WSBB Blog: Up Your Clinch Game!
Time to Read: 4min
Muay Thai kickboxing is one of the most intense and violent striking disciplines on the planet. A Muay Thai fighter must build every facet of their game to be an effective and winning fighter. The ability to apply and hold a strong clinch is one of the most important skills a Muay Thai fighter can develop.
Many of you may be familiar with former UFC Champion Anderson Silva, a fighter known for his ability to apply the clinch to manipulate and dominate opponents. Whether you are fighting in a cage, ring, or on the street, having the strength to control your opponent’s head, neck, and torso gives you the ability to inflict massive amounts of damage to win the fight.
One of the first strengths that will need to be addressed to build proper clinch strength will be grip strength. During a fight, especially a Muay Thai fight where a clinch attempt is common, your opponent will be expecting and trying to avoid your clinch.
You may only have a few opportunities to grab hold of your opponent, so you want to make sure you have strong fingers and hands to make the clinch attempt successful. You don’t want to reach out to clinch your opponent, lose grip, and catch a fight ending elbow to your face.
At Westside, we train grip both specifically and passively. Specific grip training will consist of high volume squeezes on the grip machine, forearm curls using a dumbbell or kettlebell, or farmers walks.
Farmers walks are a particularly good option for fighters considering the additional cardiovascular training provided. We passively train grip by lifting heavy deadlifts, doing pull-ups, rowing heavy barbells and dumbbells, all without the assistance of lifting straps.
Upper Torso Development
Next, we will focus on upper torso development. Once you successfully apply your clinch grip to your opponents neck your ability to control and move them will come from your upper torso. You will want to develop your biceps, triceps, deltoids both anterior and posterior, pecs, and upper back. Properly strengthening these muscles will reassure you have the muscular endurance and strength to hold a clinch, while continuously moving your opponent keeping them off balance. Luckily, strengthening these muscles is fairly easy using common sense workouts. Here at Westside, we have our fighters do the basic movements our powerlifters use to strengthen those muscle groups. We will bench press with various grips and setups, we will overhead press using a bamboo bar, and we will bench and overhead press with dumbbells for high repetition. These movements will simultaneously train all of the above mentioned muscle groups. To specifically target these muscle groups we will utilize accessory exercises such as rolling dumbbell tricep extensions, lateral dumbbell and front plate raises for deltoids, and pull-ups for deltoid, upper back, and arm development.
Low Torso and Hip Development
The final piece to the clinch strength puzzle is your lower torso and hips. Your lower torso and hips is where you will gain the ability to maintain a strong center of balance while delivering strikes. To throw a knee or an elbow in the clinch you will have to release one point of contact, either your foot off of the ground, or one of your hands from your opponent’s neck.
When this happens, you will need a strong base to create the leverage necessary to maintain control over your opponent while also having the balance and strength to throw strong strikes. Trunk and hip strength is something we know a lot about at Westside. We have our fighters use DE squat workouts, high rep belt squats to a box, belt squat grapple for time, and high volume abdominal workouts to specifically develop the trunk and hips. Additionally, high volume lower body accessories will be performed to further train and strengthen the lower body muscle groups.
Without a doubt, the ability to apply and maintain a strong clinch is important to all fighters, specifically Muay Thai fighters. Traditionally, martial artists have resisted training with heavy weights due to the myth that they will become too muscular, resulting in slowed movement and telegraphed strikes. This could not be further from the truth.
All martial arts skills being equal, the stronger and better conditioned athlete will win every time. For additional resources regarding how to implement the conjugate method into your fight training go to the Westside Barbell website, or join the Conjugate Club for sport specific information and programming.