Why a lower body activation exercise for fighter’s strength and conditioning? Activating the right muscles to efficiently create movement patterns in both strength and conditioning, and a fighter’s technical skill training makes a huge difference to your movement economy and ultimate strength and power levels.

And many fighters struggle to “feel” the difference between knee and hip dominant patterns, or understand how they play out in fighting movements.

Today, we’ll fix that!

by Don Heatrick

Lower Body Movement Patterns In Fighting?

In this episode we breakdown a simple knee dominant and hip dominant lower body activation exercise for strength and conditioning sessions that will help you laser in on exactly what the difference is between the two

And we’ll explore how both knee and hip dominant patterns are used in Muay Thai, and why your body needs to build your capability to handle these shapes without cheating due to lack of mobility, stability, or strength.

Knee dominant movements are more demanding on the quad muscles in the front of your thighs, and create vertical thrust, elusive backwards movements, or breaking force when moving forwards.

knee activation exercise muscles
knee activation exercise pattern Muay Thai

Hip dominant movements are more demanding of your glute and hamstring muscles in the back of your thighs and backside, and create horizontal thrust (toward your opponent), aggressive forward movement, the acceleration force when moving forwards.

Hip activation exercise muscles
Hip activation exercise pattern in Muay Thai

Lower Body Activation Exercise

To help you feel these two distinctive movement patterns, and to activate them during your warm up for lower body resistance training, let’s look at a really effective drill…

Check out the Knee-Dominant Hip-Dominant exercise drill in the video at the top of this page.

Knee and Hip Activation Exercise

Now that you can truly FEEL the difference between knee and hip dominant movements, let’s look at how these play out in a few Muay Thai specific examples…

Footwork patterns will primarily use either…

  • Elusive backward movement – which is knee dominant, or
  • Aggressive forward movement – which is hip dominant

And when it comes to techniques themselves…

Saenchai’s lay back kick evasion demonstrates an incredible knee dominant pattern. Virtually limboing under the kick and returning back to stance!

Saenchai knee activation exercise pattern

We’ll stick with Saenchai for an example of a hip dominant horizontal jumping round kick, creating horizontal force from the glutes and hamstrings before delivering the kick into the target with a knee dominant pulse, as with all round kicks.

Saenchai hip activation exercise pattern

And a knee dominant vertically jumping round kick, creating vertical force from the quads.

Saenchai knee activation exercise pattern

Buakaw’s hook punch is predominantly initiated from the floor with a strong hip dominant drive.

Buakaw hip activation exercise pattern

And here’s an example of a knee dominant jump and landing from Lerdsilla to avoid being swept.

Lerdsilla knee activation exercise pattern

Superbon’s KO round kick also predominantly initiates from the hip dominant action of the rear leg.

Superbon hip activation exercise pattern

In this example, Singdam uses a knee dominant hoping action to prevent himself being thrown in the clinch.

Kingdom knee activation exercise pattern

And finally, here Nong O uses a force couple… This starts with a hip dominant drive with the rear leg followed by a knee dominant breaking action on the lead leg, torquing his hips into his cross punch.

Nong O hip and knee activation exercise pattern

Incidentally he then uses knee dominant footwork, pushing off his right leg, to evade following his attack.

Nong O knee activation exercise pattern

Practise the sport skill movements in your technical Muay Thai sessions, but also overload those patterns in strength and conditioning sessions to enhance your mobility, stability, strength, power and speed.

That way your body can use these patterns effectively in your fight without cheating around it and either losing power or increasing likelihood of injury.

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: https://www.instagram.com/donheatrick/

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