Friday, September 16, 2011

Deadlifting for MMA

Just came across a great article on
T-Nation from Josh Bryant and Adam benShea:

"Iron-world historians believe the deadlift may be the world's oldest strength training exercise...[y]et despite such noble pedigree, few recognize the important role deadlifts can play in a Mixed Martial Artists' strength and conditioning program...
...[T]he deadlift remains the most effective exercise for building the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, adductor mangus and lumbar erectors), which is crucial for almost all physical movements in MMA...The deadlift's basic action is picking a weight off the ground, forcing the posterior chain to lift a load that's in front of the body. A strong posterior chain is essential for executing explosive fighting movements, from shooting a double leg takedown to delivering a knee strike from a clinch, and enables a more explosive hip throw or 'heavier' hips when sprawling to prevent a takedown. 
This is the definition of real-world functional training."

 I agree with most of the piece and the authors bring up some really great points. I especially like the sections on Rate of Force Development:

 "Deadlifts are also highly effective for building power and are one of the simplest ways to enhance rate of force production (RFD), or how quickly a person can develop tension in a muscle. This is important for any type of striking or grappling movement and in many situations specific to the cage, ring, or mat...

 ... activities of continuous moderate energy output are disrupted when a fighter must quickly develop tension in a muscle by throwing that overhand right, using that underhook to attempt a takedown, or exploding from the bottom position to go for a sweep. Therefore, enhancing rate of force is crucial for the successful execution of all explosive movements found in MMA."

 Though I personally feel there are better ways to improve one's RFD, like ballistic kettlebell drills, medicine ball drills, and plyometrics, Bryant and benShea are on the right track.

 So, check out the article and show the authors some love by Tweeting and/or liking the piece of Facebook.

Train Hard,
Josh Skinner


  1. There was an argument on the Dragon Door forums a little while ago with a very young guy who seems to do some training of martial artists. He felt that they had no need to ever go beyond a double bodyweight deadlift. A lot of other people disagreed, stating that stronger is always better.

    What do you reckon, Josh? To be honest I think double bodyweight is pretty low, as you can take a complete beginner to training and, assuming no injuries or major issues, get them to there within a year or maybe two. It's a good foundation of strength, but I'm not sure it's competition-worthy. I would like to see at least a 2.5x bodyweight deadlift, but beyond that I wonder if maybe there's diminishing returns and you should be focusing on other areas. What are your thoughts?

  2. I think you and I are in agreement.

    There is a point where the time, effort, and energy required to bring up one's max deadlift numbers becomes excessive and detrimental to their overall progress as martial artists.

    Most would be better off simply maintaining strong Deadlift numbers while focusing more of their time and energy on "sport specific" work.

    Not sure if I can put a specific number but, to me, 2.5x body weight Deadlift is pretty good for most combat athletes.