T Nation

Female Martials Art Fighter Program?


#1

I’m training a female muay thai fighter, both in Muay thai and now starting to strength train her.

Her first problem is that is can not gain anymore weight, she needs to stay in that weight class she is in now.
Her second problem is that she don’t have much time to train strength training, due to school, muay thai, and cardio training.
Third problem is that she in general have no real strength.

My first plan was to is to give her a deadlift, squat, military and other upper body execises 5x5 program.
for about 3 months until she has some muscles and then incorporate some explosive movement.

But may that is to hard for her, so maybe a 8x3 program.

The problem is that she can not gain any weight, she has to replace fat with muscles.
So she will been at the same weight, just alot stronger.

I wanna keep the fairly volume low, so she does not get to “bulky”

Any suggestion.?
Thank you :slight_smile:


#2

No idea why you put this in the powerlifting section … the powerlifters will tell you she will shrivel up and look like a 79 year old with an eating disorder if she tries to get strong whilst training to fight :stuck_out_tongue:

The 5/3/1 forum has plenty of combat related examples in it.


#3

I put it here because i think a powerlifting program will be good for her in the beginning. To pack on some strength, before advancing to other training programs.

I just wanted to here other powerlifter suggestions.

I not talking about getting her to be a powerlifter, i’m talking about getting her in to lifting in general.
And i think powerlifting is a good place to start.


#4

Know what you are doing lol…

Srsly tho a couple of things:

Think real carefully before you put muscle anywhere. The athlete has to carry this around the whole time and accelerate this extra mass effectively. It better be useful for the athlete e.g. front delt, pecs and serratus anterior for punching. Greater cross sectional area = greater potential for force production but this is only useful if trained properly which brings me to my second suggestion. An example of less useful muscle would be in the triceps/biceps which could contribute to punching power but is extra weight that makes keeping the hands/arms up significantly harder. Worth it? You decide.

You train the way you play i.e. the principal of specificity. You want to generate high force in a short space of time i.e. explosiveness you train each and every rep with maximum speed/acceleration/explosivity. This necessitates relatively low percentages of 1RM as bar speed drops at higher percentages e.g. your 1RM is slow even with the intent of speed but you can move 60% with the intent of max speed and get it.

Conversely if you train, grinding out reps, you’ll get strong and good at being slow.

You’ve mentioned keeping volume low which is fair enough. More importantly diet needs to be controlled. Initial gains may be largely technique and neuromuscular efficiency but if there’s an environment conducive to growth you are going to get them muscle gains and maybe too much for your liking. Perhaps a controlled targeted muscle gaining phase to the upper limits of the weight class and then a cut?

Is there an issue with bodyweight training or other implements to form a foundation of GPP for the specific sport. Is barbell work what you are comfortable with or what is best for the trainee? I watched Rocky… whatever number where he lifts loads but that was because he was old slow and thought he’d be unable to go the distance. Unless she is some super heavyweight or something I dunno how appropriate powerlifting style training would be tbh


#5

Adding to the last paragraph. Bodyweight and simple tools such as DB and Kettlebell allow one to workout at home at anytime so the convenience factor could be handy. Kettlebell Swings, DB Power Cleans/Snatches and other movements are truer full body movements than the powerlifts and are inherently explosive allowing the athlete to train and express this trait.


#6

Thank you Khangles :slight_smile:

I totally agree with you on the explosiveness. Yes, her main goal is to do explosive training.
But is it a good idea to train explosiveness when she is having problem doing 1 prober pushup, 1 rep squat with a 20lbs barbell etc.
Shouldn’t she do general strength training before she starts on explosive training.?

There is no problem with do bodyweigth training, but I as person is more comfortable with BB movement.
I did bodyweight training for a couple of months, and found out. the training session is usually longer that a powerlifting program. And i really didn’t get any stronger, yes i could do more reps, but strength, no.
Yes i was probably doing wrong, etc.

yes powerclean and snatch are killer movements. :slight_smile:


#7

I see. What weight class is she in btw. Would there be significantly less knockout power expected from her and directed at her by opponents in this class.

Body weight isn’t a magic bullet as some calisthenic gurus will contend however there is plenty of room to progress. If one goes from say a push up on the knees to a proper push up then you’ve made real significant gains. Push Ups can be progressed further to clapping, 1 handed, weighted, paused etc. Body weight is not better than free weight tho so whichever you choose there’s a way.

If you want to go with weights may I suggest that you perform a strength program focusing on relevant musculature and not one ounce more as outlined previously with the focus being on explosive movement at all times. Concurrently Inherently explosive movements and sports specific training should be performed to allow your athlete adapt her newfound strength and body mass changes. Training the qualities separately wouldn’t promote potentiation and carryover of one attribute to the other

Can she clean an olympic barbell? Are you familiar/comfortable enough with the power clean to teach it? If not a very good alternative is the kettlebell swing. Hell I think in this case it’ll be better: Less technical and safer. Look at crossfit and oly weightlifting lots of lightweight women moving big weights.

Jumps, Leaps and Bounds are also crucial with the explosive hip flexion required to land devastating kicks and knees something that is neglected and frankly decreased by powerlifting training (due to increased leg mass decreasing acceleration of the limb)

Try not to get too caught up in strength. You don’t have to be strong to throw an effective punch. It can help sure but you just have to accelerate your enough fist so that when you decelerate it with someone’s face it imparts plenty of force/momentum. Pro lightweights don’t knock mofos out because they are strong. I’m stronger. I’d still get my arse handed to me.

Think there’s a lot more but can’t think of it off the top of my head. Might post later


#8

If she can’t do one push-up and uses 20 pounds for one squat rep, how in the holy hell do you think she can do a 5x5 program?

