Whilst it's imperative to remember that in MMA muscle doesn't mean everything, it's still important to steel your body to the rigors of combat. One of the first mistakes people make when they train is that they neglect the damage body shots can do. Whilst there is no escaping a well placed hook to the liver and the pain it brings, there are steps you can take to defend against the rush of agony and collapse that sometimes follows a sweet body shot.
Step 1: Exhale every time you throw a shot. This is such a simple yet essential tip. Every time you throw a punch or kick, exhale. Every time your opponent throws, exhale. When you have no air in your lungs it is far harder to be winded and the tightness breathing out gives helps you avoid the shock of a body shot. You'll be pleasantly surprised how much this helps.
Step 2: Block with your elbows and forearms. I don't see many people blocking body shots with any finesse. Instead, it's usually a last minute throw of the arm down to the area to guard the blow. Instead, it's far better to try and tilt your elbow into the shot to damage your opponents hand. (Only for a competition or fight. Don't do this to your sparring partner)Step 3: Have a conditioned core. This will save you a whole load of pain. Here's a basic 5 minute ab workout designed by myself, an amateur MMA fighter with experience in gymnastics. Initially start with 20 Ab crunches. Follow this with 10 leg raises. At the end of this, do not let your legs touch the ground. Instead, hover them and sit as upright as you can. You'll know when it's hurting that you're doing it right. Wait 30 seconds then let your feet hit the floor. Now go to 15 crunches. Repeat 10 leg raises. Repeat the hold. Now to 10 crunches. 10 leg raises. Hold for 30. 5 crunches. 10 leg raises. Hold for 30. Congratulations, you now have a stronger core than when you started! While I am no qualified strength coach, I am an actively competing fighter and this routine has always helped keep my abs and serratus (the muscles on your sides, near your ribs) strong enough to deal with some of the nastier bodyshots I've received. I hope you found this interesting and you bear this simple workout in mind. It takes roughly 5 minutes and is ideal for the end of your current workout routine. Written by Craig Thomas Boyle