You’ve seen them fighting in the ring. Those fighters are solid muscle–maybe twice your weight–but they can still jump higher and move faster than you can, somehow. That footwork and endurance is not an accident; it’s a result of a type of exercise called plyometrics. The thing about a sport like MMA (mixed martial arts) is that there is no aspect that can really be ignored if you want to be the best. You can be better at one aspect than another, but if you really want to be better than all the rest, you have to at least have a solid foundation in every possible skill, technique, and factor in the performance of an MMA fighter.
Plyometrics in MMA starts where power, strength, and endurance end. Once you’re strong and can last a long time without getting too tired, your work isn’t done. You need speed, and you need to be able to pull punch after punch in rapid succession. You’ll also need a lightning-fast reaction time that can help you dodge oncoming blows and strike whenever your opponent has revealed a weakness. If you can move quickly, both in terms of footwork and in terms of the speed of your blows, and you can also react quickly, you’ll be miles ahead of the other MMA fighters.
Modern MMA fighters are now getting trained in plyometrics so that they can improve their reaction time and speed. You might not have realized that you can actually train yourself to have a faster reaction time, but that’s exactly what plyometrics is. Not only will you get super fast reactions, but you will also learn how to channel your strength in one blow at a rapid speed. This means that you can have punches that are both strong and fast. There is nothing better than being able to knockout your opponent quickly due to a sudden, sharp blow to the head.
If power and strength are the payload, then plyometrics is the targeting and delivery system. No matter how strong and powerful you are, you can see that the job won’t get done if you aren’t fast enough to dodge your opponent’s blows. The job won’t get done if you can’t spot an opponent’s weakness and take advantage of it in a split second. And best of all, you don’t have to be the strongest or have the most endurance if you’ve mastered speed. Your goal is to strike where it hurts as quickly as possible. If you get good at that, then strength and endurance can be secondary (still important, but not as critical as if you didn’t master plyometrics in MMA).
The way plyometrics works is by learning how to contract muscles more quickly. It also develops the functioning of your nervous system. This might sound intimidating, but a proper MMA trainer can give you the right guidance to master plyometrics in MMA, along with all those techniques and physical goals that you should be striving for too.