Strength Training For Combat Sports

Written by Jason Ferruggia Topics: Training


There is an old idea that still permeates mixed martial arts circles and that is the idea that strength work is not necessary or should, at best, be a secondary consideration. Many combat coaches and athletes spend hours and hours a week on conditioning. Often times this is all they will do, neglecting any kind of strength
work whatsoever.

I understand that conditioning is the most important quality for a combat athlete to develop but you have to realize that improving your strength is vitally important as well. Statistics have shown that at lower levels of competition, the stronger of two equally skilled opponents will usually emerge victorious. This isn’t always true at higher levels of competition but it still needs to be noted.

Working on improving your endurance is the most important thing you can do as a combat athlete. But that doesn’t mean that strength work should take a back seat either. If you improve your strength, you improve your endurance. That is because everything that you do (pick up an opponent, etc.) when you are stronger, takes less energy and thus is less tiring.

Think about this; strength work has been proven to help marathon runners improve their times. This is because they can apply greater force to the ground with every stride they take when they are stronger. And doing so takes less out of them.

So if strength work can benefit a marathon runner how can it not benefit a combat athlete where half the battle is physically moving your opponent into positions you want him in?

You have to get stronger if you want to get better and help prevent injuries; there are no two ways around it. If you are a world champion, maybe getting stronger won’t help you much more, but for many combat athletes, improving their strength could be the key to victory.

Many combat coaches and athletes think they are training for strength but they end up just turning their weight lifting sessions into another conditioning workout. I have witnessed numerous combat athletes do nothing but high rep circuit training with fairly light weights. This is a huge mistake.

You do plenty of conditioning as it is; the last thing you need to do is turn your strength training sessions into another conditioning workout.

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