become detrimental to performance in MMA or martial arts in general? I’ve been doing Taekwondo for years, and I am currently an instructor in it. I’ve also been learning boxing, kickboxing, and muay thai in my Krav Maga class.
I’ve been lifting weights for about 6 months (I know it’s a very limited amount of time) and have put on a decent amount of size. I like the way the muscle looks, and I’d like to get bigger, but I’m curious if continuing on my strength/mass training routine would be detrimental to my performance in a sport such as TKD which is very speed/flexibility based. Is there any real way to know when I’ve reached a point in muscle mass where I should stop building muscle and simply attempt to maintain?[/quote]
As a general rule being bigger and stronger is always an advantage. If it was possible to improve strength and muscle size forever, without giving up opportunity, most of us would. The real limitation isn’t “Damn I am too big” it is “I am too tired, I wish I would have spent some of my muscle building time on conditioning.” or “I wish I had more skill, I should have spent more time practicing.” Looking at K-1 there are a lot of big, strong, well muscled guys who have fantastic speed, power, timing, and balance. However, remember the K-1 Grand Prix is an open weight/heavyweight deal.
If you have to meet a weight class, than at some point extra mass means a harder cut. Moving up to a heavier class means bigger opponents. In striking this usually means TALLER guys, so while I said bigger and stronger is better, it may not be better than taller/longer. Being at least average in height for your weight class may pay higher dividends than being thicker/stronger.
Finally, it is worth looking at how much additional strength is going to be useful as opposed to spending the time developing other things/attributes. You mentioned Taekwondo and as an outsider looking in I peg Olympic TKD as pretty much Olympic Fencing, but with kicks. That means hitting first is going to carry greater advantage than hitting harder. Furthermore, the high level TKD guys look different than the high level grapplers. I know both are serious/dedicated, so I think there may be a lesson there. I suspect it is that a TKD fighter might hit diminishing returns on strength building/muscle mass sooner than a wrestler/judoka.
WHAT THAT MEANS
I cannot do better than kmcnyc’s advice that:
SKILL is more important than
CONDITIONING, but that is more important than
And that the way to work with this is to work all of them, until they start to interfere with one-another. When this occurs, decrease the one lowest on the list.
So, keep working on getting big and strong. You like it, plus you like the way it looks. However, when you notice that you are getting gassed too easily, or that you are neglecting skill work it is time to back off in the gym.
I will also link to a fantastic article by Dan John that gives some goals/levels for strength in sport/athletics. IF you are looking to improve a sport/activity that doesn’t require a ton of muscle(look at the high level guys, and notice what they look like/lift like) than the “Expected” category is a good goal. If you want to continue, or if strength has a hell of a lot of benefit than shoot for the “Game Changer” levels.
NOTE: If you want an easy way to assess how important strength/lifting would be in your sport ask “Can I just grab the fucker and muscle him under these rules?” If the answer is “Yes, that is allowed.” than strength will help a lot. You should still be using skill/technique to do it though. Do not break kmcnyc’s rules. If the answer is “No”, like it would be in boxing, TKD, Fencing, Kendo, Practical Shooting, or even Golf, than you are going to hit a point where working hard to get stronger yields diminishing returns sooner.
I hope part of that was at least helpful.
Dan John article that you should read