View Full Version : Strength Training for Martial Arts

08-22-2005, 08:17 AM
I'm going to start lifting for strength soon, while at the same time training for a martial art. I don't expect anyone to know much about training specifically for that, but my concern is, in addition to weightlifting, I will also be doing a solid cardiovascular program as well as training for martial arts, and want to incorporate all three, but don't want to overtrain. I've read up on the Westside training method, and I like what it entails, incorporating strength, power, and hypertrophy, but since it is a 4 day/week routine, and I'll be doing my martial arts training 3 days/week, cardio 3-4 days/week in addition, I'm worried that if I did all three, I'd be overtrained. I don't want to do the martial arts training and lifting on the same day, so I'm not sure how I would distribute the workouts to fit this schedule. Any suggestions, information, or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Paul Stagg
08-22-2005, 08:34 AM
You'll adapt to the workload. You may have to back off more often in certiain aspects of your training at times, but generally speaking, you'll be OK, so long as you understand that some things will suffer a little to improve others.

My immediate suggestion is to spread out the lifting over more than 7 days. I train using the same template, but I spread it out over 8 days (I train every other day). Some people do very well training 3x a week like so:
M - ME squat
W - ME Bench
F - DE squat
M - DE bench
W- ME squat
F - ME Bench
M - DE squat
W - DE bench
F - ME squat

and so on.

You can certianly combine stuff and do cardio/gpp stuff after lifting.

08-22-2005, 08:59 AM
Few pointers here for ya.

Stay very well hydrated... drink atlest a gallon of water every day.
Listen to your body, you should know the difference between when you WANT to stop and when you NEED to stop ( I found that difference the hard way ).
I would try and keep the lifts you do to a bare essiental group, until either you adjust to the workload or your cardio volume can be cut back.
If you could, try and put your cardio and lifting on opposite ends of the day.. IE Cardio in the A.M. and Lifting in the P.M.
Make sure you are eating very well, take whatever ammount of food you think is enough and eat 50% more. You really really cant lack on food intake while demanding so much from your body.
Stretch, Stretch good and Stretch often.

Thats about all the advice I have for ya.

08-22-2005, 09:26 AM
Hey, thanks a lot to the both of you for the info. I'll definitely be eating clean and lots and drinking lots of water.

08-22-2005, 10:57 AM
what kind of martial arts are you doing? dont forget grip work. when you grab onto their clothes/gi/limb and you see that look of shock in their face youll understand. do pullups with a towel.

Maki Riddington
08-22-2005, 03:51 PM
I highly doubt you'll be able to sustain your performance in all 3 areas. What is your priority? If it's martial arts then you need to look at what your weak points are and prioritize them. Then design a strength program that revolves around the two areas.

For example, I'm going back into Judo after about 2 months off. My strength conditioning ranks next to Judo so I have to balance the two. I also know that my cardiovascular conditioning isn't where it should be for me to compete in Judo.

I'd also like to work on my arms, and chest in terms of muscular growth. My weak points are, abs, cardio conditioning (lasting power) and my arms. They get tired very easily when I'm grappling on the ground.

Once I have figured out what is important to me, marked out my weak points, and what I'd like to work on, I'll design a program. I also have to take into consideration that I work long hours and I have a family. Now it's just a matter of tweaking my program once I get started.

08-22-2005, 07:42 PM
I'll be taking Judo, but I'm also a member of a mixed martial arts club, and I'll be doing that once a week. debussy, I'm working on my grip with a "Captains of Crush" gripper (#1 right now). I'm having good results with it so far.

Maki, I already have a strong cardiovascular base set up, so my main area of focus would be overall body strength and power. I'm not quite sure what parts need help specially, I just basically need to develop overall strength. I'm 165 lbs, 3% b.f., and would like to develop muscle mass, mostly in my chest and shoulders(however, this is not my main concern, as I'm not going to be eating [much] over maintenance calories, just enough to maintain. I will be going through a bulking period over the winter). I'd also like to develop speed(both striking and movement), but if any speed training will hinder my results in strength, then I'll focus mainly on just strength instead for now. So, basically, my primary goal is developing overall strength and power for use in the Judo, and my secondary goals are maintaining the cardiovascular endurance base I've developed and, if possible, increasing my striking and movement speed. And I'd also like to develop some muscle mass, although I will be shifting that to my main focus in the winter. Again, thanks for the responses.

08-22-2005, 10:59 PM
You can maintain CV levels with as little as one or two sessions per week. Which you should do if adding muscle mass and developing strength/power are a priority.

With the volume of skill/technique work you're doing (and bear in mind this will have a cardio training effect in itself), strength training will likely benefit from keeping frequency relatively high (a M-W-F routine alternating upper and lower body will hit everything once every 5 days) with volume low to moderate.

08-23-2005, 10:18 AM
I'm working on my grip with a "Captains of Crush" gripper (#1 right now). I'm having good results with it so far.

This is good. I'd suggest purchasing the book Mastery of Hand Strength. It really helped in my grip training.

Grip strength never really seems to go away either. When I started, I struggled with the T, then after about a month I had the #1 down, then a few months later I was about 1/8" from closing the #2. Today I can still do the #1 after a long, long layoff.

I'm 165 lbs, 3% b.f.

No you're not. Your brain needs that much to even function. It's virtually impossible to maintain 3% for longer than a day. If you are very lean, you might be in the 6% area, but I wouldn't go telling people you were 3%.

08-23-2005, 10:50 AM
No you're not. Your brain needs that much to even function. It's virtually impossible to maintain 3% for longer than a day. If you are very lean, you might be in the 6% area, but I wouldn't go telling people you were 3%.

Well, I don't entirely doubt that I'm not 3%, but that's what I've been tested as numerous times over the summer via skinfold measurements. But, you're saying that it's impossible for anyone to remain at a b.f. % of less than 6 for any significant amount of time? That's contrary to most information I've attained. Don't most body builders and fitness models stay under that level for months before a contest/photo shoot? Or, are the measurements skewed so that they think they're that low, but are actually higher?

08-23-2005, 11:04 AM
It is impossible to maintain 3% for any period of time. You can get down to 5% and probably maintain that fairly well depending on various genetic factors, but 3% is a bit much. Some people can maintain a low bf (5-7%), but it often comes with a price (hormone issues, mood swings, etc.).

With 3-site skinfold measurements via caliper, you can safely add 2-3% to get a more realistic number. If you'd care to post up a picture we can probably give you a closer estimate. As a guage, If you are in the 5% range I believe that you will have striations on your glutes, which is pretty lean.

08-23-2005, 12:27 PM
Okay. Yeah, I do have striations on my glutes, actually, now that I look, but I'm not really too concerned with the absolute number. I just use the measurements as a relative guide to track my progress.

However, I still believe it is possible to attain b.f. levels of 3% and lower. Like many competitive body builders. And to name one who has attained this level, and maintained it for a significant amount of time, Clarence Bass. From his website:

"His greatest fame, however, probably comes from his ability to maintain his body fat at a very low level. Body composition tests at Lovelace Medical Center and UNM Human Performance Laboratory have on numerous occasions measured his body fat at 3% or lower, when the average man his age has a body fat level 25% or higher and world-class male marathon runners usually carry 5 or 6 percent fat."

From his website: http://www.cbass.com/PERSONAL.HTM

08-23-2005, 01:21 PM
I am well aware of Clarence Bass and his feats, which are impressive. I'm not sure what method they used to measure him and I doubt it is that important of how much he really is.

However, unless you are a type of non-human, your brain, spinal cord, etc. (for an average male) contain about 3% essential fat, which can't be removed. Your body will fight you tooth and nail to become in a state where you have no bodyfat to spare (ie 3%). If you can maintain a situation where you have no bodyfat to spare, then you certainly have a genetic difference from 99.9% of all people. 5% (which I believe is what Clarence is), is quite difficult to maintain and impressive (striations all over).

Competition bodybuilders maintain their lowest bodyfat levels for one day. When doing competitions/photoshoots heavy diuretics are used and for the latter, a good deal of airburshing when needed.

You don't have to believe me, you can believe the common myths that people pass along. I know many guys with a hint of abs who are "6%". Bioelectrical impedance and caliper measurements aren't accurate or precise and to truly know you need to have an expensive scan performed (DEXA) and at a minimum an underwater density analysis (which has been shown to be more inaccurate than first thought, but it's the best thing most people have).

You can't defy science.

08-23-2005, 01:27 PM
I forgot to add the factor of drug use among those you reference. This can contribute to one's ability to maintain a lower than normal bodyfat, but still can't account for 3% and certainly not lower.

08-23-2005, 01:58 PM
We've had plenty of good discussions on this topic, and I'm sure there are a few threads that would answer most of the questions asked.

Oh and, lol@3%.

08-23-2005, 02:35 PM
Since you aren't listening, I did the work for you.


08-23-2005, 02:59 PM
Okay, well, thank you, but the conversation moved onto another topic and was never resolved, and I'm still interested in where it was going. Besides, galileo was the one who first decided to make a comment about the body fat, which you later made a crack at after telling us to stay on topic. So, do you have any search results that deal with that topic?

08-23-2005, 04:13 PM
No, there are plenty, but tougher to search. I didn't realize it was just you and Gal discussing things. Usually when someone claims a ludicrous bodyfat percentage, it turns into a pissing match. Was just trying to head things off a bit.

Feel free to continue, but Gal has made most of the points already.

When you see pro bodybuilders, their bodyfat percentage is manipulated to such a degree, that it's only good for a few days tops. Even at that point, where their skin is practically see through, they are 3-5%. Your body requires a whole lot more than that to sustain itself, and since it's an adaptive mechanism, so such an extreme would eventually be countered, and your body would start storing fat as an emergency measure.

Add to that, that this level of bodyfat is very difficult to attain having top 1% genetics, a full time coach and dietician, and doing this as their profession, and on copious amounts of gear, and only for a very short time, it's dubious at best for anyone to feasibly be less than 6 or 7% naturally.

Of course, readings off skin fold pinches, and whatnot can be taken incorrectly, or simply there may not be very much mass at all for the skinfold to take, so without all that muscle as well, it's giving a somewhat false reading.

But you're right, in that they are good to judge trends, but you can also use visual inspection for that.

As for your goals, I think you need to pick one main goal, and one secondary goal, and try and focus on those. It seems like you are all over the place with what you may want to do.

Limit cardio sessions, since any martial art will be a cardio session in and of itself. So as powerman said, once or twice a week tops is all you'd need. Strength training in high weight low rep ranges I've found is easier to balance with MMA than higher hypertrophic rep schemes.

Ultimately, it's not easy to balance. I know that when I was in thai boxing, it was a bitch to sit there and have to do tons of situps, having just done a chest workout a day or two before. Or having to do a hundred bodyweight squats after a leg day can lead to a whole new world of hurt.

There are tons of ways to approach it, but the only way that really works, is trying both, and switching your schedule around to suit things the way your body adapts.

08-23-2005, 04:13 PM
Searching for "essential bodyfat" will provide you with many references to the true minimum for males.

Here is an example from the university of texas medical school, which sites 5% as the minimum male bodyfat -

The university of oklahoma states 3% -

I'm sure you can do some additional research, beyond what people claim, and find some facts. Otherwise, we don't need to pursue this farther.

08-23-2005, 05:44 PM
Okay, thanks for the replies. I'm going to focus mainly on strength training to supplement the martial arts training, and increase my cardio if I feel I'm not getting enough from the martial arts.

08-23-2005, 06:09 PM
Anyway, I think cardio is overrated especially with judo. I have the worst cardio and I've done fine. If you're gassing you really need to chill the hell out and grapple smarter. Same deal when I wrestled in high school. You need to learn how to expend energy in short bursts. Personally, I would reccomend some strongman training for Judo. Sandbag work would be sick... you can simulate grabbing onto your opponents gi. Turkish get ups with a sandbag are good ****.

08-23-2005, 09:04 PM
Cool. Is there anywhere in particular I can find more info. on that?