Yesterday one of our Muay Thai lads was chatting to me before his warm up.
He’s a very fit, well rounded young athlete, who’s always open and honest about his aches and pains and will implement any advice given to help him get back to strength. The kind of athlete that every coach dreams of having.
I wish I’d been more like him when I was younger, maybe I wouldn’t be such a beat up old wreck if I’d spoken out a bit more instead of being plain stubborn!
Anyhow, yesterday he told me about some elbow pain that he had developing.
This isn’t uncommon in the striking arts as there is such a prevalence of elbow extension compared to flexion. After all, you knock the opponent out by straightening your arm, not bending it!
So very often we end up with a muscle imbalance happening and then pain. Now, I’ve no intention of going into the anatomy of the elbow, there’s a very smart dude by the name of Eric Cressey who’s done a better job than I could on that in a 6 part series on elbows. This is the link to part 1, I trust you’ll figure out how to get 2,3,4,5, and 6 yourselves from there. I have all 6 parts printed off in a folder, they are that good. But what about our boxer?
Well, he’s not going to stop punching the pads, nor is he going to give up his push ups. So we need to add in a little something. And my go to for this is probably the only isolation exercise I prescribe on a regular basis: The Reverse Curl.
Most curl variations are fine, with the exception of curling a straight bar. I prefer you to use dumbells as they allow for more natural alignments in the wrist and elbow. But for the reverse curl there are only two options, one is the “EZ bar”, that wavy looking thing, the other is the kettlebell hung on a towel.
The towel method allows complete freedom of the forearm. It’s also strengthening the wrist and the grip.
Here’s a video:
Whichever curl variation you choose, use a moderate weight, a controlled tempo and go for reps.
Do them daily for a week, then once a week or every couple fo weeks is fine after that. I’d also say add in a stack of band pull aparts and horizontal rows, be that Bent over rows, TRX rows, Renegade rows.
Whatever, vary them, do a different variation each time, who cares, we’re not bodybuilders, but damn well do them. Go heavy for high reps.
Essentially what we are doing with the curls and the rows is working the opposite muscles to those trained in our punching drills.
This makes sense if you think of the body as a race car. One of the first things you do to make a race car go round the track faster is to fit better brakes. This allows for faster deceleration, which in turn means we can decelerate from higher speeds.
Thats almost exactly what we are doing with the rows and curls, these train the muscles that will act as stabilisers and if you miss, brakes when you throw out a heavy hit.
The better brakes you have, the harder you can hit.
You can learn more about how I train fighters in the WMD manual, which has just gone live in the Kindle store.
Here’s a link to (primarily for stand up & MMA fighters) WMD – Strength & Conditioning for the Martial Artist(primarily for stand up & MMA fighters)
And one for Fighting Back (BJJ / Wrestling)