No matter which hand to hand combat you’re competing in, you can pretty much guarantee that increased speed will help you to come out on top. Judoka, boxers and even MMA fighters could all benefit from a bit of added speed, which is why speed training is likely to be one of the most important aspects of your training regime.
Learning how to increase your speed all comes down to being able to generate a higher level of force at the end of the day. Therefore, strength goes hand in hand with speed. When following a speed strength training regime your end aim is to be able to produce a great force very quickly, with which you can take down opponents in the blink of an eye.
If you’re trying to devise a speed strength training workout at home, try adding these four exercises to your regime:
Training in sprinting will quickly increase your speed due to its intense physical demands. You can sprint up stairs (remember that scene from ‘Rocky’?), on a track or even on a treadmill. Perform sets of sprints, with each sprint being around 100m long, and then slow to a steady jog.
With this exercise you’re trying to train yourself to increase your sprint stride, thereby speeding yourself up. Uphill sprints, such as sprinting up a set of stairs or on an inclined treadmill, will add greater force to the exercise. You’ll be fighting gravity with each sprint, but with time your muscular strength will meet the demands.
A lot of amateur MMA fighters want to know how they can increase the speed of their footwork and kicks. Leaping is one of the best known ways to do this.
Leaping is a plyometric exercise, which involves exerting the maximum amount of force in as short a time as possible to propel yourself upwards. To complete this exercise, line up a row of cones for around fifty feet, and make sure that each one is at least three feet apart to ensure you’ve enough space to work with.
When jumping over each cone, exert as much power as possible and draw your knees up towards your chest each time.
Sideways leaping can help you to focus on one leg at a time, so you can individually train your muscles. This exercise targets a different set of leg muscles but is just as effective, allowing you to build up your strength speed.
Leap over the cones sideways, using just one leg to power your uplift. Bring your knees up as much as possible and exercise both legs before moving onto another routine.
While MMA fighters shouldn’t focus on weight lifted as their primary exercise, it is a vital part of any training regimen. In order to increase your speed you need strong muscles that can exert force at a moment’s notice. Squats are a great training exercise for this.
For the absolute beginner, perform squat exercises without any weights. As you progress though, add dumbbells or barbells to your exercise routine so that you can increase the force exerted on your body.
In order to safely perform a squat, stand with your feet firmly planted on the ground shoulder-width apart. Without bending your spine, bend your knees to a 90° angle, and then lift your body back up. Never lock your knees as you stand up straight.
4) Clean and jerk lifts
This Olympic lift requires incredible strength and speed to carry out and so is the ideal addition to your speed training regime. You need to make sure you perform this exercise properly though, otherwise you may injure yourself.
Before you try it, you should learn how to properly perform a clean and jerk lift by practicing without any weights. Once you’re ready, follow the correct procedure to carry out the clean section of the lift, then switch to the jerk to lift the barbell above your head.
The combination of strength and speed in this lift are precisely what you want to train for. The explosive action of lifting the barbell above your head and holding it there for a split second will train your body to quickly process movements that you can then translate into kicks, punches and grapples that can take down your opponents.
Whether you’re planning on using MMA to get fit or you want to take your hobby further, and fight in a real match, you’ll need to get to grips with speed training first. You can easily incorporate speed exercises into your overall training regime, so you can work on everything at once.
Thanks to Aurora Johnson for writing this article on behalf of Fightshop.com, a specialist online store for MMA clothing and equipment. FightShop.com stocks everything you need for sports such as boxing, MMA, Muay Thai and Judo, amongst others, and offers delivery throughout the UK.