Today at the gym we had a rowing athlete training Olympic lifting. In the rest intervals I took the opportunity to discuss with her the programme prescribed to her by her rowing club. As we chatted, the topic of exercise selection arose. Although rowing is predominantly a lower body movement, the upper-body contribution is extensively a pulling action. However, it’s equally important to train the upper body pushing action too.

Agonist muscles are the ones that move your joints in the desired direction. Antagonist muscles are the ones acting in the opposite direction. So why then should I focus on training the antagonist? Why train push when I want to be good at pull? Quite simply, the antagonist muscles act as the brakes for your desired action. Your body is clever, if you are seriously strong at pulling but relatively weak at pushing (braking) then your body will not let you lay down all your force and power into the pull in case you damage a joint.

An analogy I like is that of a sports car with terrible brakes. It may be capable of accelerating to a high top speed, but with inadequate brakes it will have to go slowly into a corner or it will over shoot the road. Strong brakes would mean braking could be left as late as possible and maximum speed can be applied right up to the corner. If your antagonists are as strong as the agonist muscles then you too will brake late, ensuring maximum speed and power over a full joint range.

The rowing example is the opposite to the usual strength deficiencies. The majority of weight training individuals tend to have an overdeveloped push strength in respect to pull strength. The bench press brigade? Fighters tend to heavily work this horizontal pushing action in the expectation that punch power will be maximised, without understanding the need to balance this strength on the reverse side.

A balanced strength level on both sides of the joint will also reduce the likelihood of injury and improve posture significantly. But I guess in reality most people are more driven by the performance benefit. Make sure you have an equal number of sets and reps in all pulling (rows and chins/pull ups etc) and pushing (bench pressing, overhead pressing) movements in your programme and that you have proportional strength in both directions too. Then you’re going to get the most out your training and your performance.

Further Resources

Every so often, an opportunity emerges that can redefine how we train, fight, and thrive.

Today marks one such epic day! The coveted Heavy Hitters Barebones program is swinging its doors open – a golden chance that surfaces just twice a year.

Heavy Hitters Barebones

Doors Remain Open For…


If you purchased either the S&C Accelerator or Minimum Equipment Program (or both) in the past, here’s the deal:

Email me with your login username (email address), and I’ll send you a coupon code to take that amount off of your Heavy Hitters purchase. Commitment has its rewards!

Why does this matter for every western Muay Thai enthusiast, fighter, or coach?

Why Heavy Hitters is Different:

  • Streamlined Efficiency: The life of a Muay Thai enthusiast, coach, or fighter, especially in the West, is brimming with demands. Heavy Hitters understands that. No need for endless hours. You need potent, impactful hours. This program is your answer.

  • Real-world Results: From enthusiasts in Australia to champions in the USA, the feedback is unanimous – Heavy Hitters changes the game. Take it from Paul Banasiak:

     “From broke and broken to moving and competing better than ever. Since working with Don 3 years ago, I haven’t had a single major issue. Don gave me the confidence that has translated itself into three straight knockout wins and a WBC title.”

  • Holistic Training: It’s not merely about more power in your punches or lasting longer. It’s about cultivating a body that’s nimble, powerful, and resistant to injuries.

  • Be Part of Something Greater: Beyond the program lies a fraternity, a global assembly of like-minded souls, all driven by the singular passion to redefine their Muay Thai boundaries.

If tales of triumph intrigue you, delve deeper into Jonathan Lane’s saga – from grappling with an ACL recovery amid fatherhood to clinching the MTA NSW State Title. His secret weapon? The Heavy Hitters program.

Seize your golden chance to level up your Muay Thai journey. Remember, the doors to Heavy Hitters Barebones will shut on midnight 31st May and won’t swing open again until November 2024…

But here’s the silver lining – even if you’re not geared up to start immediately, you can reserve your spot in this cohort and start your training whenever you’re ready.

Discover Everything About Heavy Hitters Here!

Don Heatrick

Founder of Heatrick Strength and Conditioning

Don Heatrick is a family man from the UK, former mechanical design engineer, European Muay Thai silver medallist, former pro Thai boxer (ranked 4th in UK while aged 40-years), a Muay Thai coach, podcast host, and the go-to expert on Muay Thai performance training with over 25 years of coaching experience.

Don helps ambitious fighters and coaches take their game to the next level by bridging the gap between Strength & Conditioning, Performance Science, and Muay Thai.

Follow Don Heatrick on Instagram:

Want to help us invest even more in providing free content? …You can donate here


The Science of Building Champions video series
The science of building a Muay Thai champion’s strength & conditioning, which results in…
  • Fastest possible short-term progress
  • Maximum long-term progress
  • More efficient movement patterns
  • Better technique
  • Relentless endurance (never gas out)
  • Reaching athletic potential as quickly and efficiently as possible (without wasting time on things that aren’t worth doing)
  • Free up more time for technical training AND life!
  • The Optimum 12-Week Fight Camp