Is the Deadlift a Beneficial Exercise for MMA Athletes?

What is the best way to do deadlifts to improve MMA performance

MMA is a sport that requires athletes to have a well-rounded physical fitness level. The training for MMA fighters often includes a combination of cardio, strength training, and skill-specific training. One of the most important exercises in strength training for MMA fighters is the deadlift.

Let’s discuss why the deadlift is an important exercise for MMA fighters.

The Deadlift

The deadlift is a compound exercise that involves lifting a weight from the ground and standing up with it. It primarily works the muscles in the posterior chain, which includes the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. Additionally, it engages the quads, calves, and abdominal muscles as stabilizers. The deadlift is considered a functional movement that mimics everyday activities such as lifting heavy objects, or even picking up a child. It will help you pick up your opponent, too.  You have likely watched top professional athletes, such as those in the UFC, performed the dead lift in some type of “behind the scenes” special showing preparation for a fight.

Let’s Discuss the Posterior Chain in Detail

The posterior chain is a group of muscles that run along the back of the body, from the base of the skull to the heels of the feet. These muscles work together to provide stability, power, and movement in many activities such as running, jumping, and lifting. The muscles of the posterior chain can be divided into three main categories:

  1. The Lower Back Muscles: The lower back muscles, also known as the erector spinae muscles, run along the spine and provide support and stability to the back. They are responsible for extending the spine and keeping the body upright.
  2. The Gluteal Muscles: The gluteal muscles, or the glutes, are the largest muscles in the body. They are in the buttocks and are responsible for hip extension and rotation. The glutes are also important for maintaining posture and stability.
  3. The Hamstrings: The hamstrings are a group of three muscles located on the back of the thigh. They are responsible for knee flexion and hip extension, and they work together with the glutes to create power in activities such as running, jumping, and lifting.

Function of the Posterior Chain

The posterior chain plays a crucial role in many activities that require strength, power, and endurance. Some of the functions of the posterior chain muscles include:

  1. Posture: The muscles of the posterior chain are responsible for maintaining good posture by keeping the spine and pelvis in a neutral position.
  2. Power: The posterior chain muscles are responsible for generating power in activities such as jumping, sprinting, and lifting. The glutes and hamstrings work together to create power during these activities.
  3. Stabilization: The muscles of the posterior chain provide stability to the hips, spine, and pelvis during activities such as running and jumping.
  4. Injury Prevention: Strong posterior chain muscles can help prevent injuries such as lower back pain and hamstring strains.
  5. Movement: The posterior chain muscles are involved in many movements such as walking, running, jumping, and lifting.

Why the Deadlift is Important for MMA Fighters

  1. Increased Strength: MMA fighters need to be strong to be successful in the sport. The deadlift is an exercise that can help build overall strength, particularly in the posterior chain muscles. This can improve an athlete’s ability to grapple, take down opponents, and maintain control on the ground.
  2. Injury Prevention: MMA fighters are at a high risk for injury due to the nature of the sport. The deadlift is an exercise that can help prevent injuries by strengthening the muscles in the posterior chain. This can help reduce the risk of lower back and hamstring injuries that are common in MMA.
  3. Improved Explosiveness: Explosiveness is important in MMA because it allows fighters to quickly close the distance on their opponents and execute takedowns or strikes. The deadlift can help improve explosiveness by training the muscles to generate power quickly. This can translate to more effective strikes and takedowns in the ring.
  4. Improved Endurance: MMA fights can be grueling, often lasting multiple rounds. The deadlift is an exercise that can help improve overall endurance by building muscular endurance in the posterior chain muscles. This can allow fighters to maintain their strength and explosiveness throughout a fight.
  5. Increased Grip Strength: Grip strength is important in MMA because it allows fighters to maintain control over their opponents. The deadlift is an exercise that can help improve grip strength because it requires a strong grip to hold onto the barbell.

The deadlift is an important exercise for MMA fighters because it can help increase strength, prevent injuries, improve explosiveness, improve endurance, and increase grip strength. Incorporating deadlifts into an MMA fighter’s training program can help improve their overall physical fitness and performance in the ring. However, it is important to note that proper technique and form must be used to prevent injury.  You will learn how to properly execute the dead lift as part of your training in the MMA Conditioning Coach Certification. This exercise, and hundreds of others, are broken down in detail as part of your curriculum. It is recommended that fighters work with a qualified trainer to ensure they are performing the exercise correctly.

Remember, there are always psychological components to winning as a combat athlete as well. You may want to also look at our sisters school and check out the Spencer Institute Sports Psychology Coach Certification.

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