Core Strength for Kickboxers

Core Strength for Kickboxers: Beyond the Abdominals

February 21, 2014
Updated April 12, 2018

Knees, shins, feet, elbows, and fists; during kickboxing you use all of these as your weapons for contact on the bags, pads, and opponents. But what is it that connects all of these? What brings the true power and potential of these molded weapons? Your core! It all comes together with the strength of your core.

Why is Core Strength Important to Kickboxers?

After years of competing in Muay Thai and ISKA Kickboxing competitions, the biggest thing that I have learned is how strong your core, your center, needs to be to generate the type of power, speed, and dynamic movement you need to be successful. You also need that strong core to be able to take the impact of being hit as well.

When I teach kickboxing fundamentals, core strength is one of the first things I focus on. You can only punch so hard, or kick so fast if you are only using that specific part of your body; you need to focus on the rotation through your core and utilizing your entire body for maximum impact. Check out any video on Youtube of professional kickboxing and you can see the way they move. Watch how much they rotate their body, utilizing the muscles in their core (and of course how solid their abs look).

What is the Core?

How to enhance core strength for kickboxing.

Utilize this core strength workout to enhance all aspects of your kickboxing.

By “core,” we are not just talking about your abs, but also the areas that comprise the your entire center, including your back, glutes, hips, legs, and even your chest and shoulders. When you focus on core strength you should be focusing on all of these areas, not just doing hundreds of sit ups trying to get that six pack.

You need to be strong, flexible, and loose in all of these areas. Most of these can be worked through simple bodyweight exercises, but through the use of weights, bands, tires, and dynamic movements, you can get your core in the best possible shape and take your level of kickboxing above and beyond.

Rotational Strength for Core Enhancement

One thing to focus on is rotational strength. When you are punching and kicking you use a huge amount of rotation with your jabs, crosses, hooks, push kicks, and round house kicks. You should be rotating from your hips and your shoulders to add extra speed and power. You use the same rotation when you use your elbows and knees as points of contact as well, so adding a lot of rotational strength and mobility exercises to your regimen is a great way to start.

Core Stability for Performance

Another place is core stability. In Muay Thai, you use the Plume, or Clinch, a lot to focus your knees, elbows, and throws on your opponent. To keep your opponent in check, you need to develop your core stabilization strength to better take advantage of this position. This can be done through squats and planks to start with. These are some good base exercises to use for building strength in stability, especially if you utilize squat holds.

Core Strength Workout for Kickboxers


Use this core strength workout to enhance your striking power.

Here is a kickboxing core training workout that you can go through to start building up all of the strength you need to help your kickboxing game and overall strength. Workouts are done in rounds like in a kickboxing match. Rounds are 3 minutes, with each exercise done for 30 seconds with 1 minute rest in between rounds. To raise the impact, try shortening the rest time to 30 seconds and doubling up on rounds.

Core Strength Round 1 – Standing

A1: Knees-to-Elbows Shielding – 30 sec

A2: Full Range Squats – 30 sec

A3: Single Leg Knee Pulls (Left) – 30 sec

A4: Twisting Knees – 30 sec

A5: Single Leg Knee Pulls (Right) – 30 sec

A6: Pendulum Knees – 30 sec

Core Strength Round 2 – Ground

B1: Thai Clinch Plank – 30 sec

B2: Plank Rotations – 30 sec

B3: Plank Knees – 30 sec

B4: Balance Twist to the Right – 30 sec

B5: Balance Twist to the Left – 30 sec

B6: Balance Knees to Elbows – 30 sec

Core Strength Round 3 – Dynamic

C1: Knee Pushups – 30 sec

C2: Plank Hops – 30 sec

C3: Burpees – 30 sec

C4: Plyo Lunges – 30 sec

C5: Explosive Knee Squats – 30 sec

C6: Deck Squat Burpee – 30 sec

Through all of these sets, the biggest part is to show you how your core is not just your abs, but really the center of your whole body. You use these muscles for everything and should focus on it that way. Adding kickboxing in general to your overall fitness is a great way to build strength in your core and also a great way to relieve stress.

Anthony Eisenhower
Anthony Eisenhower has over 20 years of experience studying, practicing and teaching martial arts including Muay Thai, Tae Kwon Do, Coju-jitsu, Capoeira, Kenpo Karate, Gung Fu, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Pankration. Anthony holds Blackbelts in Coju-jitsu, Tae Kwon Do as well as Muay Thai Level 2 Khru. Anthony studied gymnastics at L.A. Valley College and dance at Loyola Marymount University with the purpose of increasing flexibility and endurance for competition. He competed in full contact Kickboxing, Pankration and MMA. Anthony also performs stunt and fight choreography for music videos, commercials and various film and television projects; past projects include Alias, Birds of Prey, Dark Angel and Power Rangers in Space. Anthony is also the creator of the Brood 9 Stunt System, which is one of the few Stunt Certification classes taught for Physical stunt work. He has a DVD with the basics of this program through My Mad Methods Productions, and is a contributor to the My Mad Methods Magazine as well as other Fitness and MMA forums.

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