Kettlebell Workouts For Fighters

Maria Garcia
• Thursday, 31 December, 2020
• 12 min read

Kettle bell training is the perfect tool for MMA fighter workouts because it can offer such a diverse collection of benefits from improving your strength and power, to better endurance and injury prevention. Using kettle bell training correctly will enable you to strike a balance between enhancing your explosive power while at the same time stretching your cardio capacity.

kettlebell workouts workout mma fighters single strength leg fighter program power core challenge objective introduce
(Source: kettlebellsworkouts.com)


Kettle bells offer a truly practical solution to improving your performance in the ring while at the same time avoiding burn out and stopping niggling injuries often related to over training. Movements used during an MMA fight are very mixed including: balancing on one leg, split stances, jumps, core rotations, floor scrambles, and uncomfortably forced mobility positions.

MMA fighters also need to stay lean and not carry any worthless muscle mass that would stop them from making competition weight or slow them down during combat. Kettle bell training, unlike bodybuilding, relies on full body, integrated movements that will connect head to toe through your kinetic chain, great for generating kicking and punching power along with grappling strength.

Plus if you use the correct kettle bell exercises you can also better stabilize and mobilize your joints to prevent injury and generate better strength through your full range of movement. Below I have included 4 workout categories : Preparation, Cardio Endurance, Strength and Explosive Power.

The cardio endurance phase will develop your aerobic capacity and anaerobic threshold, meaning you can last for longer and tolerate more lactic acid when the going gets touch. These workouts can be performed by themselves to replace a regular cardio session but with the bonus of adding more transferable benefits.

The strength phase will condition your full body using the MMA fighters natural movement patterns. You will develop practical strength that you can transfer to all movement within the ring while at the same time reducing injury potential.

kettlebell workouts workout mma mobility shoulder stability core fighters hip fun kettlebellsworkouts ift tt
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Explosive workouts for MMA need to be used carefully because they have the potential to cause injury if overdone or with a weak strength base. A word of warning : many fighters over train reducing their appetite for combat and causing niggling and debilitating injuries.

Mobility is also important for the fighter because a full range of movement means a longer reach, more power and a reduction in injury. The objective of this kettle bell workout is to introduce you to a series of movements that will challenge your single leg stability, shoulder mobility, and rotational core strength.

As most MMA movements involve 100’s of muscles at a time the unconditioned fighter will get tired very quickly. It is possible to use a combination of kettle bell and body weight exercises that will not only enhance your aerobic capacity and anaerobic threshold but also have transferable skills for MMA fighters.

Two Handed Kettle bell Swings x 20 reps Breakdancer Push Ups x 10 alternating sides Repeat for 5 minutes then rest 60 seconds The two handed kettle bell swing will develop your triple extension, hips, knees and ankles, along with full body condition.

Your grip strength, shoulder stability and full body condition will be developed with the one handed kettle bell swing. Squat thrusts will improve core strength through flexion and stabilization while at the same time ramping up your heart rate.

kettlebell mma workouts workout strength fighters core routines kettlebellsworkouts fun
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This kettlebellworkouts for your endurance uses the kettle bell swing to strengthen your hip extension, the bob and weave to improve your lateral movement skills and burpees to ramp up the cardio effect. A fun kettle bell workout that involves some major changing in positions from lunging, to rolling and finally front stabilization.

The changing in positions from standing to being on the floor will quickly increase your heart rate while at the same time strengthening your body in the various movement patterns. The kettle bell thruster will develop full body condition from head to toe while the high knees exercise increases speed.

A solid strength foundation also means a reduction in injury along with an increase in potential power production. For this kettle bell workout you will improve your single leg strength as well as pulling, pushing and forward flexion.

Pistol squats are very demanding, but they can be practiced using just body weight and holding a Tax or band in order to assist the movement. The inverted row exercise will help improve pulling strength and balance out all the excessive pushing that is often performed in the gym.

Your core muscles will equally be challenged as the overhead lunge connects upper body to lower and the renegade row works on stabilizing strength. Power is basically producing strength as quickly as possible, which is ultimately what all MMA fighters should be looking to achieve.

kettlebell exercises fighters ideal mma workout body conditioning
(Source: mmalife.com)

Those who fail to build an adequate strength foundation or lack stability or mobility can easily get hurt. For example: with Squats you would lower slowly with control, pause at the bottom and then explode as quickly as possible to the top.

All three exercises: the Snatch, Double Swings and Cleans will overload and increase your hip extension and pulling power. One of my favorite single arm explosive power kettlebellworkouts involves 3 exercises that focus on the dead lift movement pattern.

Above I have listed 17 kettlebellworkouts for MMA fighters and those interested in improving their performance inside the ring. Using the above workouts will enable the MMA fighter to simultaneously develop strength and power while improving cardio and endurance.

