The deadlift is one of the essential strength training exercises, and it’s performed by all kinds of athletes, as it helps you build strength, muscles, and explosiveness. 

With that said, when it comes to combat sports and deadlifting, there are quite a lot of misconceptions and misinformation. Many fighters believe that doing weightlifting will make them slow, stiff, and more rigid and so harm their ability to perform during fights. However, that’s quite an exaggeration, and it’s definitely a belief that will only stop a fighter from getting into better shape and performing more steadily. 

And while we know that some might disagree, it’s a commonly accepted fact that the deadlift is one of the most effective exercises for building up strength in the posterior chain (low back, hamstrings, and glutes), getting a better grip and overall more power in your body. 

In this article, we will talk about some variations of deadlifts that are particularly good for MMA fighters and what are the common benefits you can expect from incorporating this exercise into your training program. 

What are the Benefits of Deadlifting for MMA fighters?

The deadlift is an exercise that recruits multiple major muscles, particularly ones in the posterior chain, such as the hamstrings, glutes, lats, lower back, and quadriceps. It’s a full-body exercise that helps you build power and strength in your upper body, as well as the glutes and core. Having said that, let’s take a look at the three major benefits deadlifting offers for MMA fighters. 

Improves Strength 

Deadlifts are a compound exercise, which means that it includes multiple muscle groups, joints, and stabilizing muscles, so it helps you build more strength quicker. Typically, as an athlete, especially one in combat sports, you don’t have that much time to dedicate to building muscles and strength. And so, you need to incorporate only the most effective exercises and ones that typically force your body to use more than one muscle group. This is exactly what happens during the deadlift, and it’s the first reason why it should be a part of an MMA fighter’s strength training protocol. 

Increase Muscle Growth 

In most exercise programs, the deadlift is the heaviest lift that you will due on that particular training day, and so it’s the most exhausting one. Because of that, and because it recruits several large muscle groups, deadlifting is a terrific way to build lean muscle mass, especially when it’s done consistently and with proper form. 

Along with building strength in the lower body, back, and arms, the deadlift also targets your core stability and your grip strength, both of which are key for fighters. 

Reduce Risk of Back Injury 

As strange as this may sound, deadlifts are actually good for reducing the risk of back injury. Even though your back may feel sore from doing them, and you might have heard some horror stories of people getting injured due to deadlifting, you have to remember that only happens due to bad form and posture. 

Deadlifts work the entire posterior chain of your body from calves to lats, and they do so in a programmatic way, helping to protect the lower back as they develop the core. In fact, if you’re doing them correctly, deadlifts will require your abdominal muscles to contract, which in term will aid the lower back muscles in keeping the spinal column from folding forward when it has to lift heavy weight, thus reducing the risk of injuries and making sure that the spine is always protected.

2 Deadlift Variations for MMA Fighters 

While all variations of the deadlifts can be beneficial, we’ve narrowed down three more specific ones that can particularly help MMA fighters. Now, they don’t require any new equipment or special shoes, so you can still do them in your regular gym. 

Single-Leg Deadlift 

This variation enables you to target your glute muscles more effectively, and it’s particularly beneficial for those who overuse their lower back when deadlifting. It still allows you to engage all of your lumbar muscles without putting so much pressure on the lower back due to the decrease in weight. 

Band-Resisted Deadlift 

This variation of the deadlift forces you to be fast and so they work on speed, as well as strength. Here, you probably won’t be using maximum weights, but just enough to have good tension on the bar – remember, your entire body will have a lot to do already because the band will be working hard to tank the bar back down to the floor. 

Last but not Least

If you’re an MMA fighter looking for deadlift information and recommendation, we hope you found this article helpful. Remember, this exercise can be extremely beneficial, and you shouldn’t be scared of incorporating it into your strength training regime – just make sure you’re always performing it with good form and posture. 


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