“… 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.”
When it comes to combining an active core and controlling elbows with your back, stirring the pot is my go-to exercise. In the following video I demonstrate both the standard ‘circles’ version and also the tricky ‘figure-of-8 version’ too.
Stirring the pot
Thai boxers don’t need phenomenal grip strength in the clinch, we wear boxing gloves and can’t grab with our hands! But, we do need good wrist strength in the clinch, we hook into our opponents with a flexed wrist — something I call using your ‘meat-hooks’. Simply get your meat-hooks into your opponent and hang on them.
My favourite training methods to develop hooks of steel are false-grip and clinch-grip hangs, chin ups and rows. I demonstrate all of these in the following video, and also add a ‘pike’ version of the chin-up to increase the demand on the core and hip flexors — amping up the clinch specificity even further.
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.