This resistance band workout focuses on strength using the muscle combinations which are often required for Historical Medieval Battle. However, my main idea was to bring together a workout which is approachable for complete beginners to the sport, and to fitness. Such as I was, less than a year ago. I have spent the last year wading through health and fitness fads and still struggle to feel at ease in the gym. So whilst on my jollies in France I brought together this routine to get anyone looking to join us started.
The following exercises are a few ideas to get started with buhurt training in mind. All you need is some space, a spare 30 minutes and a resistance band! It’s as easy as that so get ready to sweat.
Each exercise should be done consecutively from 10-15 repetitions. Complete 3 to 5 circuits with a minute’s rest between. These exercises should be done slowly and in a controlled movement. The more controlled the movements, the more effective the strength gain will be. These movements can be progressed upon to free weights when you feel ready.
- Overhead Reach
Stand on the resistance band with your feet hip width apart. Hold your hands down by your sides. Pull the band up in a bicep curl. Raise both arms at the shoulders to 90 degree angle and reach straight overhead. Keep the core engaged through the movement. Gradually lower your arms back to the starting position.
This exercise engages many muscles and overall body strength. The most resistance is centred on the shoulders which should pack a punch to your sword and shield blows. This exercise strengthens the muscles used in a shoulder press and bicep curls using dumbbells.
- Bent Over Row
Leave the resistance bands under both feet with feet hip width apart. Bend your knees and lean the upper body forwards from the hips to 45 degrees. Cross the bands over and take hold of each end with some tension. Pull the bands up towards your waist and hold just above before lowering back to the starting position. Aim to keep your elbows in as though you wish them to touch behind your back. This may feel unnatural at first.
Targeting the back muscles is difficult but essential in bohurt. As well as wearing 25kgs of armour all day, toppling an opponent requires grappling techniques and the strength to hold back your adversaries weight. Strengthening your back reduces the risk of injury whilst fighting and better prepares your body for moving onto weight lifting exercises.
- Glute Kick Back
For this one you need to get on your hands and knees. Sounds a little domineering but I do not know how else to put it. Hold each end of the band in your hands and place them below your shoulders. Hook one foot in the band. Extend that leg straight out behind you, squeezing your glutes and engaging your core muscles. Return your leg back down and tuck it slightly under your body but do not rest you knee to the ground. Complete your chosen amount of reps on one side before switching to the other.
This exercise strengthens your gluteal muscles, hamstrings and core. All the power you can gain from your lower body will help you dig in when engaged in the grapple with your adversaries to keep you on your feet. Also sculpts up the booty if you’re into that, which I am.
- Squatted Back Row
You need something sturdy that can counterbalance the pressure you will apply during this exercise. Thread the band around the counterbalance, such as in the above image. Hold each end of the band, bend your knees into a high squat position. Keep your back upright and shoulders open. Extend your arms in front of you, ensure that there is tension on the band and then pull your hands back to your hips in a rowing motion. Then return to the starting position.
The muscles of your outer back, the external obliques and core are working here. Having a strong back will make you less prone to picking up injury in this area. The band can be moved up or down the balance to change the area of the back you are working. If you want to work another area of you back, search for other back exercises that are out there with resistance bands. There are many.
- Banded Punch
Keep the band wrapped around your resistance point from the last exercise. Turn your back to the counterbalance. The band should be up at your shoulder height and wrap your hands around each end. Bring your arms up in a boxing guard and punch forward with alternate arms. Remember to keep the actions controlled and slow. If it’s too easy tighten the bands until you feel a burn on the resistance.
During this exercise, imagine you are shield punching someone to the helm. It trains your muscles and mind to be more automatic in your aggression. It makes the whole thing much more fun. In fact, imagine shield punching someone who doesn’t have a helmet on if you find that more satisfying. Keep your feet apart in your fighting position to commit it memory and keep your balance centred.
- Reined Abdominal Crunch
Sit on the floor with your legs raised in front of you. Bend at the knees so that your lower legs are horizontal to the ground. Hold the band at each end as if they are a set of horse riding reins. Hook both feet in the resistance band at the centre. Keeping your upper body in a half-seated position, straighten your knees and lower your legs towards the ground. Slowly return to the starting position keeping you core tight throughout the movement. You will start in a V sit and you back will be straight throughout the exercise.
Along with working the core this exercise engages the inner and middle quads or vastus medialis and rectus femoris for those of you who like big wurdz. Keep the movement controlled with your shoulders down, and back straight.
- Band Squats
Stand on the resistance band with your feet hip width apart. Hold the bands in each hand, hold a good tension on the band. Bring your hands up to your shoulders and keep you elbows in by your sides. Bend at your knees and hips towards the ground until your hips sit slightly lower than you knee. Keep your bum pushed out so that your back is neutral and raise up into stand. Keep facing forwards to help maintain good posture. At the top position lock out your knees and squeeze our glutes to finish the movement.
An essential strengthening exercise for your quadriceps and gluteal muscle and it also engages the core and calf muscles. Squats are great for strengthening the knee. Often in buhurt strain is put on the knees whilst grappling, squatting is beneficial for building all your low body strength. This exercise will prepare you for dumbbell, kettlebell or barbell squats when you are ready to progress.
- One Arm Overhead Tricep Extension
Stand with one foot over the end of the band. Pull tension on the band with your arm on the same side at a 90 degree angle. Raise your arm up and above your head stretching through the side of the body. Complete all the repetitions on one side before performing the exercise again on the other.
- Lat Pull Down
Sit on the ground with legs straightened out in front of you and the flat of your foot stabilised by a wall. Hook the band on something like a bollard, mast, lamppost, shaft, gatepost, pylon, stake, gallows, just anything sturdy enough to not injure yourself. Lean back to a 45 degree angle from the ground. Extend your arms up holding each side of the band tightly, then pull down bring your hands to your hips.
The lats are essential when fighting and constantly used during buhurt in abduction and extension during movement. All rotation of the shoulder pulls strength from the lats. This exercise isolates this muscle for strengthening it without putting strain on with other muscles of the back which weight lifting can.
Bon Chance mes amis!
Photography by: Tom Hartley