How to Measure Your Reach

Reach for MMA fighters is a common topic of conversation in the world of fighting. A longer reach can mean a significant advantage in a fight, but many people don’t know how to measure reach.

Here’s how to measure your reach for MMA fighting:

  1. Stretch to make sure your muscles are loose.
  2. Get a friend to help.
  3. Stretch your arms at a ninety-degree angle from your body.
  4. Measure from the tip of your middle finger to the other. 

Let’s discuss a few different ways to measure your reach in detail and how it’s done in the UFC.

1. Stretch to Make Sure Your Muscles Are Loose

Stretching is a very important step for measuring reach. Without stretching, our muscles are tight and we lose flexibility. This will also affect the measurement of your reach. Loose muscles are able to extend further, and to get a true reading of reach, your arms need to be extended as far as they can go.

Focus on stretching out your arms and neck as they both play a big part in calculating reach. In the same way that you wouldn’t want to be tight during a match, you also don’t want to be tight when calculating reach. Otherwise, you won’t get an accurate reading.

2. Get a Friend to Help

Unfortunately, calculating reach is not something you can do alone. Though you can certainly try to do it by yourself, the only way to ensure you get the most accurate reading is to have someone else with you. With a friend, you will be able to focus solely on stretching as far as you can to get an accurate reading.

While you can attempt to hold your measuring tool yourself and do it alone, you may never get a true measurement. Reach is measured flat against your back, and you won’t be able to see back there to know if you are getting an accurate reading. The most accurate way to do it is to get a friend to help you out.

3. Stretch Your Arms at a Ninety-Degree Angle From Your Body

Next, we start the actual measurement. Your arms should be extended from your body at a ninety-degree angle. Keep in mind that if your arms are not completely straight out, you may not get an accurate measurement, so make sure your arms are where they need to be.

An important part of this step is to make sure your arms are fully extended, which is why stretching is vital. Make sure you are getting the most out of your stretch when measuring. Extend your arms as far as they will go to get the most accurate reading.

4. Measure From the Tip of Your Middle Finger to the Other

Next comes the actual measurement. Get your friend to hold a measuring device up to your back as you stretch. Have them measure from the tip of your middle finger all the way across your back to the tip of your other middle finger. Make sure you are stretching as far as you can.

True reach needs to be an honest interpretation of how far you can reach, which is why you need to stretch so much. If you could stretch that much in a fight, it should be represented in your reach measurement.

This can be done free-standing or against a wall depending on what is easier for you. To get the best possible measurement make sure the measuring instrument is completely flat and there is no sagging. It may also be a good idea to measure more than once to ensure it is as accurate as possible.

The following video goes into even more detail:

How To Get the Most Accurate Reach Measurement

To get the most accurate reach measurement make sure you have someone with you, you’re stretching your arms out as far as you can, and that your measuring tool is accurate.

Accurately measuring reach can be a challenge, and it’s even more of a challenge without someone there to help you. I’m sure there are some unique ways to do it yourself, but working with someone else can get you the most accurate measurement. Accuracy is very important when trying to measure reach.

Make sure when you measure your reach, you are extending your arms as far as they’ll go. Remember to not move your body when stretching your arms, but you want to see how far out your arms can go to get an accurate measurement.

When getting measured, make sure you stay as still as possible to get an accurate measurement. Otherwise, it may not reflect your true reach. Also, you shouldn’t wear a shirt for this measurement because it may affect the reading accuracy. However, women are still okay to wear a sports bra, as it won’t affect the reach calculation.

It’s also a good idea to stretch before measuring your reach as people are less flexible when their muscles are tight. Stretching will give you a more honest reading of your reach because your muscles will be looser and ready to go.

Whatever method you use for measuring, make sure your measuring device is both reliable and firm. Measuring with an app on your phone may not get your completely accurate results, and using a flimsy ruler can be difficult because of sagging. So, using a measuring tape would be the most accurate way of determining your reach.

Advantages of Having a Good Reach

Having a good reach means that you’ll have an easier time closing the distance, your opponent will not be able to reach you as easily, and the increased distance between you and your opponent will give you more time to react.

Reach is measured so often and is carefully calculated because it can certainly help fighters, especially when they learn how to use it to their advantage.

A good reach can be an advantage for a fighter because it’ll be easier to close the distance between you and your opponent. When you’re in a fight, the distance from your opponent is a vital part of protecting yourself, and having a long reach allows you to reach your opponent easier.

Part of that same idea, having a long reach also means that your opponent will find it difficult to reach you. While you may be able to close the distance, your opponent may not. The ultimate advantage is hitting your opponent when they can’t hit you, and good reach allows you to do that.

Finally, having a high reach means you can put more distance between yourself and your opponent. That increased distance may not seem like a lot, but it gives you more time to react to whatever your opponent is doing. When it comes to reacting, every split second counts, and having even a fraction of a second more time to react can help you against your opponent.

Disadvantages of Having Good Reach

There are some disadvantages to having a long reach, especially if fighters aren’t using it to their advantage. Shorter fighters can hit you harder and lower, shorter limbs mean a quicker strike, and it’s harder to work your opponent’s body with a height difference.

It seems odd to think of any disadvantage to having long arms, but it’s certainly possible. However, fighters can overcome these disadvantages with training and patience. Your style of fighting should be based on your comfort level and reach to get the best results.

If you’re fighting someone shorter than you, they may have some advantages over your height and reach. Shorter arms usually mean harder hits because they don‘t have to travel as far to reach you. So, when fighting a shorter opponent, be prepared for them to hit you hard.

