3 Exercises to Prevent Getting Knocked Out In a Fight
It doesn’t matter who you are, who you’re up against, or how hard you train… When you’re in the fight game, there’s always a chance you get knocked out. You could do everything right, take every precautionary measure, and still wake up on the canvas.
That’s the ever-present risk of stepping into the cage, the ring, the octagon.
And as a 3X award winning strength and conditioning coach, naturally, guys ask me:
“How do you prevent getting knocked out in a fight?”
The simple answer is… Build a thick neck. But, going even deeper than that, there are 3 go-to exercises I like to use in order to strengthen key muscles that will help prevent you from getting knocked out. These muscles include the traps, upper traps, the rhomboids, and the neck among other muscles in the upper back.
Now, this isn’t to say that these exercises will totally prevent knockouts. If you lack skill, you’re careless, or you just flaunt your face like a whack-a-mole target, you’re going to get slept. At the very least, these exercises will serve as stepping stones to help you lower the risk of getting knocked out.
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Let’s get into these exercises:
Exercise 1: Glute-Ham Raise Reverse Plank Neck Extension
The first exercise to prevent knockouts is a glute-ham raise reverse plank neck extension. Yes, it’s a mouthful. But, it’s also very effective.
This muscle works multiple muscles that will help prevent knockouts including the trapezius (muscles that support the neck), the levator scapulae (muscles on the back of the neck), and the erectors (the muscles that run up your back). So in less words, this exercise works the posterior and the back of the neck.
And this exercise isn’t a one trick pony. It’s a great builder of the neck, but it also builds stability. When you’re in position for this exercise, you don’t have any support for your bodyweight. It’s up to your hips and erectors to hold you in place.
How to Perform the Glute-Ham Raise Reverse Plank Neck Extension:
- Get in position on a GHR with a neck harness around your head. If you don’t have a neck harness, you can use a towel, a band, or have a training partner resist your attempts to flex the neck
- Make sure the shoulders are level with the hips
- Maintain stability in the torso while you flex the neck and lower it back down to center
- Perform 3-4 sets of 12-20 reps
Exercise 2: Banded Dumbbell Front Rack March
The next exercise to prevent knockouts is the banded dumbbell front rack march – another mouthful. This exercise works by presenting an isometric stimulus to the muscles of the neck. The muscles worked include the scalenes (found in the front of the neck), the sternocleidomastoid (found on the side of the neck), the front deltoids, rectus abdominis, obliques, and hip flexors.
While this is a full body exercise due to the marching and multiple points of isometric tension, the prime focus is on the neck and upper traps.
As far as progression goes, you can easily progress this exercise by increasing the time under tension, or the weight used.
How to Perform the Banded Dumbbell Front Rack March:
- Tie two bands together
- Tie one end around the rack, the other around your head (place a shirt or towel on your head to remove discomfort)
- Next, pick up two dumbbells. The weight depends on your strength levels. For the average male, I like to use 45-50 pound dumbbells
- From there, begin marching in place while holding your neck in a strong position. Don’t overcompensate for the tension, but don’t let the band pull your neck out of position either
- Do this for 3-4 sets of 30-60 seconds each
Exercise 3: Bent Over Dumbbell Shrugs
The last exercise to prevent getting knocked out in a fight is the bent over dumbbell shrug. This movement is a variation of a bent over row that works the trapezius (the muscles that support the neck) and the rhomboids (the muscles of the mid back, responsible for maintaining strong posture, among other things). This movement also forces you to stabilize the erectors due to the slightly bent over position.
You’re going to go fairly heavy on this movement as we want to stimulate strength and size gains in these areas to prevent knockouts.
How to Perform The Bent Over Dumbbell Shrug:
- Grab two fairly heavy dumbbells
- Lean slightly forward. You shouldn’t be in a bent over row position, but you also shouldn’t be straight up
- Maintaining stability, pull the shoulder blades down and back to get a good squeeze in the mid to upper back
- Hold for one second
- Lower the dumbbells back down
- Repeat for 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
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