Sunday, August 31, 2008

Boxing and Kettlebells

Sunday morning boxing workout. We continued our focus on developing the bob and weave counter against hooks. Our planned workout was to have more mitt drills as well as some limited sparing (lead hand punches only) but Tony's shoulder started to act up after the third round of mitt drills. After some soft tissue work on Tony's shoulder we finished with a review of the kettlebell swing - a fanstatic exercise for all athletes (whether done with a kettlebell or a dumbell). I provide some usefull links for learning this exercise at the end of the post.

Roll Call: Tony

2 rounds – 10 pull-ups, 3 ring dips, hip stretch, 10 GHD sit-ups, 10 back extensions

Defense Circuit 3min/1min (2 circuits)
  • Maize ball
  • Rope line
  • Rack
Line work (1 minute rounds run continuously)
  • Forward step with alternating slip (slip to left with left foor step and to the right with right step)
  • Single leg hop forward and back (going across the line)
  • Double leg hop sideways (heels together hoping forward and back across the line moving sideways)
  • Hip/shoulder twist (hands on hips, full twist so elbow faces forward)
Shadow Boxing
1 x 3min round each
  • Boxing
  • Thai boxing
Mitts/Pads (2min/1min)

  • Quick response jab cross defending against jab
    We used Bas Ruttens jab defense drill adapted to focus mitts.
  • Bob and weave lead hook after jab cross – return with cross hook
  • Bob and weave rear hook after jab cross – return with hook cross
  • Review KB swing. The Kettle Bell Swing is an excellent exercise once you have learned it but proper form is difficult to learn and teach. I have neglected teaching this recently due to “so little time but so much to teach”. You may think, why should I learn this exercise but it teaches powerful hip drive that translates into harder punches and kicks (your power comes from your hips and legs whenever you throw a hard punch or kick and practice with the swing, dumbbell or kettlebell, develops this). In addition, high repetition interval swings are great for building stamina and endurance. A great resource for learning the Swing can be found at Perform Betters website under their Training Zone tab followed by their Kettlebell tab. Don’t forget, you can use a dumbbell for learning and performing this exercise (though, I feel it is easier to learn with a kettlebell due to holding it palm down). Anthony DiLuglio offers great instruction under “Swing Exercise Video’s 1-3” as well as “Kettlebell Training Clinic – Swing Part’s 1-3”

  • Crossfit WOD weighted pull-ups 7x1 (I had Tony sit this out to save his shoulder)

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

A show to watch

Reality TV is not really my thing. I saw the end of season one of survivor years ago and was appalled by the scheming and underhandedness that was rewarded and was immediately turned off the whole idea. With that said, there are a few reality shows that I do like enough to watch on occasion – The Biggest Loser, The Contender, Ultimate Fighter and now The Contender Asia. These are all reality shows that actually endeavor to inspire people to reach for a higher level of health and illustrate the struggles inherent in getting there. They can all get a bit overly dramatic with people playing to the camera, the silly Challenges etc. but these few I think offer some positive messages to people. I haven’t watched much of any of these shows but did watch a recent episode of The Contender Asia yesterday – who can resist a show on Muay Thai. I liked how the fighters were presented, real people (trained fighters) with a goal of being great fighters having worked hard to get there. The contestants are all experienced fighters in Muay Thai and come from many diverse ethnic and national backgrounds.
Below is their promo video:

My main goal in watching any of these shows is to gain insight into training regimens, techniques and what motivates people to become champions as well as what they’ll do to get there.

For “Stand Up” fighting I feel that Western Boxing and Muay Thai are the best for fighters getting into the ring. The Contender Asia is a good illustration of the dedication and sacrifice needed to become a great fighter and you can see some great training techniques that you can take and use as well as some good fights to watch, it is broadcast on Versus.

The Ultimate Weapon is one other show I like for its illustration of different fighting styles and how they train (they also have some good Muay Thai footage, see below).

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Age and Training

This video comes straight from Ross Enamait, I saw it on his blog and was so impressed I had to share it with everyone here.

