Despite the fact that pro matches look brutal on TV, MMA training actually has many physical and mental benefits which is one of the main reasons why the sport is growing so fast. In this day and age, gyms are opening up on every corner with people of all ages and genders signing up for the classes. But how you can benefit from MMA training?
MMA has many physical, mental, and self-defense benefits. It improves your cardiovascular health and makes you stronger, agile, and flexible. Next, it will boost your confidence, self-esteem, and mental resistance. Last but not least, you will develop strong fighting skills as MMA is one of the most effective combat systems you can train in.
This is just a brief explanation of the benefits of mixed martial arts training so be sure to read this article to learn more.
Health benefits of MMA training
Improves cardiovascular health
MMA is a sport where endurance and having a deep gas tank play a big role. You can’t expect to do well in a match or make a career without top endurance and ability to take punishment. This is why most gyms put a lot of emphasis on grueling cardio workouts that are very, very intense and hard. Even when students are not doing those, doing live drills or hard sparring is as cardio intense as it gets, and there is very little rest. It is very similar to the famous HIIT workouts.
This might not sound nice if you are an amateur doing research about MMA training. However, bear in mind that keeping your heart rate high for a long period of time has many benefits when it comes to cardiovascular health. It will make your heart stronger in the long run, and help lower blood pressure and resting heart rate. This prevents many diseases including the chronic hypertension or heart attack.
Helps you lose weight really fast
MMA training is cardio intense which also means that it burns a lot of calories. Hitting the bag/pads, sparring, and doing all kinds of workouts will get you in top shape in a very short time span.
Each MMA class, regardless if it is a sparring day, grappling day, or striking day, burns a lot of calories. In fact, one study has shown that 30 minutes of MMA training burns up to 407 calories while 60 burns 814. That is a really, really high number.
With a bit of consistency, proper diet, and discipline, you can lose a lot of pounds in a very short time span. And unlike in the fitness gym or by running, you will learn how to fight while losing weight.
Helps you develop good and healthy habits
If you commit yourself to classes, MMA will, in some way, “force” you to develop good and healthy habits, like eating healthy food for example. The thing is, MMA is hard on your body and it will, at some point, break you no matter how strong or fit you are. Like most beginners, you will wake up in a lot of pain, and have a hard time recovering and staying consistent in the gym. All the sleepless nights, bad eating habits, and overall lack of discipline will catch up on you at some point. But suffering an injury and being on the sidelines for months does not do you any good.
To stay away from injuries, you must start paying more attention to what you eat, how much water you drink, and how much rest you take. The key is to stay away from your favorite street food, snacks, and drinks full of sugar, and focus more and more on eating healthy.
Most MMA fighters prefer a diet rich in protein and eating a lot of fruit, vegetables, and drinking a lot of healthy smoothies. Healthy vitamins and minerals that come with this type of diet will help your body recover faster, lift your mood and make you feel stronger.
Builds strength and endurance
MMA training is great if you want to improve overall strength because it is a full-body workout. Each class is a mix of aerobic and anaerobic workouts that will activate every single muscle in your body. This makes MMA one of the rare activities where you can improve both core strength and build strong cardio in a single workout.
But bear in mind that this is a different type of strength from the one you can develop in a fitness gym. Absorbing hard shots in sparring, rolling on the ground with a physically much bigger partner, putting your body in awkward positions, endlessly hitting the heavy bag, all of this builds that robust physical strength and stamina. It will harden your mind and body, improve pain tolerance and make you very agile.
Some people who have more time often spend one day a week lifting weights in a fitness gym which can boost your performance on the mats a lot.
Mental benefits of MMA training
It is a great stress reliever
Various studies have shown that training hard is a great stress reliever, not just in MMA, but in other sports as well. Physical activity triggers the production of various “happy hormones” in your brain like dopamine and serotonin, which makes you feel happy. Yes, you might be exhausted and in a lot of pain, but at the same time, your mind and nervous system would be relaxed.
Many people tend to believe that MMA training makes you more aggressive and violent. But science has confirmed the total opposite of that. Having stress issues and sitting at home and constantly thinking about it is what is actually causing your anxiety, depression, and anger issues. If you choose to pack your bag and hit the gym instead, you will give your mind the opportunity to relieve a large portion of it.
