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Best Weight Training for Combat?

What is the best weight training approach to prepare for true combat? By this question, I do not mean what is the best weight training for MMA, martial arts, or anything of that sort. I mean, suppose there is a person near me who is intent on tearing my head off. Retreating or verbally de-escalating is no longer an option; this guy wants to hurt me and will have not leave, or permit me to leave, until he does. Leaving aside other aspects of preparation (whether boxing is better than BJJ is better than wrestling is better than Krav Maga is better than just having a CCP and shooting the bastard, etc.), what approach to weight training would likely have best prepared me for getting out of this situation with minimal damage? My best guess would be some combination of basic strength movements, like powerlifting, combined with explosive movements like the power clean or snatch for development of athleticism. This is in fact kind of what my training looks like right now; I basically focus on powerlifting, but add in some Olympic-style weightlifting. But I am curious as to others’ thoughts on this. Thanks very much in advance.

100m sprint training.



I think that is an awesome question to ponder. The scenario you go on to propose, however, is still probably best answered by our friend @theBird. Be fast as fuck. Boom, you’re gone. Fuck those powerlifters, they can’t catch you.

Being stronger than you are right now is rarely a disadvantage in the grand scheme of things, unless you’re really banking hard on being way too fast, mobile and enduring to even bother trying to chase down. In that case, push the boundaries on what it means to be crackhead-quick and athlete-fast. As long as you don’t let yourself get pushed into some corner, chances are you’re gone whenever you want to bolt.

If I understand your question in it’s totality, just keep getting bigger and stronger productively and you will become a bigger problem for most people to handle in a struggle. This will remain true absent any kind of productive combat training on your part.

Thanks. And no question, if I can get out of a hairy situation by running, I’m not too proud to do it, assuming I’m not leaving a loved one behind. And I try to practice situational awareness so that I avoid those situations before they even develop. But the fact is that if you live long enough and go to enough places, there is a non-trivial chance that you’ll find yourself in a situation where running simply isn’t an option. That’s sort of the test I use in my training, be it weights or martial arts: Will this help in the unfortunate event I encounter someone who wants to hurt me or a loved one, and running away simply isn’t an option? If yes, I’m in; if no, I’ll pass. That’s one of the reasons I drifted away from karate. I mean no disrespect at all to those who practice it, but I became more and more skeptical that what I was learning was going to be of much value in a really ugly situation. Of course, being big and strong is no guarantee that you won’t get hurt or killed, but it seems hard to argue that size and strength aren’t fairly significant in shit-hits-the-fan type situations.

I would not be doing much work with barbells. Sandbags, kegs, stones and other awkward objects would be my go to.

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Same reason I left aikido. While I still think that some of the techniques are effective (flame on), I also believe that it is going to take quite a few years of solid training under a good instructor (as in literally, 10+) before one could get to the point of using these techniques in an actual street confrontation.

Size: I’m a fairly big guy, and I’ve been told I look pissed most of the time - which is ironic, because I consider myself a pretty friendly guy. Having said that, I’ve never been in a street/bar fight as an adult. I’ve talked a friend of mine out of getting his ass beat by some bouncers once (his fault), but I’ve never had to run from a fight or talk my own way out of one - shit just has never happened when I have been around. I also don’t rely on my size/ugliness to deter confrontations. Biggest thing for successfully evading injury is a healthy dose of situational awareness. Pay attention to your surroundings, and if it looks shady, go somewhere else.

As far as weight training, strength is where I would start. Since no one really tracks ‘success’ in street fights, we can look at athletics as a model (to some extent). Any S&C coach will tell you that all things equal, the stronger athlete wins out. And to dispel any bloated powerlifter images in your head, it is possible to build high levels of strength while maintaining or even improving conditioning. Check out Alex Vieda’s work for an example. He set a goal and trained to it - he deadlifted something like 700 pounds and completed a full marathon in the same week. Not setting any records, just proving the two don’t have to be exclusive of each other. Not to brag, but personal example: when I took my last PT test in the Navy before retiring, I ran a 9:30 1.5 mile at the age of 36, and was squatting mid to high 400’s (working weight, not theoretical 1RM). And to agree with Pwnisher, for ‘fighting fitness’, you need to be incorporating implements other than just the barbell. Barbell makes a good, solid base, but you need to be able to express that strength in other ways than just fixed movements.

Bodybuilding-style training with various rep ranges

Front loaded stuff like front squats, deadlifts or zerchers or sand bags to be like lifting dudes in front of you.

Moves where you accelerate through the range of motion, or “snap” at the end, like jumps, snatches & cleans or lifts with accommodating resistance. You don’t want to “coast” in your lifting, slowing down near the end. Drive through the lifts like you’d drive through punches/takedowns.

Bodybuilding stuff to build up neck, and muscles around elbows and knees to protect against getting that shit smashed up.

Then do that stuff in some kind of circuits or something where you go from lift to lift without stopping to rest without resting. Maybe clusters or EMOMs for the big stuff, many sets, low number of powerful reps, with short rests.

Then some longer duration carries or drags, like 60, 90, 120 seconds to build up that intermediate energy system while under some kind of load, like if some dude was hanging on you for awhile.

