So these days whenever you walk into a fight gym you always hear a new customer, or potential trainee ask “What disciplines do you train out of your school?” So naturally the owner or head trainer may reply “We offer boxing,” or “We offer Jiu Jitsu,” or “We offer Muay Thai.” Consequently kettlebell exercises and strength and conditioning are rarely the central focus.
These are all the general bread and butter answers. However today I want to talk about the discipline of Strength And Conditioning, or more specifically some strength and conditioning involving kettlebell exercises that are essential for your MMA, Combat, and Military fitness.
Kettlebell Exercises For MMA, Combat, And Military
1. Kettlebell Exercises: The Kettlebell Swing:
Over my career in training athletes for MMA and fight training the kettlebell swing has proven to be a bulletproof movement. There is no question it’s absolutely crucial for training you to learn how to generate force rapidly. This is because of the quick burst of the hip snap and the core stability that is necessary to drive the arc of the kettlebell during the swing. As a result this is perfect for simulating the element of striking in a fight scenario.
The movement is perfect for developing the similar work capacity of striking. This is because it mimics the intermittent burst of striking through the duration of a fight round.
Begin the kettlebell swing movement with your feet at shoulder width distance apart. Firmly ground your feet and hinge your hips back to grab the handle of the kettlebell with a firm grip.
Grab the handle and rotate your fist so that your knuckles are pointing towards the sphere of the kettlebell to secure your grip. Next, hike the kettlebell like a football between your legs firmly pushing your wrists into your groin.
Once you hike the kettlebell simply stand tall with double extension of your knees and hips to lock out your body at the top of the swing movement. From here hike the bell between your legs at your groin again as you hinge your hips and slightly bend at the knees to load up for the next swing rep.
Perform the kettlebell swing on a regular basis to develop good work capacity. Use it either as a main training implement for the day, or as a supplement to your lower body training days. Perform 5 to 10 sets of 15 to 20 reps depending on your goals for a respective training day.
2. Kettlebell Exercises: Kettlebell Snatch
The kettlebell snatch is the next progression in the evolution. This is because it’s the next best progression after you become proficient at the kettlebell swing. As a result it is a powerful movement to generate tremendous dynamic core strength along with leg drive and shoulder stability.
The snatch is both a violent and smooth movement to execute with the kettlebell at the same time. This is because it is great for helping you to develop a bone crushing grip while also aiding that whole element of force production. This is particularly the case when looking at being able to execute more forceful punches and elbows for your MMA and Combat fight performance.
For the sake of discussion let’s assume you’re performing the kettlebell snatch with your right hand. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart because you want to establish a solid base of support. Next, grab the kettlebell with your right hand. Firmly grip the handle towards the left horn of the bell and once again roll your knuckle towards the sphere of the bell. This is crucial because it will influence the path of the bell when you lock it out in the overhead position.
Next, like the swing hike the bell between your legs with your wrist firm into the top left side of your groin. From here double extend at your knees and hips to straighten your body and propel the kettlebell all the way up to above your head. Keep the sphere of the kettlebell close to your body during the ascent to lock it out overhead. This is because you want the movement to be seamless.
Make sure to allow the kettlebell to smoothly corkscrew around your wrist as you ascend it to the locked out position. Once overhead simply allow the kettlebell sphere to corkscrew around your wrist in the opposite direction as you allow the kettlebell to descend. As a result you will want to hike it between your legs again to set up for the next repetition.
Once again make sure to work at practicing the kettlebell snatch with some regularity. Once you’re proficient with the technique perform 5 to 10 sets of 5 to 10 repetitions on each arm with a moderately heavy resistance depending on the day’s training goals.
3. Kettlebell Exercises: Turkish Get Up (TGU)
When talking about MMA, Combat, and Military performance the TGU is invaluable. This is the case because to be an optimally functional human being you must possess the ability to get up off the ground. If you’re talking about fight and combat performance you must be able to do this with supreme confidence and ability.
Not only should you be capable of getting up off the ground with athletic ability, but in terms of combat and fight performance you should be able to possess a high level of ground based agility as well. The TGU will provide this to you in a big way.
In addition to this the TGU can be varied and you can perform it with a kettlebell, a dumbbell, or a sandbag. This exercise is going to be a versatile option for your on the ground training.
The TGU is a complex movement. For the sake of discussion let’s assume you’re performing this movement with the weight in your right hand.
