Mixed martial arts is one of the most demanding sports on the planet. It combines various forms of striking and grappling and melds them into one sport. It’s the closest thing you can simulate to a real fight.
MMA fighters condition themselves with a variety of exercises to hone their bodies into fighting shape. To be a competitive mixed martial artist, you need everything: strength, stamina, explosive speed, coordination, balance, technique, etc… MMA is not a game like football or other sports (no disrespect to football). It’s a competition to determine that if two people fight one another, who will survive?
Believe it or not, swimming is a very beneficial exercise you can do to condition yourself for an MMA fight. If you just burst out into laughter, then I suggest you step down from your high horse and take a dip into a pool. Then swim as many laps as you can and tell me if you’re not sore the next day.
Here are three reasons why MMA fighters should incorporate some swimming into their workouts:
1) Strength and Conditioning
Swimming has many strength and conditioning benefits that you just don’t get with other exercises. When you swim, the water is constantly working against your body. This forces your muscles to expend tons of energy just to perform the simplest movements. In a way, this is a form of resistance training. And everyone knows that resistance training is the key to building strength in your muscles. Contrast this from jogging, which offers no resistance by moving your limbs through the air.
Another great benefit of swimming is increased stamina. Simultaneously using all of your muscles against constant resistance for periods of time forces your heart to pump more blood throughout your body. According to Discovery Fit & Health, swimming not only makes the heart larger, but it also makes it more efficient at pumping blood.
In addition to improved endurance, swimming teaches you to control your breathing. According to Swim Smooth, one of the biggest challenges for beginner and intermediate swimmers is learning good breathing technique. Just as breathing technique is vital to having a good stroke, it’s important for throwing strikes as well. In MMA, poor breathing results in lackluster energy and sloppy striking. Nobody wants to be that fighter who comes out strong but always ends up gassing after the first round.
2) Low Impact on the Joints
According to MedicineNet, swimming is better for your joints than running because your knees don’t impact the ground when you swim. When you run, every step you take creates energy that gets absorbs by your joints, especially your knees. Over time, this constant impact can wear down your knee cartilage. This isn’t the case with swimming. According to WebMD, water serves a cushion for joints and bones that could otherwise be damaged by doing land exercises. So if you’re someone who’s recovering from a knee injury, swimming could be a great alternative to running for you.
3) Swimming Burns a Lot of Calories
Remember, swimming requires that you use every muscle in your body against constant resistance. This expends a lot of energy. Expending a lot of energy = Burning a lot of calories. According to Men’s Fitness, swimming can burn 750 or more calories per hour. Of course, the higher pace you swim at, the more fat calories you’ll burn. However, in order to get an effective workout, it’s important to use proper technique while swimming. If you’re not good at swimming, you should probably practice by taking a class with a certified instructor. Learning the techniques to make you a more efficient swimmer will allow you to push yourself harder to get to that level you desire.
If you don’t know how to swim, please don’t jump into the deep end of a swimming pool. The results could possibly be fatal. If you’re not comfortable in your swimming abilities, it would be a good idea to only use a pool while a lifeguard is on duty.