There are 14 former Olympians and 17 former NCAA wrestling champions currently competing in the MMA. That means you’ve got some fierce competition. If you want to have an edge and maximize your chances of success, you’ve got to be in the best shape of your life. Where do you start? Let’s take a look.
Eat, and eat well. That means lots of lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and fiber. Keep the carbs low and eat clean, but at the same time, don’t beat yourself up if you indulge here and there. As long as you’re working out and not preparing for an event with a weigh-in, there’s no need to deprive yourself of your favorite foods. Moderation is key.
You also want to stay super hydrated. If your urine is clear, you’re on target. Don’t overdo it though. The best thing to do is listen to your body. If you’re visiting the bathroom too much, scale back. If your urine is yellow, drink more. Avoid caffeinated and sugary drinks which either dehydrate you or wreak havoc on your blood sugar. Also avoid energy drinks, which can be very dangerous.
Workout 4-5 days a week, but no more. Your muscles need time to rest. Your schedule should include one rest day for every 2-3 workout days. Incorporate cardio, flexibility, strength, endurance and stamina training, making sure to give yourself plenty of variety. Don’t forget to warm up and cool down, and listen to your body. Don’t try to fight through the pain.
One thing not to worry about is BMI. Many people swear by it as a gauge of fitness, but you shouldn’t, because it’s not as black and white as it claims to be. It doesn’t take into account different body types or the fact that muscle mass weighs more than fat. Therefore, someone who has lots of muscle and very low body fat can have a BMI that’s considered overweight or obese. Ridiculous. Forget about BMI and pay attention to the scale and how you feel. Your trainer can measure your body fat for you.
Above all, get plenty of rest. That means at least eight hours of quality sleep each night. Sleep is when your body heals and rejuvenates itself. Meditation is also important to clear the mind and reduce stress. Visualize your goals and where you want to be. Quick naps during the day can be helpful too. Again, listen to your body and embrace self-care. It’s important to listen to things like pain and fatigue. They are your body’s way of telling you to slow down and take a break. Ignore them, and you’re not strong, you’re risking serious injury. Rest is not a four-letter word.
Getting in shape for the MMA won’t be easy. It takes hard work and discipline. You’ve got to be strict with yourself about working about, eating right and getting plenty of rest. You might feel like giving up but keep on going, and you’ll be rewarded.
Jess Walter is a freelance writer and mother. She loves the freedom that comes with freelance life and the additional time it means she gets to spend with her family and pets.