With boots, a weight vest and carrying a grown man wearing the same. That’s not a joke, but actual training.

Interesting! I guess my conundrum is how to ask a grown man if he will put on boots and a vest and let me carry him around without my intentions being, uh, misunderstood…
Seriously, that sounds like excellent advice. Handling someone else’s bodyweight, whether in a throw, carry, whatever, is a lot different from handling a barbell. Thanks!

Landmines, loaded carries, Oly lifting, anything explosive. Look at what the fellas who have to face that stuff on a daily basis do for strength, explosive power and strength endurance. Most people can’t fight longer than 90 seconds. Enter Idaho training.

It also depends on what you mean by combat. If you are talking about a combat situation then running, while loaded with gear and body armor, would be important. Carrying a heavy weight while under those conditions would also be important. You will either be getting yourself to safety or dragging/carrying your buddy to safety with you. Other than that, it’s not like increasing your bench will make you shoot better.

If you are talking about hand to hand fighting under combat conditions then it’s about skill and in this case it would be using your skills while wearing boots and wearing body armor.

You want a good skill to practice? Put on a heavy weight vest and loaded backpack. Then fall backwards and try to get up as fast as you can.

this made me think of the at home doable program I posted a few weeks ago in the Tactical Life, Idaho was inviting people to post routines that aren’t based on a public gym. I have previously also mentioned it, but I wonder if a revisit to combat readiness is worthwhile here. Well, the responses then were NO, nowhere near it. Here goes again:

3 3 minute rounds, 1 minute between of:

Stand up a heavy bag (mine is a 100lb boxing heavy bag)
Drop to the right knee, tip the bag onto the left shoulder, right hand underneath, left arm stabilizing.

Drive up with the left leg until standing.

Sprint across your backyard and at the other end drop the bag. Drop ground and pound on the bag to keep the heart going, until it is 30 seconds after starting the first lift.

Reverse the procedure, onto left knee, drive up the right leg with the bag on the right shoulder, and end up where you started, after another sprint.

Maybe some of you would find this more challenging if you did more rounds, or skipped the minute rest after every 3 minutes.

this has its resistance and explosiveness, requires that you get a load off the ground from a near grounded position, and does great things for the shoulders.

That sounds like mma training, not combat. In combat training, you would set the bag down, not drop it, and then practice administering first aid. Because in combat training the bag would represent your buddy.

If the bag represented the enemy, you would shoot it from a couple hundred meters, leave it where it lies, and then change your position or look for someone else to shoot.

It’s great to be strong and know how to fight without weapons but, in combat it’s more important to know how to use your weapons and know first aid (applying a tourniquet probably being number one).

I somehow missed what the initial question was. I didn’t realize it was gun combat.

I missed it too. It wasn’t combat, as in battlefield combat, but true self-defense.

In which case, there is no best weight training approach. Being smart and having skill when you can’t think your way out of a problem are more important than counting on being stronger than the other guy. The best weight training approach would be what’s best for you. A 120 pound woman can be as strong as she can be but that won’t help against a man twice her size so does it make sense for her to invest the time to get as strong as she possibly can when that will take away from time spent learning actual skills?

It’s not really either/or though. Granted, skills are tremendously important. But it seems to me that being strong is helpful too. Considering your hypothetical 120 pound woman, let’s assume she learns some good skills. Now add in the ability to do a real squat to depth with 225 pounds, which, in my observation, is rare period in commercial gyms, let alone for women (talking about a real squat to legal PL depth, not barely flexing the knees while a buddy yells “it’s all you bro!”). Assume she’s comparably strong in other key lifts. That woman could be a real problem for an average man who tries to hurt her; at the very least, he would get more of a fight than he bargained for. Also, isn’t there a point of diminishing returns for skills training? I mean, is 3 hours a night of BJJ or boxing really 50% better than 2 hours? The other hour could go to weight work to enhance strength and power. Especially for those of us who have to work regular jobs, and for whom training is an avocation rather than a vocation.

Well nothing can replace the skill of fighting be it wrestling, boxing, kick boxing or bjj. You can supplement this with 2x per week strength training.

If you are not training a legit fight sport that will help you up you conditioning and strength while executing the technique, then I guess 3 x per week strength with some conditioning or cardio work.

See in a fight it is very important to stay relaxed or you gas out in less than 30 seconds. You practice this on the ring or the mat. And strength and size does matter, however you better know how to punch, take a punch or at least grapple. There are way too many big men that cant handle a jab or a low kick.

Not so much when you consider normal human lifecycles. I think three to four years spent training either seriously will set you way ahead of most, doing both will put you even further ahead, but the next four years of strength training will probably not set you apart the way another four years of fight training would.

I’ve trained with MANY people who’ve out-classed me thoroughly by being strong enough to where I can’ just overpower them, but so far ahead of me technically that I’m doomed once it becomes a grappling match. Striking isn’t much more favorable when you’re going against someone with the training hours and fight experience you don’t have.

A 200lb highly trained fighter is a terror no strongman, bodybuilder or powerlifter has any hope of overcoming, absent combat training on their part.

There are, of course, exceptions to the rule…

But concur. Strength can overcome skill until it doesn’t, but skill can overcome a vastly disproportionate amount of strength compared to the amount of skill strength can overcome.