6 Exercises MMA Fighters Need For Their Kettlebell Workouts

6 Exercises MMA Fighters Must Include In Their Kettlebell Workouts

Written by
September 22, 2014
Updated April 12, 2018

Rocky used them to build some hurtin’ bombs. I am going to show you how to use them to increase your rotational power and make anything you hit wish it was in another time zone. Kettlebells have long been a staple among fighters who love their versatility for training strength and endurance. They can also be very effective for improving rotational power. If you want to hit someone so hard their kids will be born dizzy, then grab a kettlebell and follow along with me.

Kettlebell Exercise #1: High Pulls

Shawn Mozen performs the kettlebell high pull. A great movement for MMA Fighters

High Pulls have very similar mechanics to punching. Both movements will challenge your chest, back, core, shoulders, and arms. These bad boys are 100% a must for those looking to put more power in their punches.

Built off of the 1-Arm Swing, the High Pull begins with a strong back swing and moves the kettlebell up as your elbow travels back. The final position for the High Pull should see the kettlebell parallel with the ground and your elbow high. Push the kettlebell outwards as you lower and make a smooth transition into the back swing.

Kettlebell Exercise #2: Figure 8’s

Shawn Mozen performs the kettlebell figure 8. A great movement for MMA Fighters

Striking isn’t done with the limbs but with the body. You need to recruit power from the ground up and transfer it to our target. Figure 8’s will help you feel the power move from the ground up as you learn to transfer force and shift your weight. Grab the kettlebell in the center hand-over-hand and stand up.

Carefully swing from side-to-side as you imagine drawing a figure eight (on its side). Pivot on the balls of your feet as you shift your weight. Remember, strikes come from the ground up. Connect your movements from the ground up and breath out as you cross in front of your body.

Kettlebell Exercise #3: Standing Russian Twist

Shawn Mozen performs the kettlebell russian twist. A great movement for MMA Fighters

Similar to the Figure 8’s, you will grab the kettlebell hand-over-hand and pivot using your legs, however, this time I want you to turn to the side. Rotate as shown in the image to your right and then quickly change direction as you move to your left. This exercise is done fast with quick direction changes. The kettlebell should not be sagging down but should rather point out and away from you as an extension of your body.

Kettlebell Exercise #4: 180 Russian Twist

Now that you have the Russian Twist down, you can increase the challenge by adding in a 180 degree turn. Follow all of the same instructions as the Standing Russian Twist with the addition of crossing over and completing a full turn. Once your turn is done, quickly change directions and go back the other way, completing a full turn.

Kettlebell Exercise #5: Towel Spins

Martial artists need strong hands and rotational power; this fun exercise will help you develop both. Place a towel through the handle of a kettlebell and grab hold tightly. From a standing position with your hands firmly on the towel spin the kettlebell to one direction and then change back to the other.

This exercise can do a great job simulating the Bulgarian Bag swing another excellent conditioning tool for fighters. Remember, if you are going to be stupid, you had better be tough; use a light kettlebell at first and test your grip. You don’t want to go heavy and risk tossing the kettlebell across the room! I wouldn’t recommend that you include this exercise in your circuit training. You want to be fresh for this one or risk the afore mentioned consequences.

Kettlebell Exercise #6: Outside Snatch

Shawn Mozen performs the kettlebell outside snatch. A great movement for MMA Fighters

With your feet shoulder width apart, place a kettlebell to the outside of your left foot. Squat down and grab a hold of the handle with your right hand and as you come up, Snatch the kettlebell overhead. Carefully lower the kettlebell to a center position between your legs and then reset back to the starting position with it next to your left foot.

Remember that here we aren’t looking for a high volume swing mechanic, but rather one that will challenge our body by making you pull the weight at an angle from a dead position on the floor. Once you get comfortable with these basics you can build circuits with them and some other kettlebell fundamentals. When building a circuit, be sure to include some pushing and pulling movements to go along with your rotational work.

MMA Strike Training Workout

Once you get comfortable with these basics you can build circuits with them and some other kettlebell fundamentals. When building a circuit, be sure to include some pushing and pulling movements to go along with your rotational work. The following circuit should be done for five rounds with one minute rest between each. Rather than training reps we will work with time. Set yourself up facing a timer and complete the following:

A1: 1 Minute Kettlebell Outside Snatch Right Arm
A2: 30 Seconds Figure 8’s
A3: 1 Minute Kettlebell Outside Snatch Left Arm
A4: 30 Seconds Figure 8’s
A5: 30 Seconds High Pull Right Arm
A6: 30 Seconds High Pull Left Arm
A7: 30 Seconds Thursters
A8: 30 Seconds 180 Russian Twist

What are you waiting for? Go grab a Kettlebell and start building some hurtin’ bombs!

Shawn Mozen
Shawn Mozen is the owner of Agatsu Inc, the company that first introduced Kettlebell training in Canada. Agatsu has thousands of trainers in countries around the world who practice Shawn’s unique system that emphasizes mastery of movement. Recognized world wide as an authority on kettlebells, martial arts, and functional fitness, Shawn has appeared on US and Canadian TV shows such as VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club, Miami Ink, The Gill Deacon Show, and Off the Record. Find out more about Shawn Mozen at www.Agatsu.com

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