Monthly Archives: January 2019

  • 8 Tips to Help you Succeed as an MMA Fighter

    The octagon - where MMA fighters dream of victory

    To say the popularity of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has skyrocketed since UFC’s first event in November of 1993 would be an understatement. The UFC was valued at about $4 billion in 2016. It now consistently draws more pay-per-view buys than boxing and a comparable number to the WWE.

    The popularity of the sport has inspired many people to start learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in hopes of one day stepping into the Octagon. But before you set your sights on becoming a great MMA fighter like Conor McGregor or Demetrious Johnson, let's consider what it takes to get there. Follow these eight tips to becoming a successful MMA fighter to give yourself a shot at the glory. Be warned though—you will need to put in a LOT of hard work.

    Background in Martial Arts

    Even though MMA requires a mixture of a lot of skill sets (hence the name), it’s pretty vital that you have considerable training in at least one area to act as a foundation. Preferably, you started training in martial arts as a teenager or have several years of experience in something like boxing or wrestling. Often, having one go-to strength is a more realistic goal than trying to be solid at everything.

    Do Your Homework

    Take a step back before you slide your hands into MMA-style gloves. Even if you’re well-versed in boxing, wrestling, or karate, becoming a capable MMA fighter will take time. You’ll have to train every day to bridge the gap in knowledge between where you are now and someone who has an official W-L record with the UFC. While developing or honing a central strength, you need to absorb as much information as you can to continue progressing.

    Versatility Is Essential

    Circling back to our first point, the more tools you have for success, the better. In MMA, there are so many strategies that can take away your game plan, so the ability to resort to plans B, C, D, and on down the line is key. For athletes who really love throwing on the shin guards and competing, the challenge of learning unique, new moves adds to the sport’s appeal.

    Two MMA fighters in a ground and pound situation

    Let Go of your Ego

    As in many areas of life, pride can be uplifting or debilitating. When you first start serious MMA training, chances are you’re gonna get your butt kicked more than a few times. Maybe even by someone a good bit smaller or younger than you. Don't get frustrated at the defeat.  Look at these experiences as an opportunity to learn. There may be no better teacher when you're getting started.

    Mindset Is Everything

    It takes a certain type of individual to enjoy a sport where the other person wants to physically dominate you. You must possess the determination to inflict your will on the opponent. But you must also have the adaptability to recover from defeat.

    Bigger Doesn’t Necessarily Equal Better

    While bulky muscle-bound fighters were once the norm in MMA, the paradigm has shifted toward gymnast-like bodies. A solid size-to-strength ratio allows fighters to have power, quickness, and stamina. In the world of MMA, if you don't have all three, you aren't going to last long. MMA fighters don't have the option to hang back on the ropes and conserve energy. MMA fighters need to be able to go at 100% for the whole fight. Increased muscle size might give you an advantage in striking, but at the cost of late round endurance. Since muscles take oxygen, the more you have, the more oxygen you’ll require and the quicker you’ll hit a wall. Keep this in mind as you are training.

    Physical Toughness Is Important

    That said, being physically strong and tough is a pretty big part of the sport. Whether you’re training multiple times a day or trying to stay locked in as a fight wages on, your ligaments, muscles, and skin need to be able to take a toll. While a certain amount of wear and tear is a fact for MMA fighters, recognize when you need a break. Over-training will accentuate existing injuries and create new ones.

    Get Ready to Overcome Adversity

    No matter what level you’re at, you’re going to lose—and you might lose big—and  painfully. Use losses as fuel to get better, and have the fortitude to put them behind you as the next fight approaches.

  • A Guide to Maintaining Your Boxing Gear

    All your ringside boxing gear stored in a locker at the gym

    “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses—behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” – Muhammad Ali

    It never hurts to consult a guy called "The Greatest" for advice in his area of expertise. Of course, in the quote above, Ali was referring to the work he did training his body day in and day out, training his mind to be able to out-think his opponents in the ring, and developing tactics and strategies suited to each opponent he faced.  But there's another aspect of behind the scenes preparation that should be top-of-mind for boxers of all skill levels: your boxing gear.

    Don’t let countless hours of work and the money you spent on great boxing gear go to waste because you failed to take care of said gear. By following our guide to maintaining your equipment, you can place most of your focus on the the journey from boxing training, that behind the lines work, to dancing under the lights on fight night.

    Handwraps

    Wearing a clean pair of handwraps underneath your boxing gloves will protect your hands and wrists while also absorbing the sweat that you generate. To get the most out of your wraps, though, you cannot let them sit in your gym bag, wet and unwashed, after you leave the gym. Unpleasant odors are just the tip of what you'll start to run into. And no one wants to start a workout with wraps that are still damp from the last training session. 

    The biggest step in properly taking care of your handwraps is to just take the wraps out of your bag and hang them up, so they can dry out. This will help guard against funky smells and mold buildup. After every few sessions, you'll want to stick them in the washing machine to get them thoroughly cleaned up. Here are some suggestions on getting the best results from the next wash cycle:

    • Put each wrap in a small mesh bag or pillowcase to prevent tangling.
    • Since the colors of the wraps may bleed, wash them by themselves.
    • Hang up instead of using a dryer. While most wraps can go in the dryer, many boxers believe they’ll get more shelf life out of wraps that are hung to dry instead.

    Wrapping a boxer's hands with a red handwrap, a key piece of boxing gear.

    Gloves

    Boxers are fixated on their boxing gloves. A lot of time goes in to choosing just the right pair. And that makes sense, because good gloves aren't cheap, and they will be your steadfast partner through all of your training. Get the most out of your investment and keep that attachment going as long as possible by keeping them in peak shape.

