In recent years, kettlebells have come into style, and it’s easy to see why. They are a pretty solid alternative to traditional dumbbells and barbells. Plus, if you are on the whole "functional fitness" train, they are a great tool.
Many people in combat sports (most notably, Joe Rogan) have been promoting the benefits of kettlebells for fighters for years at this point and it isn’t without merit.
Kettlebells provide the user with tons of options for different workouts and a unique challenge that you can’t get from other weights. The extra nice thing about them is that if you are in the market for getting your own weights, you only need one, maybe two kettlebells. Fifteen to thirty-five pounds is usually enough for anyone depending on your weight.
While one or two kettlebells probably isn’t going to replace an entire weight set like some people would claim, there are some exercises that you can do with them that will really help improve your athleticism for Muay Thai.
We start the list with the exercise that kettlebells were probably made for. The kettlebell swing is an exercise that you’ve probably seen hundreds of times at this point, which might make you think that it is just kind of a gimmick... but it is not.
This is a great exercise to help you develop power in your lower body, especially in your hips. This will help you develop power and speed for your kicks due to its explosive nature.
The goal of this exercise is to push the kettlebell up solely by the thrusting of your hips. (Mind out of the gutter, lads!)
Even though you are holding the weight in your hands, you shouldn’t do any of the lifting with your arms; work solely with your hips to produce the swing. An easy way to see that you are using your arms when doing a kettlebell swing is that the bottom of the kettlebell is facing downwards, instead of forwards.
If the exercise is getting too easy, you can make it hard by only using one arm or by attaching a resistance band. By wrapping around a resistance band to the handle of a kettlebell and standing on part of it, it adds some accommodating resistance that helps develop even more explosive power.
The Turkish getup is another exercise that has gained popularity in recent years, once again from people like Joe Rogan talking about how beneficial it is for combat sports. You see this exercise done by people who practice grappling martial arts and it’s easy to see why. This is an exercise built around training your ability to stand back up, so the application that it has for grappling is pretty obvious.
It does have benefits for Muay Thai, though, especially when it comes to the clinch. First off, this exercise helps build stability in your shoulder, which is important as most of us have, or will develop some shoulder issues due to our Muay Thai practice.
The big benefit for the clinch is that the exercise builds straight arm strength, albeit in somewhat awkward motions. This is the same thing that we are doing in the clinch when we are trying to stiff-arm our opponent to break out of the Pplum position. On top of that, this exercise also helps build tremendous core strength, which everyone knows is important.
3|BOTTOMS-UP KETTLEBELL PRESS
This one is something that you might not have seen before but it is definitely an exercise that you need to try out. Like I just talked about in the Turkish getup entry, shoulder Injuries are fairly common in Muay Thai, so we need to take steps to prevent them. This workout will help.
The bottoms-up kettlebell press takes your normal shoulder press and makes it the perfect shoulder stabilization exercise. For this exercise, you are going to grab your kettlebell and set it up where you have the bottom pointed towards the sky. From there, while holding it in that position, you press up and go back down.
This is a lot harder than it sounds. Even if you’re really strong on the shoulder press, you might only be able to do one of these with a single 10- or 15-pound kettlebell. Having the bottom of the weight facing upward means that it is a struggle to hold it at the bottom position, so you need to focus while pushing it up to keep that form.
While this works your shoulder primarily, it also works on your grip strength as well as your core. I recommend this exercise as a warmup or a cool down for your workouts.
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