One of the titans who dominated the early days of mixed martial arts back in the nineties (you know, before it was even referred to as MMA), Sebastiaan "Bas" Rutten was arguably the most fearsome striker in the world. He went on to become a UFC champion, and was undefeated in the last 22 fights of his career – when he earned a reputation for devastating his opponents with his trademark liver shot. On an episode of National Geographic's 'Fight Science,' Rutten's kicking power was tested, and the results showed that a single strike could splinter ribs and rupture internal organs.
It's no surprise that a key component of Rutten's daunting prowess was an equally daunting training regimen and sky-high overall fitness levels. He recently hosted the World Series of Fighting (watch it at wsof.com), but we sat down with him a few weeks ago and asked him to walk us through his favorite exercises, which, understandably, tended toward explosive moves that enhanced his colossal kicking power.
Cable machine knees
Similar to the punching rotations, Rutten uses a cable machine to build up the crucial muscles that give power to his kicks. He puts on a few plates, and after attaching the handle to his ankle with the "roll" at the bottom, he braces himself by holding a nearby machine. Then he throws his knee upward – really high. "I throw the knee as high as I can and I only use my hip flexor," Rutten says. "And I explode – everything I do, I explode." He does a minimum of 25 reps, for three sets, and recommends keeping track of your performance so you have goals to break through. "I write everything down, and I try to break the record every week. If I just hit 25, then I go for 30. If I hit 30 I go up in weight. Failure for me is when I can't bend my knee up anymore."
Credit: Photograph by Dustin Snipes