Include a dynamic warm-up into your training routine to ensure you are properly preparing your body for battle.
In this 6-part series, I will briefly explain the essential pieces that comprise a complete strength and conditioning program for MMA and other combat athletes. The six components are as follows:
First is the dynamic warm-up. There’s some controversy regarding whether or not a dynamic warm-up is really necessary for clients and athletes. And while I agree a 30 minute “warm-up” is probably overkill, and a 2 minute pedal on the recumbent bike is a waste of time, I am in favor of warm ups and will continue to include them in every one of my workout plans.
The term “warm-up” goes by many names - “mobility prep”, “stretching”, “integrated flexibility training”, “pre-hab”, etc. They all take place at the beginning of a workout to prime your body for the rest of the routine. For the majority of clients, a well-designed dynamic warm-up shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to complete.
Why Include a Dynamic Warm Up?
Generally speaking, the purpose of the warm up is to “prepare” the body for what’s to come… to have it ready to roll for the rest of the workout. While the entire body is covered in this phase, I really like to target three primary areas - the shoulders & thoracic spine, the hips & glutes, and the foot & ankle complex. If we can get these areas of the body active, mobile, and strong, we’re on our way to an efficient and productive training session.
Of course, additional reasons to prepare the body with a sound warm up routine include:
Importance of DWU for MMA Athletes
It’s important to gear your warm-up specifically to your sport. Sure, just about every athlete is going to benefit from jumping jacks and bird-dogs, but I want to be sure to include MMA-specific movements too for optimal preparation. As these athletes endure enough bodily damage with all the other training they do during the week, a proper warm up is a great way for them to “work out the kinks” and focus on any muscular imbalances created by their daily grind.
We stay away from static stretching during our warm-ups, choosing to save our static flexibility work to the end of the workout (which will be discussed in an upcoming segment). The warm-ups we use are typically divided up into four sections. Below is a series of quick clips showing some of my favorite movements for each section.
1. Foam Rolling
This quick clip shows us focusing on the lower body and back/thoracic spine using the foam roller. For the leg movements - IT band, quads, adductors, hamstrings, and calves, I recommend staying on each area for 20-30 seconds. Feel free to show a little extra love to any areas that may be tighter. Calves typically are tight on fighters since they are constantly bouncing up on the balls of their feet. For the side-lying movements, openers and circles, perform 6-8 movements per side.
2. Movement (line drills)
This quick clip shows some of the “line drills” we typically run through. We have a ton of line drills moves; I usually use 8-10 per workout and mix them up regularly to keep it fresh. Each movement is completed for 30-40 yards.
3. In Place (jumping jacks, sit-outs, etc.)
Like line drills, we incorporate a number of drills into this section. This clip shows a couple of our more common movements. We perform 1 set of every exercise and complete anywhere from 8-20 repetitions depending on the exercise.
4. Joint Integrity
It’s very important to develop the stabilizing muscles around your joints. Remember, you’re only as strong as your weakest link. As stated, I like to focus on the shoulder, hips, and ankles in this section. This quick clip focuses on the shoulder joint. Perform each exercise for 20 reps.
Keep in mind that after your dynamic warm up, you should have an elevated heart rate and a good sweat going without being fatigued before your strength training session. It’s a fine line, but you’d feel the difference when you’re warmed up and ready for prime time. Once we’ve achieved this, we’re ready to move on to the next phase of our training program.
Still not feeling ready for any workout life throws your way? 1R would recommend giving the following pre-workout supplements a shot: