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3 Unique Kettlebell Exercises for MMA Fighters

3 Specialized Kettlebell Exercises for Your MMA Training

Written by
August 11, 2014
Updated May 16, 2016

People are always talking about the benefits of kettlebell training for MMA athletes, but not too many people are capable of explaining why this is so. So, I took it upon myself to research and develop movements that could establish the relationship of kettlebells and martial arts. The result was my first dvd, Combat Kettlebell Systems. On this dvd I introduced many combat sport specific kettlebell and body weight movements.

Kettlebell Combat swing progressions are amongst those exercises. When I first learned traditional kettlebell lifting, I immediately loved how they allowed for natural movements, especially with the swing. But for me, the 2-handed, single-handed, and alternating swings were just not enough. I thought to myself, can you do these from a fighting stance? So I started practicing until I came up with the Combat Swing Progressions.

Onnit 12kg KettlebellThe Benefits of MMA Kettlebell Exercises

Kettlebell Combat Swing Progressions have many benefits for both MMA athletes and kettlebell enthusiasts alike.

These variations will hit your core from a different angle, simultaneously work your legs, back, and arms, improve torque, and they can also improve your hand speed. Try them for yourself and you will see the benefits!

Kettlebell Combat Swing Progressions are made up of three exercises: Kettlebell Combat Swings, Kettlebell Combat Cleans, and Kettlebell Combat High Pulls.

After I discovered that you can do swings from a combat stance, I thought, “Could I throw punches with a kettlebell as well?” That is how the latter two were developed. We all know how awesome swings are for developing core power; Kettlebell Combat Swings take this traditional exercise to a whole new level

1. Kettlebell Combat Swings

3 Unique Kettlebell Exercises for MMA Fighters

There are many benefits Kettlebell Combat Swings have for fighters and regular kettlebell practitioners as well. First of all, the mechanics of Kettlebell Combat Swings and traditional swings are the same; you are still hinging with your hips in the movement, but since you are in a “staggered” stance with Kettlebell Combat Swings, it hits your core from an entirely different angle. This variation hits your glutes and quads more so than the traditional version.

When developing any muscle group, you want to hit that muscle from different angles to achieve the maximum development. This is the same for kettlebells; regular swings develop your core from one angle only while Kettlebell Combat Swings will have an entirely different effect on your core. Practicing this newly developed variation also reinforces the muscles that make up your fighting stance. your fighting stance is your home base, so it is important to have a strong one.

2. Kettlebell Combat Cleans

3 Unique Kettlebell Exercises for MMA Fighters

Kettlebell Combat Cleans are the second progression. This is where we start adding an even more sports- specific aspect to the kettlebell. This exercise is about as close as you can get to throwing a punch. When throwing a punch, most fighters can tell you the power comes from your core.

A punch involves two primary movements, a punch (or push) and the retraction (pull). This is all done with a torquing aspect with your hips. Pivoting is another crucial part of throwing a punch. All of these movements are addressed while performing Kettlebell Combat Cleans. They teach you how to punch and retract the punch right away. Since you are using a kettlebell while punching, you are hitting your chest, back, arms, and core directly.

3. Kettlebell Combat High Pulls

3 Unique Kettlebell Exercises for MMA Fighters

The final exercise in the progression is Kettlebell Combat High Pulls. This variation resembles what is called an “overhand” punch in boxing and MMA. This is also probably the most difficult to master, mainly because the kettlebell is suspended in midair during each rep. Kettlebell Combat High Pulls are almost identical to throwing a real overhand punch.

In fact, these variations are about as close to throwing a real punch as you can get with any other training device. You see people using cables and bands to throw punches all the time, but that only addresses the pushing aspect of a punch. These variations utilize the punching, retracting, and the torquing of your hips all in one movement.

Getting Started with Kettlebell Combat Exercises

Before you run out and start trying these dynamic variations, I highly recommend that you get familiar with the traditional kettlebell swing. Also, these variations hit your muscles differently than regular swings, so you may have to downgrade the weight of the kettlebell. I always teach form before weight. Remember, safety is always first.

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Joey Alvarado
Joey Alvarado is the owner and head trainer of Socal MMA Fitness based in East Los Angeles, California. Joey is a former professional MMA fighter and competitive grappler, and the developer of Kettle-Jitsu, a unique blend of Jiu Jitsu bodyweight exercises and newly developed kettlebell exercises. Find out more at www.KettleJitsu.com

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