So many times I here people say they are just to old to do this stuff, either going to the gym or working out at home. “Oh I’m just to old”, “I can’t do that kind of training anymore” are the types of refrains I hear almost daily along with “You must be crazy to do that stuff at your age” (I’m 41 now – 9 years younger than this women when she started training). I have only competed in one marathon – the infamous Chicago Marathon of 2007 where firemen forced me off the course with firehouses at the 22 mile mark due to the race being cancelled because of the hot weather. A marathon is nothing in comparison to an Iron Man Triathlon. Watch this video and be ready to put aside all your excuses for not training due to your age.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Why I like training baseball and softball players

Baseball players, especially hitters show amazing rotational power. Take note of how baseball players generate batting power, this is the same as how you develop punching power – get your whole body behind the punch. The hips and legs are the key to power in throwing strong punches. Baseball and softball players know this because when you hit a ball with the bat you are using your hips and legs for power. For a great example of this watch:

Watch how the leg and hips move first, then the shoulder and finally the bat. That is how a power punch is thrown – the hand or fist is essentially the end of a whip that begins with the feet.
Jack Dempsey is thought by many to be one of the hardest punchers in boxing and much of his power came from working as a lumberjack. His work as a lumberjack gave him tremendous rotational strength and power for hook punches (hip rotation and power is easily seen in hooks but applies to all power punches: straight right, power jabs even uppercuts). Old school boxing training involved actually chopping down trees, not realistic now but there are way’s to emulate this.
Rotational throws with medicine ball

You can perform this exercise as a partner exercise (what I use since I don’t have a concrete or cinderblock wall). It’s not as fast but you can vary it with distance between partners (the further away the harder you have to throw but the longer the time) as well as weight of the ball.
Tornado ball

It may not look like a lot of hip torque but you’ve got to try it to feel it.
Sledgehammer training
Sledgehammer or bat training on a tire (a bat on a heavy bag is bad idea – I’ve tried it and the bag breaks down to fast, save your bag for punching)

Looks like the hammer was to heavy but I hope you get the idea.
The following video is another is another illustration (the video is rotated 90 degrees but again, I hope you get the general idea),

These are potential supplemental drills to hitting the bag. In the end bag work is best (if your time is limited spend it on actual technique training) but these other training methods can provide you with the “feel” – how it feels to develop power through the hips and leg for rotation so that you know how it should feel when you punch the bag.
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Friday, August 22, 2008

Quick Muay Thai Day

We started at 8:45 this morning for our Muay Thai focus day. The weather has finally shifted back so we had a wonderful, sunny with 80% humidity, morning workout. I’m not what I’d consider a morning person but looked forward to the challenge. This morning’s workout was fast paced due to time pressure (I needed to get my daughter to school, then get showered and changed to get into work before my first patient).

The first round of our warm-up was jump-rope (3min), all other rounds following that were 2 min with a 30 second rest which we ran continuously. We had a few short breaks for introduction to technique for some new combinations. In the end, we finished on time, 45 minutes.

  • Jump-rope 1 (3min) round – last 30sec doubles
  • Thai footwork – up and back with most of the weight on rear foot 1 (2min/30sec) round
  • Hop back and forward 1 (2min/30sec) round
  • Shadow boxing thai kick 1 round with full spin 1 (2min/30) rounds
  • Hop back against rear kick to knee 1 (2min/30sec) round each
  • Pads evade rear thai – return rear thai 1 (2min/30sec) round each
  • Front kick (foot jab) on pads 1 (2min/30sec) round each
  • 1-2-3 R and L kicks on pads (alternate after each series) 1 (2min.30sec) round each
  • Front kick (foot jab) defense (scoop) 1 (2min/30sec) round each
  • Pads front kick (foot jab) defense – return rear kick after scoop 1 (2min/30sec) round each

The challenge in many of these workouts is to keep it intense (the easier part), and fun (if it isn’t interesting only the most dedicated want to do it), all the while working on technique (you can have a super hard workout but without a focus on technique you may as well be doing Tae Bo – not to knock people doing Tae Bo but their focus is purely on conditioning while ours is on fighting).

