Is Mixed Martial Arts the best way to get in shape?
This is a tricky question because there is no real “best” when it comes to fitness. MMA, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay thai Kickboxing, and other realistic martial arts are obviously a very good way to get in shape and here are the reasons why.
Firstly, it is mentally engaging so you don’t get bored. One of the biggest challenges for most people looking for fitness is dealing with boredom. The fact is running on a treadmill, lifting weights, and other pure fitness activities are mind-numbingly boring. It is an activity that you are doing for a result – not an activity you are doing because you enjoy it (sort of like taking classes in subjects you hate but need in order to graduate). Martial Arts does not have this problem. Because you are always learning new techniques and engaged in a “threatening” environment, you live in the moment rather than thinking “one more rep, ten more pounds.”
Secondly, MMA is a great way to get in shape due to its social factor. You need other people to train with so you usually make good friends and relationships with a bunch of other students. One of the big problems with regular gyms is the dependence on workout buddies. You and friend sign up at a gym with the intention to get in shape. After a few weeks, one of you starts fading and because you “need” each other to train, the other person stops going too. Losing your workout buddy is not likely in an MMA gym because you have way more rapport with the other students. After all, you are holding pads, wrestling with, and maybe even punching and kicking each other – that builds bonds very quickly!
Thirdly, Mixed Martial Arts is a great way to get fit because the demands that it puts on your body are very diverse. Any student who just does grappling martial arts like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are often shocked at how tired they get when they do striking martial arts like Muay Thai. This also occurs vice-versa. MMA requires everything from agility and movement to isometric strength to explosiveness to flexibility to just straight-up being strong. Training in the various martial arts develops that functional athleticism that goes beyond just being in shape, although it will get you in great physical condition as well.
The other beautiful part of MMA is that you can scale it up. You might have zero knowledge of the martial arts and completely out-of-shape and get a great workout. You can also have the fitness level of a professional athlete and hold a decade-worth of fight experience, and also get a great workout. This is because Mixed Martial Arts depends a lot on the skill level of your opponents and training partners.
Furthermore, with “regular” fitness training, there is a HUGE plateau effect as you get stronger. You’re not going to see women bench-pressing 200 pounds and squatting 500 pounds. You’re not going to see many people run 4 minute miles. NO MATTER HOW MUCH THEY TRAIN OR WHO THEY TRAIN WITH. Also, people often quit working out because they realize its the same thing over and over – even if they reached their goals. Imagine that you began running in order to lose 20 pounds. You lose the weight but now you have to do what? Keep running! If you train martial arts however, you’re always going to be developing and improving your skills. Fitness, losing weight, getting stronger, etc are SIDE EFFECTS of doing MMA.
Bottom line: most people enjoy doing MMA because it is a fun activity. The fact that its fun, that you can progress, and that its scale-able allows you to really fall in love with it. Can I say it’s the ‘best’ way to get in shape? No because there is no best. But I can say it’s a damn good way to get in shape and definitely worth doing if you aren’t a fan of the typical Gym.