The training of MMA athletes entails many performance qualities, exercises, and methods. Sprint training is a physical preparation method that every MMA athlete can use to effectively enhance their performance.
1. Striking Speed and Power- Sprinting at a maximal speed excites the central nervous system and improves its global ability to quickly activate large amounts of motor units that are needed in the abruptness and snap of striking. Sprint science validates the "fast twitch" similarities of speed athletes in track and field and boxing. While sprinting at maximal velocity, an athlete like Usain Bolt can reach a top speed of 27 m.p.h and travel at 12.4 meters per second. When Bolt broke the world record by sprinting 9.58 in the 100m dash he reached ground reaction force of roughly 1000 lbs. Comparatively, former British boxer Ricky Hatton's punching performance was measured at a speed of 25-30 m.p.h. with a peak force of roughly 900 lbs. Sprinting serves as a great general transference exercise in developing fast and powerful punches. Use it as a warm up or workout to realize your potential. Sprint to strike fast and powerfully!
UFC star Anthony Pettis
2. Hip extension and push - I tend to over emphasize hip extension when coaching sprint speed work with field sport and track & field athletes. Quite simply, the act of accelerating from a neutral stance involves pushing the ground, extending the hips and keeping a braced and stable core. Can't the same be said for throwing punches? Bruce Lee once spoke of power transfer in striking saying, "use it from the ground up." In breaking down a thunderous strike, the dominant push leg or grounded leg has to utilize the same extension principals that are involved with accelerating and sprinting. Famed sprint guru Charlie Francis once described the anatomy of speed in an easy way to relate to striking, "Legs are for power, the core transfers that power to the arms which dictate speed." Furthermore, watching a linebacker accelerate through his opponent or an athlete push out of their athletic stance looks very similar to shooting on a take down attempt.
Energy Production Chart
3. Alactic energy systems development- Sprinting is a very cost effective way to use the alactic an-aerobic energy system that many fighters use in a fifteen to twenty five minute fight. Striking, hard wrestling clinches, and quick explosive jits attacks utilize some of the same metabolic pathways one gets when sprint training or cross training in a football or basketball game. However, I should use the disclaimer that training the aerobic energy system is also of high priority for the MMA athlete. Athletes need to be powerful while also having the aerobic capacity and work capacity to do so repetitively.
UFC #1 Contender Tyron Woodley
4. Physical and Mental efficiency- To sprint fast an athlete must understand how to harness a lion's fierce attacking mentality and yet be as smooth the gazelle that is trying to escape it. Sprinting is a highly aggressive physical task. However, to move fast one must learn to relax to allow for better speed of movement and also sustainability. We've all seen the athlete that gets caught or ties up. The exact same thing goes for striking.Precision striking is about staying relaxed and using the most efficient technique! Contract and relax for optimal power!
5. Leptin and Fat Loss - Sprinting increases the bodies mitochondrial production and jump starts metabolic pathways. Leptin regulates the amount of stored fat in the body and is a satiety hormone. When one sprints fast, most notably on an empty/ fasted stomach, leptin production increases lead to fat loss. Sprinting fast for duration's up to thirty seconds may be a great way to shed body fat and control weight. Practice this skill year round for performance and weight management alike.
Many athletes never reach their potential due to a lack of mental discipline. Producing empowered "mini-me" coaches or "mini-me" leaders shows ones true leadership efforts. The easiest way to hold others accountable is to lead from the front. To be your teams most reliable point guard or quarterback, you must have congruence with principals, dialogue and actions. Your value is reflected in what you leave behind in others. Your value starts with being accountable to you!
Here are my top five ways to produce great accountability in you the coach or you the athlete:
1. "Love Yourself"- Believe in self-efficacy. Self-confidence is analogous with a champion mindset. Before the whole world can believe you are a successful athlete or person you have to believe first.Positive self dialogue starts first thing in the morning. Even if you have to lie to yourself, eventually the chemistry in your brain will match. The body is run by those same cells, chemicals, and neurotransmitters that are all affected by your words. "I am (fill in the blank) " and "I will (fill in the blank)" are my two favorites.
2. "Compete against yourself" - Often we are so worried about social or personal accomplishment that we live by comparison and judgement. So it is no surprise that your biggest critic is often times you! "The other guy" should serve as a reference point for attributes and skills to work on. Times always change and the person you are comparing yourself to is of course a result of their very own unique process and road. When our goals become strictly competitive based we tend to lose the enjoyment we ultimately need to attain true fulfillment. View your journey as a challenge and not a competition!
3."Tee off with the putter" - When golfing the goal is simple, take the fewest shots to get the ball in the hole. Now that we defined this journey as a challenge and not a competition, lets start simply by getting the ball rolling and worry less about taking the fewest shots. Actions, small actions, eventually yield astonishing results. Whatever your first move is, repeat that move consistently for 21 days and a habit is formed. If you've ever pushed a car as an athlete or a stranded pedestrian you can understand that it does take a lot of effort to accelerate that load. However, once you are rolling a special thing called momentum helps that process become more efficient.
4. "Hard Work Amplifiers" - Persistence andrelentlessness are a part of a successfulworkmen mentality. We all understand that you have to get off your butt. However, get more out of what you’re doing by educating yourself, listening more than you talk, monitoring your efforts, and stopping every once in awhile to admire your view as you climb. If you really want to be remembered live a few moments in remembrance of those infamous 80's metal bands. Sometimes you have to forgo the risk of blowing out the amp and be bold enough to make some loud noise.
5. "Carry your 5 as you climb" - A "climber" is someone who aspires to be more, who takes action in moving towards that destination, and inevitably is persistent in getting there. Who you spend your time with plays a gargantuan role in how you spend your time . Surround yourself with both the climbers who've already been to where you want to go and those who have the same vision... but make sure they want you to get there too (don’t under estimate that last point). I love the old Jim Rohn quote, "You become the five people you spend most of your time with."