MMA Core Strength and the Power Zone

Many trainers focus on Core Strength and look at the lower Back region and Abdominal region as separate muscle groups which may be the case for anatomy purposes by not for MMA Core Strength purposes. These two muscle areas work as a unit to for what I call the "Power Zone". They are partly responsible for Flexion, Extension, Rotation /Anti-Rotational and Core Bracing Strength. These two muscle groups work in synergy during the performance of MMA techniques. It is this area that is partly responsible along with joint coordination and conditioning for determining striking, kicking take down and throwing power. They are also key contributors to movement and balance quality. In order to reach potential you must have an understanding of why these two muscle groups are important and what you can do to condition them during your fight preparations.

The Power Zone

 Almost all movements in MMA involve the activation and recruitment of the Power Zone muscles. Throws and take downs require amongst other things the correct alignment and application of Hip power into the movement. Kicks and strikes require this zone to maximally conditioned if their is to be maximum transfer of power to the opponent. The quality of your MMA performance and MMA Core Strength as a whole will be greatly enhanced by targeting this area in specific ways. Not only will this help you power output as discussed but you will also see improvements of your postural stability during technical performance. One good example is the side kick which requires you extend and rotate the upper body while delivering power into the kick. All of this must done with good coordination and balance.

MMA Core Strength, Velocity and Power

Velocity is the rate at which a unit in this case your limbs move, while Power is the rate of energy expended or work done and the time taken to expend it.

Power=Work done/time

The techniques you perform are therefor dependant on two things firstly the amount Strength you have to put into a given action and secondly Speed. One of the key determinants of your power is the strength of the muscles in your Power Zone.

Warming Up for MMA Core Strength Workouts

It would be irresponsible of me not to mention a reminder that you warm up before working the area of the just as you should do every session. I feel it needs pointing out to you as you're going to be working the back muscles, for your safety and for an effective warm up I suggest following some simple guidelines. All warm ups will contain a pulse raising activity. However with this warm up you need to be dynamic with your movements and should be considerate of the movement patterns you are about to use in your core strength workout:

-Rotation/Anti Rotation
-Bracingthe Core

I would also add the adding multi-angle and coordination activities will also help your MMA Core Strength workout. With all of my clients I include cone based agility and some foot work drills to mentally warm them up.

MMA Core Strength Power Zone Move 1-Cable Movements

1.Lunge and Reach
Use this move to develop Strength and Power in Punching. This is also a very good move for the core as a whole and also lower body coordination with upper body.
-Begin with the back towards the cable machine and stand with a cable in your right hand at shoulder height. Your feet should be shoulder width apart and you should be using a D ring attachment for this movement. Brace your Core before beginning the move.
-Step into a lunge position with the right leg and at the same time punch the cable forward at a face high target. Return in smooth controlled way to the starting position. Perform 5 reps of this move one one side before switching to perform on the the other.
This movement can also be performed from a standing position without the Lunge movement.

2.Wood Chopper Lunge
-Stand sideways on to the cable machine and take a D ring in both hands and feet shoulder width apart. Brace your Core and bend your legs slightly for balance.
-Turn at the torso and pull the cable from your right side across and downwards to the left side of your body in a smooth controlled motion.
-As you do this step out and lunge. Pause in this position and then return in a smooth and controlled motion to the start point.
Perform 8-10 repetitions before switching the other side. You can vary the the direction of the lunge. Only put the load up when you can perform 10 for 3 sets on each side in a controlled motion.

MMA Core Strength Power Zone Moves 2-Isometric Holds

The are some very simple movements which you will add to each workout after you have performed a solid warm up.

1. Isometric Lower Back Press
Lie on the floor with your arms extended over your head with your legs strait and feet together.Press your back Isometrically into the floor contract your abdominals and draw in your stomach. This will condition your lower back and abdominals. Hold each press for 15-20seconds. Perform 3-20 repetitions.

2.Glute Bridges with Leg Extension
This very good for the lower back musculature, glutes and hamstrings too. Lie in the same position as the above move but put the right foot on the floor and knee bent. Press your lower back of the floor and keep the shoulders in contact with the ground while you keep the leg extended. Hold this for 15-20 seconds per movement. If you do want to add equipment to this you can use a Barbell variation.You can also do it between 2 benches with your back on one bench and feet on the other lowering yourself the full range of motion in a slow controlled manner. Perform 3-20 repetitions.

3.Stability Ball Back Extensions
This is a version of the plank for the lower back structure. Lie flat on your back with your arms extended and together on an exercise ball. Press your lower back and glutes off the floor while keeping your feet on the ball. Hold this for 15-20 seconds perform 3-20 repetitions.

MMA Core Strength Power Zone Moves 3-Medicine Ball Movements

1.Kneeling Clock Drill
This is very good movement for bracing and strengthening the lower back and abdominals in one movement as it requires you to stay in an upright position with a tight core.
-Start in a kneeling position strictly upright with no sitting back on the heels.Hold the medicine ball at arms length. Brace the abdominal muscles and lift to a position holding the medicine ball with arms out stretched in front.
-Now move the the medicine ball to an imaginary clock position for example 10 o'clock hold this for 5- 10 seconds now return to the start position and without placing the medicine ball down move to another clock position. Complete this until you have performed a hold in each clock position. Build up the weight of the medicine ball to a 10 kg ball and progress to performing this on unstable bosu ball.

2.Medicine Ball Cobra Anti Rotation Drill
This a good drill for stabilisation and anti rotation before applying power through the Power Zone.
-Start by lying face down over a stability ball with the feet in contact with the ground and shoulder width apart. Your toes anchor to the floor and the ball is positioned at the waist. Brace the core and squeeze the abdominals and raise into an extended position.Your partner will stand of to the left with the medicine ball and you will place your hands in front of you in the catching position.
-Your partner will through the medicine ball and you will brace and catch it to throw it back. Upon catching the ball brace the core and ensure there is no rotation and you're in a completely stable position.
Begin with a light weight before progressing this further. Have the thrower stand further away to vary the power needed to return the ball. You can then position your feet closer together and this will require intense work from your Power Zone in order to complete the drill.

For more on MMA Power Training see this article onMMA Explosive Power. For a personal workout for your own MMA Core Strength please contact Peter for more details.


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