A shorter fighter may also focus on places you aren’t used to blocking. For example, it may be easier for them to hit you near your liver rather than face. So, you need to be aware at all times and protect more of your body. Also, shorter limbs mean a quicker strike. So not only are shorter opponents going to hit you hard and in unexpected places, but they’ll also do it quickly.

It can be more difficult to control your opponent’s body with a larger reach and a height advantage. Your opponent may be able to escape easier with the height difference because it’ll be tough to get a full grip on them. This may also cause them to easily get away and gain an advantage over you.

How Is Reach Measured for UFC Fighting?

UFC fighters measure reach using the universal approach of measuring arms outstretched middle finger to middle finger. They also use the Ape Index, which is calculated by subtracting the height of the fighter from their arm span.

Those numbers should be relatively equal for most people, but they aren’t always. If a fighter’s arm span length is longer than their height, they have an above-average reach. These fighters are considered to have an advantage.

This method of calculating reach is controversial. Fighters may have a good Ape Index, meaning their arm span is longer than their height, but their arms still may be shorter than their opponent’s arms. So, an Ape Index doesn’t always translate to an advantage.

Is the Ape Index an Accurate Way to Calculate Reach?

The Ape Index isn’t always an accurate way to calculate reach. If a fighter has a large chest but short arms, they may not have an advantage despite the Ape Index suggesting they do. Height can also affect this, as short fighters with long arms will have a disadvantage.

Some people naturally have a wider chest than others. This means that their range will read that they have an advantage, but do they? Fighters need to utilize their whole chest when they punch to make good use of their reach. Such punches require the correct stance and range but are more difficult to execute.

Height differences also make the Apex Index less reliable. A good range on a short fighter isn’t going to do a lot if their opponent is taller because the opponent will probably have longer arms. So, despite having a better Ape Index, a shorter fighter will be at a disadvantage.

Average Reach for MMA Fighting

Reach varies based on the individual, but for the average person, their height is equal to their reach. Having a longer reach than your opponent is a huge advantage in a fight because it can allow you to reach further when attempting to make contact.

Just because it’s normal to have a reach equal to your height doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t measure it. Bodies come in many different shapes and sizes, so there’s no one correct Ape Index. Some are going to have a longer reach than height, and others will have a longer height than reach.

It’s important to note that not everyone with a high Ape Index has long arms. Because of how it is measured, people with wide chests also have a high Ape Index, although that may not be an advantage. As we discussed, there are flaws with the Ape Index, but it can be helpful to fighters at times.

Males tend to have a higher average Ape Index than women. The Ape Index is calculated by subtracting the length of arm span by height. Men generally have longer arms compared to their height than women do compared to theirs.

Some women still have an impressive Ape Index. Ultimately, the difference in the Ape Index for males and females is based on how our bodies are built. Because men generally have a wider chest than women, they can have a higher Ape Index just because of their chest.

How Fighters Adjust Fighting Styles Based on Reach

There are many ways that fighters adjust their fighting styles to accommodate their reach. Fighters adjust their footwork, change their stance, and learn how to use their range to get the most out of their reach.

Many fighters choose to keep a sideways stance to enhance their reach, but that’s not all it can do for your fighting style. When done correctly, a sideways stance can allow you to avoid hits from your opponent easier by shifting your body back even faster.

A sideways stance can help you move forward and backward very quickly. This can really put your reach to good use because closing the distance will be faster.

Adjusting footwork is one of the most important aspects of adjusting fighting style. Different types of fighting require different types of footwork. Fast footwork will allow you to keep the distance that you want from your opponent. Once you choose a range, you’ll need good footwork to be able to maintain it.

Your chosen range isn’t going to be the same for every opponent, and fighters need to be able to adjust depending on who they are fighting. For example, being able to move forward quickly and backward is vital in any fighting.

However, keeping yourself at the correct distance from your opponent requires a lot of speed in your movements. This speed will help you add to and close the distance as needed and dodge any incoming attacks very quickly.

Long-Range Reach

If a fighter has a decent reach, then they may want to play long-range. This means keeping a considerable distance from your opponent.

This works with a long-range because closing the distance is much easier when you have a long reach. Fighters that want to make this work should work on their punching power as they’ll be far from their opponent. Momentum and power can be lost when executing a punch from a good distance.

Mid-Range Reach

Next is mid-range, which is great for fighters with a long-range because it gives them the advantage of hitting without being hit back if done correctly. To make this distance work, everything is about speed.

Fighters need to be quick-footed and ready to move at any second. They also need to be able to throw a punch very quickly. Maintaining mid-range can be the key to success for range, but it takes a lot of speed to do it right.

Close Range Reach

Finally, the close range isn’t going to make your reach advantageous, but it does allow for certain benefits when done correctly. Most of the preparation for close-range fighting is focusing on reaction time and being ready for anything.

You can benefit quite a bit from close range by coming in contact with your opponent and using that time to rest. While this doesn’t use range to a fighter’s benefit, it can help give them time to rest and regroup before moving back to a different range.

Final Thoughts

Measuring your reach for MMA fighting isn’t difficult as long as you have a partner and do your best to measure accurately. While there are advantages to having a long reach, a fighter has to learn how to properly utilize this advantage in order to get the most out of it. Be careful when calculating reach because it’s important to get the most accurate reading possible.

Once you know your reach, you’ll be ahead of the game with setting up your fighting style.


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