of other foods you can eat to build up muscle mass, as well. Lean beef and skinless chicken are great sources of quality protein. In fact, three ounces of lean beef has the same amount of protein as 1.5 cups of beans. Lean beef also contains helpful nutrients such as zinc and iron.
Cottage cheese similarly features protein along with other nutrients, specifically calcium and vitamin B12. Cottage cheese is great for maintaining your muscles because it contains a slow-digesting protein. Meanwhile, eggs are both cheap and healthy thanks to their combination of vitamin D, amino acids, and quality protein.
Your diet does not have to be all protein, all of the time, however. Healthy fats and whole grains boost the production of growth hormones that encourage muscle growth.
Adjust Your Workouts
Cardio training has plenty of benefits. However, long runs on the treadmill burn so many calories that the body has to shed muscles to become more efficient. If you do cardio training, make sure you eat more calories than you burn.
You may also want to reduce your cardio workouts in favor of weight training. Body-weight exercises such as pull-ups are great for MMA fighters and other martial artists.
Obviously, lifting weights works well, too. Try targeting a different muscle group each week to build mass throughout your body. Focus on the areas that will help you most in MMA, such as the glutes, core, upper back, legs, and shoulders.
For best results, use free weights instead of a machine. Free weights force you to support the load on your own, causing your muscles to work harder.
Working out with lighter weights may strengthen and tone your muscles. However, if you want to add mass to your body, you need to stimulate the muscles. You can do this by using heavier weights. You should only be able to complete four to eight reps at a time. If you can easily do more than eight reps in a set, then you need to move to heavier weights.
Do not try to gain lots of muscle mass right before a fight, either. Your body will need time to adjust to your new weight. You should thus try to build up your muscles slowly.
Finally, be sure to use proper form when lifting weights. Performing the exercise the wrong way will not do your muscles any good.
Rest Your Body
While exercises stimulate muscle growth, the muscles actually build during periods of rest. In addition, excessive weight-lifting does not give your body enough time for self-repair. You should thus be sure to get enough sleep and to rest between workouts.
Building muscle mass will give you an advantage over your next opponent in the Octagon. Following the above tips should help you grow your muscles safely.