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.