    It’s essential to wipe down gloves after each workout. A washcloth and some antiseptic spray on the inside and outside of gloves will do the trick. The goal here is to snuff out bacteria, whose presence will cause nasty odors and mold buildup. Just like with hand wraps, take your gloves out of your bag as soon as you can so that they can dry out. You can speed up the process by placing them in front of a fan.

    To go the extra mile and keep them smelling good—or as realistically “good” as possible—shove a few dryer sheets deep into each glove. You could also fill two socks with cedar chips, tie the end of each sock, and then place a sock in each glove. Creativity points for the latter.

    Headgear and Groin Protectors

    For obvious reason, both of these items are pretty important. Don’t neglect them. Wipe your headgear and groin protector with antiseptic wipes and hang up to air out after each training session.

    Shoes

    You know you’ve put some work in when you feel pools of sweat collecting in your shoes. That’s a good thing. What’s not good is failing to air them out afterward. So, don’t do that. Another “don’t do” is to wear your shoes outside. Boxing shoes are exactly that—boxing shoes. Wearing them outside or anywhere but in the gym or in the ring will mean you’ll have to invest in another pair far sooner than you'd like.

    Mouthguard

    Clean your mouthguard before and after each workout. Rinsing with water beforehand will suffice. After your workout, we advise that you soak it in a glass filled with water and mouthwash overnight. For sanitary reasons, always keep your mouthpiece in its case while in your bag.

    Jump Rope

    Jumping rope is likely part of your routine in some form or fashion. Avoid tangling by taking the jump rope out of your bag as soon as you get home. Hanging the rope on a hook or hanger. Then tie a paperweight to each handle. That should help prevent annoying tangling.

  • 9 Exercises that Will Improve Your Punching Power

    Hitting the heavy bag is a key element of boxing training.

    While so much of what makes a great boxer or MMA fighter is technique, speed, and mental toughness, it doesn’t hurt to have a powerful punch. No matter how the fight is going, it can turn decidedly in your favor if you can land one devastating punch.

    If you’re not blessed with innate punching power, though, don’t worry. Making these nine exercises part of your boxing training program can help you improve in a big way.

    Medicine Ball Throw

    The key to packing more of a punch is training the explosiveness of your arms and increasing the power generated from your punching muscle fibers. Both of these techniques can help achieve that:

    1. Lie flat on your back and throw a heavy medicine ball as high as you can, pushing forward from the chest. Catch the ball with both hands and repeat until fatigue sets in.
    2. While standing upright in your boxing stance, take a medium-weight medicine ball into the palm of one hand and push forward as hard as you can. You can either throw the ball against the wall or have a partner catch it and throw back to you. You should do this as if you’re throwing a punch.

    Plyometric Push-Ups

    Increasing power and speed will allow you to make contact that can stagger your opponent. Plyometric push-ups can aid power and speed by training arm, shoulder, and pectoral strength--all parts of the body that influence punching power. Read on for a brief description of how they are performed.

    1. In the standard push-up position, dip down as you normally would but, as you rise, explode up so that your hands lift off the ground.
    2. To get peak results, ensure your core and glutes remain tight throughout the act.
    3. A slight variation to the exercise involves clapping your hands in mid-air or against your chest after you push off the floor.

    Work the Heavy Bag

    The heavy bag is training staple for a reason, so throw on your bag gloves (boxing- or MMA-style, you will benefit in either sport) and get well-acquainted with the heavy bag.

    In ten-second intervals, try to hit as hard as you can using any combination of straights, hooks, and uppercuts. Then, for 10-15 seconds, conduct an active rest time of light jabs and footwork before ramping it up for another 10 seconds. Carry these out for three-minute rounds, resting for about a minute in between sets.

    Shadowboxing in the ring with yellow handwraps Shadowboxing will help you refine your technique, ensuring more of your power ends up at the tip of your glove.

    Shadowboxing

    Although it may not seem like it, shadowboxing is great for increasing punching power because it forces you to focus on technique and proper execution. The better your form is, the more efficiently you will deliver your punches. This means that more of the power you’ve developed in your muscles will wind up at the tip of your glove.

    With the supervision of a trainer or boxing buddy, shadowbox in front of a mirror while paying close attention to technique and the way you throw punches. The bonus here is the exercise should also train defense, head movement, and footwork to make you a better all-around fighter. This is one of the reasons that Shadowboxing is a fundamental part of any boxing training program.

    Squats with Medicine Ball

    Whether you’re your training for boxing or MMA, rest assured that a majority of your punching power comes from your legs. Performing squats with a medicine ball will help give you a stronger base to work from.

    Combine Squats and Lunges

    Since full squats can add weight and force you up a weight class and lunges recreate movement patterns often used in the ring, combining split squats and lunges is a good option for efficient athletes.

    Tub o’ Rice

    Hand injuries are very common in boxing and MMA, so you need to put an emphasis on strengthening your fists. Start by getting a large tub of rice and digging your hands through it, fingertips first. You can also try punching through water or into sandbags to help strengthen your fists.

    Rotate Your Torso

    An underrated component to delivering impactful punches, especially later in fights when you start to tire, is rotating shoulders and torso as you deliver a hit. Work on creating that kind of torque by holding a medicine ball at chest level with both hands, straightening your arms and rotating your torso continuously from left to right.

    Chin-Ups

    Chin-ups are perfect for training your opposing (antagonist) muscles, so you’re not solely focusing on strengthening pecs, anterior deltoids, triceps, and other primary muscle groups used in punching. Get the most out of it by performing them with additional resistance as you go along.

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