Discover the 5 best lower body exercises for MMA fighters

MMA fighters must have a constant focus on lower body training. It is a crucial aspect of your success.

Strength, power and speed are huge skills that are needed in kick game for fighters.

These are all things that can be trained!

Too many fighters train the wrong way when it comes to lower body training. Most fighters focus too much on long-distance running for conditioning and low-weight, high-rep training for endurance. Both of these methods take the strength, power, and speed out of a fighter’s legs in no time! I am going to talk about the 5 different moves that are essential to have in an MMA fighter program.

1) Deadlift

Deadlifts are the granddaddy of all lower body lifts. The deadlift helps strengthen your back, hamstrings, and glutes. Deadlifts are essentially considered a full body exercise, but I consider them primarily a lower body pulling exercise. Deadlifts are mandatory and should be trained with a heavy load. The best weight for a fighter to use to gain strength and power would be in the 3-6 rep range. Ideally, a strong fighter should be able to pull around 2x his body weight, if not more. Good form should always be a top priority when training deadlifts. Poor form can lead to injury and decreased performance.

2) Bulgarian squats

Bulgarian squats are essential for unilateral leg training. These help highlight each of your legs and help build stability and strength at the same time. I like to use many different variations of the Bulgarian squat. You can use dumbbells, loaded kettlebells in the rack position, or just use a barbell. Sandbags can also be used very effectively. Either way, Bulgarian squats are a must to help build glute strength and power. Your core strength will also improve with this exercise. Bulgarian squats are more of an assistance exercise that should be used with medium to light weights. You can do anywhere from 5 to 8 to 12 to 15 reps. Just know that the higher you go, the further away you are from developing greater strength.

3) Heavy sled pushes/pulls

Every MMA fighter should have access to a heavy sled, prower, or at least one tire that can be used for dragging. These are essential. Probably one of the most important exercises to include in your program as a wrestler.

These are really simple to do. Simply load the sled, tire or prowler with a hefty weight and push, pull or drag! With these you will build an enormous amount of strength and endurance in your legs! There are a bunch of different ways you can use this in your program. Short sets can be used for power and TOTAL strength or you can do longer sets for strength, endurance and cardio. All paths will help build your cardio regardless. You can choose to do this before, in between, or after workouts. I prefer to do them last because they will take a lot of energy out of you. Get a sled and get to work!

4) Power jumps

Not enough fighters focus on plyometric training. Powerskipping is an essential plyometric move for MMA fighters. These do two things: develop athleticism and power. Athletics develops because jumping requires a bit of coordination. I’ve had wrestlers who couldn’t jump, but once they learned they became better athletes almost overnight! These generate large amounts of power from the single-leg explosiveness needed to perform the moves. There are a few ways to perform power jumps. With power jumps, you can focus on height or you can go the distance. For reps, I like to go for yards. 20 yards is a good distance to train when looking for jump height. Then for distance, I like to go 60 yards with power jumps. Power jumps are best done at the beginning of a training session when the legs are fresh. This will help create the most explosiveness in a fighter’s abilities.

5) Front squats

If Deadlifts is the big daddy, then front squats are the big son! Front squats are an essential move for fighters to also help build lower body strength, but they’re also good for upper body core strength. The reason front squats work so well for strengthening fighters is based on how the weight is loaded on the body. When the weight is loaded in the front, your core engages much more.

With front squats, you develop both core strength and lower body strength at the same time due to the load being carried in the front. Carrying weight in this way puts a lot of stress on your abs to stay in good shape. The lower rep range should be used when training front squats. Somewhere in the 3-6 rep range should be used for best results.

These should be added to all MMA fighters routines. They can be performed with dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, and sandbags. You can even go as far as using a partner to do front squats.

So there you have it! Those are the five essential lower body moves for MMA fighters. Add them to your program and you’ll see your kick power, strength and speed increase in no time!

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