Why Swimming is a Great Rest Day Activity for MMA Fighters

MMA requires a lot of skill in varying types of exercise. Though MMA means spending time fighting, there are other elements of fitness to consider if you want to be the best at your game. Being a great MMA fighter requires cardiovascular endurance, core strength, flexibility and discipline. Since swimming can improve your skill in all of these areas, it’s a great rest day activity for MMA fighters.

Don’t Overlook Swimming

Swimming is often overlooked as an exercise that athletes should regularly include in their routine. Not all gyms, especially fighting gyms, have pools. However, community pools can be an option. If there’s no pool near you, or perhaps you understand the benefit of having exercise equipment that you need in your own backyard, financing inground pool is actually a practical option. It’s relatively inexpensive as well, considering all that you’ll get out of it. 

Why You Should Engage in Active Recovery

Whether you finance a pool or look for an option near you, consider adding swimming into your rest day routine. If you typically sit on your couch on rest days and don’t fit in active recovery exercises, you should look to change that. You should make this change because being a great MMA fighter requires self-discipline. 

As an MMA fighter, you’ve got to show up and give it your all, even when you don’t feel like it. Taking part in active recovery exercises, like swimming on your rest days, also takes self discipline. It’ll help you develop the mental strength and physical endurance you need to succeed as a fighter. 

Swimming Build Cardiovascular Endurance

Physical endurance should be important to you as a fighter as well. MMA fighters are strong, agile and fast on their feet. Because fighting requires quick movements at a fast pace, cardio should be an important part of your fitness routine. 

When in the ring, you’ll need to feel comfortable fighting with an elevated heart rate. Cardio can give you this endurance and help you feel comfortable at higher heart rate zones. Since most of your training on non-rest days is focused on martial arts and strength work, it can be tough to fit in a cardio workout. 

This is why swimming is a great cardio option.  Swimming is low impact so it can be done as active recovery on rest days. Plus, it will get your heartrate up in the same zones that running will, but with less impact on your body. 

Swimming Helps Build Core Strength

In addition to getting your heart rate up, swimming works parts of your body that it’s important to strengthen as a fighter. Core strength is so important for MMA. The amount of strength behind your kicks and your punches are dependent on your core. Swimming is a total body workout and will help strengthen your core, no matter what stroke you’re doing. 

Swimming Increases Flexibility

Along with core strength and cardio endurance, flexibility is also important to the fighter. Swimming is actually an active form of stretching. The buoyancy of the water supports your body as you’re moving through it and creates some resistance that will stretch those sore muscles.

Swimming Helps Reduce Inflammation 

 At the same time as swimming is giving you a good stretch, it’s also actively reducing inflammation. Where some forms of cardio, like running, can increase muscle and joint inflammation because they’re high impact, swimming does the opposite. Swimming lowers reactive protein levels that are linked to inflammation. 

Swimming offers differing health benefits than other forms of stretching as well. Since you’ll be getting your heart rate much higher, you’re building a lot more cardio strength than if you did a yoga session. The resistance of the water really adds a lot of benefit to stretches as well, as it’s similar to using a resistance band to stretch at home or at the gym.

From decreased inflammation to increased core strength and cardiovascular endurance, it’s easy to see why swimming is such an important rest day activity. Consider adding active recovery into your routine with a dive into the pool each week.


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