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Isometric exercises for mixed martial arts

Isometric exercises are not often used in sports-specific strength and conditioning. Because most sports are dynamic in nature, isometric exercises are not obvious to your eyes and are therefore not trained.

In MMA, isometrics can add another element to your game that can help you submit your opponent, escape a submission, or achieve a dominant position, whether on your feet or on the ground.

For example, if you get caught in an arm bar and your opponent doesn’t immediately block you, you have some time to escape. The time you have depends on your ability to keep your arm flexed using your biceps as you try to move your body so that your arm is in a safe position.

Another example is when you have a locked triangle. Submitting an opponent with a triangle is not an easy task, so you need to have the ability to keep your knees tight for an extended period of time to get your opponent out and bunt.

A final example is in the clinch. When you punch an opponent back and forth or are single legged, you have to keep your arms in a certain position against their body weight – this is isometrics in action.

So how do you train isometrics in the gym?

My favorite way to do it is to throw isometrics in the middle of a set. That would mean if you’re doing 12 reps of an exercise, after rep 6, you do an isometric hold at mid-range of motion and then finish the set.

Or, you can break it up into thirds, so you can do a 5-second isometric hold after your fourth rep, eighth rep, and at the end of the set.

But let me warn you: this method is hard and burns, which makes it a great method to train mental toughness at the same time.

Here are 3 of my favorite exercises to use isometrics with:

1) inverted row

  • Hang under a bar with your feet on a Swiss ball so your body is parallel to the floor
  • Hold when your elbows are at 90 degrees

2) push ups

  • Do your standard push up or put your feet on a ball for an added challenge
  • Maintain 90 degree elbow flexion

3) Leg curl on Swiss ball with knee compression

  • For this one, you need a soft kid’s ball.
  • Place it between your knees and for the entire set of leg curls, squeeze the ball as hard as you can.

So now you have 3 exercises and a new method to build your MMA strength and conditioning. Put them in your workout routine and you’ll be taking advantage of people when you would have given up before, and taking your MMA game to the next level.

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