All sports need a certain level of fitness. And the higher up in that sport you happen to be, the fitter you need to be.
When it comes to MMA its advances over recent years have raised the bar considerably in this respect. So those at the very top of the game have, arguably, to be among the fittest and most highly conditioned sports people on the planet.
That’s because MMA demands 3 Ways To Strengthen Yourself Mind, Body and Soul, stamina and balance to name just three of the essentials for a successful fighter. And you only get to develop these by following a rigorous and all-encompassing regime.
The science of sports nutrition has come a long way in recent years. The contribution it can make to an athlete of any kind is perhaps the foundation of their fitness – and it’s no exception when it comes to MMA fighters.
What’s more, good nutrition is vital at every stage of the cycle from offseason training to preparing for, and recovering from, a fight.
It plays several roles including giving the body the energy it needs to train effectively, building muscle and repairing damage and helping to overcome injuries.
In the training phase a fighter will typically try to start the day with a breakfast that’s packed with carbohydrate. That’s because this is the food group that than most easily be converted into the energy needed for training. Bread, porridge and other low-sugar cereals are great ways to take carbs on board and freshly-squeezed orange juice and milk are the drinks that often accompany them.
Typically, an MMA fighter in training will be an early riser ready to hit the gym by 8am. So by mid-morning energy levels may be flagging. That means it’s time for some fresh nuts or a protein bar.
Lunch is a light meal of protein and carb, so maybe something like a tuna or chicken sandwich on wholemeal with fruit to follow. It’s the evening meal when most fighters tend to eat the most. Ideally, this will include at least 40g of protein in the form of red meat, chicken or turkey with no carbs on the side.
Fit, not fat
A key aim for fighters is to put on muscle through the combination of diet and exercise. Unfortunately, also putting on fat is an almost inevitable side-effect of the former. So, as they start to prepare for a fight, it’s a question of losing that fat in order to make weight and be as lean asthey can be. This will also help to ensure that their U.F.C. odds could be as good as possible. After all, if a fighter looks in tip top condition in the run-up to a fight, sports bettors will be more likely to back them.
Losing this fat is achieved by something called calorie deficit. A calculation is made of the total number of calories the fighter’s body needs each day to maintain their weight. 300 calories is subtracted from this figure and this gives the target calorific intake for the day. At this rate it ensures that the fat reserves are burnt off in the training without affecting the muscle mass.
On fight days themselves, it’s a carbohydrate-heavy menu that’s on the cards, ensuring that there’s plenty of accessible energy when it’s needed most.
Train to win
The second key element behind every successful MMA fighter is an almost religious commitment to not just training, but the right kind of training.
There are two main areas that have to be addressed. These are strength and cardiovascular.
The first of these is generally achieved by resistance training in the gym using either machines, weights or body weights. The latter can include any exercise in which it’s body weight that is providing the resistance such as pull-ups, push ups and lunges.
One specific area of training in MMA, and all contact sports, is the use of a punch bag on which a fighter can perfect their striking technique and power.
Training sessions tend to take a couple of forms, either high or lower intensity. Together they make a for a perfectly-rounded program designed to attain maximum fitness as quickly as possible, as well as a level of fitness that can be maintained.
Although an undeniably physical sport, there are other factors that MMA fighters need to take into consideration. A key one of these is their mental state. So many will also develop meditation skills, perhaps even using the services of a sports psychologist.
Nor should the importance of sleep be underestimated. It both gives the body the chance to recover from strenuous exercise and also improves concentration and performance
All of these factors combine to ensure that MMA professionals do, indeed, have very healthy lifestyles. And without any of these elements in their training and preparation, they would surely fall well short as professionals.