This is especially true for fighters ---who need to work on mobility, dynamic range, and overall structural strength in order to compete and win. For example, ballistic training is exceptional for recruiting your fast twitch muscle fibers.

That's important because this specific type of muscle fiber is integral for anaerobic power and explosive strength needed in combat sports. Strong and mobile hips enable you to kick harder, punch faster, and retain your guard better.

workouts kettlebell mma fighters strength single explosive reps sets
(Source: kettlebellsworkouts.com)

This translates well to any athletic pursuits that require balance and strength, such as grappling, kickboxing, etc. Adding some kettle bell variations let you mix things up, invoke some fun and creativity, and expand the range of movement in your routine so you're targeting more muscle groups for a full body workout.

Functional fitness refers to any movements that strengthen your approach to everyday living, and especially emphasizes motion, twisting, bending, etc. Kettle bells by their very nature require dynamic movements that enhance functional strength.

Because all kettlebellworkouts are dynamic, you need to be fully aware of your coordination and body movements. This enhances proprioception, which is your mindfulness of how your body and joints are moving through space, and brings with it numerous benefits to your martial arts, such as enhancing your reaction timing to an opponent’s moves.

Because they're ballistic and require explosive movements, you'll be improving your cardio endurance, your strength, and your flexibility/mobility. If you want to enjoy all these benefits of kettle bell training to enhance your fight game, try the following 12 exercises for a full body workout today.

The goal is to build functional strength and work your cardiovascular system so that it translates in the ring. In general, all kettle bell exercises hit a wide range of muscle groups throughout your entire body.

workouts kettlebell mma fighters strength single explosive power leg
(Source: kettlebellsworkouts.com)

Below are some of the most effective exercises for a full body workout, broken up into specific key areas. Stand vertical with your feet a shoulder’s width apart and your knees slightly bent.

Push your hips backward while dropping the kettle bell between your two legs, then with explosive force, push your hips forward while swinging your arms up and above your head whilst gripping the kettle bell tight. For the best results, keep your glutes contracted and tight, and your core sucked in towards your spine, while completing the swing.

Stand tall with your feet close together and a kettle bell held in front of your body with your right hand. Lunge forward with your left foot while pressing your right hand into the air with the kettle bell.

Pause, then return to the starting position and repeat, alternating to your right foot and left arm. Muscle Focus: Your core throughout all movements, as well as your shoulders, upper and lower back, arms, butt and legs.

Stand tall with your feet spaced apart slightly wider than your hip width. As you stand, push down into your feet while raising the kettle bell up to your upper chest.

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Muscle Focus: Your upper back, your core, and your shoulders, chest and arms From a squat position, hold the kettlebells, so they're resting on the back of your shoulders.

Contract your core and glutes, and get down into a deep squat while maintaining the kettle bell ’s position. This workout also activates your full body, including your arms and core.

While contracting your core, walk for 15 to 20 feet with the kettle bells hanging by your side. Lie facing the ceiling with your arms straight or, if you have lower back pain, your knees slightly bent.

Forcefully propel yourself upward, straightening your legs while pulling the kettle bell up to your shoulder. Muscle Focus: Your entire body but especially your core, shoulders, arms and chest.

Push the kettle bells toward the ceiling until your arms are straight, then return to the starting position. With a kettle bell pressed against your chest and your legs and hips steady, contract your abs and lift your shoulder upward until you’re sitting up.

kettlebell mma workouts fighters strength stability shoulder grip condition body
(Source: kettlebellsworkouts.com)

In my own gym we have a collection of fantastic coaches, each one an expert in their field having been, or having produced, champion fighters. But it seems to be a common theme, especially with older coaches, that weight training will steal your speed, leave you slow and muscle-bound.

In these circles it was common to hear the advice to “borrow force from the earth,” which is a poetic way of saying that a strike starts by pressing the foot into the floor. If I “borrow” this force, load it into the Achilles tendon which springs back extending the ankle, the force continues up the leg extending the knee and hip, it then hits the waist turning it and whipping the shoulder forward; this propels the arm out and into the other geezers mush sending him to sleep. The push up, while a great exercise, focuses on the very end of the action.

For the rest of the muscles in the sequence, it is a good idea to ignore the coach and hit the weight room. They strut onto the mat with puffed up chests and bulging arms but half an hour later they are shot, tired, and gasping for breath.

But bodybuilding is a purely aesthetic endeavor; it builds a pleasing appearance but has little, if any, carryover to athletic performance. Strength training for a fighter must revolve around improving the performance in the ring, anything that takes away from this must be dropped without a second thought.

This has lead to the development of some very efficient training methods which have taken many average fighters and turned them into exceptional ones. Earlier in the article we talked about borrowing force from the ground and how the body extends up and out into a knockout punch.

kettlebell workouts fighters mma workout core stability shoulder strength movements power mobility integration hip
(Source: kettlebellsworkouts.com)

The most efficient exercises that develop this skill are the ones that call for hip extensions, like the squat, the dead lift and their variations. If you’re a grapple, don’t worry about the squat, the dead lift and its brothers, high pulls and power cleans are the lifts for you.

