Kettlebell workouts are used extensively in MMA training as they allow trainees to closely mimic the physical requirements of MMA very well. It gives athletes the perfect balance of anaerobic workout and strength conditioning ideal for MMA, allowing fighters to build strength that will last throughout the course of a fight.
In addition to this the versatility of kettlebell training allows you to focus in target muscle groups to specifically training for certain movements such as the takedown, ground game from top or bottom positions and the clinch. It can even help improve your striking with the ballistic movements of kettlebell training like the snatch and jerk which allow you to punch and kick faster and harder.
This workout should be considered a beginners routine as it will focus on building strength and endurance for basic moves, at an advanced stage it’s possible to target very specific movements such as the hip turn to improve hip rotation for the muay thai kicks and the cross. The simplicity of the kettlebell always makes it very versatile and can be easily tailored to achieve highly specialised training goals.
These explosive movements should be done at the beginning of your workout when you have plenty of energy. Aim to do 3 sets of one of these exercises on one given day at the start of the workout.
Exercise 1 – Kettlebell Duck Walk
The duck walk is utilised by freestyle wrestlers to build exceptional takedown strength, this works both the large and small leg muscles and is a great exercise to do to balance any left/right imbalances in muscle strength.
Do the duck walk for 1 minute using the same weight you would use for your kettlebell swings, to begin start from a standing position and clean the kettlebell up to your shoulder height. Then perform 1 minute of slow, steady nonstop kettlebell duck walk.
How to perform the kettlebell duck walk: From a standing position lunge forward, and go beyond a normal lunge so the rear knee touches the ground, then slide forward until the front knee touches the ground. Next bring the rear leg in front of you, and repeat this process for the full minute.
Working sets: 3 sets @ 1 minute each
- If you have kneepads use them, otherwise only do this exercise on soft mats or outdoors on grass
- Do not try to race using the duck walk, the exercise will work your muscles regardless of whether you’re fast or slow.
Exercise 2 – Kettlebell Split Snatch
Explosiveness is crucial for takedown as it the source of power and more important the element of surprise, the reason why George St. Pierre’s takedowns are so effective is for both of these reasons.
The kettlebell split snatch trains the explosiveness very well. The split snatch goes as follows, start off with the kettlebell between your legs on the ground, squat down with your back straight and bum sticking out, now snatch the kettlebell up, but unlike the traditional kettlebell snatch, instead of punching through after the high pull lunge forward, so you’re effectively pushing yourself under the kettlebell rather than lifting it up.
The exercise is very effective for building explosiveness. You should aim to do reps of 3 to 5, but no more than 5. Explosiveness is more about snap strength rather than endurance, and doesn’t quite work if you’re tired.
Note: Learn the snatch technique first
Exercise 3 – Kettlebell Split Jerk
The kettlebell split jerk is a lot like the split snatch, and it cannot be stressed enough for these exercises to work as their should you must visualise trying to get yourself under the kettlebell rather than lifting the kettlebell up.
To perform the split jerk, get the kettlebell up into the clean position, also known as the rack position. Bend your legs slightly so dip down maybe 2 inches, now in a fast motion as if you were pushing yourself away from the kettlebell, push the kettlebell up at the same time get into a deep lunge position. Next stand up to complete the rep.
The split jerk is slightly easier than the split snatch so aim to do a couple reps more than the snatch.