MMA doesn’t have a designated off-season like football and baseball. You may take every fight you can get, or you may try to space them out. The trick is to stay physically and mentally fit whether you know you’ll be fighting or not because in the the unpredictable world of MMA, you never know. Therefore, it is essential that you put your down-time to good use. One way to have more control over you schedule is to design your own off-season by taking regular time off. Here are four ways to keep your head and body in the game when you’re not fighting
Work on Your Skills
You’re only as good as your skillset, and in MMA you need to be familiar with, if not be proficient at several martial arts. You can always improve for each phase of a match. Practice striking for while your standing face to face, with taekwondo and boxing; work on your inside game for the clinch with Muay Thai and judo; and prepare for getting down on the mat with wrestling and jiujitsu.
No one can master every fighting technique, so it helps to pick one or two for each stage of a fight and practice, practice, practice until you’re winning more sparring bouts than losing. Another great way to prepare your body for a match is by going swimming. Swimming pools aren’t expensive, and you many qualify for financing inground pool.
Just because you’re not training for a scheduled match doesn’t mean you can slack off on your diet. Eat a combination of lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole grains if you include them in your meal plans. You should definitely still be hitting the weights at the gym, so you will need protein. Sometimes eating enough protein can be difficult. Fortunately, protein powders can make up the difference. Drinking enough water and avoiding or limiting alcohol will also keep you in fighting shape.
Hit The Gym
If food is the fuel, lifting weights is the combustion. After spending so much time honing your fighting technique, you definitely want your blows to land hard on your opponent. Not only do you want to deliver stunning strikes, you need to be able to take them as well. That’s where strength training comes in. Muscle is built over time, so training in your offseason is a great way to make gains when you’re not concentrating on a match.
There is no magic formula. You should work your upper body, lower body and core. Exercises that incorporate several muscle groups are ideal. Think squats, lunges, push ups, pull ups, rows and planks. Keep your body in good shape all the time so that when you want to get into fighting shape, you’re already most of the the way there.
As you know, fighting is more than just a match of strength—there is a significant mental component. That’s where meditating can help. At the most basic level, mindfulness meditation is focusing on the breath and watching your thoughts go by. When your mind wanders from the breath, gently bring it back, and do this simple task over and over for a set amount of time. Start out with ten to fifteen minutes a day and extend that time longer if the practice really grabs you.
No matter what, as long as you mediate for a few minutes a day, your concentration will improve because your thoughts will have less power to drag you in all sorts of crazy directions. The practical reason for mediation as it relates to MMA is that you can bring your enhanced concentration to a match. You will be more calm, present and focused. Don’t worry that meditation will take away your edge. You don’t need to go berserk to win at MMA.
You deserve time off from the fighting circuit. Just don’t think of it as a vacation. Instead take the opportunity to make yourself an all-around better MMA fighter.
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