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Essential Lifts for a Combat Athlete Lifting 2x/Week?

Title basically says it all, and I know this type of question has been done to death. But, to clarify a little deeper:

Martial arts is 100% my focus, and has been for over a decade. I still love weight training, and believe it’s crucial for combat athletes/martial artists to build strength to help prevent injury, but also because being strong is never a weakness.

I’ve always argued that the most important primary muscle groups for a martial artist to train are the hips, core and shoulders. Keeping this in mind, and using a 5/3/1 approach (simply because I love the flexibility and simplicity of it), what do you guys think of something like this:

Day 1:

  • Power clean, 5’s PRO
  • Back squat, 5’s PRO (superset with rotational core work)
  • Possibly back squat, FSL 5x5? Or 100 total reps or something like goblet squats? Maybe even just do shoulder work, like FSL press or dips or something.

Day 2:

  • Power snatch, 5’s PRO or back squat, FSL 5x5 (I love leg work and nothing has helped my martial arts more than building strong legs)
  • Press/Incline press/Bench, 5’s PRO (supersetted with more rotational core work or core stabilization work like ab wheel)
  • Same dilemma as Day 1 here; leg work or more shoulder work. OR, focus on pulling work like rows.

Two other days would be dedicated to intense, but concentrated sessions of prowler or loaded carries, because I believe these are very beneficial for any athlete, but especially combat athletes.

The idea behind this is to keep time spent in the weight room low (20-30 minutes not including warm-ups), allowing for more energy to be put into martial arts practice, but still making improvements in strength.

I did something similar earlier this year where I did clean and push press (full, Olympic-style cleans), bench or weighted dips and heavy-ass farmer’s walks twice a week for a few weeks. I felt like a beast and noticed big improvements in my work capacity and strength during live training and drilling.

Any advice? Criticisms? Scathing comments to make me cry and reevaluate my life?

I’ve done a couple of 2x/week programs this year, and had great results with both. I felt stronger than ever for my workouts, but also fresh enough each day to focus on another emphasis (for me it was training for a half marathon).

I did these programs:

531 Limited Time Widowmaker (from the Forever book). This one involves a typical 531 progression, with both a plus set and widowmaker for two big lifts each day. Assistance work was bodyweight.

Dan John’s minimalist training: http://danjohn.net/2011/01/minimalist-training/

I really liked DJ’s program. It is similar to 531 in some aspects with two big lifts each day, but has different rep schemes for the big lifts and assistance.

Good luck.

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I’ve looked over Dan John’s minimalist program before and it seemed intriguing. He and Wendler are my two favourite strength coaches, so I’m always drawn to their programs.

How did you find Dan’s program for time? Were they long workouts?

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The workouts were 45 min - 1 h, I’d say. This was my first Dan John program, but I really liked it. I agree if you like Wendler’s stuff, you’ll also like Dan John’s. They are just different enough in their approaches to give you some variety, but the philosophies are similar.

I’m currently doing Dan John’s Even Easier Strength program, which I’m also enjoying. It’s more days a week (5), but short (25-30 min) and submaximal workouts.

Also a martial artist, for quite a few years.

On day 2 I vote for rows or other pulling work, both to balance the pushing work and prevent injury, but also because strength in pulling movements is very important both for striking as well as throwing.

You’re right, definitely gonna go with pulling work on that Day 2 if I run that set-up. Thanks for the reminder!

I would definitely sub power snatch and power cleans for 5/3/1 back squat and 5/3/1 OHP/bench. I think explosive movements can be taken care of with your jumps and throws, allows you more strength building times. Run 5/3/1 +Widowmaker push/pull/ab assistance. Finish in about 30 minutes per session.

The power variations would be the initial lift, followed by squat on one day, pressing on the other. I would never dream of not squatting or pressing and only doing power lifts. Can’t live without my skwaaats!