Punching power comes from the upper body, right? No way, it’s the hips, girly! And you’ve got the potential to generate some wicked power there in your lower midsection. Hip mobility is severely under appreciated by most athletes, but when a fighter ignores her hips during training, she’s truly missing an opportunity to improve performance and even prevent injury.
good hip range of motion gives your body the ability to duck and dodge
your opponent’s throws and then recoil and reload for another offensive
Check it out - you can’t throw a solid punch by standing flat footed and simply shifting your weight towards your target. We’ve all seen this in the gym, and if this describes your style, try putting a little more swivel in your hips the next time you’re working the bags. Feel that extra power? Nice, right? Be sure to drive your legs into the floor while pivoting and exhale as you rotate (to engage your core muscles). Suddenly you’ve become a machine wielding a dangerous weapon!
Besides punching power, having good hip range of motion gives your body the ability to duck and dodge your opponent’s throws and then recoil and reload for another offensive. Hip mobility assists in lateral movements as well, so it complements your agile footwork… you do have good footwork, right? You’ll also need good range of motion in the hip area for proper running technique, but that’s a subject for a different blog…
Lately there has been a lot of talk about the deadly act of sitting. The more time you spend sitting the more potential damage you could be inflicting on your body. It’s even possible, if you believe some folks, that sitting could be causing your thigh and hip muscles to shorten, which would definitely hurt your potential range of motion. Your glutes would also suffer and they are another important component for fighting performance, but that’s a subject for a different posting…
Now you needn’t take a yoga class or leap over hurdles to develop your hip mobility, although those aren’t bad ideas, but we’re fighters so here’s several functional drills for fighters.
Rope Slip Drill - get yourself a jump rope, or some clothesline or even a hand wrap and tie it at length about shoulder height. From a fighter’s stance you’ll begin ducking and diving under the line. Use your lower body to propel you and use your firm core to rotate you under. When you get pretty good at the movements add in some shadowboxing to make it a complete drill.
Medicine Ball “Swing Throws” - This is a great way to build up power and agility. You don’t need to use the heaviest ball around and it’s not about rushing through the movement; you just want sharp, accelerating movements to develop explosiveness. Imagine you're taking a heavy object off a coffee table right beside you and then bringing it around you and tossing it underhand at chest level to the other side. There’s no reason to actually release the ball, just hoist it outward and then bring it back to the “table” and do another rep. This is a routine you can get creative with, but keep in mind the point here is to work out your hips, not just your gut and shoulders.
Jump Rope with a Twist - If you’re fairly skilled at jumping rope you can try this move to further develop your hip mobility. As the rope comes around jump up normally, but then twist to the side as you return to the floor. The next time around just jump normal. Then follow with another jump-twist to the opposite side. If you’re pretty good you can skip the in-between jumps and just trade off twists each time - or better yet, mix it up to speed up the reaction-action time.
If you train in kickboxing or Muay Thai you may already be pretty powerful in your hips from all the kicking, but that doesn’t mean you’re getting the optimum range of motion to be able to deliver a serious knockout punch (or kick). Consider adding some drills to develop better hip mobility. You can thank me later.