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As highlighted in the chaotic build up to UFC 223 and the withdrawal of Tony Ferguson from the lightweight title fight, injuries are a recurring problem for those involved in mixed martial arts. In terms of MMA competition, athletes are subjected to high-intensity striking, and concussions, contusions and lacerations are frequently experienced by the participants.

MMA attracts people from all walks of life and the increasing popularity of the sport has attracted more and more people. However, for those starting off in the sport, the fitness requirements and the intensity of training can come as a bit of a shock. It is one thing to watch and enjoy the spectacle of MMA combat, but it is another thing entirely to participate and subject yourself to the physical and mental strain.

Most injuries associated with MMA are those suffered in training. MMA demands more of the human body than any other sport and therefore, it is important to be in the best possible physical shape to meet those demands.

The importance of physical fitness in MMA training

There are three major factors to MMA training that (if nurtured properly) are essential to your development as a mixed martial artist: strength, mobility and flexibility. These three factors are the foundation on which you will build your fitness and performance; making you more athletic and helping you reach your training goals.

Strength – this skill set is the most accessible and easy to attain. Strength conditioning exercises such as press ups, pull ups, planks and weight training can be practised and perfected at home or in the gym. There are numerous online training programs and YouTube tutorial videos to help you with building up your strength. It is important to recognise that ‘mirror muscles’ are not the desired end goal here. The aim is to build core strength which is spread to all muscle groups around the body.

Mobility – the development of mobility can often be neglected. Strength is attractive and can lead to people focusing too much on its importance. To be mobile and to incorporate key movements into performance can be the difference between success and failure. The more flexible you are the easier it will be to execute a particular technique. Poor mobility can mean limited performance – particularly the impingement of movements in joints around the shoulders and hips. Both Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu place enormous strain on the joints and making these as supple and as mobile as possible is of paramount importance to both injury prevention but also performance. One way of improving mobility around the joints is through Myofascial release and there are a number of YouTube tutorial videos on this form of training.

Flexibility – a range of motion is essential for the martial artist as you slip through an array of different disciplines from Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu, boxing, kickboxing and wrestling. Having the flexibility to perform the various techniques associated with these disciplines is integral to you mastering the required movements. Particular attention needs to be made to the range of motion in a joint and the length of the muscles that cross the joint. Thorough stretching exercises are brilliant for improving flexibility while yoga and Pilates can add both flexibility and strength. Flexibility training can be done easily at home and, once again, there are a number of tutorial videos available online.

How MMA Academy’s development programme will help you with injury prevention

MMA is a combat sport and therefore injuries are inevitable however, there are certain things we can do together to make sure that we significantly reduce the prospect of injury. There is no expectation that you will be pushing your body to the limits of a full-time athlete but there are still significant demands which you must be aware of.

The first three months of MMA Academy’s development programme are dedicated to honing technique and achieving the required level of fitness. Each class begins with a thorough warm up session and our instructors pace the class to get you to reach peak performance and then bring you to recovery. In addition, our instructors are always at hand to offer advice around diet and exercises that will improve your fitness as well as improving your technique.

The three factors mentioned above will help you attain a level of fitness that should help you prevent injuries as you embark on MMA training. Understanding your body and what it is capable of is very important. One of the benefits of our MMA Academy beginner’s programme is that we have foundation classes in both Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai every week day and therefore you can plan what training programme is best suited to you. Eating well and regular cardiovascular exercise such as running, cycling and swimming will help you attain a rounded level of fitness which will stand you in good stead.

So, if you are considering training in mixed martial arts, our development programme might just be the thing you are looking for. Please see here for further details or contact us and we will be happy to help you.