posted on

WORDS Dean Phelps | ATHLETE Joe Muir | IMAGES Dallas Olsen

As a professional fighter, the body is placed under a great deal of stress. Not just the stress from getting punched in the face, but the extremely rigorous training, which is usually multiple times a day, 6 days per week.

With MMA (mixed martial arts), one of the most difficult things is getting the training balance correct. They train boxing, Muay Thai, wrestling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to develop their fight-specific skill sets but they also need to squeeze in strength and conditioning training at the gym. Balancing all this without over-reaching or at worst overtraining is critical in a good fight preparation, or it can be the undoing of a fighter’s camp if not done correctly.

A fighter’s strength and conditioning is important: it builds strength, power and/or endurance as well as reducing injury risk. Using specific exercises in the gym, a fighter can improve a certain area of weakness in their game, often giving them a small advantage over their opponent and reducing the risk of an injury.

An area that we focus on largely is power development. A powerful hip and shoulder, from a strong core, is extremely important. It delivers more power and devastation in a punch, allows a stronger kick as well as a tighter, more elusive wrestling and Jiu Jitsu game. This is just one of the workouts that professional fighter Joe Muir uses to develop his power, reaction and explosiveness. Any of these exercises can be also used by everyday gym-goers who wish to develop power, build an athletic physique like a MMA fighter or incorporate into a high intensity interval workout to test them.

PURPOSE: To develop an explosive deep press, getting Joe up quickly to his feet and reacting with speed and power.
SET-UP: begin with the tyre a body length from standing. Drop into push up position, wait for the cue from a partner to ‘GO’.
ACTION: On ‘GO’, explode with a plyo push up to your feet. React quickly and generate momentum by driving upward with the upper limb to propel yourself forward and perform the standing long jump onto the tyre.

PURPOSE: to develop hip extensor torque for an explosive bridge, specific for Joe’s mount escape from any Ground and Pound.
SET-UP: Lying flat on your back, place a weighted barbell across the anterior pelvic in line with the hip joint. Use an overhand grip on the bar for control and stability during movement. Position your feet shoulder width apart and comfortable distance from the buttock.
ACTION: Focus on utilising the glutes and hamstrings while maintaining a strong, controlled trunk to drive the bar to the bridge position.

PURPOSE: To develop Joe’s hip torque and power through hip/knee extension for wrestling on the cage.
SET-UP: Wrap a bungy cord to a stable anchor behind and attach it at the rear to a belt around the waist. Position kettle bell for the swing.
ACTION: Gain some momentum with the bell going backwards and explode the hips forward. Extend forcefully through the hip & knee while maintaining a strong trunk position and finish in a fully extended overhead position.

PURPOSE: To develop a quick reaction time into a sprawl then returning Joe to his feet with speed for an explosive counter attack.
SET-UP: Stand in front of plyo box with enough room to drop into a sprawl position, wait for your training partner to cue when to ‘GO’
ACTION: On ‘GO’, drop into a defensive sprawl, then explode back onto your feet. From there react straight into a box jump as quick as possible, sticking a solid landing and finishing in a strong standing position.

Dean Phelps is a physiotherapist at Fighting Fit Physiotherapy with a special interest in combat sports. His background as a strength and conditioning coach helps fighters develop elite athletic performance and tailors specific programs to assist with reducing the risk of injury. He also loves the challenge of assisting fighters with the many different types of injuries they can face during their rigorous training camps and keeping them 'fighting fit'.
Visit him at

Categories: Training | Tags: | View Count: (5264) | Return

Post a Comment