Kettlebells for Martial Arts Training

Think that you can’t get a fresh, new type of workout from equipment that’s centuries old? Think again. The kettlebell isn’t just one of the best workout devices for MMA fighters, it’s also one of the trendiest exercises in gyms today. The best part about working out with kettlebells is that it gets the job done in half the time.

What is a Kettlebell?
A kettlebell looks like a canon that’s had a handle attached to it. Created in Russia during the 1700s, kettlebells are made from iron and can be as light as eight pounds or as heavy as 105 pounds. At first, it looks like the kettlebell is just a clumsier way to get a dumbbell workout. When you start to use them, though, you’ll notice that kettlebells are easier to grasp thanks to their thick handles.

Why is This a Great Workout?
Since the weight in a kettlebell isn’t centered, working out with them helps you to engage your body’s stabilizer muscles. Combat athletes, including MMA fighters, benefit from kettlebells because it teaches you to absorb their ballistic shock. Plus, typical kettlebell workouts utilize core movements which burn calories as you tone. Additional benefits include better aerobic capacity and more endurance.

What Types of Exercises Will I Do?
At first, basic weight training exercises, like rows, curls and bench presses, are all you’ll have to handle when you’re just getting used to kettlebells. Eventually, though, you’ll learn more ballistic exercises, including jerks, swings and snatches. These exercises will force you to use your entire body. Also, swinging motions will force you to improve your flexibility, agility and balance.

The seven traditional exercises that MMA fighters do with kettlebells are as follows:

  • Swings, including double swings, single arm swings and alternating swings, help to develop your core.
  • Cleans, which are similar to swings, except that they work out your biceps more.
  • Dead Clean and Press, which will use your whole body. You’ll learn how to life something off of the ground and put it over your head.
  • High Pulls, which will quicken your hand movements, since this move is similar to throwing a punch.
  • Deck Squats is like a regular squat on steroids. You’ll have to get off your back and onto your feet, which is a common move in MMA.
  • The Turkish Get Up, also called Standing Up in Base, will help you learn how to scramble during a fight.
  • The Dead Snatch will help you develop explosive power.

The Relationship Between Kettlebells and MMA
Kettlebell training can help with a variety of mixed martial arts, including Muay Thai, kickboxing and boxing, Jiu Jitsu and wrestling. Core strengthening is only one of the many ways that kettlebells help prepare MMA fighters. Even more than that, though, kettlebells teach people how to use their body as if it’s a single unit. MMA fighters know that proper training doesn’t include isolating certain muscle groups. Instead, training should force you to use your entire body at once, which is exactly what kettlebell exercises do. Grip strength and strength in the forearms and hands are also important components of MMA training that kettlebells help to develop.

Pete ‘Mr Fitness’ McCormack is a health and fitness junkie, writing about getting in shape is his passion. He recommends the walking machine for maximum fitness results.

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