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Integrated Strength for Combat Sports

Strength is important. We know this.

Yet how many guys do you know who are monsters in the gym yet can’t seem to apply this strength in the outside world, be it during a rugby match, a fight or any other physical endeavour?

I’ve known plenty. During the years I worked as a nightclub doorman I stood beside many huge monsters. I’d listen to them telling stories of their gym prowess, how big then benched that afternoon, numbers that I could only dream of hitting. Yet whenever it kicked off, it was me, the smallest of the crew, that they relied on. So why could these huge guys with massive bench presses not apply this strength to a real world scenario?

They never looked to integrate that pressing power with the rest of the body. This is a huge mistake in my book.

Coordinated movement is powerful movement. Watch a fighter move, see how fluid they are? Do you see excess tension? No, they are graceful, cat like. Their muscles fire in a coordinated fashion, they work synergistically, they move the way they are designed to, not the way some body building protocol is telling them to.

So in terms of upper body, coordinated strength, I don’t favour the bench press. I still use it, it’s is great for maximal strength, but it needs help. And the top exercise for real upper body power, the kind of power that travels from the feet, via a strong and tight core into a powerful shoulder, well that is the One Arm Push Up.

For a long time this was my primary upper body movement. It’s still an integral part of my own training and it is an essential part of all my fighters and rugby players routines. Each person I’ve introduced to the drill has discovered their striking or throwing power has gone up and their injury rate has gone down.

During yesterdays Bodyweight Training Workshop I videoed the teaching points, including the progressions into the One Arm Push Up.

Here’s the clip:

And for your viewing pleasure, here’s me suffering through a One Arm Push Up set after a kettlebell press workout. You’ll notice two things about this workout:

1 – I’m using the Ladder protocol, my prefered training method with this drill. A ladder set goes as follows: 1L/R, 2L/r, 3L/R. This is one set, I performed 3 sets of this. To progress either do more sets or add rungs to the ladder (1,2,3,4)

2 – I’m swapping hands in the bottom position. This amplifies the intensity of the exercise as it removes the stretch loading f0r the first rep on each change.

Here’s the clip:

I can’t recommend the One Arm Push Up enough if you are a fighter or involved on contact sports.



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