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Wednesday , October 18 2017
Home / Blog / Kettlebell workouts for MMA fighters

Kettlebell workouts for MMA fighters

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To succeed at MMA fighting you need to be incredibly fit. You need your body to be in top physical shape for speed, flexibilty, endurance, cardio fitness, strength and stamina.

MMA fighters are increasingly using kettlebell workouts as part of their training. Kettlebell workouts train your muscles to work together, this gives you increased functional strength for MMA and reduces your risk of injury.

In martial arts you are learning how to defeat opponents that are stronger than you. If you are not strong or fit enough you may find less skilled fighters beating you because they are in better physical shape. Physical conditioning is arguably more important than skill because without strength you won’t be able to use your skill effectively. To prove this think about how difficult it is for female MMA fighters to defeat men. Even if they are more skilled they cannot compete with the level of strength and physical conditioning men can achieve.

To excel at martial arts you will need to improve:

  • General strength
  • Explosive strength
  • Strength endurance
  • Core strength
  • Forearm strength

KettleBell Workout For General Strength

General strength is the foundation for all the other types of strength. To improve your general strength you should do low number of reps with heavy weights. Good kettlebell exercises for this are:

  • The Turkish get up
  • The kettlebell windmill
  • The standing kettlebell press.

KettleBell Workout For Explosive Strength

This is defined as the ability to use energy in one explosive movement or in a series of strong sudden movements. Think jumping or Javelin throwing for example.

To develop explosive strength you should train with your heaviest weights at maximal acceleration for a low number of repetitions, usually between one and five reps. Alternatively you can use lighter weight and do slightly more reps (between six and fifteen). When doing this type of training you should stop when your explosiveness starts to drop.

The kettlebell exercises you should use for developing this kind of power are:

  • The kettlebell swing
  • The kettlebell clean
  • The kettlebell jerk
  • The kettlebell snatch.

KettleBell Workout For Strength Endurance

In mixed martial arts because you have a number of three to five minute rounds you will need strength endurance.To develop this type of strength you should use  moderately heavy weights and aim for between fifteen and thirty reps. You should maintain a moderate tempo through out each set. You can do a number of exercises together so that you do a three to five minute set.

Good exercises for developing strength endurance are:

  • The Turkish get up
  • Kettlebell standing press
  • Kettlebell pistol squat
  • Double Kettlebell squat

Explosive Strength Endurance

If you have ever watched people new to MMA fighting you will have seen that punching has turned into pushing by the end of the round. This is because they have yet to build up explosive strength endurance.

To build up this type of strength you should use heavy kettlebells at a moderate pace.

Kettlebell drills for explosive strength endurance:

  • The Kettlebell snatch ( Try to complete one hundred snatches in five minutes. These don’t all have to be with the one hand.
  • Kettlebell swing
  • Kettlebell clean and jerk
  • Double Kettlebell jerk

KettleBell Workout For MMA specific strength

MMA fighters will need especially strong hip, forearm, shoulder and core muscles.

Core strength

Nearly all kettlebell exercises will train the core muscles. When focusing on developing your core strength the best exercises are:

  • The Turkish get up
  • The kettlebell Windmill
  • Bent press
  • Double Kettlebell squat (with Kettlebell on rack position)

Forearm strength

Forearm strength is important so that you have a strong grip for grappling and wrestling your opponents.Most kettlebell exercises train your forearm because the kettlebell’s centre of mass is always away from the handle and you need to use your forearm muscles to keep your wrist aligned correctly. When performing ballistic movements there is a lot of stress on the gripping muscles

When increasing your grip strength the best kettlebell exercises are:

  • The Snatch
  • The Turkish get up
  • The Clean

Hip strength

When kicking the power should come from your hip muscles. When kicking from your hip you will be a threat to opponents that are much bigger than you.

For developing hip strength use:

  • Kettlebell swing
  • Kettlebell snatch
  • Kettlebell pistol squat

Shoulder strength

For MMA it is important to have strong shoulders in order to avoid injury when falling on your hands or in a lock.
Training with kettlebells is especially good for your shoulders since you can use the kettlebell to exercise you shoulder in every direction.

  • The Turkish get up
  • The kettlebell windmill for the sides of your shoulder
  • Shoulder press for the front, center and rear of your shoulders

Cardio endurance

The most successful MMA fighters are able to keep up the same pace throughout the fight. If you find yourself out of breath at the end of a round then you will need to improve your level of cardio endurance.

One way of improving cardio endurance is distance running but obviously this form of cardio training doesn’t make much sense for MMA fighters who use short, intense bursts of energy. This form of training could even hinder your abilities since your body could get adapt to long, moderate intensity exertion.

To improve cardio endurance for MMA you should do circuit training using exercises that require prolonged power.

  • Kettlebell swings Begin with one minute sets and increase up until five minute sets. Use a light enought weight so that you would be able to do three five minute sets with.
  • Kettlebell snatch – You should aim to complete one hundred reps in five minutes. Use a heavy kettlebell for this.
  • Kettlebell clean & jerk – complete at a faster than normal pace.


Because kettlebells train movements rather than specific muscles and because of the swinging movements involved, working out with kettlebell will improve your flexibility. This is obviously a major advantage for MMA fighting.

Kettlebell workout if you want to focus on flexibility:

  • The Kettlebell Windmill
  • The Turkish get up
  • Kettlebell swing
  • Kettlebell side press

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