Watch this video before reading the rest:
Some thoughts about this.
- First, Jeff Chan is great, I like him a lot. He works hard and puts his money where his mouth is. He has a great channel called MMA Shredded.
- I don’t know who this personal trainer is, so I have no idea of everything he does or teaches. My comments are not a criticism but meant to be seen as an addition. E.g.: the trainer probably knows all I’m going to say. But this is a 10-min video and perhaps took hours to shoot. So maybe he gave loads of explanations that never made it into this video. Or there might be secific reasons why he does it this way and not what I suggest. I don’t know and neither do you. So don’t blame him; blame the YouTube culture that doesn’t want nuance and long explanations. :-)
- I started working as a professional PT in 1994. I have trained and competed at the highest level in combat sports. I worked with Technogym for ten years and was Master Trainer for Technogym Benelux. I feel qualified to opine on this, but feel free to disagree. I won’t get my little duck feelings hurt.
- Much of what I write below is aimed at martial artists and combat athletes in their late 30s and older. I’m almost 50. So I am further down the path than Jeff is. Meaning mostly that I have accumulated a lot more damage, injuries and permanent wear and tear. If that is not you, feel free to ignore everything and vaya con dios. Let’s talk again in a decade or two. :-)
- Speaking of: I remember when I was in my 20s and reading about injury prevention, training your stabilizers, etc. I thought “my stabilizers are fine, I don’t need this stuff.” The joke was on me, because now I do injury mangement and prevention almost every day. So if younger readers skip all this, I can’t blame them. Again, we’ll talk again in a few years…
- Developing power for punching and kicking is a process comprised of multiple components. This video focuses on rotational power by use of the hips, core, etc. These are key components, so it is definitely worth your time to look into it.
- I don’t do Mixed Martial Arts posts here anymore. The only reason I’m covering it here now is because the topic overlaps with other martial arts and self-defense. I have a website and social media channels dedicated to MMA right here: MMA Formula. If you want more of my thoughts on the sport, follow me there.
- I have my own video out on how to develop power. This was shot with Paladin Press back in the day and it details my own training for that purpose. If you’re looking for more on this topic, check out Power/Control. Also, in Jeff’s video you’ll see elastic bands being used. Those are a cheap yet incredibly versatile piece of of equipment. I use them in my own work outs and prevention training and made a video on them during the first lockdown. Gyms were closed so I wanted to make something instructional that people could do at home. The result is Resistance Band Full-Body Home Workout, and you might find a use for it too.
OK, let’s get to Jeff’s video:
- The bear crawl is a great exercise. I would only adjust Jeff so he doesn’t bump up his lumbar spine as he does now. It will make the exercise harder and avoid problems if you have lumbar issues (like me and so many others.)
- The deep lunge is excellent too. Like many MMA fighters, Jeff has a habit of putting his cervical spine in lordosis. This is a normal reaction due to sparring and competing, in which you place your head more forward and/or tuck in your chin a lot. But it leads to compensation by the rest of the spine, which is a bad thing in the long run. It also is a missed opportunity to train the spine to function better as a whole.
- The coach makes a good point regarding ankle stability. It is by far one of the most neglected aspects of conditioning, despite the fact that it is incredibly important. Case in point: due to my CECS surgery, I have to systematically work on it as the surgery can reduce ankle stability up to 30%. So I can attest to the effectiveness of addressing this issue. Even healthy athletes often have relatively weak ankles, so listen to the coach when he says it’s important. As an aside, I posted this video a few years ago: Balance board training session. It’s a good starting point for ankle mobility and stability training.
- The hip flexion drill is also good but here Jeff shows a lack of control I would correct a client for: head forward, spine constantly moving. These are what I call parasite movements: unnecessary movemements that leech away effectiveness from the drill. Maintaining full control over the spine and actually firing as much as possibler from the hip flexors themselves is more efective. For some of the best drills when it comes to explosive and controlled hip flexion, sprint training is perhaps the best source. Here is an extremely detailed video with my comments on it as to how it relates to martial arts and self-defense body mechanics. For two short examples, look at this:
In both these cases, the spine is neutral, fully controlled, and there is solid acceleration of the limbs without losing that control.
Now some of you might say that Jeff is doing knee strikes and that is a good way to practice the drill, but he isn’t really. He has plenty of great videos online about proper technique and even if you claim he’s doing up knees, we can still argue about the execution. Furthermore, the drill is not “knee technique drill”. It is “hip flexion drill”. The goal is to develop hip flexion the best possible way and knee strikes aren’t it.
Hip flexion is obviously involved with knee technique, but it is not the only component. This is a conditioning drill, not a technique drill, and is meant to isolate hip flexion at the exclusion of most other components. Mixing goals and modalities of drills is a classic mistake, so don’t make it.
- The sliding spit squat ( I would call what he shows sliding reverse lunge) is another great exercise. It is so much more difficult to do right than it looks, even without holding a kettlebell. Here you see again Jeff’s cervicals coming under pressure. He also leans his head forward, which makes it more difficult to control the spine because it neurologically cues the body to bend instead of drive from the legs. A better form is to look right in front of you at a fixed point on the wall. Also, just as Jeff pushes back up, you’ll notice a slight pull in his upper body to facilitate the movemement. That is another parasite movemement. To avoid it, lose the weight and place your hands on your hips, behind your back or neck. You’ll immediately feel it when it happens and can then train to stop it.
- The Pallof press is awesome, even though I prefer Pallof rotations and circles for their versatility. But the press is a good place to start as it teaches anti-rotation and anti-flexion very well. For striking and grappling, these are very important movement skills. Same comments here but with a twist: head up instead of forward, because it makes it more difficult to properly engage the scapula in this exercise. Promoting good shoulder function is paramount for fighters because their shoulders take a beating in every single training session.
- Exercise 4 is what I would call “trunk or torso rotation into crane.” This is why I mentioned my work with Technogym in the introduction: years ago they came out with an awesome piece of equipment, the Kinesis. I taught clients, Personal Trainers and coaches of all kinds to work with it for years and still do. Trunk rotation is one of my primary techniques especially if you want to develop power for punching and kicking. There are multiple ways to do progressions and regressions for this exercise and the one Jeff does is a part of it. Unfortunately, he turns it into a knee technique drill again and as a result misses out on many of the benefits. A better way is to keep the spine straight and focus on perfect control in torso and lower body as you rotate into the high crane stance. The effecfiveness of the exercise will increase several times. For shits and giggles, start from a split squat and go up into the high crane. Lower the weight on the cable first though; you’ll thank me later… :-)
- The sweeping swing is potentially a high-risk exercise if you have back problems. The leverage your arm creates can lead to massive torque on your vertebrae if you don’t have perfect spinal alignement. This counts in spades if you have lumbar spine issues: the dynamic nature of the swing means you’ll only know you did it wrong when it’s too late. If your spine is fine, I would advise to keep your feet parrallel and at hip width for even more engagement of the hip musculature.
Developing power for punching and kicking does not have to be complicated. There is a lot you can do and developing hip strength/control and rotational force is a big component of it. So give these exercises a try and see if they help.
If you are older like me and/or have wear and tear to take into account, get screened first, talk to your doctor and start slow. You gain nothing by overdoing it in the first session and ending up injured.