Makes you more confident
Training MMA has proven to be a great confidence booster. Regardless of your fitness level or how you look, working hard and achieving your goals in the gym will make you more confident in the long run. On top of that, it improves your fighting abilities and trains your mind that stay calm and collective in stressful situations.
Confidence is all about feeling good in your own skin and being satisfied with yourself and where you are going in life, and that’s exactly what MMA training gives you. Through hard work, personal improvement and achieving your goals, you will have that feeling that you are moving forward in life. That feeling of becoming physically and mentally stronger and capable of defending against anyone will have a huge impact on your life outside the gym too. You will have enough confidence to deal with anything that life throws at you.
Helps you develop strong mental resistance
The thing is, MMA is a sport that will push your mind and body over the limit in each class. At some point, it will actually break you and kill your will to train. But don’t be scared, that’s a part of learning and growing. If you stay committed and have trust in the learning process, you will eventually develop that fighters’ bullet-proof mindset.
Yes, it is hard to take punishment and wake up in pain and with bruises all over the body. It is hard to exit the gym on all fours after an exhausting grappling or striking sparring session. But guess what, it is the moments like this that actually allow you to break the barriers and develop strong mental resistance.
After some time, those same grueling sessions will feel like a normal workout to you, not just because you got physically strong, but mentally as well. Now imagine how carrying that mindset will improve the quality of your life outside the gym. You will have a much easier time dealing with problems in your relationship, stressful situations at work, etc.
Improves social skills
Each MMA gym is one big family where people who share the same passion for combat sports and personal growth support each other towards achieving their own individual goals. Yes, MMA is an individual sport, but training and improving your skills in the gym is all about teamwork. In order to learn and grow, you have to communicate with other people, share/adopt knowledge, and laugh.
But above all, MMA students care about each other. You will feel proud of seeing your teammates who started their journey at the same time you did, growing in the gym and becoming skillful fighters, and they will feel the same too. Teammates will be there to pick you up when you are down, and it often doesn’t take much. Just one stupid joke might lift your mood up and help go through a session. Working hard with other people towards similar goals is how you develop strong empathy and other social skills.
No matter how shy or introverted you are, training in a group of 15–20 people allows you to open yourself to other people.
Self-defense benefits of MMA training
All around skills
MMA is a very complex combat system because it involves both striking and grappling techniques together. Each week of training is a mix of jiu-jitsu, wrestling, and striking classes, which is quite a big workload. But at the same time, this dynamic structure of training never gets monotone, and it helps you develop all-around skills. Or in other words, you will learn how to strike on the feet using all limbs as weapons, and fight in the clinch, and on the ground.
MMA fighters are trained to fight in any place and range, which is crucial for self-defense because you never know when and where the fight is going to break out. It’s this combination of all-around skills that makes MMA one of the best systems when it comes to self-defense.
Practical application of the techniques
The best thing about MMA training is the fact that each move you learn in training works in real-life fighting too. You won’t spend a single second of your training learning and practicing fake techniques. There are no katas, or breaking boards like students do in other arts. No, MMA system consists of only the most effective techniques from different martial arts, and the main point of training is to learn how to apply these skills in real combat. To achieve this, most gyms and coaches put a lot of emphasis on hard sparring as the best method one can prepare to fight in real life.
Sparring might feel scary and painful at first, but it allows you to simulate a real fight with a partner who puts on real resistance. Over time, you will learn how to stay calm while fists are flying, and develop good automatic reactions and feeling for distance.
A lot of people underestimate the power of a calm mind in a situation where you need to defend yourself. You can have the best skills in the world, and be the next Mike Tyson, but all of this is useless if you don’t have the ability to control your emotions and stay calm in the heat of the moment. In fact, being able to keep the adrenalin and fear low is the single most important factor when it comes to self-defense. It allows you to make rational decisions, and focus on applying techniques you learned in training to escape from trouble.
That being said, MMA will teach you how to achieve this type of combat mindset through hard training and sparring. Once the fight breaks out and the attacker starts throwing strikes at you, your mind will recognize the certain patterns and give your muscles a command to react and execute all of the techniques without you even having to think about it.