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  • Coach Nathan

Best Weight Room Exercises for MMA

Being a strength and conditioning coach and being addicted to weights, before I became a BJJ and MMA fanatic, I have had the opportunity to try and study various strength and conditioning routines and exercises.

Personally I do not like spending unnecessary time in the gym. My workouts are always direct and focused with my goals.

There are already enough routines, articles and YouTube videos giving opinions on what should be done in the gym. The following are my PERSONAL favorites, and in my opinion the only exercises worth doing with weights for combat sports.

1) Squats: In particular Barbell squats. The most important barbell exercise, a complete compound exercise. Variations can be used time to time, but the Barbell Back Squat, should be a stable in any exercise program. Best to build up to sets of 5 repetition of maximum weight, followed by a set of higher repetition of about 15 with lighter weight. For all details regarding the Squat, please look up Mark Rippetoe, a great strength coach.

2) Pull Ups: A great exercise for building upper body strength and endurance, and also to build the all important grip strength for BJJ. There are a few variations that can be tried here, but this exercise should be done for high repetitions.

3) Clean and Press: Clean and press which I mention here is of the Olympic Clean variety. A complete exercise working the entire body, starting with a deadlift, going into a pull and push movement. Another important facet of the Clean and Press is the explosiveness it builds. Explosiveness which is seen in Olympic sports like weight lifting and sprinting, and is necessary for delivering that knockout punch or the crucial scramble while grappling. Since, its a technical lift, do try and look for a coach with experience.

4) Push Ups – A very important pushing exercise, easy to do with a great variety to keep boredom at bay. Another high repetition exercise.

Honorable mention:

Olympic Snatch: My all time favorite exercise. The ultimate tool for building explosiveness, and strength specially in the legs, core and shoulders. But a highly technical lift. An experienced coach is a must for this exercise.

Bent over Rows/Pendalay Rows: A simpler alternate for a pulling type of exercise. To be done with a Barbell, it is still a compound exercise, but involves lesser muscles than the Pull up and is nowhere near as explosive as the Olympic Lifts.

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