Gymnastics and fighting

Do you guys believe that gymnastic training is the most benficial for a fighter? I am saying this because gymnists have amaizng explosive power and the ability to move and hold their own bodyweight. This is the type of power beneficial when you are in a fight. Power from “bodybuilding” type weight training is different. I was considering changing my lifting routines to more bodyweight type gymnist exercises where you have to be able use your own bodyweight in isometric and explosive fashions. What are your opinions? Anybody’s opinion with a fighting background or gymnastic background would be great.

Well first off, yes, you definitely need to give up the bodybuilding style routines if you are a fighter.

I have done full contact rules kickboxing, bjj and gymnastics at various times. As much as I love gymnastics, I do not think it is the most beneficial thing for a fighter.

Now let me qualify that statement. The basic tumbling elements of gymnastics would be beneficial for increasing kinesthetic awareness and sense of balance. Many strength coaches such as John Davies and Ethan Reeve (Wake Forest University) use tumbling movements with their athletes for this very reason.

When it comes to bodyweight exercises however, gymnasts train very specific to their sport events. These events require the need for you to handle your own bodyweight, that is given, however you do not have to handle against outside resistance (other than gravity).

A fighter will be dealing with a live opponent who will be exerting external resistance on you or against you. Some may find this controversial but my feeling is that it?s a misconception that handling your own bodyweight is most applicable to sportfighting.

Trying to pull an opponent towards you in grappling isn’t the same as doing a pullup with your own bodyweight. Trying to push an opponent off of you while you are on your back isn’t the same as doing a pushup with your bodyweight.

If you re seriously training for competition you need to look at an athletic based strength program such as the one Joe DeFranco has an article about in this week’s issue of t-mag.

My suggestion would be to use the big lifts like squat or dead to develop max strength and then attempt to work up to using your bodyweight in explosive lifts like power cleans, snatches, etc. So if you weigh 200 lbs. get really good a power cleaning 200 lbs. for multiple sets.

Doing sets of low reps over an extended period of time will maximize your gains and more closely mimic sport. For example set a timer for 10 minutes and then do 3 - 4 reps of power cleans each minute. You will wind up having done 30 - 40 reps with 200 lbs.

If 200 lbs. (or whatever your bodyweight is)is too light for you on the power clean do more reps or work on increasing bar speed but stick to the same weight as the weight class you are competing in. Again, use the deadlifts, squats and other slow grinding exercises to go for max weight. If power cleaning your own bodyweight is too heavy, start a program with what you can handle and attempt to build up to it.

Also if you have training partners, you could do a variety of two-person bodyweight trainign drills that are much more applicable to fighting than basic pushups and situps, etc…

These are just some of my thoughts and recommendations.



look at the UFC guys, they train in all sorts of different ways, weights, plyos, cardio, limit strenth, power, endurance, coordination, balance. They learn wrestling, stricking, submission. laters pk

Hey Lats,
Whats up. I blend in bodyweight stuff for sure. I mean, there are times when only weights will get you that new level of explosion in certain areas, but bodyweight stuff is great for conditioning, balance and muscle control. No harm in doing it 2x/week for a while and maybe up to 4x/week, backing off on some other stuff.

Excellent posts. Thanks.

this is a great post…i train several college wrestlers and fighters and what you speaking off is a huge part of my program HUGE…my gpp work is 2 to 1 compared with grapplers to other athletes…for every 3 hours spent a week weight training near 6 hrs is spent conditioning…conditioning needed for these events cant even be compared by a normal person…A FIGHTER, WRESTLER ECT MUST LEARN TO BE AT 100% IN A OVERTRAINED STATE…becuase there sports require a overtrained state…the sport of wreslting can get away with this becuase hand eye cord is not effected severly enough in a overtrained state to effect performance…but if you were ot do this with a basbeall player it would be horribile becuase it would effect the hand eye corrdination and destroy his game…i dont think pure gynastics is a great idea but body weight movements and gpp-strongman work is very key…things like sledge hammer work, tire flips, body weight gpp, hill sprints, sled rows, russian complexes, whell barrel walks,really transfer to the sport…by forcing the athlete to train as hard anerobically and use tons of oxyegen at the same time…