Start out in the cradle position as you can see me demonstrating in the video. Roll over onto your back pressing the bell towards the ceiling while bending your right knee and keeping the left leg straight. Maintain a wide base keeping your right and left leg wider than your hip width.
From here roll onto the your right elbow and then up to your right hand locking out the elbow. Next, lift your hip off the ground by extending your right hip.
From here pull and scoop your left leg up underneath your body resting on the knee. That knee should be directly in line underneath shoulder and arm with the weight overhead. Keeping your eyes on the weight from here lift your hand off the ground and windshield wiper the left leg to straighten up your stance in the lunge position in order to stand up.
Once you have gotten to your feet simply reverse course to get back to the ground and switch arms in order to execute the next repetition.
The TGU can and should be a regular part of your strength and conditioning program. You can program this in a couple days a week and obtain tremendous strength and function from the movement. Once proficient at TGU’s then perform 5 to 10 repetitions on each arm either as a supplemental lift to your leg day, or as a complete training session all by itself. Of course you can scale the intensity of weight depending on the day’s goal.
4. Kettlebell Exercises: Goblet Squat
This movement is terrific at prying the hips and helping you to groove into a quality squat pattern. This is because squatting is essential for all athletic movement. As a result when it comes to fighting and combat performance this is an absolute must to include into your strength and conditioning to ramp things up.
Since the weight is loaded at the front of your body it acts as a counter weight to stabilize your body when descending into the hole of the squat. Consequently this will optimize the mobility of your ankles, knees, and hips. Optimal mobility equates to leg power and greater leg power equates to more powerful strikes involved in punching and kicking.
Stand with your feet at shoulder width. Hold the kettlebell at your chest gripping the horns (sides of the handle) with your elbows pointing down towards your knees. Allow the kettlebell to rest at your chest like you’re holding a goblet.
From here brace your midsection and hinge your hips back as if you’re sitting on an invisible chair, or bench. It’s also important here for you to hinge your hips and break at your knees to track your torso in the descent. So ideally you want your elbows to touch the insides of your knees for an optimal ROM. From here simply stand up fully extending your knees and hips.
Goblet squats can be a regular part of your MMA, Combat, and Military fitness. As a stand alone workout try performing 6 to 8 sets of 15 reps with a moderately heavy weight. As a preparatory movement for you try performing the goblet squat with a lighter weight and focus on settling the knees and hips into the base of the squat prying on the ankles for 2 to 3 sets for a slow 5 to 6 repetitions.
5. Kettlebell Exercises: Kettlebell Halo To Reverse Lunge
The kettlebell halo to reverse lunge is a tremendous stability drill for your hips and shoulder girdle. The ability for you to move and stabilize while dropping into a reverse lunge is significantly challenged by circling the bell around your head. This is because it forces you to find your base of support with added movement.
This is highly beneficial for scenarios that involve you grappling and having to wrestle with your opponent.This is important because you’ve got to be capable of handling the struggle of an opponent getting up off the ground, or while taking them to the ground. Therefore having strong legs and strong, yet mobile shoulders is going to be crucial for you in such a situation.
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Hold the horns of a kettlebell with the bell upside down with the sphere of the bell facing towards your head.
From here reverse lunge with your right leg going back breaking at the knee keeping it directly in line under your hips. As you descend into the lunge circle the kettlebell around your head moving it in a clockwise direction going left.
To coordinate this remember the halo motion. This is important because the kettlebell goes in the direction of the leg that is in front of you. So in this description you will circle the bell over the left leg as it’s in front of you.
Perform 3 sets of 5 to 7 repetitions on each leg during your lower body strength days.
The Takeaway From These Kettlebell Exercises
One thing is for certain about these kettlebell exercises and that is these movements are tried and true because I have field tested these myself. In short, these movements will give your MMA fitness and performance a kick ass upgrade. Being proficient at performing these kettlebell exercises for MMA and Combat will enhance your performance in the ring. The best way for you to improve performance is to mimic movements that simulate the athletic and fight scenarios that may arise.
What kettlebell exercises are you currently using in your MMA, Combat, or Military strength and conditioning?
What kettlebell exercises do you want to learn more about?
Do you think you might have overlooked the effectiveness of kettlebell exercises?
Do you want to learn more about how to really leverage kettlebells as an MMA fitness training implement?
Learn how to tie these together. 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.
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