If the pandemic’s got you feeling a little soft around the edges, you’re not alone—quarantine hasn’t been conducive to staying at your fighting weight. About 36 percent of people surveyed said that they’d gained weight during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of those people who gained weight, over 70 percent of them gained more than five pounds.
It’s understandable, especially in the early days of the pandemic. Strict lockdowns kept people out of the gym, and sometimes, even outdoors. By the time you add winter weather and the psychic weight of quarantine dragging on, it’s easy to fall off the fitness wagon.
When you’re ready to go hard at the gym, fight-style workouts might just be the key to getting back in shape. In fact, you might find yourself in the best shape of your life—and you’ll get to work out some aggression while you’re at it. Intrigued? Read on to find out how you can burn fat, build muscle and get those endorphins flowing.
What’s a ‘fight-style’ workout?
“Fight-style” workouts can range from wrestling and kickboxing to jiu-jitsu and Muy Thai. If it involves physical combat techniques, it falls under the umbrella. You don’t actually have to fight a person, either. For example, boxing workouts are easily performed with a punching bag and conditioning exercises.
Mixed martial arts (MMA) is one of the most popular types of workout, since it encompasses a variety of combat training. However, you can perform a lot of fight-style workouts at home. You might want to sign up for a class to learn proper form. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to prevent injury on your own.
Benefits of MMA and other fight-style workouts
- Build confidence. Nearly all exercise, when you keep up with it, builds confidence. There’s nothing like learning and improving on a new skill. Fight-style workouts take that benefit and expand on it—not only will you feel stronger and healthier, but you’ll notice better muscle tone early on in the process. When you feel good, confidence naturally follows.
- Burn fat, build muscle. Fight-style workouts combine cardio, strength training and metabolic conditioning in one session. These are the keys to burning fat and building muscle. Instead of three or four different workouts to achieve these goals, you can get it all done in one (fun) session, a few times per week. Their full-body workouts ensure that you’ll collapse in a sweaty, exhausted heap by the end of every session—in a good way, of course.
- Improve your flexibility. Most people are surprised to find out that fight-style workouts can actually improve your flexibility. There’s so much focus placed on building muscle that flexibility training gets lost in the shuffle. However, many martial arts, wrestling and other fight-style workouts use your body weight to stretch those muscles. (Don’t forget to stretch before and after your workout so that you’re not hobbling around like a 90-year-old the next day.)
- Learn self-defense. No matter who you are or where you live, it’s never a bad idea to know how to defend yourself. You don’t have to be a hulking gym god to do it, either. Fight-style workouts teach people to use momentum and leverage body weight in order to evade or best their attackers. With any luck, the only time you’ll use these techniques is in the gym—but if you’re in a tight spot, knowing these skills can keep you safe and calm your anxiety.
- It’s fun. When is the last time you thought of a workout as “fun?” Not just something you do because you want to ward off heart disease, or to fit in your favorite jeans—something you actually look forward to doing. If you’re a couch potato, the answer to that might be “never.” Fight-style workouts might be just what you need. There’s a certain satisfaction in kicking, punching and grunting your way to fitness. Not only will you work off daily frustrations in a productive manner, you’ll end up feeling like a badass in a superhero movie.
Fight-style workouts might just be the exercise routine you’ve been looking for. Anyone who has a stressful job or is struggling with pandemic-related frustrations can benefit from this type of exercise. You’ll feel better immediately—both from the exercise itself and working through your negative emotions.