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October 19, 2022 3 min read

Why do MMA fighters do calisthenics?

How can you use calisthenics training for your mixed martial arts goals?

Calisthenics training isn’t only used by people who want to master calisthenics. It’s also used by athletes across loads of sports, as a complementary training style for building strength, power, and flexibility. MMA athletes use calisthenics to supplement their sport-specific training. But why do they do it, and how can you make the best use of calisthenics as a mixed martial arts athlete?

 

How do MMA fighters train?

If you’re a fan of MMA, it won’t surprise you to hear that MMA fighters have a varied training routine. They have to train general fitness, specific fighting skills and sparring, as well as different combat sports like boxing and shadow boxing, wrestling jiu jitsu and muay thai. The focus for MMA athletes is power, conditioning, and the ability to move well.

 

schemaplus_faq_question>Do MMA athletes use calisthenics?

Yes, all MMA fighters (regardless of level) will use some form of calisthenics in their training. Calisthenics builds strength and power, can contribute to cardio conditioning, and encourages the body to move naturally. It is the obvious choice of supplemental training for MMA athletes who need to build power, speed, and co-ordination.

 

Is calisthenics good for MMA?

Calisthenics is an amazing choice of strength training for professional MMA fighters or amateur MMA enthusiasts. Calisthenics uses mostly bodyweight movements (sometimes extra equipment like dip bars, parallettes, or gymnastics rings) so it naturally trains the body to move its own weight more powerfully.

Calisthenics exercises work entire muscle groups, rather than isolating individual muscles. It won’t build excess muscle, and combines strength work with flexibility and movability which is highly beneficial to the demands of an MMA fight.

Some heavyweight MMA fighters need to build and maintain muscle mass, and calisthenics is a good way to do this without needing a lot of expensive strength training equipment or access to a dedicated weights gym.

 

5 reasons MMA fighters do calisthenics

  1. Strength: Calisthenics workouts build functional strength without too much excessive muscle mass, helping the MMA fighter build muscle strength and endurance. 
  1. Power: Calisthenics develops muscle mass, especially in the upper body and core, which translates into more power to dominate and win MMA fights.
  1. Flexibility: Calisthenics exercises are flowing and use the entire body, helping to build and maintain flexibility and mobility at the same time as building muscle.
  1. Joint strength: Calisthenics workouts naturally move the joints through full ranges of movement and different angles, helping to maintain joint mobility and health which is crucial for MMA and combat sports.
  1. Control: MMA fighters have to master their own bodyweight and be able to control their body with balance and co-ordination. Calisthenics exercises help build proprioception that transfers into combat sports.

 

Calisthenics vs weights for MMA

Should MMA athletes do free weights, weights machines, or calisthenics? It’s pretty obvious that calisthenics is the best choice of strength training for MMA fighters or amateur MMA athletes. Calisthenics is more accessible and easier to do anywhere (you can do a short calisthenics workout at the same facility as you do your main MMA training). It builds athletic muscle and functional movement, rather than isolating individual body parts to pack on mass. And calisthenics keeps your body moving through natural movement patterns, angles, and ranges – all of which will help you become a stronger, more powerful MMA fighter.

 

Best calisthenics exercises for MMA

Push ups – to strengthen the shoulders, chest, arms and shoulder joints

Pull ups – to build power in the large muscles of the back for grappling and wrestling

L-sits – to strengthen the core and hips so you can generate more rotational power

Bear crawls – to increase your balance, co-ordination, and full body strength

Jump rope – a useful conditioning tool that you can do anywhere

 

The Gravity Fitness store is your go-to place for calisthenics tools whatever sport you do. Check out our range of MMA-friendly calisthenics equipment and functional strength tools including parallettes, pull up bar, and gymnastics rings.