T Nation

Getting My Ass Kicked

I’m 17 have been lifting weights for about 2 years now, and have had incredible gains in the amount of weight i can lift, and about 15 pounds of muscle added. None of my friends even lift weights, and i could outlift them by tons, but they always whoop my ass, and i dont understand why. And it isnt fighting ability. These kids dont even lift, and are stronger than me… i dont get it at all. What can i do with weight lifting to get myself actually STRONGER, and not just more built??? any suggestions welcome.

Stick to lower rep ranges, 1 to 4 reps, use only compound exercises- squat, bench, deadlift, pull-ups, rows, dips, power clean etc. Don’t use machines and don’t just train your arms. (That’s what most teens do.) Read the “youth gone wild” artile at t-mag while you’re at it.

Ok Dude,

I have been lifting weights since I was 17, and I’m 30 now, but I’ve also been into martial arts for the same amount of time. Here’s the Thing… The mechanics of lifting weights are not always the same as the mechanics of kicking someones ass. So if your getting your ass kicked by pencil necked geeks or fat-asses, it probably has a great deal to do with the fact that the guys your fighting or horsing around with have a stronger mechanical advantage with reguards to actuall fighting ability or his speed & balance is better… this is where you sometimes see the 250lb bully get his ass stomped by the 150lb martial arts guru, say someone like Bruce Lee (Little guy, Huge ability).

The problem may also be in your confidence level. Someone with alot of fights under their belt will not only exude an air of confidence, but also be able to make you dought your own ability, and we’re only talking about a few seconds here.

So if you want to kick ass, practice the skills that allow you to kick ass... and this may involve your having to spend some time with a qualified coach or instructor. Keep in mind that the instruction you seek should reflect what your weaknesses are. If your getting beat on the ground take jujuitsu or join your highschool wrestling team. on the other hand if your getting hit alot you might consider a boxing gym or a karate/kick boxing school. Another possibility is that although your arms and legs are strong, your endurance might suck, so you may just have to spend some time running.

Good luck in your search, keep a positive attitude and don’t let yourself be intimidated for even a second.


Ray already mentioned this, but I’ll second it. I wrestled for 5 years in junior high and through tenth grade in highschool. Even though I didn’t get really serious with it and decided to focus on other sports, even today, 7 years after I last wrestled, I can beat the piss out of all my friends when we’re fighting around. Wrestling just instinctively teaches you how to manipulate leverage and figure out where the human body’s weak points are. You could still probably walk on to your highschool team and learn the basics over the next couple years, or you could consider jui-jitsu too. I found wrestling to be the better of the two from a practical standpoint though.

Just to let you know guys, i was on the wrestling team at my school for 2 years (JV freshman, and sophmore) and it has helped me a lot, but is only really practical when the other person is also following the rules of wrestling. If you shoot in on someone, and they just put a neck choking headlock on you with a bear grip, not only has your shot not succeeded, but you cant breath. My main question was WHY these guys are stronger than me, but couldnt lift a pound to save their lives; and what i can do to get myself actually stronger. I am considering starting a form of martial arts, but im going to college soon, and would only have a few months to take it. Im not sure if its even worth it.

True ass-kicking ability has little to do with strength. Some people have more agression than others do. I am ruling out the fear factor ( which there is nothing wrong with by the way ) you just may not be able to get enough anger going to punch or kick with all your strength.

i agree with Ray. you have trained your neural pathways to kick ass at lifting weights, but not to kick ass at, well, kicking ass. my suggestion is to just walk down the street every day and as part of your “workout” just single out people and practice kicking ass. no, but seriously, martial arts and wrestling sound like good ideas. it is all about leverage…

Do you train with compound exercises? Concentration curls aren’t going to help you unless you can lift your opponent up by the belt and curl them. I think your problem is that strength has to be applied in conjunction with good technique. I’m basing this on what you said in your reply. If you shoot a takedown with your head down and your body extended, so that you land with your arms outstretched around his legs, I don’t care if you can bench 500 pounds and squat 900, any wrestler with any skill at all is going to sprawl and either crossface you into the bleachers, or if this is a submission type fight, choke you out. The weakest guy in the world is going to have stronger hips than your front delts and forearms or whatever muscle you’re using to hold on. However if you are strong in the legs and you follow through on your shot, you should launch the sucker into the next zip code. Strength is meaningless without proper technique.

One thing I would try is odd-object lifting. Lifting things like barrels, kegs filled partially with water, sand bags, etc. I can only bench about 300 and squat about 500 but I can wrestle around with a friend of mine who is much bigger than me(I’m 5’7" 220 and he’s 6’4" 280) and he wrestled in high school for 5 years and I have no martial arts experience. When I say wrestle around I mean we’ll lock up and he plays serious hell trying to take me down(might go on for 3 min.). Unfortunately, once on the ground he’ll have tapping in about 20-30 seconds because I just don’t know what to do. But my point is that these lifts are really the only thing I can attribute my ability to out muscle a wrestler who is bigger than I am. Give these things a try. Chris Shugart wrote an article about these kinds of lifts titled “Lost Art of the Finisher”. Look it up to get some ideas. Hope this helped.

