It’s no surprise that MMA is an explosive sport. In fact, almost every element of fighting (minus, perhaps, certain holds in grappling) can be considered explosive: jabs, kicks, jumps, throws, etc …
Developing this type of power, couple with speed, is one of the most important things to develop if you’re serious about training MMA, so let’s get into how you can.
What Is Explosive Power?
Explosive movements are any type of movement that gets you moving from near zero speed, to 60 … and fast.
Anything from jabs to jumps are considered explosive, since you’re essentially “exploding” into action and into a new movement.
When we talk about improving your explosive capabilities, what we’re really trying to accomplish is making your explosive movements faster, more efficient, more accurate, and stronger.
I’m in the ring, this means your jabs will become faster and harder, your kicks deadlier, and your ability to spring onto, or out of the way of, your opponent, enhanced.
Training Tips To Improve Explosiveness
1. Deceleration Training.
This might seem counter-intuitive at first glance, but in reality, deceleration training is the foundation of controlled explosive movements.
Without control, you may be able to explode super fast into a movement, but won’t be able to control your weight through gravity enough to avoid a potential stumble of loss of balance.
Training to catch things like heavy balls being thrown at you is a good deceleration exercise, plus “landing” exercises, such as jumping off a box and landing in good form, and even controlled and slower tire jumps.
2. Jumping and Sprinting
The key with these is to focus on initiating them from a static position. Imagine if your back was to the cage as an opponent advanced: you would have to explode from your static position, without being able to wind backward or gain momentum foreword.
Practicing sprints and jumps like squat jumps or box jumps from a static (standing still) position mimics this scenario, and strengthens your ability to explode from it.
3. Faster Lifts
Being able to move weight fast will strengthen your ability to move your own body weight rapidly.
When doing full body lifts, like a clean/snatch/etc … focus on exploding into the movement, then go slow on the lowering (eccentric) phase. Aka: lift quicker, lower slower.
Any type of movement focused on jumps and higher-impact exercises can technically qualify as plyometric. What you want to focus on is gradually expanding your range of plyometric movements so that they include back-to-back variations in speed, acceleration, and deceleration.
This could look like setting up a low box jump, followed by a higher box jump, followed by a short and fast sprint, followed by catching or throwing a medicine ball.
This trains your body to react explosively from a variety of “starting points,” mimicking what you will likely encounter in the ring.
Combining heavier lifts with a plyometric movement is also excellent to train the body to operate explosively even in contrast movements.
This could look like:
Deadlift to box jumps
Eccentric pull ups to hurdle jumps