Sunday, April 27, 2008

Top 3 Medicine Ball Exercises for Ultimate MMA Power

When you picture most strength training exercises, you may notice that everything seems to be in straight lines. Contrast that with any mixed-martial arts technique and you may realize that there is one missing ingredient to most strength programs - rotational power. Well how exactly do you develop the ability to rotate your body explosively for knockout punches, kicks, and throws?

The key is to use tools that allow you to train the transverse plane of motion. There are planes of motion: sagittal, frontal, and transverse.

The sagittal plane is the plane that is most dominant with respect to strength training programs. Exercises like the bench press, bicep curls, squats, deadlifts, and chin-ups are all sagittal plane dominant. If you move your arms back and forth like a marching soldier, this is the sagittal plane. Unfortunately, most MMA techniques require more than just movement in the sagittal plane, which means that most strength training programs are seriously deficient, if your goal is to develop sport-specific strength and power.

The frontal plane is sometimes found in strength training routines. Exercises like side crunches and dumbbell side raises are a couple of examples. However, this plane is also highly under-trained in most athletes, and most would benefit from adding some exercises into their routine that targeted the frontal plane. Adding some suitcase deadlifts and single-leg squats would improve hip and core stability tremendously.

Now the transverse plane is where the real payoff is. But a note of caution - make sure you've developed a strong and stable core before aggressively training in the transverse plane. Like most things in life, high returns are generally high risk.

If you're not stable in the core, it's likely that you'll blow a disc or strain a muscle in your lumbar spine when trying some of the exercises that I'll describe below. So if you're not stable or not sure, start off with exercises like prone bridges, side bridges, stiff-leg deadlifts, woodchops, and other exercises that promote stability in a neutral spine, then work on training powerfully in the transverse plane.

First of all, you're going to need the proper tools. The best tools that I've used when training pro MMA fighters include rope balls and medicine balls. These tools allow you to develop explosive power in all planes of motion, and they allow you to release them so that you don't slow down your movement.

Think of a bench press - if you want to train explosively, you probably aren't going to throw the bar, so you have to slow the movement down at the top so you don't let it go. Medicine balls don't make you do that, so you can put all of your effort into the exercise and maximally develop your explosiveness.

Let's focus on medicine ball exercises. Here are my top 3 medicine ball exercises for helping my athletes develop knockout power:

1) Side toss - start in an athletic stance holding the ball at your stomach. Quickly rotate to one side then explosively throw the ball sideways, keeping your body and spine tall and as neutral as possible.

2) Chop toss - start in an athletic stance holding the ball at your stomach. Lift the ball up so that it's close to your ear and then violently throw it down on a diagonal into the ground, keeping your body and spine tall and as neutral as possible.

3) Seated side toss - start sitting tall with your legs straight out in front of you holding the ball at your stomach. Perform the same motion as the side toss.

Perform 2-3 sets of 8 repetitions of each exercise, with 1-2 minutes of rest in between. When you're developing your power, you don't want to train to exhaustion, instead, you want to be fresh and make each rep as fast and explosive as possible.

If you want a complete and easy-to-follow program proven by Jeff Joslin and other pro MMA fighters that includes these exercises and more check out the Enfuzion MMA Strength and Conditioning Program.

1 Comment:

Boxing Bags said...

Thanks for this - I will try some of them out next time I am in the gym!

 

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