Of course she should. To paraphrase Mark Rippetoe, right now, she’s weak, and becoming not weak will improve everything. She has no business doing “explosive training” when she’s simply weak all over and, sorry this is gonna sounds dickish, but any good coach would know that.

Then you shouldn’t be coaching her, because you need to be able to coach whatever methods will get her to her goals instead of just doing what you know and hoping for the best. Don’t sweat it. Acknowledging it will keep you from getting in over your head and will prevent her from losing time/energy and missing her goal. I’ve been there and turned down clients because I knew that I didn’t know enough to train them properly. It sucks, but it’s necessary sometimes.

I’ve used the bodyweight routine described here with beginner women. Regress whatever exercise as needed to hit the target reps - elevate hands onto a bench for push-ups (do them from toes, not the knees), have her assist herself by using her arms on the squats/lunges, etc.

After that, I’d move to either of the first two programs explained here. Lifting 2 or 3 days a week, plus the Muay Thai, plus cleaning up her nutrition should have her dropping fat so the weight class isn’t an issue.


#9

I’m going to also suggest a body weight routine rather than a BB one. Not necessarily because I think that free weight exercises cannot be done right from the get go, but more so because, from doing MMA (a Reality Focused one) for 15 years now, my experience tells me that the strength and conditioning built from Bodyweight work better transfers to the demands of Combat Sports.

In fact, “traditional” resistance training (be it Powerlifting or Bodybuilding style) would be way down my list of strength training modalities for Combat athletes.

I’d go:

  1. Bodyweight work (including plyometrics once a solid base of connective tissue strength and mobility has been restored)
  2. Partner resisted work (Greco players does a lot these and they allow one to build both technique and strength simultaneously)
  3. Strongman/Strongwoman work (sledgehammer stuff, tires, Kettle Bells, Club Bells, lifting rocks/sandbags/logs/etc…)
  4. Olympic Lifting (mostly the “Power” versions, though the full/Squat versions can be very beneficial if enough time is available to properly learn/prepare for them)
  5. Traditional resistance training work (Powerlifting style)
  6. Traditional resistance training work (Bodybuilding style)

That beginner Bodyweight routine that Chris linked to is a good place to start. I would suggest increasing the Plank duration to working up to 1 minute holds though; 15 seconds is insufficient to build substantial core strength/endurance (at least long term, at the start it might be an appropriate duration depending on the trainee’s level of conditioning).

Good luck.


#10

Sento as usual with good advice. I don’t agree quite as much with the primacy of bodyweight exercises but that is because I am comfortable and experienced with using traditional resistance training for sports purposes (although it must be said I do not do “powerlifting” style resistance training for sports, so I do agree with Sento there). Bodyweight work is indisputably useful and good for you though, and I do use it. As Sento noted partner work is also great.

Powerlifting training is very useful for basic coordination, overall structural strength, and learning to build tension when you need it. It remains useful on a fundamental level for those reasons. But it sucks something awful at getting someone good at moving in 3 dimensions, and ALL sports boils down to 3 dimensional movement of some kind unless your sport is chess. It also sucks at teaching someone to relax when needed, which is very important for sports as well.


#11

If getting stronger will make her a better fighter then just focus on that. Why do cardio? If she is in a training camp type mode for an actual upcoming fight then she has bigger issues than strength or lack thereof.

And why worry if she gains muscle? She’s a fighter not a marathoner. Besides, how much muscle will she really put on anyway? If she ends up too heavy for her current weight class she can always lose weight once she starts training to get into fighting shape. How many fighters walk around at their fighting weight between fights?


#12

Out of the blue the headcoach bought her a personal program.

So she will do that instead.

sorry for the time you guys spend answering my question.


#13

Why does it have to be either/or?

I already had the skill to throw cleanly executed side sicks, spinning heel kicks and hook kicks, and thai and tma roundhouses.

I could throw them much much harder after adding a couple or so hundred pounds to my box squat max and doing consistent speed work. I think it’s because a properly executed box squat ala Westside BB style has you pushing feet out hard against the ground while extending your hips hard which are both important aspects of any of those kicks or basic punches for that matter.

Now on the other hand, I find benching pretty worthless for punching power. But push ups, standing OH pressing, and unilateral pressing do good b/c they strengthen the body’s ability to stabilize the forces from the press through the shoulders, upper back, and mid-section.

Weightlifting isn’t limited to PL style, OL style, or BB style. I see it customized for many sports.

Now you’ve got 15 years of experience with this stuff so I hope you take this post as having an argumentative tone. I’m just trying to pick your brain a little more.


#14

It doesn’t necessarily, it’s just that most people not only have limited time to dedicate to supplemental physical conditioning/preparation work and also aren’t starting from a perfectly balanced athletic foundation.

In your case, you already had the flexibility, accuracy, coordination, and other athletic requisites to throw those kicks. So, yes, adding significant strength while continuing to train the other attributes would likely lead to a noticeable increase in power.

Really, regardless of what form the resistance takes all types are simply about challenging the body’s neuromuscular system. You can absolutely take elements from all the different variations on types of resistance training and put them into your physical preparation/conditioning program. My reasoning for putting Bodyweight as the most carry over is due to the multi-athletic attribute focus, total body coordination, core strength, dynamic stability/balance, and “three dimensional” strength built with exercises like Hollow Back Presses, Planche Push-Ups, Front Lever Rows, Human Flag variation, Single Leg Squats/Pistols, Strict Muscle-Ups, and even more so more advanced Ring Strength elements.

But, again, all other types of resistance training can be useful if they serve your needs, don’t throw your athletic qualities out of balance, and are readily available (so you can do them chronically/regularly enough to convince your body to adapt to them/supercompensate).