As Mixed Martial Artists, we are
always looking for a way to get a "leg up" on the competition. Technique/skills
training (i.e. - boxing, kickboxing/Thai boxing, takedowns, submissions, grappling,
etc.) can take time and some techniques can take quite a while to master. Something
else technique/skills training requires is a partner. One can use pads, bags,
and dummies, but nothing simulates fighting or carries the most benefit as actual
"live" grappling or sparring.
we all can do, though, is Strength & Conditioning (S&C) training.
All Mixed Martial Artists can use the benefit that comes from being stronger,
having better strength-endurance, being in better condition, etc. As such, S&C
training should be a priority for all fighters. In fact, legendary fighter Bas
Rutten recently mentioned conditioning while doing commentary on Pride Fightings
last event, "Final Conflict 2004" (the semi-finals and finals of Prides
2004 Heavyweight Tournament). I dont recollect Ruttens exact words,
but the gist was this: "No fighter should come into a fight in poor condition
or out of shape. Even as professionals, conditioning is the one aspect of a fighters
game that he has complete control over. There is no excuse for a fighter
coming into a contest out of shape."
that generally leads to the next question: "What type of S&C program
should I use?" Then, at some point, that usually leads to another
question (especially on MMA message boards): "Are bodyweight exercises (BWE)
better than weights for MMA training?" What a can of worms this opens.
not sure where it happened, but somewhere along the history line in combat sports,
the idea that BWE were "superior" to weights came into existence and
just sort of stuck. It most likely has to do with the idea that prevailed heavily
(especially in boxing) for quite a time that lifting weight would make you "muscle-bound."
We all know (at least, we should know) that isnt the case, but thats
So, the question
still remains, "Are BWE better than lifting weights for MMA?"
answer is simple - no.
mean that Bodyweight Exercises are inferior to weights? Does that mean that theyre
"bad?" Does that mean that theyre not beneficial? Of course NOT.
BWE are not "better" than lifting weights, but neither are they "worse."
As the title of this article states, "resistance is resistance is resistance."
You see, your body has no idea what youre using as resistance, whether its
cables/bands, or BWE.
Your body does feel/react to the slightly different types of stimulation
that each provide, though. For example, the sandbag isnt as stable as a
barbell, the barbell will most likely be heavier, the cables resistance
increases as you reach the end of the ROM (Range of Motion) for a particular exercise,
etc. However, to say that you will receive more benefit from BWE simply because
its BWE (regardless of program specs, needs, or quality) is just erroneous.
seen a number of arguments praising BWE (especially by a very highly self-marketed,
self-proclaimed "guru" of BWE) which really are fallacies, and, in a
way, deceptions. Mind you, Im NOT saying BWE are bad. Im saying this
advertising sucks. Lets take a look at a few of them.
first I see is that "BWE are more functional that lifting weights."
The term "functional" has become a buzzword (especially, it seems, in
the MMA community) in the past few years as it relates to S&C training. This
is a load of crap.
To be "functional,"
exercise has to serve a purpose a "function." In other words,
exercise actually has to produce some sort of result. As long as one is progressing
(using more weight, doing more reps, or accomplishing the same amount of work
n a shorter time span), then a positive result is being achieved. Thus, exercise
is serving a purpose a function. To not be "functional," an exercise
would have to be absolutely incapable of producing any sort of visible of measurable
positive result. And this is just isnt the sort of thing thats going
to happen. As a result, all exercise is "functional." The question
shouldnt be weather exercise is "functional" or not. Rather,
one should examine what type of exercise has the most carryover to a given application.
(I know, I know, it seems like its just semantics, but bear with me for
a couple minutes.) In other words, what type of exercise will give you the results
that will be the most conducive to leading to success in your given sport (in
our case, MMA)? Now, when you ask this question, you should (and most times probably
dont) ask what type of exercise to do, but what type of program
to do. More on this later.
argument used to praise BWE I dont like is the sort testimonial that says,
"I used to get injured all the time lifting weights, but now I do only Body
Weight Exercises and feel great!" What a load of crap.
you "dig" a little more into most of the stories behind such testimonials,
youll find that it wasnt that they were lifting weights, but how
they were lifting weights that caused the injuries. I usually see/hear of two
main examples of the above. First, somebody lifts heavy (i.e. at or near
maximal levels) all the time for several years straight. The lifter hasnt
taken any time off, done any weight cycling, and usually little to no exercise
cycling, either. So you have somebody using the same movements as heavy as possible,
week in and week out for years on end. Well, of course he got injuries.
His body never got any relief from the same, unchanged, sustained, ultra-heavy
workload. Generally, these statements come from big and fairly strong guys who
use fairly heavy weights. Along come BWE and POOF! the injuries disappear.
is this because the lifter started using BWE? Possibly, but its not likely.
More realistically, whats going on is that the body is finally getting a
break from all the heavy lifting, and is performing different movements, using
different ROMs. When all this happens, the injuries that result of the unchanged,
sustained, heavy lifting alleviate. Heres the question Id like to
pose, though: What would happen if our lifter in question had, instead of performing
strictly BWE, kept lifting weights, but in a totally different fashion.
say he changes to a completely new set of exercises. He goes from flat barbell
Bench Press to dumbbell Pullovers, barbell Squats to Deadlifts, dumbbell Bent
Rows to Pulldowns, etc. Next, say he drastically reduced the weight he
was using (say going from 85%+ of 1RM to 30-40% of 1RM). Then, he greatly increased
his rep range (he goes from <5 reps/set to 15-25 reps/set). What sort of effects/results
would this program produce? Most likely, the results would mimic those of the
strictly BWE program.
Why? The answer
is simple hes performing the same sort of program. Many BWE
programs generally consist of exercises that arent all that "heavy,"
so-to-speak (e.g. performing a Push-Up is usually much easier than a "heavy"
Bench Press; a bodyweight Squat is usually much easier than a "heavy"
barbell Squat, etc.). These exercises generally are at least somewhat different
than the weight training movements that they replaced (meaning new ROMs). Because
the exercises are "easier," many more reps are generally done in a workout.
Now doesnt all of this pretty much describe the altered weight training
program described above? Yep, it sure does.
other example I see/hear quite often (this is the last one, I promise!!) is the
idea that too many people lift too heavy, use bad form to lift the weights that
are too heavy, and this causes injuries. My friends, this too, is a load of .
. . wait a minute. Believe it or not, this one really is true. I cant tell
you how many times Ive seen somebody have too much weight on the bar, use
momentum and/or sloppy form to lift the weight, and risk injury. But tell me this
how in the H-E-L-L is that the weights fault!?! Just because some jackass
doesnt know when to quite piling weight on the bar and how to consistently
use good form, youre going to tell me he should be doing BWE (as a type
of "self-regulation" on how much weight he uses)? Oh, come on!! Listen,
if somebody is so far out of touch with his physical limitations,
that he doesnt know where the line between heavy weight/good form and monstrous
weight/poor form lies, then that person has no business exercising in the first
place. He needs to have somebody well schooled in S&C training educate him,
how him the dangers of his training style, and help him correct his workouts before
he does some sort of permanent damage. Besides, until that happens, hed
probably just do his BWE with poor form, too.
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, 5 September 2004