I was asked about that Pallof Press w/ Perturbation core exercise that Tawanchai was using in my recent reaction video…

“Could that be used in a Strength Block in a training program?”

When choosing the best core exercise for fighters, it’s important to first consider…

  1. How far a fighter is away from an important fight?
  2. Where in the training plan the fighter currently sits?

The “best” core exercise matches the targeted performance qualities of the current training block.

In this way, the best exercise choice, and how to load it, along with the combination of chosen sets and reps, depends on understanding the concept of a periodised training plan…

A plan that moves from strength, through power, onto speedAnd that moves from general to Muay Thai specific exercise choices too…

by Don Heatrick

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Transcript: How To Choose The Best Core Exercise For Fighters

I had a question in my members forum from a guy called Stefano. And he asked about an exercise that I’d featured that Tawanchai was using in the YouTube video – that was the Pallof Press with Perturbation… So, it’s a resistance band. There was a plate bouncing around on there. I’ll cut that in for the video so you can see exactly what I’m talking about.

And he was asking if that would be appropriate in place of a Landmine Anti-Rotation exercise that I use in my online programs, in a Strength Block of training. And Stefano had a number of questions that bounced around on this topic, about the appropriate use of a core exercise in different blocks of training.

So, to explain how I tend to structure my training programs, and how this matches with what I call the Optimal Fight Camp Blueprint (that’s something you can download too – you can have a look at that in the Further Resources below).

But, I tend to have a four week block that focuses on strength development. So that’s exercise choices that focus on maximum FORCE production. So contraction, strength, maximum force.

Then I move into a block of training that focuses on peak POWER output. So rather than peak force, it’s about how much power you can produce. How quickly can you explosively apply that force.

And then finally move into a block that focuses on maximum speed, so peak VELOCITY. So then exercise choices are selected and loads are used that would produce peak velocity.

So, in terms of a core strength exercise, for example, in a strength block, I will pick exercises that allow me to overload to produce peak force production. And then peak power in the middle. And then peak velocity… And more sport-specific actions there in a speed block closer to a fight.

So, I have this strength, power, then speed development as we shift through a whole training phase, or what I’d call an Optimal Fight Camp Blueprint – which is actually beyond the fight camp. It’s more long-term development than anything.

A Landmine Anti-Rotation exercise is a really strong exercise, and you can see that in the video here. There’s a lot of leverage, there’s a lot of strength and stability needed. That exercise lends itself to a strength block where peak force is what we’re after.

Whereas the Pallof Press with perturbation is more sport-specific. It looks more like the kind of loading we’d expect to see Muay Thai. But it’s also not… you’re not able to load that in the same way that you can do in a land mine anti rotation.

The question that Stefano had is, which one was suitable for a particular block of training. It’s not that any exercise can’t be used in any particular block at all. If you load it correctly, you absolutely could use an Anti-Rotation Landmine exercise in a speed block.

But I would just lightly load it and move it quicker so we can get more velocity out of it. Whereas you can’t load a Pallof Anti-Rotation Press to the same extent that you could do the Landmine Anti-Rotation exercise.

So you can use any exercise in any block. You just need to be clever about how you load them so that they suit the purposes of that block.

So overload the quality that you need to develop in each one of these blocks, and we should be shifting the emphasis as you go through. You can use any tool for any job, but it’s just certain tools are more appropriate for certain jobs than others.

In my online programs, and the programs I work with my clients face to face, I will pick certain exercises and load them in a certain way to get a certain job done.

And that all boils down to…

Is it a Strength Block where I’m emphasising peak force?

Is it a Power Block where I’m emphasising peak power?

Or, is it a Speed Block where I’m emphasising peak velocity?

And it’s the speed of movement is different as you shift through from slower and heavier through to faster and lighter as you move through those blocks.

Picking the right tool for the right job helps make that selection a lot, lot easier.

And of course, the other continuum is general to specific.

So, further away from the fight in a strength block, which is less specific to Muay Thai, we can be more general. The exercises would overload the qualities that we need in terms of peak force, but they also look less like Muay Thai.

And then as we get closer to the fight, we want them to be faster, we’re emphasising speed. But they also then want to create more dynamic correspondence, transfer the RAW qualities (that we built further from the fight) into something that will come out in the fight.

We need to just connect those dots so the body’s just not completely doing something that doesn’t translate into the fight at all!

So all in all, get the right loadings, but also get the general to specific matched as well. And that would affect my choice of core training exercise for a fighter, depending on where they are in the fight camp.

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.

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