Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) training is one of the most intense, physically-demanding sports around today. While traditional martial arts training would entail attendance a few times a week at a martial arts school accompanied by a bit of cardiovascular training, today’s MMA athlete will commonly train in four or five various disciplines. They will train in the likes of muay thai, jiu jitsu, judo, striking and wrestling, while also engaging in a strict program of weight and cardiovascular training, too.
With many competing MMA fighters train for four to six hours as many as four times a day, six days a week in the run up to a competition, it’s no wonder that many are turning to nutritional sports supplements to help them get the energy and nutrients they need to maintain a healthy, match-fit body. So what do MMA athletes use, and why?
Pre-workout supplements enhance focus, energy, alertness and oxygen flow to muscle tissue. While pre-workout products often come in the form of a protein powder shake and will sometimes contain carbohydrates, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, proteins and herbs, they’ll almost always include the following:
An amino acid, L-argenine is necessary for nitric oxide production, which aids creatine synthesis. Creatine, in turn, is necessary for the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is used to transport energy between cells for metabolism. Blood flow to muscle tissue (and thus stamina) is also improved, while it’s also used in tissue repair, reducing injury healing time.
A naturally-occurring beta-amino acid, beta-Alanine increases protein synthesis and thus reduces muscular fatigue, allowing fighters to perform high-intensity workouts for longer.
While its main use is to provide energy, some claim that it enhances strength and focus while also speeding up the metabolism to aid fat loss.
Mid-training session, athletes frequently feel drained to the point of submission, so incorporating supplements at intervals throughout every session will help to kick-start the body’s recovery process while also increasing endurance, which can be important to any gruelling MMA training regime.
While carbs are principally required to produce energy, they’re also used to burn fat.
These contain proteins, fast-absorbing carbohydrates and other important nutrients, energy boosters are high impact, low volume products, creating the least training disturbance possible.
Forming nine of the body’s 20 essential amino acids, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) help reduce muscle tissue breakdown, build lean muscle mass, and repair muscle tissue.
If the body doesn’t get the nutrients required for effective repair and renewal, a training program can be rendered useless. A good source of the fast-absorbing protein required for repair and reduction in the muscle breakdown, post-training supplements are also required to strengthen the immune system and enhance muscular energy storage for the next workout.
Protein is essential for repairing and building muscle and is available in various forms. Whey protein, usually taken in powdered shake form, is the fastest-absorbing protein available.
Unable to synthesise BCAAs itself, supplementation with isolated BCAAs is essential for fast recovery and strength.
Manufactured naturally in the body from the amino acids glycine, arginine and methionine, creatine is required for the production of ATP. Because anaerobic training rapidly depletes muscular energy stores, MMA athletes need to replenish them ready for the next time they train, enhancing the athlete’s ability to maintain muscular strength during short, high-intensity workouts.
So it’s easy to see how each of these supplements can help the dedicated MMA fighter to improve their body and their game – speak to your gym’s sports nutrition expert about the right products for you and your training program.