At the end of the day, when it comes to athleticism, the equation goes something like this:
Improve (relative) strength + improve conditioning + master your sport
(Honourable mention goes out to maintaining and improving mobility).
Despite all the gimmicky stuff we see on Instagram, the strength part of this equation isn’t that difficult. Just get stronger with the basics:
These exercises will make you faster and more durable (provided you use good form, appropriate volume, and train your sport at the same time.)
However, there are some exercises that will complement the above and make you an even more violent striker.
In fact, they can be useful for pretty much any sport where twisting is required (throwing sports, football, tennis, kickboxing, golf.. the list goes on!)
Even if you’re just a regular guy after ‘abs like slabs’ (yuck), including the following will help you.
In striking sports, power comes from the rotation of the hips.
In fact, if you watched the David Haye vs Tony Bellew fight this weekend, once Haye’s back leg was gone, he could no longer throw his sledgehammer right hand. He couldn’t generate that powerful twisting motion.
From the hips, the force is transferred through a stiff, rigid core, into the shoulder, down the arm, where it finally connects with the unfortunate soul at the end of the punch.
This requires tremendous total body power and co-ordination. In particular, you need a strong pair of hips and mid-section.
A weak core cannot effectively transmit force through to it’s intended target!
Put simply, if you have a marshmellow mid section, I doubt you will punch very fast or hard.
Because of the twisting motion involved in punching, the obliques (muscles on the side of the abs) and hips need to be up to the job.
Simply doing planks and sit-ups won’t cut it – you need to train the rotational musculature involved in throwing the punch.
However, when it comes to rotational exercises, most people gravitate to exercises such as Russian twists that butcher their lower back.
Furthermore, when all you do is twist during sport training, it’s probably not a good idea to do it in the weight room too.
In fact, a good rule of thumb is to train the opposite motions of your sport in the weight room.
This is where anti-rotation exercises come in.
In these exercises, the aim is to actively fight against rotation or twisting of any kind. The core (particularly the obliques) and even the opposite glutes will fire up like crazy to keep the body square and the spine in a good position.
In plain English, you have to resist the twist!
Here we go..
The swing.. need I say more? One of the most athletic movements you can ever do. Creates very powerful athletes.
By doing it with one-arm, you have to work hard to stay square, meaning you’re training anti-rotation. Resist the twist!
Offset loaded carries
All the lateral (side) muscles of the core get fired up big time here. It’s a great one for improving the ability to twist, change direction quickly etc… plus you’ll get the benefit of grip and shoulder work. Stay tall and stay straight.
Single arm KB press
This is more anti-lateral flexion (lateral flexion = bending to the side) but still a tremendous exercise for a rock solid mid-section capable of delivering a knockout punch. Plus a great shoulder strengthener, obviously.
When you press the kettlebell, grip it like your life depends on it and squeeze your glutes, abs, and quads.
Single arm TRX row
Excellent one I got from Dan John. Upper back strength as well as tremendous core stimulation.
Single arm DB bench press
Similar to the above, but this time it’s the dumbbell press. This is probably my new favourite.
You will feel this BIG TIME in the opposite side of the abs, plus the opposite glute.
Another all star anti-rotation exercise, with the added benefit of upper back work. Key is to stiffen up the abs, squeeze the glutes, and pull slowly.
Plank shoulder touch
Simple but not easy. I see this done wrong all the time. Go slowly!
One of the kings of anti-rotation exercises. Core, shoulder and hips. You can use a cable machine or buy the very versatile resistance band.
Plank with band row
This is a more advanced move. Keep your legs locked out and don’t tilt. Increasing the pull of the band will make it more difficult. Tremendous movement.
That’s it guys
Catch you on the next one