T Nation

Adding Strength and Power Behind my Martial Arts


#1

So I suppose this can be regarded as a routine critique, and as I'm new to the forums I apologise if this is in the wrong place.

Fujian White Crane Kung Fu, been training for a few years, looking to add some strength and power behind my strikes. Getting a lot of Mass Gain advice from weightlifters with no experience of martial arts who only hear the words "strength" and "power". So I'm here looking for some advice from people who understand the athletic + speed requirements of martial arts needing to be compatible with my lifting gains.

So right now I'm cutting, I put on a little weight and fell out of training. (Got Married, Graduated and Bought my first home all within the space of a year - stress eating - oh like you've never done it.) Anyway, so I started the cutting process 6 (coming up to 7) weeks ago, the results are great! I'm really happy with the progress. I estimated 12 weeks would be enough, and the mirror says I'm on target.

After this, I've crafted the following routine for your critique that I'm thinking of taking on. I'm also not a new lifter, (I'm sure there are plenty of you who know a lot more than I do, I just mean I can handle appropriate volume and duration and I squat without shedding my pelvis). That being said the following workout is the latest drawing board result from what I've learned in my exercise life so far!


I work out at a Home Gym that I'm building so right now the equipment is as follows:
- 1 x EZ Bar
- 1 x Barbell
- 2 x Dumbbell
- 1 x Inc/Dec/Flat capable Bench Press Bench { Comes with the legs attachment (that padded pulley thing with a weight disc spike)
- 1 x Pull up bar
- 1 x Heavy Martial Arts Bag Full Body Length - Sand Filled


Sunday: Rest
Monday: Chest and Triceps
- Inc/Dec/Flat Bench Press (Alternate weekly between fly's and presses)
- Skull crushers/Tricep press, Tricep Dumbbell Kickbacks
Tuesday: Back and Biceps
- Barbell Row, Mid DB Pull, Deadlifts
- Barbell Curl, Hammer Curls
Wednesday: Martial Arts Workout (1hr - Steady State - Heavy Bag Sparring)
Thursday: Legs and Abs
- Squats, Russian Deadlifts, Calf Raises
- I have gone from ab routine to ab routine curiosity sake I would love to leave this to your suggestion.
Friday: Shoulders and Forearms
- Lateral Raise, Rear Delt Fly, Anterior Raise, Arnold Press
- Wrist Curls, Reverse Wrist Curls
Saturday: Martial Arts Workout (1hr - Steady State - Heavy Bag Sparring)

Additional Notes: Stretching and Pattern Practice Every Morning for 30mins (Note: Not a workout, it's not easy, but I wouldn't class it as a workout.)

All and any help is welcome, please do stick around if you leave a comment because I will likely have questions! I've tried asking for this kind of help before but of course I just got snarky comments about martial arts being useless to learn, just do weights so you can throw a good punch....... yeah.... so I'm so happy I found this forum. Really really would be grateful for whatever you guys can help me with!

Thanks in advance!


#2

Don’t scoff at weightlifters who “only hear strength and power” without any MA experience. They know and possess strength and power which you do not; so listen to them and heed their advice. Part of training in MA is being humble and learning from those who know something you do not.

With that being said, your lifting routine is really, really bad regardless of what your goals are. Do this:

Workout A
Squat 5x5
Bench 5x5
Deadlift 3x5

Workout B
Squat 5x5
Overhead Press 5x5
Power Clean 5x3

Alternate workouts A and B on 3 non-consecutive days a week. Start with just the bar on all lifts and add 5lbs every training session. Add 10lbs on the deadlift every training session.

Do your MA training and bodyweight exercises on the days you aren’t lifting.

Eat plenty, gain a little muscle (you have to gain weight to gain muscle unless you are fat) and do not squat high!


#3

Hey, thanks for the reply.

“Getting a lot of Mass Gain advice from weightlifters with no experience of martial arts who only hear the words “strength” and “power”. So I’m here looking for some advice from people who understand the athletic speed requirements of martial arts needing to be compatible with my lifting gains.”

“I’ve tried asking for this kind of help before but of course I just got snarky comments about martial arts being useless to learn, just do weights so you can throw a good punch… yeah… so I’m so happy I found this forum.”

Those quotes there are where I mentioned weightlifters. Let’s nip this in the bud, right now. So we don’t waste time off topic and nobody gets insulted. First quote: No scoffing was made. This is a simple fact, the weightlifters I’ve asked only had weightlifting experience. I’ve not stated that this makes them ridiculous in any format, only that the only parts of the situation they can advise on is “strength” and “power”, two words taken from “strength and power behind my strikes” that are the only two relevant to their own training. They simply cannot advise me on what I need, they have no experience with athleticism and the speed requirements of tournament fighting. I haven’t scoffed at them for this. Second quote is my own isolated experience, on a Wednesday to be precise. This isn’t a blanket statement for all weightlifters, I certainly wouldn’t scoff at my own father and brother, I only referred to a very ignorant statement regarding martial arts. So please, let me take a second to apologise if any insult was made or felt, I don’t think I need to be pedantic, but I will be exceptionally clear from now on. Fifteen years training in martial arts, I should have my philosophy down by now. So truly, I apologise.

In regards, to my routine being “really really bad, regardless of my goals.” you really really, need to tell me why! Give a man a fish and all that. Also what can the routine you suggested do for me by comparison? Also, yes, I do have a little fat. As I mentioned I’m currently cutting, I’m not overweight at all, just carrying a little extra in the middle. Shall we factor that in?

Seriously, thank you for taking the time to reply. I’m here to learn more than anything.


#4

Fair enough. There is still a fallacy in that logic though. Having good technique is the most important aspect of striking power and right after that would be power, then strength and then mass (some would argue to rearrange the last couple). You get the point though. Considering that you probably have decent striking form from your MA training, the only things you are missing are the strength and power. Those weightlifting guys are specialists in the field of what you don’t have and would like to develop regardless of what you intend on using it for. Simply put, there is no such thing as “strong for kung fu” vs “strong for wrestling” vs “strong for anything else”. You are either strong or you are not strong so trying to cater your strength training specifically to your sport defeats the purpose of training for strength.

I swapped from powerlifting to bjj and muay thai about 6 months ago. When I first started, my striking form was pretty bad but I could still end a fight with 1 well connected punch because of how much power I had and I had not been training for MA specific attributes at all. I just had lots of strength to brawl with.

So what you need to develop is a large amount of generalized strength. The best way to do that is to train compound strength and power movements through a full range of motion with a high level of frequency, moderate volume and progressive overload weight progression while allowing ample time to recover between training sessions and adequate food intake. It is also important to note that, if you want to be strong, you cannot continue to cut. Eat at maintenance (so you don’t lose or gain weight) and slowly watch your fat be replaced by muscle. If you keep cutting you will hit a wall with your strength fast.

If you want to learn to fish, read these books:

Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training by Rippetoe

Practical Programming by Rippetoe

These 2 books tell you pretty much all you need to know to be a strong sonuvabich.


#5

You’ve already received the best advice you could have done from Lofty. All I’ll say is that I fought competitively for 15 years, and I was from the old school way of training that completely eschewed weight training for all the usual reasons. I’ve now spent a while training strength more seriously, and I am certain that had I begun strength training when I was competing, I would have benefited tremendously.

IMO Lofty’s advice on the matter should be taken as gospel and followed to the letter, until such time as you have outgrown the programming he suggests. Having been the idiot who didn’t do that myself, if I were in your position now, I would personally just do what he told me to do for a while without even questioning it.


#6

[quote]Loftearmen wrote:
Fair enough. There is still a fallacy in that logic though. Having good technique is the most important aspect of striking power and right after that would be power, then strength and then mass (some would argue to rearrange the last couple). You get the point though. Considering that you probably have decent striking form from your MA training, the only things you are missing are the strength and power. Those weightlifting guys are specialists in the field of what you don’t have and would like to develop regardless of what you intend on using it for. Simply put, there is no such thing as “strong for kung fu” vs “strong for wrestling” vs “strong for anything else”. You are either strong or you are not strong so trying to cater your strength training specifically to your sport defeats the purpose of training for strength.

I swapped from powerlifting to bjj and muay thai about 6 months ago. When I first started, my striking form was pretty bad but I could still end a fight with 1 well connected punch because of how much power I had and I had not been training for MA specific attributes at all. I just had lots of strength to brawl with.

So what you need to develop is a large amount of generalized strength. The best way to do that is to train compound strength and power movements through a full range of motion with a high level of frequency, moderate volume and progressive overload weight progression while allowing ample time to recover between training sessions and adequate food intake. It is also important to note that, if you want to be strong, you cannot continue to cut. Eat at maintenance (so you don’t lose or gain weight) and slowly watch your fat be replaced by muscle. If you keep cutting you will hit a wall with your strength fast.

If you want to learn to fish, read these books:

Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training by Rippetoe

Practical Programming by Rippetoe

These 2 books tell you pretty much all you need to know to be a strong sonuvabich.[/quote]

I completely understand where you’re coming from, my striking form, well one can never say one knows Kung Fu given it’s nature, but I will say work is coming along much more preferably than when compared to my strength. I think where you see fallacy, there mostly lies uneducated fear. I’ve worked hard on my MA. My past instructor didn’t know a lot about exercise and the human body. Just Kung Fu. I admit now, the belief that any form of weight lifting, though monks trained with sand bags, simply served to slow one down and shred any hope of flexibility was one that was constantly reinforced.

My first three sparring matches were three older men of 6ft and over and heavy set, myself being 5.7 and lean and wiry from my training (this was a hard goal to reach, my genetics are a very very stocky build) this fight was a set-up to mimic the real-life scenario that often it is normally someone bigger than you that is going to pick a fight with you. During the fights, Speed was my ally, strikes were targeted (lightly) at bone joints (implicating limb destruction), muscle-heads (implicating momentary paralysis), repeatedly the sternum (implicating starvation of oxygen requirements for a larger, heavier, muscle-hungry (O2) target in an unbroken round).

Obviously due to the height differences I was also able to get within guard, do my damage and leave but sticking to the point of muscle growth/flexibility/size essentially I played the scenario that one cannot knock out the Oak, but one could cut it down to size. This worked so well, I think I began to fear any loss of my abilities through any gain of theirs.

That is, until I sparred a man my size. I’d sparred others my size before of course, but this man was different. He was me, if I had gone with my genetics. My size, but thick set, solid muscle. But most intimidatingly, still fast. To this day, I will never forget my sparring match with him and here’s why. I punched, it hit, he didn’t move. Not a jot. Not a fraction. I hit this man thirty times in a row at least. He blocked a few sure but as I said I’m not exactly slow. But the thing is it didn’t matter. It was like punching stone.

I was in so much disbelief, I forgot to pace as I continued. I wore myself out. That’s when he unleashed, and to this day it still remains so much a blur I wonder if I’d been fully conscious at the time, even though I remained on my feet, barely. The speed was faster than mine. I’d never been so confused in my life. Since then I’ve been trying to train to reach that ability. Packing on muscle isn’t hard, not for me, and I’m not talking about “newbie-gains”. Keeping the fat off is often difficult but I’ve only recently learned how to control my nutrition so time will tell on that one. But I’ve not worked out how to pack on muscle, and retain my own speed let alone gain his even with drills.

But if I can find a way to get to that point, I will be a very happy man indeed.

Thank you for the book advice it’s my preferred method of learning so I really appreciate that and hopefully I can grab them on a kindle so I can get at them today.


#7

[quote]LondonBoxer123 wrote:
You’ve already received the best advice you could have done from Lofty. All I’ll say is that I fought competitively for 15 years, and I was from the old school way of training that completely eschewed weight training for all the usual reasons. I’ve now spent a while training strength more seriously, and I am certain that had I begun strength training when I was competing, I would have benefited tremendously.

IMO Lofty’s advice on the matter should be taken as gospel and followed to the letter, until such time as you have outgrown the programming he suggests. Having been the idiot who didn’t do that myself, if I were in your position now, I would personally just do what he told me to do for a while without even questioning it. [/quote]

I understand where your coming from, check out my response to lofty, I’d love to know what you think as an experienced competitor. Ah my friend, question everything. There’s only one gospel I know of. But Lofty has been incredibly helpful.


