HSP MMA Series Part 1: Strength

I’ve worked with athletes from 19 sports in Australia and the USA, I’ve got to say some of the MMA guys I’ve worked with have a crazy work ethic to get into the best physical condition possible.

I mean you’ve got to be pretty crazy to step into the octagon with another person and beat the shit out of each other.

Some MMA athletes understand the importance of S&C, some don’t.

In this blog series I’m attempting to shine some light on some topics they think don’t really have an impact on a fighters overall ability.

Is strength really important in fight sports?

Obviously I’m a little biased on the topic, if you follow me on social media you’ll see statements like “strength is king”, “If the bar ain’t bending” and a whole host of other cringe worthy one-liners.

To be honest, I firmly believe that strength is VERY important to MMA athletes.

Yes its secondary to the skill of the sport but you can get so much benefit out of a good strength & conditioning program.

Let me use an example that will be quite easy to understand.

Athlete A is a great figher, he has no background in any S&C, has the occasional over use injury in his shoulder.

Athlete B is a great fighter, has the same skill set as Athlete A, has been well trained in S&C and is: stronger, faster, more powerful and more resilient to injury.

Which athlete has more chance of winning a fight?

Now you can use that example in most sports you can think of.

I think you’re getting the idea.

Why is strength important?

Strength is the foundation of all other physical characteristics.

Speed, power, agility, endurance etc. all stem from a strength base.

Without strength both relative and absolute you cannot be: fast, powerful or agile.

Stronger people are more resilient to injury.

Stronger muscles, tendons and ligaments are harder to injure.

I could bore you with a whole bunch of facts and figures about strength and injury prevention but the findings are clear, strength decreases your chance of injury.

If you want to become a better athlete you have to train strength.

After all, the stronger you are… the more damage you can cause your opponent.

Strength standards and MMA

I’m going to list a few good strength standards to go by, these are my opinion.

Squat: 2x BW

Deadlift: 2.25x BW

Bench: 1.25x BW

Front Squat: 1.75x BW

Clean: 1.25x BW

Snatch: 1x BW

Max chins: 15

Max dips: 30

Yes, they are high standards but they have to be.

Accepting mediocrity isn’t going to take your game to the next level.

What social media depicts as important in fight sports S&C

Instagram tagging….

Lets go there.

I couldn’t even tell you how many tags I get from people saying oh wow look at this…. Think I should do it Tim?

Yeah, it looks cool but how relevant is that for where you are right now?

Not very

Mastering the basics is the key to development as an athlete.

Social media usually shows the very elite in a tiny clip of their training, mostly the most impressive thing they can conjure up.

It’s not a true reflection of what they did to get to that level.

Most of the time it’s a series of very elaborate plyometrics.

Nothing wrong with plyometrics but it has its place in training.

Papers argue you need to be over a 1.5x bodyweight squatter to unleash the full potential of plyometrics.

How many people even possess that level of strength to get the full benefit out of plyometrics?

Not many

What the journal papers say and what happens in the real world are another topic for discussion all together.

Final thought

Strength is king

Both in papers and anecdotally, improving strength has a huge positive impact on athletes from all sports.

A poor strength program, poorly executed won’t take you to the next level.

By Tim Frey MS.c