Fighters have been some of my favorite athletes to work with since the beginning.. One of the first competitive athletes I ever worked with in 2007 was second league wrestler Nico Braun. The first competitive athlete to book four sessions of personal training per week at the YPSI was Kickboxer Emre Oezusakiz in late 2010 in preparation for his European Championship Fight. Over the years I have worked with fighters such as the two-time World Champion in kickboxing from Switzerland Slavo Polugic, Ju Jutsu World Champion Romy Korn, professional boxer Sergej Haan, first division Judokas Marco Meier and Nick Haasmann, the 4-time World Champion in Kickboxing / K1 Ibrahim Karakoc and of course UFC Fighter Peter Sobotta, his protege Mert Özyildirim and most recently UFC Fighterin Cristina Stanciu from Romania.
Training culture, their enthusiasm for progression and the complexity of the individual disciplines make martial arts such a great sport for the spectator and the coach.
My expertise is strength training, nutrition and supplementation. From this point of view, squat is a central element in the strength training programs of all fighters I have ever worked with.
Any fighter, whether a boxer, judoka or MMA fighter, wants to become faster and more explosive, minimize injury risk and carry as little body fat as possible – except sumo wrestlers. For all these purposes, squats are key. Of course, it depends on the specific sets and reps as well as the speed of movement, sleep and food, if and which desired effects occur.
Below are three points that will be improved by the squat:
1. More Knee Stability – deep squats over the entire range of motion, that means the back of the thighs cover the entire calf at the lowest point, train all muscles around the knee and hip thus ensure greater stability and mobility in knee and hip joint . This reduces the risk of injury in these joints. And maximizes power output in strikes, takedowns and throws.
2. More power from the hip - no matter whether more precise and explosive strokes, harder kicks, faster takedowns and throws, the power comes primarily from the hip. More strength and better flexibility in the hip through squats ensures that you can generate more power and move faster. And manage distance more efficiently from a physical standpoint. And will cause more damage once you touch your opponent.
3. More Mass - Squats are an excellent exercise to build muscle mass when trying to move up a weight class or to reduce body fat when you want to down or fill out a weight class - assuming both set rep schemes and appropriate food choices, both goals can be achieved with squats in a very efficient manner. No other exercise allows the application for such a wide range of reps and training goals as the squat and its variations.
Other exercises such as leg curls, backextension, deadlift or split squats should of course also be trained at the right time. However, the squat in its variations is the single exercise that can massively improve strength, muscle mass and mobility in the lower body.
All the Best with Squats for Fighters!
Image: Cristina Stanciu during squats at the YPSI. (Photo: Peter Sobotta)