Best Combat Exercises: Kicking Power, Grappling, Cardio and Core Strength

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In this post you are going to find 4 targeted exercise videos that will help you with your combat training. We are going to look at the Double Dumbbell Swings, Heavy Barbell Step Ups, One Arm Hammer Planks and Two Bar Pull Ups.

These exercises are from the up-coming Best Combat Exercises You’ve Never Heard Of program launching October 29, 2013 by Nick Nilsson, Mad Scientist of Muscle and myself.

Double Dumbbell Swings for Kicking Power

Swing, swing, swing your way to a more powerful kick, strong core and better abs!
Sure, it sounds like a late night infomercial but in this case, it’s actually going to get you an extremely intense core workout, while helping you develop better kicking power!

On paper, it looks easy. In reality, you’re going to be in for a shock! So why is this weighted skiing movement good for the abs and kicking power?

Well, first think about where the tension (from the dueling momentum of the dumbbell’s moving in opposite directions) is going through: the core.

As one dumbbell is swinging down, the other is swinging up and it falls to the deep muscles of the core to not only stabilize the spine and body but to also provide muscular force to help keep those dumbbells swinging.

This opposing torque on the abs results in a TREMENDOUS tightening of the deep muscles of the core, especially when both dumbbells are at the bottom of their swings and heading back up. All the momentum in those dumbbells is now going to go directly through your core.

The torque from the hips, obliques and core are what is used for generating the most power in your kicks.
The bonus: when you do the exercise, it will affect your ENTIRE body (I can promise you that!), giving you the benefits of interval training in addition to the direct effects on the abs.

Heavy Barbell Step-Ups Interval Training – Cardio Resistance Training

I’m a new BIG fan of resistance-based cardio training. This is one of my new favorite ways to do cardio. You get great cardio training while loading yourself with a heavy weight to challenge your muscular system as well.

This version here uses a heavier weight but a shorter range of motion, so you’re still challenging yourself but just in a different way.

You’ll need a small Step riser (just one) or small solid block and a rack to do this. I recommend doing intervals of 20 to 30 seconds on and equal amount of time off. You can do however many intervals you like…in this workout, I did 15 minutes of this training and that was plenty (it’s brutal!).

The load of the heavy weight plus the cardio intervals makes this challenging both physically and mentally.

Two Bar Pull-Ups for Grappling Strength

This is a variation of the pull-up that removes the bar as an obstacle to your path. By gripping on two bars and pulling yourself up directly in between them, you hit a movement pattern that is halfway between a front pull-up and rear pull-up but without the shoulder stress associated with a rear pull-up.

For this exercise, you will need power rack and two Olympic bars.

The set up is VERY simple: set the safety rails as high as you can in the rack.
Now set two Olympic bars on those safety rails about 2 to 3 feet apart. You’re all set!

One Arm Hammer Planks – Core, Oblique and Abs Strength

The plank is a simple exercise and a very effective one for developing core strength and stability. In fact, the regular plank is an exercise I start even complete beginners off with because of the tremendous core-focused benefits you can get from it.

This version of the plank cranks the difficulty up a LOT…it’s definitely not a beginner version. You should be able to do at least 2 to 3 minutes of a normal plank before attempting this one.

You’re going to be doing the plank with one arm instead of two. The arm you’re bracing on will be set perpendicular to your body, which is the reason I call this one a “hammer” plank (it mimics the hammer curl and you’ll be exerting force against the ground with your fist, like a hammer).

And instead of setting the forearm in line with body and tilting so you’re doing a side plank, you will instead be keeping your shoulders parallel with the ground, using your arm position to brace the core.

It’s a VERY tough position and targets the obliques and deep muscles of the core strongly (the transverse abdominus, for example) by focusing on anti-rotation tension. What that means is that you’ll be exerting force to PREVENT rotation of the spine. This is a much safer way to target “rotational” muscles without actually rotating the spine.

When doing this one, you have two options…legs together or separated (I just did the legs- together version in the demo). Keeping your legs together will increase that torsion through the core. Setting the feet wide will make the exercise easier as part of the work that the abs should be doing will be done with leg stabilization.

Here’s the position you will be in for the One-Arm Hammer Plank. Notice how the arm is set and how my shoulders are kept square to the ground. This is the MOST important thing to note for the exercise…because if your body tilts up on it’s side, it turns it into a Side Plank, which is a whole difference exercise. Don’t make it easy on yourself :).

In order to maintain that shoulders-square position, you must exert force with your fist against the ground, which carries through the arm and into the core.

Hold until your position starts to break then set your other forearm down and switch arms.

Nick Nilsson and Funk Roberts hanging!

Nick Nilsson and Funk Roberts hanging!

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