by Funk Roberts – FunkMMA.com
There are benefits to all bodyweight exercises for fighters, yet some are more beneficial than others when it comes to developing the strength and conditioning attributes needed to be an all around great combat athlete.
No matter if you are a hobbyist, beginner, amateur or seasoned professional, I would like to share with you my top 10-bodyweight exercises that all combat athletes should implement into your overall training.
If you struggle with any of these exercises, then you are limiting your strength and what you can do in your sport.
1. Pull Ups/Chin Ups (variations)
The pull up is the king of all bodyweight exercises and great for developing upper body strength. You hit several muscle groups including the shoulders, back, arms, delts and even abdominal muscles. You can use different grips to engage different stabilizing muscle and grip strength.
Combat Fighter Benefit: For the combat athlete you can control your opponent on the ground, in the clinch or on the cage.
2. Hanging Leg Raises (variations)
This Abs and Core exercise is one of the best for full abdominal strength, while working your upper body.
Combat Fighter Benefit: Developing abs strength is essential for both body amour and as a power source for attacks. Bruce Lee called the core “The center of gravity and the source of real power”
3. Push Ups and Handstand Push Up (variations)
This strength and muscle mass exercise is another staple bodyweight exercise that forces you to engage your entire body. With different push up variations you can develop power from plyo push-ups; strength from regular push ups and muscle mass; slow controlled negative push ups for isometric strength and shoulder stability performing handstand push-ups.
Handstand pushups, especially when you do them through a more complete range of motion, can build serious arm and shoulder strength.
Combat Fighter Benefit: Improved shoulder endurance for punches, kicks, takedowns, muscular endurance for grappling and creating space between you and your opponent.
4. Bodyweight Squats (variations)
The bodyweight squat if a valuable exercise to help build lower body strength, power and muscle. The regular movement may not be the greatest for strength and muscle mass, but when you use variations like the pistol squat or jump squats, now you are talking strength, power and conditioning
Combat Fighter Benefit: This movement will help you develop strength needed for takedown and takedown defense along with striking and kicking stability
5. Bulgarian Split Squat (lunge variations)
A lower body unilateral compound move performed with added resistance from dumbbells. Trains the glutes and legs of one leg at a time. This bilateral movement has more potential for strength gains, as you are more balanced and can bring both legs to bear on moving the weight.
The Bulgarian Split Squat can help even out strength differences between the legs. You can only use one leg, while the other helps provide stability or balance.
This is also a great exercise to prehab knee injuries.
Combat Fighter Benefits: This exercise works you quadriceps, glutes and solueus muscles are important in throwing kicks, striking, takedown and takedown defense.
6. Parallel Dips
This strength exercise works the triceps, chest, upper back and shoulder stability strength.
Combat Fighter Benefit: Dips are great for grapplers and BJJ, especially controlling your opponent in the mount or posting during escapes.
7. Animal Flow – Bear Crawls
Animal movements are based on a multi-planar aspect, which is the single move that uses a large range of motion. These are great for joint mobility and full body strength. These movements are great for upper body strength, core, legs and cardio.
Combat Fighter Benefit: Awesome for grapplers, endurance, mobility, agility and overall strength for all movement in MMA, Martial Arts and Combat Sport
8. Abs Hip Thrusts/Bridge Variations
This is a great hip flexion and extension movement that works your core, hips, glutes and hamstrings. You can perform this on your back, thrusting your legs to the air, or you can use a bench and perform more of a Glute bridge.
Combat Fighter Benefit: This is a classic movement in MMA, BJJ and wrestling when you are trying to push your opponent off from the mounted position.
9. Sprint Intervals
Sprints are must for MMA and other combat sport athletes. This helps to build both your anaerobic and aerobic systems, which you use in most fights. Because of the varying levels of high intensity followed by low intensity situations you must improve your anaerobic system to last through the fight. You also need to train your aerobic system to help with recovery in between rounds.
Combat Fighter Skill: This will improve your overall conditioning for endurance in competition and during training.
The burpee is the best full body exercise that works on your overall strength, explosiveness and cardio endurance. Sprawls are similar but more functional to combat sports where are again you are working the entire body and will improve your speed too.
To me these exercises are the best for getting into shape for all combat athletes.
Theses exercises train your body to move as one using over 600 muscles in one movement.
Combat Fighter Benefit: Both exercises are beneficial to the fighter when sprawling to defend a takedown and also improving your explosiveness for overall performance in competition.