SOURCE: Human Kinetics

Human Kinetics

November 21, 2013 03:05 ET

Eight Tips for Preparing Your Muscles for MMA Fighting

In New Book From Human Kinetics, Best-Selling Author Frederic Delavier Outlines the Importance of Focusing on Those Physical Qualities Required in a Mixed Martial Arts Fight

CHAMPAIGN, IL--(Marketwired - November 21, 2013) - Most MMA fighters understand that the strength they gain from training in a gym will translate into improved performance in the ring. But according to best-selling author Frédéric Delavier, the more experienced someone is as a fighter, the more problematic this transfer becomes. To ensure an optimal transfer, he says a fighter's strength training needs to target those physical qualities actually required in a fight.

In his new book, Delavier's Mixed Martial Arts Anatomy (Human Kinetics), the French powerlifting champion details why it's imperative for fighters to adhere to these eight principles as faithfully as possible:

  1. Fight conditions. Many of the most popular strength training exercises, such as the wide-grip bench press, do not correspond well to the strikes used in a fight. Delavier points out that while this exercise will prove beneficial to a beginner who is not very strong, it is not well suited for an experienced fighter because it is rare to throw a punch while the shoulder blades are stabilized on a bench or on the floor. To optimize fighting ability while standing, fighters should do strength training exercises while standing up and without supporting the shoulder blades.
  1. Direction of movement. Delavier warns that beginners wanting to do bench presses need to avoid the common mistake of using a wide grip as in classic strength training. "A wide grip does not correlate with the kinds of strikes used during fights, since you rarely hit on the outside of the body," he says. Instead, fighters should use a narrow grip more in line with the width of their strikes.
  1. Direction of strength. When throwing a punch, fighters have to overcome horizontal resistance, which is why Delavier believes it would not be useful to box with dumbbells, since they provide vertical resistance. He recommends using something more appropriate, like a cable machine or an elastic band that is parallel to the floor.
  1. The sides of the body used in the fight. Since fighters do not punch with both fists at the same time, it is better to do bench presses with only one arm at a time. However, Delavier notes, once an opponent is knocked down, a fighter does use both arms together, which closely matches the action of a deadlift. "Choking an opponent to the ground with your thighs is always a bilateral movement," he explains. "Therefore, you should choose strength training exercises on a case-by-case basis depending on which sides of the body are used in the exercise."
  1. Range of motion in movements. Strength training exercises should mirror the range of motion used in fighting moves. Delavier stresses that it is not helpful to do exercises with a greater range of motion but rather with a slightly smaller range of motion because it will help a fighter get stronger without constituting the majority of the workout.
  1. Types of muscle contraction necessary in a fight. Classic strength training exercises, for the most part, have a back-and-forth rhythm of contraction. While this harmonious succession correlates perfectly with something like running sports, during a fight the series of moves happen with much less certainty, often with a few seconds of rest between blows. Delavier says fighters need to practice this style of random movement.
  1. Speed of execution. "How quickly you move your weights while you are strength training should match what you do in a fight," Delavier comments. He suggests using many different speeds during workouts: "Explosive so you can throw a punch, using a little more strength when you want to knock an opponent down or flip him over, and isometric -- with almost no movement -- for many holds done on the ground, such as locks, chokes, and defensive moves."
  1. Types of strength required in a fight. Strength is a generic term that encompasses many realities. Delavier thinks it is a good idea for fighters to analyze the primary movements in a fight so that they can define which muscle qualities they need to develop first.

In Delavier's Mixed Martial Arts Anatomy, Delavier and co-author Michael Gundill provide more than 120 exercises and 20 training programs for MMA fighters of all levels of experience. Featuring the most effective exercises for enhancing the full range of combat skills, this invaluable resource is packed with 237 full-color photos and 120 of the stunning anatomical illustrations for which Delavier is famous, having now sold millions of strength training books worldwide. For more information on this and other weightlifting and strength and conditioning resources, visit

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