When you ask the majority of fighters what they do for a warm-up before training, most will say they do some type of stretching, usually for tight areas like the hamstrings and groin. But research shows that a dynamic warm-up is far superior for performance and injury prevention when compared to static stretching. So what exercises should a mixed-martial artist warm-up for optimum performance and injury prevention?
Well, there are a few general criteria that, when included, will result in maximum performance while decreasing the risk of injury.
1) Movements should be included for the muscles that are going to be used during the training session. If you're doing the warm-up before a strength training session where you'll be starting off with bench press, you'll need to warm-up the pecs, triceps, deltoids, serratus anterior, and lats.
2) Movements should work the muscles through a complete range of motion. The dynamic warm-up will increase your mobility if you do all exercises to the end ranges of motion. For example, if you're doing basic bodyweight squats, you'll want to squat right down, touching your butt to your heels if you can. Doing so will help to keep your muscles, tendons, and ligaments from tightening up and shortening.
3) Muscle activation exercises should be included for muscles that are commonly inhibited. One muscle group that is often inhibited is the glutes. Because a lot of people have spent so much time sitting on them, they get sleepy and lazy and need to be woken up. If you have inhibited glutes, you may notice during lunges that your knee will cave in (valgus knee). This is a sign of glute weakness/inhibition. To activate the glutes before doing an exercise like lunges, you can do hip extensions. Simply lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, squeeze your butt cheeks together and raise your hips. Hold for 4 seconds, repeat 8 times.
4) The routine should increase the heart-rate, body temperature, and breathing rate gradually to a comfortable level. In order to do this, you'll have to move quickly from one exercise to the next, which means you want to know exactly what to do before you get started. Like anything, if you fail to plan, then plan to fail. So come up with a routine before you get to the gym.
So in putting this together, you could do something very simple such as:
20 jumping jacks 10 hip extensions 10 squats 10 pushups 10 lunges
Repeat 2 to 3 times and you've got yourself a decent warm-up.
Learn the complete program used to help fighters such as Jeff Joslin reach peak levels of conditioning by checking out the Ultimate MMA Strength and Conditioning Program