Building the Hard Core

by Adam benShea on May 14, 2013

While Lululemon wearing Pilates instructors and late night infomercials all tout the importance of a strong core, it should not be forgotten that powerful abs play a crucial role in all MMA fighting movements.

The circle of exercises to strengthen legs, shoulders, and arms grows ever wider. However, as your upper and lower bodies build in strength, the importance of the core muscles becomes increasingly essential. To paraphrase the legendary waterman and big wave surfer, Dave Kalama, “you need a strong core to connect the power in your legs with the power in your upper body.”

More fundamentally, abdominal strength enables you to take a stiff body blow and adds rotational power to strikes, takedowns, and submissions. Moreover, nearly every movement in grappling, trapping, clinching, and striking either begins in the core or incorporates the core in the delivery of the attack.

As seen in “Judo” Gene LeBell’s workout, training the abs can be as simple and brutal as hundreds of traditional sit-ups. In a similar fashion, MMA pioneer and shootfighting champion, Erik Paulson, has said that he will not leave the gym until he pops out 500 crunches.

Training martial arts, such as boxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, will provide an ample ab workout. But, specific ab exercises will enhance your martial performance.

Ab workouts can be done first thing in the morning, as part of a conditioning program, or as a warm-up or warm-down to training. The workouts could range from banging out hundreds of crunches (in the tradition of LeBell and Paulson) or you could try a plank workout (a favorite exercise of MMA trainer Greg Jackson)

A Simple Starter 8 Minute Plank Workout:

Regular Plank 2 min
Side Plank 2 min
Side Plank (opposite side) 2 min
Push Up Plank 2 min

As you progress, you can add time or change how you perform the plank. For example, you can elevate your feet on a balance or bosu ball.

Outside of the cage and off the mat, training abs at the front end of summer has an obvious aesthetic value as well. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see a six pack of abs peeking out at them like Sen. Larry Craig at an airport lavatory?

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: