Dan Hardy has a party trick.. he rolls up is trousers and starts knocking on his shins like they are make of oak.
I have heard Dan Hardy talk about this is his book Full Reptile and in depth is some of his interviews.
Have a watch of him knocking his shins in this training video he did with Olly Murs, it reminds you of the calibre of athlete Dan is and who we all want to see back in the UFC soon!
Shin conditioning is essential if you are training MMA or if you are isolating to one specific discipline, like Muay Thai for example. I know from personal experience that when you check a low kick, or when one of your low kicks is checked, if not conditioned then it can put you off competing for a long period of time, it plays with your mind and when you get back in there, you don’t always fully commit with your low kicks which is shame as they can be a total game changer when landed properly, I real ‘sickener’ for your opponent.
In his book and on his Full Reptile Podcast, Dan Hardy always recommends the heavy bag, you have to commit to consistently kicking the heavy bag.
So what happens to your shins, how to they becoming 'conditioned'?
Your shins will become desensitised through constant conditioning. The more you hit that heavy bag to condition your shins, the more pain you are able to withstand. Every time you kick a heavy bag hard, micro-fractures develop in your shinbone and tibia then, through a process called ossification. The micro-fractures in your bones are then repaired and as a result they become much denser and stronger because of the new bone tissue created!
This is exactly what is happening when Dan Hardy knocks on his shins like an oak front door, because that is exactly how it feels!
Let's explore some of the myths and actual real training methods that can condition your shins.
Yep that's right.. the idea here is that if you role a glass coke bottle with ridges up and down your shin, then the nerves will retract or deaden. It looks cool, like you are sharpening a hunting knife, but the truth is, it doesn't work. You need the weight of an impact, a heavy one.
Why don't you see athletes on UFC embedded out in the park kicking trees? Why are the partners at your local MMA gym out in the local park shinning those Ash trees? Because it is as dumb as it gets, and they don't want long term injuries. Yes everyone has seen that Buakaw video but that is Banana tree and you don't find them near the local park and anyway, Buakaw has been kick hard stuff since he was about 2.
Yes you have to be patient, but also if you are training MMA and not doing Muay Thai as often as you should (not hitting the heavy bag, pads and sparring) it is going to take longer. You'll know when it starts to happen, but there is no faking it, eventually you'll get that feeling of having a couple of baseball bats below your knees.
We are not talking weeks here, or months, it can take years so don't bullshit yourself, you have to be consistent with it.
Although it hurts, hard shins are worth the investment, if you start it early enough in your career, it is one less thing to worry about when it comes to fight camp and competing at the highest level.
Imagine having that advantage over your opponent? All in everytime with low kicks, no hesitation, full power, everytime.
I personally think you should be putting in 100/150 kicks per shin on a heavy bag, daily or whenever your at the gym or even more if you are up for it, what ever it takes, it is one of the best investments you make.
If conditioning your shins is new to you, then take a gradual approach, don't go at it like the terminator as it will just put you off in the short term.
The thing to bear in mind here is that just conditioning your shins to pain, isn't enough. The bones need to be strong and use to bearing weight, you need to build the muscle and bone density through traditional training, so love it or loath it - you need to run. Vibration and pounding the road will provide some strain and adversity that your bones will then build defenses against, increasing density, plus you will get more endurance in the long term!
Building on running, putting your shins and legs under stress through resistence training will again start to add more bones density and muscle both of which are useful for shin conditioning in MMA and being able to absorb them.
Squats, lunges, dead lifts etc you know the drill. Build on that resistence to pain with muscle!
I hope that helps and although we didn't get hold of Dan to add some extra context, in the future we hope to do so! In the meantime checkout his amazing MMA lifestyle brand 'Full Reptile Collective' here
You can also listen to the Full Reptile Radio Podcast here 👇🏼