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5 Unique Strength Drills To Enhance MMA Performance And Serious Fitness

5 Unique Strength Drills To Enhance MMA Performance And Serious Fitness

So lately I’ve been working hard to demonstrate to people the significance of dynamic strength drills and how they play such a huge role in not only building athleticism, but also in helping people to develop a truly optimal level of fitness. This can be communicated by looking at how the practice of martial arts has influenced this and how it has bled into the fitness community and helped to forge some of the fittest individuals the world has ever seen. If you don’t believe me then just take a look at Bruce Lee, or any high level MMA fighter for that matter. The proof is in the pudding.

To Clarify

Just to clarify I’m not saying everyone should get into practicing MMA, or martial arts although that would be a really good thing…but that is a discussion for a different day. What I am saying is that we can blend elements of martial arts and dynamic movements to create a sort of hybrid of strength training to acquire the best of both worlds. Much of this can be seen with unique kettlebell and bodyweight training movements.

This is why today I want to introduce 5 unique strength drills that blend these elements to help you enhance your fitness level for both MMA and for life…regardless of whether you’re into martial arts or not.

5. The Glide Disc Push Up: 


Glide disc push ups are obviously a dynamic style of push up that are great for the purpose of developing tremendous shoulder and core stability. Shoulder and core stability are crucial for MMA and martial arts because powerful shoulders allow for powerful punches and for getting in and out of difficult grappling scenarios as well.

The glide disc adds a different element of controlled tension to the movement by forcing us to have to stabilize the body in a different way in order to move the disc seamlessly throughout the push up range of motion (ROM) while maintaining complete stabilization of the shoulder girdle.

By performing this movement with one hand on the disc and the other hand firm to the ground you essentially end up performing a push up on the grounded hand while simultaneously engaging the lat of the gliding hand much like you would with a pull up. This occurs because you have to slide the disc above the head during the descent towards the ground. From here you must follow up with a pull of the disc back down to bring your hand back in front of your body in line with your armpit to the start position as you ascend up out of the push up.


For the sake of this description let’s start with the disc under the right hand. Begin the drill in the upright push up position. At this point make sure that your body is secure and rigid. As you start to lower yourself towards the ground simultaneously flex the shoulder to slide the disc above your head.

Make sure to maintain rigidity and tension throughout the body to perform the movement with control. Once you reach the bottom of the push the right arm should be above your head while the left arm is in the base of a single arm push up position. From here ascend up out the push up by pushing off the left arm while simultaneously pulling (sliding) the right arm back into the upright position with it in line with your armpit.


Perform 3 to 7 repetitions with the disc on each hand at the end of your upper body days, or during more intense bodyweight sessions.

4. Get Up Floor Press (Sky Punch):


The Get Up Floor Press is a tremendous single limb (unilateral) floor drill designed to help the development of more seamless motion involving core activation, shoulder stability, and is even great for enhancing punching power for MMA and Combat needs.

The get up floor press is actually the first stage of a complete get up, but only involves the press and rolling up onto the elbow of the unloaded arm while driving the loaded arm holding the kettlebell or dumbbell into the perpendicular position pressed above the head.


Begin the get up floor press by starting out in the cradle position. For the sake of discussion if you’re lifting with the right arm start out lying in the cradle position on your right side. From here simply grip the kettlebell or dumbbell and roll over onto your back.

While lying on your back bend the right leg at about 45 degrees. Make sure that your legs are more than hip width part. Keep the loaded arm at a 45 degree angle at the shoulder with your arm resting on the ground. Keep a 90 degree bend of the loaded elbow with the opposite arm also at a 45 degree angle at the shoulder extended on the ground.

From here press the bell and roll up onto the elbow of the unloaded arm. Lower yourself in a controlled manner bringing the weight back down with your arm at rest on the floor once again. Repeat each subsequent repetition the same until you complete the desired number of reps.


Perform the get up floor press for 3 to 5 sets for 4 to 7 reps on each arm on your big core strengthening days, or at the end of an upper body session.

3. The Turkish Get Up


The turkish get up (TGU) is the complete version of the previous drill involving the get up floor press. The TGU is probably one of the most powerful exercises to perform in terms of correcting a great deal of movement dysfunction.

This is the case because the TGU trains core stability, shoulder stability and mobility, and last but not least it requires the execution of 3 of the 7 main primal movements in human function. These 3 movements consist of a push, a bend, and a lunge. The TGU can also be varied to transition into including other primary movements such as squats and twists as well.

Being that the TGU consists of multiple primal movements it trains us to move better through multiple planes of motion. With the lunge, the push, and the bend we are covering movement in both the frontal and sagittal planes of motion (see diagram below). Not only does this train us for strength, but it improves our overall motor function and enhances our agility at the same time.

Being a ground based movement that involves such skill it’s easy to see how the TGU (and the get up floor press for that matter) would translate well over to the world of MMA and Combat particularly for the improvement of grappling strength and agility. Nonetheless, when performed with a high level of proficiency this drill will significantly enhance your fitness whether you’re in the fighting game, or not.


