Core Exercises For MMA Using the Heavy Bag

When you think of a core exercise, most people think of doing situps, crunches, and the hundreds of variations of these exercises. These exercises are good for when you're on your back in MMA, but aren't as applicable to developing your core for striking power.

To develop your core so that your punches and kicks get harder and faster, you need to train your core in a standing position.

The medicine ball is the perfect tool to use to develop explosive hands because it develops your rotational power. But using the medicine ball requires you to be able to throw it – something not possible for many people who train in the gym (or have to train in the gym in winter, like here in Canada).

To get the same benefits as using a medicine ball, you can use a heavy bag.

You're going to learn 2 exercises that will really develop explosive striking and you can do them at your MMA club.

Here's the first one:

Heavy Bag Chest Throw

  1. Stand in front of a heavy bag and push it up until it's at a 45 degree angle and you're holding your body at an angle
  2. Take a wide stance and bend your knees to get in a quarter squat position
  3. Throw the bag up and forward and catch it and repeat immediately

This exercise gives you the sagittal plane stability that you need to keep a solid base when you lean into a punch and connect.

The next exercise gives you the transverse plane stability for generating explosiveness in your strikes:

Heavy Bag Hand-to-Hand Pass

  1. Stand in front of a heavy bag with a wide stance and bent knees
  2. Keep good posture throughout
  3. Throw the ball with one hand to the other as hard and fast as you can without losing your posture
  4. Keep your abs tight (braced)

Now for each of these exercises, you want to do them quickly and explosively, but never lose your posture. Maintaining your posture is how you train the core muscles, once you lose it, the muscles you want to be working stop.

Instead of doing these exercises for reps, do them for time. Do as many as you can in 10-15 seconds, rest a minute between sets, then repeat for 3-5 sets each. You can also superset them, depending on your current fitness level and what you want to get out of the training.

Following exercises by reading the descriptions can be tough, so if you want to see how these exercises are performed properly, as well as more advanced core exercises, check out the Ultimate MMA Strength and Conditioning Program The book contains images and access to a video library with every exercise in the program to turn you into a machine.

Article written by Eric Wong

Eric graduated from the University of Waterloo’s Kinesiology program with Honours and has been active in the Strength and Conditioning field since 2002, specializing in training for maximum performance in mixed-martial arts.

He is the Strength and Conditioning Coach for Jeff Joslin, helping prepare Jeff for his last two fights including his UFC debut. Other athletes following his strength and conditioning methods include Rory McDonell, Ray “The Hitman” Penny, and Jack Szatko, among others.

He is the author of the Ultimate MMA Strength and Conditioning Program, which has elevated the performance of mixed-martial artists around the world. He has also produced the highly popular and successful MMA Ripped Fat Loss Program.

He currently resides in Burlington, Ontario, and can be contacted to hold a clinic for your club or design individual programs for an upcoming fight.