Of all the Muay Thai tactics, the clinch demands the most raw strength. If you layout all Thai boxing techniques on the force-velocity curve, you’ll have clinchwork at one end (strength) and punches at the other (speed). To coincide with Sean Fagan’s recent release of his Clinch King training video series (which is well worth a serious look), I thought I’d quickly put together a few complimentary exercises to boost the athletic foundation for your clinch technique.
What Clinch Strength Is & Isn’t
Good clinch work comes from relaxed, efficient application of strength, not just brute force. If I’m clinching someone who’s using all-out effort, I know I’ve got them — they’ll be blowing in no time and unable to fend me off. So although clinch is about strength, it’s not all about strength. Don’t just muscle it, you must be strong and active in the right areas while simultaneously relaxed in others or you’re wasting valuable energy ‘driving with the brakes on’.
First of all, clinch strength doesn’t come from your arms and shoulders. If this is where you focus your efforts in the clinch you will lose. You must produce force with larger muscle groups that won’t prematurely fatigue. To this end, it’s predominantly your back that must be activated when you clinch. Control your elbows with your back, hook onto your opponent with your wrists and flex your spine (compressing you ribs) with an active core and your clinch efficiency will sky-rocket.
The strength exercises I recommend not only build the relevant strength, but also develop coordinated muscle activation patterns that improve your clinch technique. So bearing all this in mind, here’s a few exercises I’ve published to get you started… I’ll add some more new ones next week.
Alternate Side Chin Ups
Outu Flow Sequence
Don Heatrick, owner of Heatrick Strength & Conditioning, is a renowned Level 4 Strength and Conditioning coach, Muay Thai coach and former pro Thai boxer from the UK.
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