#8

[quote]HeavyIronMonkey wrote:

[quote]Loftearmen wrote:
Fair enough. There is still a fallacy in that logic though. Having good technique is the most important aspect of striking power and right after that would be power, then strength and then mass (some would argue to rearrange the last couple). You get the point though. Considering that you probably have decent striking form from your MA training, the only things you are missing are the strength and power. Those weightlifting guys are specialists in the field of what you don’t have and would like to develop regardless of what you intend on using it for. Simply put, there is no such thing as “strong for kung fu” vs “strong for wrestling” vs “strong for anything else”. You are either strong or you are not strong so trying to cater your strength training specifically to your sport defeats the purpose of training for strength.

I swapped from powerlifting to bjj and muay thai about 6 months ago. When I first started, my striking form was pretty bad but I could still end a fight with 1 well connected punch because of how much power I had and I had not been training for MA specific attributes at all. I just had lots of strength to brawl with.

So what you need to develop is a large amount of generalized strength. The best way to do that is to train compound strength and power movements through a full range of motion with a high level of frequency, moderate volume and progressive overload weight progression while allowing ample time to recover between training sessions and adequate food intake. It is also important to note that, if you want to be strong, you cannot continue to cut. Eat at maintenance (so you don’t lose or gain weight) and slowly watch your fat be replaced by muscle. If you keep cutting you will hit a wall with your strength fast.

If you want to learn to fish, read these books:

Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training by Rippetoe

Practical Programming by Rippetoe

These 2 books tell you pretty much all you need to know to be a strong sonuvabich.[/quote]

I completely understand where you’re coming from, my striking form, well one can never say one knows Kung Fu given it’s nature, but I will say work is coming along much more preferably than when compared to my strength. I think where you see fallacy, there mostly lies uneducated fear. I’ve worked hard on my MA. My past instructor didn’t know a lot about exercise and the human body. Just Kung Fu. I admit now, the belief that any form of weight lifting, though monks trained with sand bags, simply served to slow one down and shred any hope of flexibility was one that was constantly reinforced.

My first three sparring matches were three older men of 6ft and over and heavy set, myself being 5.7 and lean and wiry from my training (this was a hard goal to reach, my genetics are a very very stocky build) this fight was a set-up to mimic the real-life scenario that often it is normally someone bigger than you that is going to pick a fight with you. During the fights, Speed was my ally, strikes were targeted (lightly) at bone joints (implicating limb destruction), muscle-heads (implicating momentary paralysis), repeatedly the sternum (implicating starvation of oxygen requirements for a larger, heavier, muscle-hungry (O2) target in an unbroken round).

Obviously due to the height differences I was also able to get within guard, do my damage and leave but sticking to the point of muscle growth/flexibility/size essentially I played the scenario that one cannot knock out the Oak, but one could cut it down to size. This worked so well, I think I began to fear any loss of my abilities through any gain of theirs.

That is, until I sparred a man my size. I’d sparred others my size before of course, but this man was different. He was me, if I had gone with my genetics. My size, but thick set, solid muscle. But most intimidatingly, still fast. To this day, I will never forget my sparring match with him and here’s why. I punched, it hit, he didn’t move. Not a jot. Not a fraction. I hit this man thirty times in a row at least. He blocked a few sure but as I said I’m not exactly slow. But the thing is it didn’t matter. It was like punching stone.

I was in so much disbelief, I forgot to pace as I continued. I wore myself out. That’s when he unleashed, and to this day it still remains so much a blur I wonder if I’d been fully conscious at the time, even though I remained on my feet, barely. The speed was faster than mine. I’d never been so confused in my life. Since then I’ve been trying to train to reach that ability. Packing on muscle isn’t hard, not for me, and I’m not talking about “newbie-gains”. Keeping the fat off is often difficult but I’ve only recently learned how to control my nutrition so time will tell on that one. But I’ve not worked out how to pack on muscle, and retain my own speed let alone gain his even with drills.

But if I can find a way to get to that point, I will be a very happy man indeed.

