The Planes of Pain: 3-D Training for Knockout Power

When it comes to making a statement, nothing beats winning a fight that stays on the feet by knockout. Most athletes who talk about wanting to give the fans an exciting fight associate excitement with trading strikes with their opponent.

Although this may not be the best fight strategy, there’s no denying that we all love watching a couple of warriors go toe-to-toe.

So if you’re a fighter and you also think along these lines, then you need to pay attention to the lessons in this article to maximize your chance of being the one left standing with his arm raised in victory.

When you look at most of the exercises you do to build strength and power, there’s one common element – everything is done in the same plane of motion, or dimension.

Life is 3-dimensional, there’s height, width, and depth to everything in our world. Just think of the x-y-z graphs from high school math class. Each x-y-z co-ordinate corresponds to one plane of motion, as illustrated in the following diagram:

 

Think of the planes this way: when you raise your arms straight in front of you and point to the screen, you’re moving in the sagittal plane. When you raise your arms straight out to the side, you’re moving in the frontal plane. Now when you move your arms back and forth between these two positions, you’re moving in the transverse plane.

When it comes to training, most classic strength training exercises like squats, bench presses, deadlifts, and bicep curls take place in the sagittal plane.

You also get a limited amount of training stimulus in the frontal plane during unilateral exercises such as 1-leg squats, 1-arm bicep curls, and 1-arm overhead presses. The stimulus is in the form of stabilization – your body has to stay stable in the frontal plane to perform these exercises in good form.

But if you’re looking to develop knockout power and you’re only doing these classic exercises, you’re not training the one plane that will inflict the most pain – the transverse plane.

Developing power in the transverse plane will allow you to fire off your kicks and punches with maximum speed and snap.

Bruce Lee taught that the core is your center of power. He was right, but you need to develop your core in all 3 planes, especially the transverse, to really peak your ability to knock someone out.

So how do you fully develop this quality specifically for knockout power? The best tools I’ve found are the medicine ball and rope ball, each providing a specific training effect to help you KO your opponents.

Both of these tools allow you to train at full velocity, something that dumbbells and barbells don’t, because you usually can’t throw them across the gym!

The exercises we’ll focus on are the Medicine ball side toss and Rope ball side slam.

Medicine ball side toss

When training with the medicine ball, I have my athletes stand in an athletic position staying nice and tall, holding the ball in front of them, then winding up and throwing the ball as hard as possible, pivoting the back foot into the movement while maintaining posture. Watch this medicine ball exercise in action.

This allows you to mimic and train the requirements you need to throw a powerful punch, without screwing up your punching mechanics doing stupid exercises like punching with dumbbells or elastic bands.

The keys to performing the exercise effectively are to focus on maintaining perfect form, especially keeping your posture, and to take complete rest between sets.

Sets: 3 – 5

Reps: 6 – 8 on each side

Rest: 1.5 – 2 minutes

Rope ball side slam

When performing this exercise, you want to setup in the same position and really focus on staying tall and tight. Staying tight means being quick and compact in your movements. Once you start to overuse your arms and shoulders, you’re not doing the exercise properly, so stop.

Sets: 3 – 5

Reps: as many as possible in 10 – 12 seconds

Rest: 1.5 – 2 minutes

When focusing on power development, you don’t want to feel like you’re slowing down and you want every rep to be at full speed, so take the rest you need. Here’s a video of this exercise and a variation of it:

Do these exercises before your traditional strength routine, and soon you’ll be amazed at the effect this has on your striking power. Better yet – your training partners will be afraid to spar with you and you might just get that big knockout you’ve been dreaming about.

The transverse plane is just one component in your quest to be a feared fighting machine. To learn about the other necessary elements of a complete program, check out my article on MMA workout program basics.

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