Oh Grasshopper…you must learn the art of fighting if you dont want to become dog chow…start with wax on…wax off…lmao…just kidding. Just got back from a martial arts tourny so I am all fired and wired up!! Anyway, on a serious note, unless you study the fighting arts you will probably contine to get thy butt stomped. Strength is secondary to reaction time and leverage a lot of times. When I started way back when as a lowly white belt, I was 6’5" 220 at the time, and would get trashed by much smaller and weaker folks…fighting is NOT about power as much as reaction speed as well as attitude. For me personally, it took time to develop the second part…attitude. Reaction time comes quickly…in the first 6 months it increases dramatically. However, attitude is JUST as important. When I competed in the distant past, I would allow myself (even being 6’5") to be intimidated by another fighter because he was a higher rank…looked faster during warmups…or LOL…just plain looked mean. Until you can get that proper attitude (which is a LOT of what being a T-man is about…it isnt being MACHO…it is having a warriors spirit…which isnt macho…but is supremely confident it comes thru not from your actions…but is more a PART of you others can sense…this may sound like mumbo jumbo right now…but any other T-men who are fighters can certainly explain it also) Anyway, if you persue the martial arts or any other fighting art with the same enthusiasm and desire as you do your weight training…you will get it one day…it doesnt come immediatly…or thru a 12 week martial arts video tape…it comes from training, and most importantly sparring…and when the time comes to spar…not picking on william the weakling because you know you can trash him…but stepping up to the best in your class each week…KNOWING you will get trashed…but also knowing that that is the only way for you to become the best. As far as which style…I prefer T.K.D. because they do the most sparring, but the choice is yours…just make sure wherever you go they do spar often…practicing roundhouse kicks against the air for the next 3 years isnt going to help much when the day comes that your target hits back and you cant take a punch!!!

a whole training system exists on what ryan describes… it is called dinosaur training, goto deepsquatter for more info…

You must learn how to fight. Real fighting. Tae kwon do is crap in a practical point of view and although wrestling is very efficient indeed it lacks finishing holds and submissions. Added the fact that most of the wrestler can’t punch worth crap it isn’t the wisest option. Enroll in a Brazilian Jiu jitsu class or some form of shootfighting/submission fighting art. Trust me, in three months of hard and dedicated training you will whip those guys without breaking a sweat. Good Luck

Universal…that wasnt nice at all…lol. All fighting arts have strengths and weaknesses…I suggested TKD because I know they spar very often. Too many martial arts styles do half speed training tecniques which usually end up useless when the real thing comes along. There is a HUGE difference between when a roundhouse punch comes at you half speed and when you are in the ring or on the street and it is comming full force. That is all I was saying. As for myself, I have looked at most of the arts and I find that the TKD hybred that is taught at my school which is a combination of TKD and street teqniques…depending on the day you go to class…some days are straight TKD others are straight street. Anyway, Universal, lets not go knocking each others arts…each has strengths and weaknesses. Besides…there are a LOT of T-vixens at my TKD school!!! LMAO!!! So to me…if I have to sweat and get knocked around…I prefer some pretty scenery to go along with it!!! Peace Universal!!!

I was in the exact same position as you a few years back. Without getting into a “my style is better than yours” agrument, I’d look for the closest Kyokushinkai Karate school in your area. The whole premis behind the style is realistic fighting, plus with the added character building, spirit, etc. Sure shootfighting and Brazillian jujitsu are cool, but most drop out after 2 years, as there isn’t that much substance to it - just fighting. You make the call.

I agree with most of the posts here. Weightlifting does not always translate into power where fighting is concerned. Fighting has more to do with reaction speed, and to a larger degree leverage. I also wrestled in highschool and will tell you that a lot of those moves have helped me end quite a few fights. You would be surprised how many people give up when you place their joints in positions they weren’t meant to be in. You might want to consider trying out jui-jitsu or perhaps aikido. Best advice ever-If a fight comes your way try like hell to avoid it, if you can’t fight, like your life depends on it because it just may.

I can tell you right now that it doesn’t always matter who the stronger person is. A lot of my friends are stronger than me, but I can easily beat most of them. TRS has some good fighting tapes for someone like you. I would say to get the tapes by Chris Clugston, his are definitely the best when it comes to basics and it doesn’t take any time to learn. I have trained with him and a lot of other submission and NHB fighters. If you have the time, and like pain you might want to consider getting involved in the sport aspect of it. It is a lot of fun.

Box or Kick box for your striking and train BJJ for your ground work and submissions. You already wrestle so your take downs should be above average. Give it six months and you will kill your buddies. If you really want to sharpen your fight game, start to compete, Pancrase, Shooto, MMA whatever. There is no training like ring experience.

Keep up the weights though. The extra strength can help you out when your technique is lacking. After all, conditioning can win fights as often as technique.


hey j-man,

how was it training with chris clugston? i got both of his videos from TRS, and i was pretty blown away by the first one (the second seemed like more of the same). i actually used one of his techniques during my police academy days, with great success. (my defensive tactics instructor thought i was doing a conventional police takedown technique the wrong way). you think any other TRS videos are worth looking into?