Thank you for the book advice it’s my preferred method of learning so I really appreciate that and hopefully I can grab them on a kindle so I can get at them today. [/quote]

To be perfectly honest it sounds like you were given a false sense of effectiveness during your first 3 “sparring” sessions, only to realize that you in fact had not developed effective striking when you encountered someone who was actually giving you real resistance (your first real sparring session).

Now to be fair, there are some truly rugged people out there who can take serious punishment and just keep coming at you and can really hurt you when they get a hold of you. But even they are going to be affected by repeatedly landed solid strikes to effective targets.

I would say that your striking mechanics are not as solid as you assume, you need to work on your targeting (forget the “hitting muscles thus causing temporary paralysis” nonsense), and while I think strength training can be a huge asset if done correctly, I don’t think it alone is going to result in the huge speed or power increase that you are seeking.


#9

Let me be perfectly clear: I mean no disrespect to either you or your chosen martial art.

Sento is dead on with his comments, especially when I read statement like this :

“implicating limb destruction), muscle-heads (implicating momentary paralysis), repeatedly the sternum (implicating starvation of oxygen requirements for a larger, heavier, muscle-hungry (O2) target in an unbroken round)”

IED’s, Vbied’s, bullets, iron pipes, ASP batons, knives, properly applied arm bars, kicks to the side of the knee with steel toed boots, are just a few examples of true limb destruction. Makes me a little wary of your training if you believe your techinques are that destructive. I really dont know if you feel that way or not but: I would urge you to follow Sento’s advice and examine your methods of striking. I would also urge you to seek out a good boxing/MT gym, watch how they use the whole body to punch and evaluate whether my art is teaching me the optimal way of transferring power.


#10

I was thinking the same thing. I would much rather get hit in my muscles than in the middle of my face, especially by someone who knows how to throw a proper punch.


#11

[quote]Loftearmen wrote:
I was thinking the same thing. I would much rather get hit in my muscles than in the middle of my face, especially by someone who knows how to throw a proper punch.[/quote]

Quite. I don’t know if there is any merit to these secret ninja techniques, but to date the most effective unarmed method of rendering someone unconscious I’ve ever come across is a swift combination to the head with hands or elbows from someone who knows what they are doing. Massive trauma is massive trauma, and it has a similar effect on us all.


#12

[quote]LondonBoxer123 wrote:

[quote]Loftearmen wrote:
I was thinking the same thing. I would much rather get hit in my muscles than in the middle of my face, especially by someone who knows how to throw a proper punch.[/quote]

Quite. I don’t know if there is any merit to these secret ninja techniques, but to date the most effective unarmed method of rendering someone unconscious I’ve ever come across is a swift combination to the head with hands or elbows from someone who knows what they are doing. Massive trauma is massive trauma, and it has a similar effect on us all.

[/quote]

There is some legitimacy, depending on the target, but you are attacking the nervous system more than the muscles. Here is one example:

These strikes usually take a lot of precision, timing, and power to truly affect the neuromuscular system though and most times even professional fighters have a hard time landing them with such profound affect against other fighters (against the average person maybe, since they are less conditioned to taking such strikes), so they wouldn’t be my go to for shutting someone down.


#13

[quote]idaho wrote:
Let me be perfectly clear: I mean no disrespect to either you or your chosen martial art.

Sento is dead on with his comments, especially when I read statement like this :

“implicating limb destruction), muscle-heads (implicating momentary paralysis), repeatedly the sternum (implicating starvation of oxygen requirements for a larger, heavier, muscle-hungry (O2) target in an unbroken round)”

IED’s, Vbied’s, bullets, iron pipes, ASP batons, knives, properly applied arm bars, kicks to the side of the knee with steel toed boots, are just a few examples of true limb destruction. Makes me a little wary of your training if you believe your techinques are that destructive. I really dont know if you feel that way or not but: I would urge you to follow Sento’s advice and examine your methods of striking. I would also urge you to seek out a good boxing/MT gym, watch how they use the whole body to punch and evaluate whether my art is teaching me the optimal way of transferring power. [/quote]

Amen brotha. Sounds like OP was sold a bill of goods that didn’t really come through.