To avoid the bodybuilder trap of becoming slow, tight and inflexible, it is vital to work through a full range of motion keeping the reps low, the rest periods long and lifts as explosive as possible. Lift a heavy weight as fast as humanly possible then rest as long as it takes to be able to do it again with good form.

Training with higher reps and shorter rest periods is less effective for building brute strength and power but more effective for adding mass to the body, something you need to be careful of if you compete in a weight class. I tend to keep single leg work for more advanced athletes and even than they only do it once per week.

I find the standard squat and dead lift are better for developing full body explosive power. I started asking myself if there was a better way and, almost by accident, I stumbled across the power circuit format and both my strength and endurance improved immediately.

Power circuits are built around your main lift for that day, usually a front squat or a dead lift. You then add 1 to 3 other drills, not so many that you’ll be too exhausted to improve the main lift, but enough that the whole body is covered in a variety of ways.

workouts kettlebell mma fighters swing burpees weave bob strength power endurance uses
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The other drills are usually upper body and core focused but on occasion it is nice to use contrast exercises (alternate between dead lifts and heavy kettle bell swings and see how you enjoy walking the next day!) When choosing the other exercises to put into these circuits, I find it beneficial to see what kind of movements the fighters are performing in their regular training.

Our kickboxing coach loves planks, press-ups, and leg raises, so I stay away from them to avoid over use in these patterns. The BJJ coach is all about forward flexion of the spine, which is understandable given the art, so I give the guys drills that counter these movements and keep the body balanced. For upper body pushing, rather than standard push-ups, I use Hindu and dive bomber push-ups as they both hit the shoulder in a more holistic manner while also extending the spine. I also teach them the one arm clean and jerk with a kettle bell, quite possibly the finest lift any fighter can employ in their training as it teaches power generation from the ground up.

This works the entire body through a variety of movements and rep ranges, developing strength and stability through the core, shoulder endurance, and teaches the body to generate huge amount of power from the ground up with both the heavy dead lifts and repetition clean & jerk. It forces newbies to take a good long rest between squat sets, especially if they’re still mastering technique.

As stated these workouts can be done in as little as half an hour, so are perfectly suited to slot into the routine of even the busiest combat athlete. Depending on the athlete’s level and needs 2 or 3 of these circuits per week will work wonders for their strength and conditioning.

If they still want to go out do hundreds of push-ups and run a 10 km every morning, ask them to give you 4 weeks of this training and see how they feel. Their road work should be kept to a single long steady jog with chilled out tunes playing on the iPod to help them recover and relax the head.

kettlebell mma workout bob cardio swing training workouts kettlebellsworkouts trainer fighter swings
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By the end of the month, their ability keep dropping bombs into the later rounds will have significantly improved, and they’ll never doubt you again. As an MMA fighter, you need all the explosive strength and power that you can muster without adding an ounce of weight.

Focus: Strength, Conditioning Difficulty: Moderate to Advanced Duration: 6 Weeks Equipment: Kettle bells, Battle Rings, Jump Rope Your training needs to be straight to the point and all about one thing: making you stronger in the ring.

Anything that takes away from this must be dropped without a second thought, especially when you are in the middle of a preflight training cycle. This workout plan will help you build an iron core and shoulders that will last and last.

The explosive strength you will develop will help you slam your opponents into the ground. You decide the outcome of your next match right now by embarking on this 6-week program.

MMA athletes must maintain full body strength while cutting weight during fight prep. This strength circuit combines kettle bell training sets that will hit your entire body.

mma kettlebell fighters workouts workout dynamic strength challenging leg solid build
(Source: kettlebellsworkouts.com)

Kettle bell Workout 1 will not only increase strength with the use of kettle bells, but power up your endurance and increase mobility with the help of battle ring and jump rope training, To avoid the bodybuilder trap of becoming slow, tight, and inflexible, it is vital to work through a full range of motion keeping the reps low, the rest periods long, and lifts as explosive as possible.

Kettle bell Workout 3 is a strength and power training routine that combines battle rings and kettle bell training to form a unique high-intensity, strength workout, followed by a 5 exercise circuit that will increase aerobic capacity, aiding in preparation fat loss. Kettle Workout #4 doesn’t just give you the necessary work for building strength, it also will increase your conditioning, using a compound kettle bell finisher with minimal rest.

It jacks up the metabolism, increases your natural fat burning hormone (HGH), and simply helps you lose a lot more body fat than diet alone. Couple that with an aerobic capacity workout and you will be making weight in no time.

But since we are performing a resisted sprint, you don’t want to add any other forms of output. What I mean by consistent speed is sprint up the hill, then walk back down and rest 1 minute.

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