Kettlebell Strength Exercises for Grapplers

Kettlebell Strength Exercises for Grapplers

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Kettlebells are a great strength training tool for grapplers.

Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

An important part of mixed martial arts, wrestling, rugby and football, grappling refers to manhandling your opponent. Successful grappling requires skill, concentration and strength. Grappling is a full-body activity, so exercises should be selected that target multiple muscle groups at the same time. You can build strength for grappling using barbells, dumbbells or sandbags, but more and more exercisers are turning to kettlebells. The thick handles and off-center load mean that kettlebell exercises replicate the demands of grappling closely.

Two-Arm Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings develop hip and lower back strength and power. These muscles are essential for generating force in a clinch; especially if you are trying to throw your opponent to the floor. They also develop a strong grip, which is another important aspect of grappling. Hold a kettlebell in two hands and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and lean forward from your hips. Lower the weight between your knees. Drive your hips forward and swing the kettlebell up to shoulder-height. Swing it back down and repeat. Do not round your lower back as this may lead to injury. For variety, you can also perform this exercise using one hand at a time or alternating hands at the top of the swing.

Kettlebell Renegade Row

Grappling often involves simultaneous pushing and pulling movements while you also keep your legs and core braced to avoid losing ground. The renegade row develops your chest, shoulders, back, arms and core at the same time, which makes it a good grappling strength exercise. With a kettlebell in each hand, squat down and place your weights in the floor. Walk your feet back and into the push-up position. Keeping one arm straight and your core tight, pull your other hand up and into your ribs. Lower your weight back to the floor and then perform another repetition with your opposite arm. Continue alternating arms for the duration of your set. Make this exercise more demanding by adding a single push-up between rows.

Kettlebell Duck Walk

The kettlebell duck walk provides a tough workout for your legs, core and shoulders, areas of the body that are important in grappling. To avoid scraping your knees, perform this exercise on grass or a wrestling mat. With a single kettlebell held at shoulder height and resting between your forearm and bicep in the rack position, take a large step forward and bend your legs. Staying low to the ground, step through and into the same position but with your opposite leg in front. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions or distance. For your next set, hold the kettlebell with the other arm.

Kettlebell Clean and Press

Clean and presses work just about every muscle in your body, from your toes to your fingers and everything in between. They also develop coordination and endurance as well as strength. Perform this exercise with one or two kettlebells as preferred. For variety, you can begin this exercise from the floor or from the "hang" position where the weight is between your knees. Grasp your kettlebell and use a powerful hip extension and arm pull to heave it to the rack position. Dip your knees slightly and then use your legs and arms simultaneously to drive the weight up and overhead to arms' length. Lower it to your shoulder and then return to your starting position. Keep your core braced and do not round your lower back.