While lockdown restrictions are still in effect, that doesn’t mean that your training has to stop! Now, perhaps more than ever, it’s still vitally important that you keep training to take your MMA skills to the next level. That way, when restrictions are eased, you’re more than capable of competing at the highest level.
Exercise at your own risk – there is a risk of pulling a muscle or tearing something whilst stretching. Being warm reduces the risk of injury and ‘not being fatigued’ helps too – e.g. if you stretch after a hard MMA session, do light and controlled stretches
There are several skills that you require to be a competitive MMA athlete and perhaps none is more effective than flexibility.
PowerGym Fitness, a provider of high-end gym and fitness equipment, have provided up with this article which looks into the importance of flexibility for MMA athletes. They will also walk us through one of the most popular flexibility routines that you can try.
Why Is Flexibility Important in MMA?
First of all, why is flexibility important in MMA? Flexibility is defined as the ability to move joints through a complete range of motion.
For MMA fighters, this means being able to kick higher and with a wider range of motion, as well as reducing the risk of losing balance. Flexibility will not only improve your fighting performance, but it’s also proven to increase resistant to injuries such as tears to the ligaments and muscles. It can also make you more of a rapid and agile fighter, allowing you to target more areas and cause confusion to your opponent.
Plus, there’s also the benefit of being able to take on more challenging moves, giving you the upper hand on less flexible fighters.
To improve your flexibility, there are several techniques that you can add to your training. The core examples of this include flexibility exercises, yoga and stretching.
Strength training, such as the use of a cable crossover machine, can also be highly effective in allowing you to stretch and perform resistance exercises in any direction. This machine in particular provides you with flexibility to control what muscles you work on, such as the legs, arms chest and back, while also burning calories.
While equipment can help you achieve your fitness goals, it isn’t always required. In the case of stretching specifically, you don’t need any equipment – only yourself! It’s recommended that MMA fighters undertake stretching exercises on a regular basis, ideally daily, to keep on top of their flexibility. Not only will it improve your capability as a fighter, but it will keep your muscles strong and healthy, and reducing the risk of injury.
There are two types of main stretches that you can perform: dynamic stretching and static stretching.
Dynamic stretching is widely suggested for MMA athletes as It involves stretching your muscles through motion, such as performing an MMA move. Static stretching, on the other hand, involves holding the stretch in position for a short period of time and is best for cool downs.
A Flexibility Routine to Try
So let’s get to a flexible routine itself! For this routine we will be using a video from Joe DeFranco, a gym owner and strength coach, and a popular figure within the online fitness community. DeFranco regularly uploads contents featuring fitness routines and other useful tips for budding athletes and fitness enthusiasts. A few years ago he released a flexibility routine video which is considered to be one of the best routines around for MMA athletes.
This flexibility routine is called the Limber 11 routine. It’s a relatively simple routine to perform, but is effective for achieving the core goals of an MMA fighter: improving flexibility, reducing injury risk & decreasing lower back pain.
I’ve also added a few of my own stretches, for the routine that I personally use.
So let’s cut to the chase! Here are the 11 steps of the Limber 11 flexibility routine:
- split squats
Put your right leg forwards, put left foot on a raised but stable surface (I used my bed in the image below!). Squat down until the right thigh is parallel to the ground, and push back upwards. Repeat for 12 repetitions.
- Sumo Squats
Take a wide stance as shown below, and lower yourself downwards until thighs are parallel or as close to parallel to the floor as possible. Repeat for 20 repetitions
- Foam Roll IT Band – Using a foam balance roller, lie on your left side with the hip placed on the roller. Your right leg should be crossed in front of the roller and touching the ground, while the left leg should be facing straight and slightly raised. While balancing with your left elbow touching the floor and your right hand firmly on the floor, slowly roll back and forth. Repeat the exercise on the right side and do for about 10-15 passes.
- Foam Roll Adductors – Place the roller at a 45 degree angle and lie face down with your left thigh resting on it. Keep your arms on the floor and slowly roll up and down the inner thigh. Repeat on the right side and do for about 10-15 passes.
- SMR Glutes – For this exercise you’ll need a lacrosse ball. Sit on the floor and place the ball under your right glute. Position your right left over the top thigh and keep your hands on the floor behind your back. Roll the ball up, down and around for about 30 seconds to two minutes. Repeat on the other side.
- Bent-Knee Iron Cross – Lie down flat on your back, bend your knees and lift your feet off the floor. Your arms should be laid straight out at each side. Move your knees to the left and look right, then move the knees to the right and look left, remembering to hold for a few seconds. Repeat for about 5-10 reps each side.
- Rollovers Into V-Sits – Sit down on the floor with your knees straight and legs in a v-position. Keep your torso in an upright position with your hands in front. Roll your body backwards with the lower back coming off the floor and then return to the starting position. Repeat for about 10-15 reps.
- Rocking Frog – Get on your hands and knees with your toes pointing outwards and legs wider than your shoulders. Your forearms should be on the floor. Push your hips backwards, hold for a few seconds, then return to the starting position. Repeat the exercise for about 10 reps.
- Fire Hydrant Circles – Get on your hands and knees and keep your elbows straight. Life one knee off the floor and to the side, making sure it is bent. Move the leg in a circular motion for 5 reps and then repeat in the opposite direction. Repeat the exercise with the other leg.
- Mountain Climbers – Start the exercise in a narrow-handed push-up position with your body raised and legs straight. Pull one knee towards the chest and stretch the other leg. In quick succession, return the legs to the starting position and immediately bring the other leg towards your chest. Repeat for about 10 reps each side.
- Cossack Squats – Take position in a wide stance with the toes pointed out at about 45 degrees. Lower the hips and bend your elbows. You then need to slide the hips from one side to another. Repeat for about 5-10 reps each side.
- Hindu press Ups
Shown above. Downward dog position,skim noe n e floor and push up into an upwards facing dog pose
- Rear-Foot Elevated-Hip Flexor – For this last exercise, start by standing in front of a bench or chain with your back turned and lower your right leg so it is bent and resting on the bench. Your left leg should then move to a lunge position. Lean forward and place your right hand on the floor next to your left leg. Hold for a few seconds, return to an upright position, and then hold your arms straight in the air for a fewj seconds Tilt your arms to the left and hold for a few seconds, then return to the starting position. Repeat for about 6-10 reps each side.
- Seated Piriformis – Sit down on a chair or bench and place one leg on the other so that the ankle is touching the thigh. Lean forward and repeat for about 20-30 seconds each side.
Watch This Routine in Action
Now that you’ve had time to read the routine instructions, it’s time to watch Joe DeFranco’s routine for yourself! We’ve embedded the video below so you can follow along with his routine.