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Burn with Kearns: Are you Fit to Fight? – Kevin Kearns

by Kevin Kearns, contributing writer

Are you Fit to Fight?             

Now, before all the male egos out there beat our chests and say “ hell yah! I’m fit to fight!”  I’m not really talking about a real street fight or military combat (well maybe…). I am talking about an MMA fight like the ones we see on Fox sports with the UFC. MMA is a sport that has been popular since the 1990’s. However, it’s been around for some time. They have seen paintings and sculptures depicted multi-discipline combat moves back to the Toga days. Back then it was a little less civilize and there was no “referee” per se. Today, they call the fight in the octagon more civilized which I do agree with. However, when you look at both times in history the fitness level to stay in that type of physical condition is most inspiring.

So, what does it take to walk in the cage or the ring ? What attributes do you need to be fit to fight?  Many of us would settle for being fit as a fighter. No offense to the bodybuilding community but there is little room for the those big bulky muscles in the ring or cage. They simply are not functional. How much you can bench press is not going to relate to how well you can throw a punch. Many people may think that, but as a personal strength coach to over 15 pro MMA fighters, it simply is not the case. In order to go into the “chaos of combat “ as we call it, you need several attributes.

  1. Agility for mobility – One of my favorite lines from the great boxing coaching Peter Welch “Smart feet, smart fighter – dumb feet, dumb fighter”. It’s that simple. We use a variety of tools to accomplish this. Our favorite tools are the agility ladders and Jump Sport Fitness Trampolines.
  2. Machine Gun Endurance – It takes a lot of both aerobic and anaerobic endurance to be able to throw flurries of punches, kicks, knees, and  elbows. They may throw as many as 50 to 100 punches in just 1 5-minute round. Luckily there is a way to develop this type of endurance. We call it “Gas In The Tank”. We use a variety of tools that any trainer can get their hands on. One of our favorite to tax our fighters consistently is “Wear Bands”. These little gyms give the wearer that ability to perform any movement possible while having a “load” placed on the lower body and core without the stress of heavy weights.
  3. Coconut crushing grip – This may sound a little silly but if someone puts you in a solid choke hold you figure out pretty quickly what I mean. The ability to maintain a grip or a lock on an opponent for an extended period of time without fatigue is a real bonus. Two of our favorite tools for grip power is the Purmotion Air Fit and The Atlas Ball.
  4. Flexibility on the Fly – The ability to be flexible like water and jump from one position to another is key. It’s actually key in any sport, but for MMA it’s essential. Without the ability to move from a takedown to back on your feet in the striking game will have your opponent’s hand raised and not yours at the end of the day. Our personal favorite is Vinyassa Yoga. This system has been around for over 25,000 years. The benefits of full range motion are enormous for any athlete or general population.
  • So, now you are thinking, “I’m not a fighter?” – “How is this going to help me ?” – You may not be a “fighter”, per se, but everyone has a fighter within them. You might be fighting a disease, a lousy job or fighting to lose weight. Here’s the real gold of this type of programming. It burns up towards 1200 calories in less than an hour no matter who you are! The secret is in the effective, efficient and safe HIT MMA fitness inspired protocols. We have used this type of training for athletes and for desk jockeys. Let’s start with a simple 1 round fight type circuit that takes 7 to 10 minutes. The programming is as follows – 30 seconds of work and 15 seconds of rest with a 1 minute break between rounds. As you become more fit to fight, you add more rounds and new exercises as you desire. If you want more work, then add 10 to 15 seconds extra per round or add the Wear Bands during the whole workout. It’s the simple and effective. Here’s a sample workout. The formula for the programming is the following. It’s what we call the “5 elements of fitness”.
  • push movement
  • pull movement
  • level change
  • locomotion
  • rotation
  • also the order is irrelevant

Gas in the Tank, Round 1

  1. Pit pulls – with a double thick band around your waist get down on all fours. Now bear crawl forward and touch your trainers hand or a cone.
  2. High Knees in the agility ladder – with an agility ladder laid out on the floor sprint forward and then back placing one foot in each square .
  3. Fireman pickups- placing your 50 lb. atlas ball on the ground , bend down and then lift and sling it over your shoulder. Repeat this on the other side .
  4. Rippers- with an Purmotion Air Fit or other suspension device grab the handles or fabric and rotate from right to left shoulder
  5. Bear Fight – just about literally. You are going to take a Jump Sport Fitness Trampoline and your Atlas ball. Then you are going to throw your Atlas Ball at the trampoline. Oh, by the way, you have to catch it on the return.
  6. Ground and Pound – take your Jump Sport Fitness Trampoline and a small med ball. Now in push up position you are going to throw the med ball at the trampoline and catch it as you work around the trampoline in a circle fashion.
  7. Wear Band Muay Thai Knees – as you know I suggest having these little gems on the whole time during the workout. In a fight ready stance, you are going to alternate throwing your right and left knee.
  8. Core Hammer – with 4 lb. sledgehammer in your hands you are going to sit on the floor with your knees bent and legs elevated. Now you will circle your head with one hammer at a time

Well, there you have it. If you give this a whirl, I can pretty much guarantee you will be Fit to Fight!

Coach Kevin


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Coach Kevin Kearns has been coaching in the world of fitness, nutrition, and tactical self defense for over 3 decades. As the former conditioning coach to 15 UFC Pro Fighters, and ranked in the Top 5 in the UFC , he is no stranger to the the importance of proper nutrition and proper mindset programming. He has long advocated to all his clients – athletes or the general population – about the importance of programming mind, body and spirit. 

Coach Kevin Kearns BS FMS CPT – Former conditioning coach to 15 UFC Pros Ranked in Top 5 by the UFC Personal Fitness Coach, Author, Columnist, Motivational Speaker, Corporate Wellness Consultant, Youth Wellness Program Provider, Certification Specialist, Personal Self Defense, and Law Enforcement Defensive Tactics Specialist

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