Lessons for Your Fitness Plan from UFC Fighters' Preparations
When it comes to seeing results from your fitness, you don't just need determination and a good pair of shoes — it takes planning. Putting together a cohesive plan that allows you to progress at a predictable pace is one of the keys to using your gym time wisely. Instead of taking a few classes here and there and throwing in some cardio time when you can, a plan will provide a path toward better fitness.
But what should you include? When it comes to building in solid strategies, there's plenty of inspiration by looking to UFC fighters, and how they prepare for their bouts. Borrow some of these secrets for your own octagon-busting plan:
1. Believe you belong here
Many people have that moment in the gym or a class, where they're trying something new or just getting back into shape, and feel like an outsider. Ditch that sentiment right now. When she was going into her fight with UFC favorite Ronda Rousey, fighter Holly Holm knew she was the underdog. But she also knew that feeling like one would have a negative effect on her performance. She says, "I've always thought that you have to believe you belong there, or you've already lost." So, when putting your fitness plan together, the first step is to attack it with confidence.
2. Allow for the not-so-great days
Despite her solid attitude about fight preparation, Holm admits that there were days where she would leave the gym, sit in her car, and cry. But she didn't put her key in the ignition. Instead, she'd take a deep breath, get a coffee, and go back to the gym. "So many times, I didn't want to hit the gym," she says. "I just want the work to be over. But then I would picture the victory. And that's all it takes." When you're feeling like you're suffering a setback, look at your fitness schedule, take a ferociously motivating class, and picture your own victory.
3. Incorporate stability exercises
When it comes to specific fitness strategies to put into your plan, stability exercises are a great addition, according to Rousey. She uses a circuit of these moves to improve upper-body and core strength, which are both crucial for MMA fighting. For example, you can position your stomach on top of a stability ball, place your hands on the floor, and lift your feet. Keeping your eyes on the floor, rotate your left hip toward the ceiling, then your right. This exercise helps fighters focus on opponents when they're in the cage. For your fitness plan, consider adding fitness classes that have the same effect, like BOSU Circuit or TRX.
4. Mix it up
Yoga, jump rope, core work, Jiu Jitsu, free-weight exercises: there's no rule saying you have to pick one path and stick to it, and it's actually much better if you don't. UFC fighter Conor McGregor incorporates a wide range of training methods to help him get ready for fights, but they do have a common theme. They revolve around control of body, mind, and breath, and he says, "If it doesn't involve balance, I don't think it's beneficial."
5. Don't go it alone
Although UFC fighters face off one-on-one in the cage, that doesn't mean they train solo, and neither should you. Your fitness plan can benefit from at least some togetherness — whether that means taking a group class, working out with friends, or seeing a personal trainer every week. UFC fighter Donald Cerrone says, "When you're constantly being pushed by coaches and teammates who want to see you succeed, it's easy to dig deep during your workouts. So when it comes to fitness, resist the urge to isolate yourself by working out alone."
Kick off your fitness plan with a UFC Gym Free Pass, which includes plenty of full-body workout classes and cutting-edge equipment.