Why Do Fighters Grunt While They Train?

Why Do Fighters Grunt While They Train?

What do tennis players, weightlifters and fighters have in common? Grunting really loudly as they hit (or lift) stuff.

You can’t watch a video of someone training on the bag or pads (or playing a game at Wimbledon) without hearing a shout, grunt or some sort of shushing noise, like you’ll hear in a video like this:

Safe to say these sounds aren’t for everyone:

(Image and video taken from the comments section of the Pure Padwork YouTube Channel)

But why do they do it? There must be some reason that you can’t walk into a muay thai class without hearing screams, shouts and all kinds of other noises accompanying each of the cracks of shins striking pads. Well, believe it or not, there are actually several reasons that shouting while you’re training is a great idea.

Grunt/shouting allows you to exert more power:

A study examining the difference in kicking force generated by Mixed Martial Artists when they grunt vs when they don’t grunt found that grunters generate 9% more force when they kick. That guy making all the noise in the corner of the gym? He’s hitting that bag harder than you. 

Yelling improves VO2 max:

VO2 max is basically the measure by which you test an athletes aerobic fitness. Studies in moderately fit people undertaking a cycling VO2 max test showed an improvement in their VO2 max levels when they yelled during their maximal effort. Turns out, yelling while you’re working your hardest means you can work harder. Probably best not to do it in the office though.  

Consistent breathing to reduce fatigue:

One of the first things you get told in your taster boxing class is to breathe out when you throw a punch. This serves a dual purpose (see the next point) but one of the key reasons is that holding your breath while you’re training is probably the quickest way to exhaust yourself. That hard ‘shush’ sound that a lot of fighters make when they throw a punch is a great way to keep their breathing consistent and their energy levels high.

Exhaling to protect from impact:

The second benefit to breathing out when you throw a punch is to protect yourself from the impact of counter punches. Breathing out forcefully tenses your abdominal muscles and empties your lungs, meaning that a sneaky body shot is less likely to knock the wind from your lungs and you’re more likely to be able to weather the blow.

Shouting and pain:

As an interesting point there are studies that show shouting ‘OW’ or (‘FUCK’, which might actually be better) when you hurt yourself has an effect of improving the pain. Great for when you stub your toe on your coffee table in the dark but can also have a benefit when you’re so knackered during a session that your entire soul hurts – each one of those grunts or yells when you throw a kick can help to dampen how much they hurt.

Distracting your opponent:

The same study that found 9% improvements in power when you grunt as you kick got people to watch video of a fighter throwing either high or low kicks. They had to identify whether the kick would be high or low as quickly as possible and guess what? If the fighter grunted as he threw the kick they were around 0.5 seconds slower at identifying the kick – grunting proves enough of a distraction that your opponent will be slower to realise what you’re throwing at them, which is an advantage any fighter would kill to have.  

Do you grunt, yell or say ‘oohhweyyy’ every time you throw a kick? Do you hate when people grunt, yell or say ‘oohhweyyy’ everytime they throw a kick? Let us know in the comments!

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