Many athletes competing in Mixed Martial Arts or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu follow some sort of strength and conditioning program. There are specific areas that all fight sport athletes should aim to develop including core, lower body and grip strength. Other important aspects include power, speed, strength, as well as muscular and cardiovascular endurance.
Periodization can be utilized to attain improvements in these areas. An example may be as follows, focus on strength for 4 weeks, power for 4 weeks, and endurance for 4 weeks followed by a week or two of tapering to ensure a proper peak. Occasionally fighters are asked to fill in at the last minute. This presents a problem for athletes in the sport of mma as their bodies may be in a breaking down phase when they get a fight opportunity. This could result in a sub par performance come fight night.
So the question is, how do you continually build up your Strength and Conditioning but always stay sharp and ready to compete? It appears Cross Fit is answering this question for many fight sport athletes.
I began using Cross Fit a couple years ago when I was introduced to the Fight Gone Bad workout designed for MMA fighters. It is a very intense workout where the athlete gets a score after completing 3 rounds of all out effort. The score can be compared as you progress and improve in your fitness. I loved the pain I experienced and have been using Cross Fit ever since.
Cross Fit has a wide variety of workouts or WOD's that train the body in different ways from day to day. A normal 3 day on and 1 day off cycle may be a strength day, power/speed day and a CV or muscular endurance day back to back to back, perfect for fight sport athletes.
Most of the lifts Cross Fit uses are compound lower body and olympic lifts as well as functional movements like tire flips, sled pushes and rope climbs. These are great exercises to target core, grip and leg muscles, the key areas a fight sport athlete needs to focus on! The variety of Cross Fit keeps training fresh, minimizing monotony.
There are of course some challenges with using Cross Fit for fight sports or other fitness goals. Finding a good Box or Cross Fit Gym with competent coaches and a safe learning environment is crucial. The olympic lifts used are very technical and require proper mechanics to achieve success and maintain safety.
Many MMA and BJJ gyms are also teaching Cross Fit classes giving the athlete a one stop training center for sport as well as Strength and Conditioning. The Martial Arts gym I train at Connors MMA in Norwood, MA has been running Cross Fit classes for almost a year now and many fighters are taking advantage of this benefit.
If you do decide to give Cross Fit a try make sure to be safe and your body will thank you with new found athleticism. Best of Luck!