To keep things simple begin the TGU the same exact way as the previous drill involving the get up floor press. Everything is exactly the same up until you roll up onto the elbow of the unloaded arm. From here the next step is to transition your weight from that elbow up to the hand of the unloaded arm that is firmly planted on the ground.

From here perform a hip thrust by driving off the right leg (same as the loaded side of the body in this example) to elevate the hips off the ground in order to pull the extended leg underneath your body to plant the knee on the ground at a 90 degree angle.

Once the knee is planted lift the hand that’s on the ground up off the ground. Next, windshield wiper the left leg over to get your body straight into alignment in order to stand up out of the lunge. Once you have gotten to this point simply reverse course and perform everything in reverse to return back to the ground.


I like to program TGU’s a couple of different ways. I’ll either use them as a secondary lift to close out a lower body day, or if I want to fine tune function, focus on volume, or just focus on get up strength I’ll include the TGU as a single training session by itself.

Depending on the intensity and which way you program as described in the previous sentence I would recommend performing 6 to 10 TGU’s on each arm.

2. Hindu Push Up: 


The Hindu push up is essentially a half dive bomber push up and is great for prying the shoulders into flexion during the upward phase of the movement. It also forces a loaded stretch onto the lats and abdominals.

The upward phase of this movement also stretches the posterior chain muscles hitting the calves, hamstrings, and low back. Obviously this is a great stand alone strength drill, but it can also be a beneficial preparatory strength drill to perform prior to doing any overhead pressing as well.

With all of these physical elements this particular strength drill can be a significant add on to your arsenal of dynamic strength exercises in order to enhance your MMA, Combat, and fitness needs. The supple nature of the drill alone is enough to make it a definite go to, but the swooping push up is just icing on the cake in terms of the strength focus.


Begin the Hindu push up in a normal upright push up position. Make sure your feet are wider than shoulder width. From here lift your hips to the sky keeping your arms and legs straight.

Once your hips are lifted at the peak work to pull your heels to the ground while also focusing on prying your shoulders by trying to pull your armpits towards the ground as well.

Next, descend downward in a swooping motion towards the ground mimicking the motion of diving under a fence post. Once you’ve completed the dive under the imaginary fence post swoop back up lowering your hips to the ground while raising your chest up. From here simply kick the hips back to the sky and repeat the process.


Perform 3 to 5 sets at 5 to 10 reps at the end of your upper body training days.

1. Push Up Dumbbell Drag


The addition of the dumbbell drag between push ups obviously adds an entirely new challenge to the movement. With the dumbbell drag I’m working to develop a greater level of stability across the midline of the body.

In addition to this by dragging the weight across the body I’m emphasizing more shoulder adduction along with a level of anti-rotation of the thoracic cavity. In other words, I’m maintaining rigidity of the T-spine as I move the dumbbell across my body on the ground. I’m resisting the urge to twist or break into a movement pattern when dragging the dumbbell across my body.

This resistance to break into a twisting pattern creates strength and will actually result in greater rotational power which will translate well into throwing kicks and punches if the need arises. Obviously you can see the benefit of this in regards to MMA and Combat performance.


Begin in an upright push up position. Make sure your feet are about hip width distance apart. For the sake of explaining this drill let’s say the dumbbell is placed on your righthand side. First, perform a standard push up.

After the push up grab the dumbbell (in this example) with your right hand and move it across your body to set it on the ground just behind and outside of your left hand. From here perform another push up and do the same with moving the dumbbell back across the body with the left hand. Continue to maintain strict rigidity throughout the body by not twisting the hips, or moving your upper body when performing the dumbbell drag.


I like to program the push up dumbbell drags in as a solid finisher to smoke out the day’s upper body power training session. I would recommend performing 3 to 5 sets of 5 to 10 reps on each side of the body. Start out doing these by playing with the weight of the dumbbell to see what you can do with the drags without breaking into a twist pattern.

Remember the goal is to work to maintain rigidity of your torso throughout the working set. If you find yourself breaking into a pattern by twisting to move the weight then the dumbbell is too heavy. Gauge your intensity by using this metric.

In Closing

Whether or not you’re into training for MMA or Combat fighting these drills are absolutely tremendous for your fitness program if you’re serious about getting results. When a trainee becomes proficient in performing these drills the benefits of shoulder stability and mobility along with building significant core stabilization will become a huge asset in other areas of your training and fight performance.

Have you tried any of these drills in your training?

Do you have some unique strength drills of your own that you utilize in your training?

If so post up in the comments below and tell us about it.

Also if you want to learn how to tie these together then make sure you check out my brand new 90 Day MMA Strength And Conditioning Program right here below! I guarantee it’ll get you into the best shape of your life, or I’ll give you your money back no questions asked.


It’s changing lives already!

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I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

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