also with weigth training is really works great if it is tier based around the aspects needed for the sport of fighting…throwing just movements toghether with any %'s and rep ranges can really mess up a fighters performance…the 3 basic needs (and i have set up soem crazy tiers for fighters) is 1. latic acid tolerance this needs to be the number one thing adressed. 2. dynamic power and explosive speed (use of the westside dynamic training is great here) 3. absolute and brute strength (this is neede sevely in the areas of the post chain, arms ,and upper back for fighters…the strongest and fastest fighter has a good chance…and if he can learn to tolerate massive amounts of la he is good to go…bm

Good post by Andyhepler.

Lot of the MMA guys do strongman type stuff where they lift and throw sandbags and other irregular shaped objects. This correlates well with handling a live opponent. Sled dragging is good for getting power to drive opponents around. Ballistic and plyos also have their use for developing power as well as the oly lifts and other power movements.

Big Martin is right on as usual…The elements he talks about should all be developed
“latic acid tolerance this needs to be the number one thing adressed. 2. dynamic power and explosive speed (use of the westside dynamic training is great here) 3. absolute and brute strength (this is neede sevely in the areas of the post chain, arms ,and upper back”
You can use pendulum or other peiodization theory to put each quality at the forefront during different times/levels of development and you’ll be good to go. You’ll be doing them all at once on some level but you can put some on maintenance levels and some on priority level. I try to do all of them during different days of the week right now.

As a wrestler, Id have to agree with bm’s general point. Wrestling is all about strength endurance - very seldom have I found myself in a position where pure strength against strength becomes and issue. Normally, the issue is possesing the endurance to scramble/ resist at a moderate level of intensity throughout the match. I’ve kicked the ass of many guys who were a lot stronger than I.

For that reason, I would suggest rep-related excercizes paired with strength training - check out the westside for skinny bastards in this issue. Just do tons of pushups pullups and dips coupled with heavy squats, deadlifts, etc. And don’t forget live wrestling…


The UFC guys are terrible examples of correct training for strength and sport. Taking a shitload of steroids and training like a bodybuilder? Come on. Although there are exceptions 90% of these guys could use some drastic improvements in their training.

Now I know all the UFC freaks are gonna jump all over this but since the question was about boxing…Who would you rather go against in “stand up” hand to hand combat. Roy Jones Jr. or any UFC fighter? Now what does Roy have that the others don’t have and how can you get that through training? It’s about how fast you can turn your system off and on and how much power you can put out in under .2 seconds. The optimal approach will vary depending on the person but I don’t see many doing anything close to optimal.
To give an example of something someone that lacks speed could do. For reflexive speed development lay an agility ladder down on a padded surface or some grass, get in a pushup position, have a partner lift your feet and perform agility drills through the ladder “on your hands”.

That’s a good drill Kelly, and an excelent point on the ‘on/off’ training,

I’ve used light dumbell drop/catches for this as well as this agility ladder thing which I heard from Tom M.
though I think some of the better UFC/Pride guys are doing things like this already :wink:

I don’t think a lot are doing bb training anymore…
But many of them are still only doing part of the puzzle. They are doing some gruelling and effective conditioning/ Lactate threshold stuff but not enough supplement work for the on/off stuff you speak of…
This is a great post BTW…But I would just try to grab that jones and choke him

Good stuff
I would think that stand up only Roy Jones would be able to take out ‘any’ UFC fighter!
The original post only said ‘fighting’ though not ‘boxing’.

Not to hijack the thread, but as i’ve said in other threads I’m a fighter who’s been trying to add weights and other conditioning to my routine.

Specifically I’d really like to make a once or twice a week oly lifting routine with mostly 1 armed lifts.

