Many MMA fighters dream of bringing home a hefty paycheck, but in reality, most make less than £1,000 per fight. While you may think extra time at the gym is the answer to improving your skills as a fighter, you may want to look beyond the ring to some less conventional activities that will translate to better performance. You fuel your body with the proper nutrients to be the best fighter you can be, but fueling your mind with the proper activities is just as important. Like Mr. Miyagi taught Daniel LaRusso how to be better at karate by waxing a car, there are seemingly unrelated things you can do to improve your fight.
Art for Attention
Most people have heard that art is used for therapy because it changes the circuits in the brain, but is it also true that art can improve attention and cognition. Art training can improve motor skills and attentional processes, both important in any kind of sport, especially in one where offense and defense can be important in the same moment. You don’t need to take formal art classes to reap these benefits; online tutorials and properly focusing can be just as effective. The key here is to learn new skills, whether formally or informally, and to practice those with regularity.
Meditation for Focus
Meditation often seems to be the cure-all for anything you can think of. Meditation is great for athletes, to relax, clear the mind, and visualize the athletic achievements you strive for. Additionally, scientific studies suggest that you can improve your intelligence and even your cardiovascular efficiency through meditative practice. You can even combine meditation with your art practice, doubling the benefits. Clearing the mind through the process of meditation can effectively increase focus during training in the gym.
Relaxation to De-stress
Stress and anxiety are the enemies of preparedness and talent. Though exercising and sweating are often touted as excellent stress relievers, you may need to do something other than your gym training to get in a headspace to bring your A game to the ring. Being relaxed and limiting stress is an excellent way to improve your athletic performance. Practicing yoga has been proven to decrease stress levels and leave one in a relaxed state. The increased flexibility gained from practicing yoga can not only help in the ring, but has also been linked to faster recovery from injuries. Even more important, yoga and stretching may reduce overall risk of injury, meaning you can spend more time in the gym.
While it may seem like a no brainer that increased time in the gym will lead to an increase in performance in the ring, this is not necessarily the case. Finding a way to add variety to your training by choosing pursuits that make you more well-rounded will make you a more formidable opponent. By selecting “extracurricular” activities that improve your mind and your muscles, you can become a better fighter overall.
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.