In this workout we did a general warm-up, then some technique warm-up followed by application. We then continued by working on the elements of skill following with working its application. We also mixed in some direct technique/conditioning. The general focus of this workout was obviously on Muay Thai Training – but more than that it was on the fundamentals, technique, combinations and defense with counters. Conditioning (strength, power, endurance, agility – in this case) was automatically built into this workout.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bob and Weave

We had just a short practice today due to my having to get back to office and my wife doing a photo shoot. As a result it was a focused practice, boxing basics with a focus on developing the bob and weave.

The Bob and Weave is an integral defensive technique in boxing and MMA (in MMA it can be used as an entry technique for a leg pick or takedown or just simply a punch evasion like in boxing). While it is a seemingly simple technique, putting it into practice in the ring is a different story. Work on the slip line to ingrain body mechanics helps tremendously and mitt and glove drills assist in putting it into context (defending against an actual attack – which is much less predictable than simply bobbing and weaving under the line). One of the common errors I see with trainers in training the bob and weave is that when they throw hooks with the mitts they “aim to miss” – going above where the trainees head was (or even still is) or angling the hook upward making it easier to get under. I feel it is essential that you “keep it honest” – hook to the jaw or ear level, the trainee should keep their hands up since their gloves should catch the blow if they don’t bob under. If your trainee fails to bob under they should be covered up and catch the blow on their glove, if they fail to bob under and you still sail the mitt over their head you have done them a disservice (they think they did it correctly and they’ll get nailed for real in the ring as a result). When I have my trainees hold mitts for me I always test them every a few times each round by failing to bob down – if they still miss they aren’t “keeping it honest”.

Roll Call: Tony

Quick 1 round warm-up consisting of 3 continuous 1 minute rounds of:
  • Forward single leg hop going across the line up and back, switching foot with after each return to start.
  • Double leg hop facing line going across line and back and traveling up and back down the line.
  • Shoulder/hip twist in stance going up and back down the line.
    (for a video illustratio to these drills please refer to The Evaluation Line.)

Defense Circuit 3min/30sec
Maize ball – hung from 8 feet
Rope line
The Rack (see last post for a video link for this)

Mitts 3min/1min rounds
Working on the bob and weave
Bob under left hook
  • Under left hook followed with cross hook return
  • Jab cross – bob under left hook – return with cross hook cross
Bob under right hook
  • Started with bob and weave under right hook and returning left hook cross, progressed to throwing jab cross left hook – bob and weave under right hook – return left hook cross left hook
Alternating left and right hook
  • Working off the jab cross hook - holder throws either right or left hook and defender returns as above (cross hook or hook cross).
Tony is new to holding the mitts so I settled for practicing the defense for left and right hook in separate rounds only (skipped the last round of alternating right and left hooks).

This was a bare bones workout but we were able to accomplish what we needed to in the short time we had. We have another abbreviated workout scheduled for Friday morning (around 8 or 9am) but with a focus on muay thai instead.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Short on Time?

When you are short on time it is important to make the best use of what time you do have. This past week has been a tough one, my daughter has been ill the whole week which has lead to little sleep or free time for me. Even though my workouts have been cut shorter as a result I was able to film and edit the video for the Slip Line (while my daughter was sleeping actually).

To top off the week yesterday’s scheduled workout was a bit of a bust – Tony and Mike were unable to make it due to work and as a result I had to settle for a solo workout. I didn’t have a lot of time so I kept it brief and focused on essentials. When time is tight you need to focus on your goals, for Saturday my goals were to work on basic defensive skills along with strength endurance (think work capacity or general physical preparedness). With this in mind I did the workout below:

Basic Defensive Skills
1x3min round each of

  • Maize bag
  • Slip Line
  • Rack – I’ll be posting more on this tool later but for an introduction click on the following link Kenny Weldon's Rack
Strength Endurance
The strength endurance barbell complex I performed comes from Zack Esh.
3 rounds of 5 reps per exercise:

  • Hang clean and push press
  • Back Squat
  • Dead Lift
  • Stiff Leg Deadlift
  • Bent over Rows
Below is a video of this complex:

The objective is to perform the exercises quickly without putting the bar down between exercises. I did this with 85 pounds resting 1 minute between complexes.

