Thursday, June 25, 2009

5 Movements For a Devestating Clinch!

Anyone who has seen the utter destruction of Rich Franklin at the hands of Anderson Silva - on two occasions - knows just how important a strong clinch game is. While the technical nuances of the clinch need to be PRACTICED and practiced often in order to become super efficient, there are ways to increase the type of strength needed to have a clinch that sends shockwaves of fear into your opponents. If we examine the clinch, it's obvious that you need tremendous grip strength, neck strength, lat and upper back strength, crushing or isometric strength from the upper body, core stability and rotational strength, as well as a super strong posterior chain to deliver powerful blows and throw your opponent around the ring or cage. Yes, actual sport practice is THE BEST way to hone your skills, but by increasing your strength across the board while building your skill base at the same time, you will get the best of both worlds.

While most of the so called "MMA strength coaches" out there would prescribe a whole bunch of sport specific drills that have little actual training effect, I'm going to give out some of the methods I know for increasing strength and muscular endurance for a truly devastating clinch. Here are five of my favorite movements to use

1) Zercher Squats

Our first order of business is building a tremendous BASE to work from, and what better movement to do that the zercher squat. By holding the bar in the crooks of your arms, not only is this a powerful lower body movement, but also a great core and upper back lift with emphasis on upper body isometric strength. Ideally, these can be done for a 'sub max' effort. Something like 4-8 sets of 2-6 reps, depending on your training goal for the day.

2) Thick Bar Chins

Secondly, we want to develop insane pulling and grip strength. Thick grip pull ups and chin ups are what the doctor ordered. You can make a thick bar by simply wrapping a towel around your chin up bar. This will force your grip to work very hard while building a strong back and biceps. Use different grips - palms facing you, palms facing away, close grips, medium grips, wide grips, etc - they are all good and you should try to incorporate as much variety as possible.

3) Full Contact Twists

My next favorite movement for developing a seriously strong clinch is the full contact twist or barbell Russian twist - whatever you want to call it. You can either grab the end of the bar or grab the plates and rotate from side to side. This is called a "core exercise", but really your lats, shoulders, and chest are also very actively involved.

4) Thick Bar Curls

What?! Curls?! Before you think I'm crazy, we are going to be doing HEAVY thick bar cheat curls. Once again using a towel to turn our barbell into a thick bar, these will hammer your grip, biceps, and upper back -crucial for strength in the clinch.

5) Reverse Rope Climbs

Using a thick rope you are going to start in the face down position and climb hand over hand until you are just about standing and then lower back under control. The lower you go and the more you keep your body forward, the more difficult this movement will be. This movement is a personal favorite that will BLOW UP your forearms, triceps, chest, shoulders and lats and not to mention is an excellent core stability movement (yeah, I can't believe I said it either!).

So give some of these a try, and maybe even have 1 day per week be your "clinch" strength day and you work each of these movements or their variations on that day for a full body training session.

Give this full body "clinch strength" session a try:

a1) Zercher squats 5x5
a2) Thick bar chins 5 x max reps
b1) Reverse rope climbs 3x6 up and down
b2) Thick bar cheat curls 3x8
c) Full contact twists 2x8 each side


Kira said...

Hey dude,

I think sled work has really helped my clinch strength.

just my 2 cents :)

Loving your posts!

Cheers :)

Dustin Lebel said...

I'm sure all that pulling definately has to be helping!

For the record, the TIGHTEST clinch i've ever felt in my entire life was courtesy of Kru Phil Nurse. He weighs about a buck 40 but i've never felt so helpless in my life. So above all, practice makes perfect!