5 Mixed Martial Arts Training Tips for Female Beginners
As a woman, getting started in MMA can be an arduous experience. But don’t fret; there’s nothing wrong with feeling that way; in fact, it's quite normal. Getting started with training in MMA is challenging enough; however, once you add the variable of being a woman in a male-dominated sport, that difficulty can become inflated to unreasonable heights.
And although women in MMA have become more common today, that doesn’t necessarily make things any easier.
And often, these challenges can interfere with your training and, as a result, prevent you from progressing as quickly as you’d like. But as luck would have it, there are things you can focus on and do that will help you ease through the growing pangs of adapting to this new and exciting hobby!
Here are 5 training tips to help you continue making progress.
1. Ask Questions
I get it; it’s intimidating to raise your hand in class with everyone listening and eavesdropping on the questions you have. You may refrain from asking for help because you’re scared that your question is dumb and that others will judge you. You don’t want to look inept in any way. But here’s the deal; as a beginner -- you ARE inept. And that’s okay. It’s just how it is; nobody starts as a pro in anything.
We all begin at a novice level. And you know what? Your more experienced classmates know this because they’ve been there too! So trust me, they’re not judging you. In fact, more than likely, they’ll have more respect for you for asking the question in the first place because it demonstrates you’re serious about improving and doing better.
And if you’re that intimated, try speaking with your instructor after class and ask them your questions then.
2. Don’t Forget to Stretch
MMA requires your body to be at its optimal; this includes strength, speed, focus, and, yes, flexibility. Flexibility is necessary for fluid movement and getting out of tough and tight positions like an armbar or full mount. And the best way to achieve that loose and limber demeanour is pre-game and, more importantly, post-game stretching.
Here are some MMA stretches you can try:
- Standing hamstring stretch: Extend one leg by putting it on a raised surface, such as a bench or curb. While keeping a straight spine, bring your thigh forward by bending at the hip. The other unstretched leg will slightly bend at the knee; hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds before switching legs.
- Pigeon pose: Sit down, and place your right leg directly behind you. Bent at the knee, move your left leg forward, ensuring your left shin is placed perpendicularly to your right leg. Once in this position, lean forward until a deep stretch is felt on your left leg. Hold for 20 seconds and then swap legs.
- Scorpion stretch: Lying flat face down on the ground, face your palms downward while stretching your arms in front of you. Lift your right leg and put it over to the left of your lower back. Hold your ankle with your hands, and press your heel toward your backside.
- Butterfly stretch: Sit down with your legs in front of you and touch the soles of your feet together. Lean over your legs and avoid letting your knees travel upward. You can lean forward even more while sliding your feet toward your groin to get a deeper stretch.
- Hip to twist: Get in the pushup position, raise your right foot to your right hand, retaining a downward hip position with a flat lower back. Next, lift your left hand and twist to your left, stretching your arm toward the ceiling.
Take 5 minutes before and after class to stretch your muscles, limbs, and joints. Your body will thank you afterward because not only does stretching warm you up for sparring, but it also makes your movements more languid and unhurried, which goes a long way in preventing injuries. Aim for dynamic stretching before class, which helps warm up your muscles, and static stretching after class to cool down.
This removes lactic acid, the chemical in your muscles that induce post-training muscular stiffness. Without post-training stretching, you’re more susceptible to injuries and strained muscles.
3. Consume a Balanced Diet
As it pertains to training, this is one of the most important tips. Eating the right foods fuels your body, providing it with the energy it needs to go the distance -- not just on the mats but also in life. Here are a few dietary guidelines to help with your MMA training:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Lots of water
- Chicken breast
- Ground beef
- Greek yogurt,
- Any type of seafood (salmon, shrimp, tuna, etc.)
- Nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, pistachios)
All of these things will make a huge difference in your training. And as a beginner, when you see these improvements take place, it becomes incredibly rewarding and the motivation to continue will amplify itself.
4. Study Others
This can be your classmates and drilling partners, your instructors and teachers, and of course your idols. Study their techniques, setups, styles, etc. Then try them out for yourself! Why reinvent the wheel, right? Take what you learn from others and see how it fits your style. If you like it, keep doing it. If you don’t, then forget about it.
Watch MMA videos on YouTube, read articles on it, learn about women who practice MMA in Canada, the States, Europe, etc, and see what they do and how they do it. This will help you to learn new techniques to try, as well as refine and polish your game.
5. Keep Showing up
One of the most discouraging things about starting MMA is that you’re at the bottom of the totem pole. You’re the lowest in the pecking order. Everyone will be better than you; everyone will make you tap, choke you out, and submit you. You must accept this as part of the process and commit to attending class every week.
Your consistency will improve your skills as long as you keep showing up. But you can only get to that point through time and repetition. So make a committed effort to attend class every week, and eventually, you will see those improvements.
Here are a few ways you can show up consistently:
- Use a pre-week schedule: If you take some time before the start of each week to plan, you will be more likely to follow through on your commitments. For example, choose how many days you will train each week and place those days and times within a Google Calendar or some other application.
- Set reminders: Your smartphone has many standard apps that allow you to set event reminders. Set a reminder for MMA training. So if you decide to train 3 days a week, place a reminder alert the previous day, the day of, or a couple of hours before to remind you of your upcoming training session.
- Find a training buddy: Ask some other women at the gym if they’d like to be your accountability training buddy. This simple act can be beneficial to both of you, especially on those days when you’re feeling particularly unmotivated to train.
As a bonus tip - remember, there is no shame in tapping; tap when your muscles or joints feel like they are reaching their limit. An injury can happen very quickly in Jiu-Jitsu, and it is more beneficial to concede and be able to train your defence to that technique, uninjured, another day.
Ask questions, don’t forget to stretch, eat a balanced diet, study others, and keep showing up. You’d be surprised at your progress and what you can accomplish by following these simple tips!