If you are short on time look to focus on the essentials of what you want to accomplish - what are your goals for your workout (specific skill development, cardiovascular, strength, power, agility, etc.). Once you know your goal it is much easier to cut to the chase and focus your work on that.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Next practice

Saturday 8/16 at 8:30am. Yeah, I know its early but that's the only time that open for Saturday.

Slip Line

Finally finished the video on using the Slip Line.

The Slip Line (or Rope Line, as I refer to it in our workouts) is a great and inexpensive tool for working on footwork, slipping, the bob and weave etc. All you really need is a rope or string and something to tie it to and you're ready to go.
I routinely use the Slip Line and Maize Bag as part of our warmup in every practice and encourage everyone to use the same tools at home. The Maize Bag and Slip Line are excellent tools to use on your day's off from the gym, just work 1-3 rounds of each and when you get back to the gym you'll be sharper.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Great weather

A great night for training – cool with little humidity, this is a respite from the summer heat that probably won’t last long, what better way to enjoy it than training. We rescheduled yesterdays training for this evening.

Roll Call:
Tony, Mike

2 rounds on the line

  • 1min Forward hop single leg alternate (hop forward crossing back and forth on the line, switch legs after each up and back)
  • 1min Side hop 2 legs (face the line, keeping heels together hop forward and back across the line moving up and down the line)
  • 1min Forward and back with hip twist
  • 1min rest
These agility drills come from Kenny Weldon, its been a while since we’ve used them so I decided to make them part of the warm-up. You can see a video of these drills at

2 rounds – 10 pull-ups, 8 ring push-ups, hip stretch, 10 GHD sit-ups, 10 back extensions

Defense Circuit 3min/1min (2 circuits)
Maize ball
Rope line
Speed bag

Heavy bag
Thai round kicks 4 x 30sec rounds of double’s, switching legs each round with a 30sec rest between each round.

Glove Drills
2 Round Robins (first time one person aggressor and the other defender, switch next round) 1:30min rounds

  • 3 way jab
  • Double jab
  • Jab cross
Following this we worked on developing the right hook. This began with positioning – turned toward right with weight over the right foot. From that position we worked on the hip twist and weight shift by practicing with hands on hips and elbows out, starting in the above position left elbow faces opponent, twist from the hips and shift weight over to left foot – end with right elbow facing opponent. We did this for ½ round followed by working it on the bag and mitts with the actual punch to develop a feel for it.

Next practice I hope to have a “rack” made to practice footwork with the jab – don’t know what a “rack” is check out
My only change may be spacing it further from the wall – I like everyone to be able to get full extension on the jab.

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Next Practice

Sunday 8/10 at 11:00am.

Hot training

Tuesday Aug. 5: 6-8pm

Our last workout (Saturday) was cancelled at the last minute but we made up for it on Tuesday night with some hard training. Hot night - heat index was 93.

Roll Call: Mike and Tony

2x3min jump-rope (last 30sec double unders)
2 rounds – 10 rope pull-ups, 3 ring dips, hip stretch, 10 GHD sit-ups, 10 back extensions, 10 overhead squats

Defense Circuit 2min/1min (2 circuits)
Maize ball - first round hung from 10' second from 8'
Rope line
Speed bag

Heavy bag
4 rounds - Thai kicks doubles 30sec work/30sec rest - alternate leg each work round, total 1 minute work each leg.

Glove Drills
Round Robin drills (3 people working) - 1:30 minute rounds, alternate person each round - each person worked offense and defense for 1 round with the other 2 people for each drill.
  • 3 way jab
  • Double jab
  • Jab cross
Punch out on the heavy bag
4 rounds 30sec work/ 30sec rest each

Mike did a great job making use of his reach and controlling distance in the glove drills