The Best Workout for a Fighter's Body
There's no single fighter body type. Fighters can be heavily muscled, surprisingly slim, chubby or somewhere in between. Instead, the common denominator between fighters in all sports is excellent physical fitness. You can't get this with a single workout. Instead, you'll have to incorporate strength training, cardio and other routines into your fitness plan, opting for different routines each day.
Cardio for Endurance
The cornerstone of any fighter's fitness routine is a strong cardiovascular workout. Fighters must have excellent endurance throughout a fight, and regular cardiovascular workouts build endurance and melt away excess fat. An intense run, regular cycling or jumping rope can boost your cardiovascular strength and prepare you for the ring. Try doing different cardio routines each day to maximize your versatility. For an added challenge, get your cardio through circuit training, which incorporates circuits of weight-training interspersed with aerobic workouts.
Weight-Training for Strength
No matter what sport they're in, fighters have to be strong, and weight-training helps you build strong, healthy muscle tissue. Kettlebells, sandbags and other odd objects are increasingly popular in mixed martial arts because these weights require both strength and agility. Try swinging kettlebells to improve strength in your arms, shoulders and core or lifting sandbags over your head to improve overall strength. Standard weight-bearing routines such as the bench press, pull-ups, pushups, bicep curls and weight machines can also help you build strength. Try doing a different strength-training routine each day, but make sure you work all major muscle groups: back, chest, arms, legs and core.
Real-World Fitness Training
Functional fitness prepares you for the challenges of the ring. Rather than performing stereotyped movements such as lifting weights, you'll focus on building agility and quick reaction times while strengthening your core. Focus on moving as you workout. For example, try doing bicep curls while squatting or carry a kettlebell as you walk. For a challenge that resembles much of the work fighters do in the ring, try graduating to one-legged weightlifting. You might do a bicep curl while standing on one foot, do one-handed pushups or build up to doing one-legged squats.
Practicing Your Sport
Fighters devote a significant amount of time to honing their craft, and if you're already involved in a fighting sport, you should be practicing several times a week. If you're simply interested in copying the fitness routines of fighters, try drawing from fighting sports. For example, you might try a cardio kickboxing class, hit a punching bag or practice shadowboxing. Enrolling in an introductory-level martial art class such as jiu-jitsu, karate or mixed martial arts can help you get an even more intense workout.
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Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.