The Gold’s gym where we fight at is real peculiar about the regular weights in the weight room, so I was wondering what I could do oly lift-wise with the crappy plastic weights in the cardio room- where I could use a bunch of ab mats to cushion any blows.

What I’ve come up with so far is:

1 armed side press, with the weenie barbell, up to around 50 or 60 pounds

Dumbell snatch; might be able to sneak in dumbells of varying weights.

dumbell toss/catches with a light-medium weight.

Trying to figure out what would still help my explosiveness and endurance within the ridiculous bounds of my stupid gym.

Any ideas on a rep/set scheme?

Should I just make this a new thread? (I mean this is a fighting-based weight training routine)

Thanks in advance

head butt…why do you fell the one armed lifts are so important…why i see hwo they can be of assitance i think that there concentration could take away time that could be spent on other areas that are needed for fgihting…in my opinion a tier system based around the 3 major principiles of 1. latic acid threshold tolerance…2. power and dynamic speed…and 3. absolute strength…should bea prioritys and can be adapted for the entie body if you have a good exersice pool…bm

Just one comment about BigMartin’s first post… No athlete should ever be “100% in an overtrained state”. I think what you meant was that these types of athletes need to be able to push to the absolute maximum, but to take them constantly into an overtrained state is asking for big trouble. All athletes, regardless of the sport they participate in, need to be pushed enough to register gains and achieve the necessary fitness level, but they also need to be able to recover. Overtraining is a circumstance wherein no progress can be made because the inroads into recovery are constantly being increased. I understand the level of conditioning that needs to be achieved in MMA, but I also assert that a state of overtraining does not need to be reached in order for an athlete to attain that level of fitness. I may have misunderstood the post, but I did want to offer my two cents on that issue.

For fighters, as for many other athletes, “timing” is the most important quality. With proper timing you will look fast/explosive. And the best way to improve your timing is through sparring.

Remember, Gymkata was just a movie. :slight_smile:

No doubt that timing and distance need to be trained for boxing, mma, wrestling. There is also no doubt that technique needs to be solid. But like anything you need to train the athletes specific weaknesses as they relate to the sport. So if you have a guy who has bad timing that is easily trained. Maximal strength must be trained as it is foundational to so many other things. Conditioning may be number one for a fighter who already has blazing speed/knockout power. What about a guy who can throw technical punches all day but doesn’t hit as hard/fast as he’d like? He needs more of the drills that Kelly talked about with ‘on/off’ muscle firing. Drills and sparring are definitely important, but I believe there are many great trainers/coaches who have that stuff down. Maybe some better organization of sparring drills but they have those things covered mostly. To add to that some max work, conditioning work and speed work is where I believe most fighters go wrong. Adopting only bodyweight only training, only kettlebell or only unilateral training, or all oly lifts and just doing that one things is mistake. The athlete’s weakneses must be number one and the weaknesses dictate what training is best so long as bringing up that weakness correlates to performance improvement for fighting.




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Gymnasts are impressive. but there is a lot of explosion in other sports. track and field throws and jumps come to mind. Also, gymnasts, and ballet dancers actually,usually transition well to doing martial arts katas, learning BJJ techniques, and wrestling style stuff. Punching is a little different, but basically, we’re really talking about top notch athletes, I’m assuming the gymnasts you saw were national or world level, and their base will help them learn and progress faster than your regular guy who walks into a fight school. That said, for an adult to start gymnastic training could be a big project in and of itself. You would get faster results I would think by performing kick, punch, wrestle, BJJ drills, each under the right coach and supplementing with the propper GPP/conditioning and speed, power and max effort work. I would see gymnastic training as awesome for a child to develop a good motor learning base to excel at many sports. Also, gymnastic type training would be good as general physical prepartaion for fighting, but not really specific physical prep for fighting. So, if you have a few years to work on it, like a child, before you get really hard core into fighting, then I could see it.