T Nation

Help with Strength Training


#1

Hello

I have been practicing martial arts for about 5 years now. Started with Kick boxing, then Muay thai; than went through a 2 year break due to work and other reasons but have been regularly doing it (3 days a week) for the last 2 years. Presently I am doing Muay Thai and BJJ. I have some limited exposure to weight training as well and at the moment I am focusing on building strength.

My questions are regarding number of reps and sets and the number of days I should be doing weight training. I do weights in the morning and martial arts class in the evening. I am focusing on deadlift (sumo), benchpress, front squats, pushups and planks in the following range.

Deadlift - 40 kg x 10 reps x 2 sets
Benchpress - 40 kg x 15 reps x 2 sets
Squat - 20 kg x 10 reps x 2 sets
Pushup - As many as I can, I am usually able to do 2 sets of 30
Plank - 1 min (twice)

I do this 4 times a week along with 2-3 exercises for body parts. I am 5Ft 9in; and weigh 83 kg.

I had started with the traditional deadlift about 6 months back and was able to hit 140 lbs x 8 reps x 2 sets (excluding the bar) but then my form went down the drain and I hurt my back. When I started again I switched to sumo deadlift.

I would like inputs regarding the above exercise program, nutrition I should be following and how to lose about 4 kg while building strength and mass.

Btw, I have recently participated in my first amateur grappling tournament and won gold in my weight class and I intend to do the same in the august tournament. Any suggestion / idea would be much appreciated.

Thanks
Dabral


#2

Your exercise selection is decent, although it can be improved. First of all, try to understand the role strength plays for you. A very popular notion around here is that your technique training will be more important than your endurance which will be more important than strength. So

technique > endurance > strength

In a perfect world, you’d have enough time on your hands to train and recover from training all of these aspects seven times a week. However, this is usually not the case. What I suggest, therefore, is this:

Lift weights 2-3 times a week, depending on your schedule and recovery. Do not let lifting impact your other training.
Focus on compound movements. You’re on track here.
Do enough pulling. I see no pull ups or rows in your program and your shoulders will eventually hate you for it.
Try to get stronger with less. Don’t go crazy on the amount of work that you do.
Rest long enough. You’re doing this for strength, not for cardio.

So, my suggestion would be the following:

Day 1-

deadlift (sumo if you like) - 3 sets of 5
overhead press or push press - 3 sets of 5
chin ups - 3 sets of as many reps as possible

Day 2-

front squat - 3 sets of 5
bench press - 3 sets of 5
chin ups (with weight added if you can do more than five easily) - 3 sets of 5

Alternate between them. You can use this to train two or three times per week, even once per week if you get busy, but I recommend going twice for most weeks.
Whenever you find that you can confidently do three sets of five without turning the last reps into a slow motion movie, ad five pounds.

There you go. Nothing else is needed for now.

Concerning nutrition and losing weight: Considering your activity level, I would look at your food choices first. Eat protein and fruits or vegetables with every meal and get rid of all the junk carbs - that means no takeout food if at all possible, no pizza, no noodles of any form, no sugar if possible. Try to change the things you eat rather than the amount first and track your weight for one month. Once you eat well, you can start looking at calories etc. but I’d rather see you get used to eating good stuff first.


#3

^this pretty much explains it.


#4

Thanks for your feedback, I will run with these for a few days and let you know how it is going for me.

Between I tried the 5 rep x 2 sets routine today, was planning to do 60 Kg on deadlift but had to choose 70 kg since that plate was free. I was kinda skeptical to start with but I was able to do it with good form and relative ease :).

I am pretty much following the diet you mentioned yet somehow something is out of place, could you suggest what should I eat before and after the workout. At the moment I take 2 brown bread with a chocolate spread or butter with one cup black coffee before workout. Post workout I take a protein shake and museli with curd or oats.

Have a good day.

Thanks again.

Dabral


#5

To add to what nighhawkz wrote, mobility/flexibility is also crucially important for long term health and performance and injury prevention. So don’t neglect your mobility/flexibility work either. Personally I would put mobility/flexibility just under technical skills in order of importance, simply because of it’s injury preventative properties (and nothing brings your training to a screeching halt like an injury), but some might place it elsewhere in the list of importance.


#6

[quote]Dabral wrote:
I am pretty much following the diet you mentioned yet somehow something is out of place, could you suggest what should I eat before and after the workout. At the moment I take 2 brown bread with a chocolate spread or butter with one cup black coffee before workout. Post workout I take a protein shake and museli with curd or oats.
[/quote]

Eat a banana thirty minutes before you train; nothing else. After you’re done, stick to the protein shake and see how you respond to leaving out the rest; you can keep the muesli but you don’t have to.


#7

Hey Man

I agree with you, that 2 year layoff that I mentioned in my post was in part due to an injury, I am currently nursing an injured elbow but that is due to an overexcited training partner.

At the moment I am taking 2 classes each of Muay Thai and BJJ, each class being 1.5 hr at least and most of my stretching happens there. I do some 10 minutes of stretching before beginning my session at gym and that’s about it. Nonetheless I would love to hear your suggestions.

Dabral


#8

Will start this right away.

Btw, the guy flying around in your DP, is that you?


#9

[quote]Dabral wrote:
Thanks for your feedback, I will run with these for a few days and let you know how it is going for me.
[/quote]

You should run a program for a few weeks before you stop and reassess. A few months would be better, actually. If you want to run a basic, effective program then I would recommend doing Starting Strength. Buy the book “Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training” by Mark Rippetoe and read it cover to cover. You will have no more questions.


#10

[quote]Dabral wrote:
Btw, the guy flying around in your DP, is that you?[/quote]

Hah! I wish. No, he’s called Damien Walters, an olympic tumbler turned stuntman. With any luck I might be able to do a backflip before I get old.


#11

[quote]Dabral wrote:
Thanks for your feedback, I will run with these for a few days and let you know how it is going for me.

Between I tried the 5 rep x 2 sets routine today, was planning to do 60 Kg on deadlift but had to choose 70 kg since that plate was free. I was kinda skeptical to start with but I was able to do it with good form and relative ease :).

I am pretty much following the diet you mentioned yet somehow something is out of place, could you suggest what should I eat before and after the workout. At the moment I take 2 brown bread with a chocolate spread or butter with one cup black coffee before workout. Post workout I take a protein shake and museli with curd or oats.

Have a good day.

Thanks again.

Dabral[/quote]

One thing I would say, since you’re doing basic barbell lifts and aren’t worried about bodybuilding stuff , is get your own equipment. Going to martial arts classes can be expensive and honestly a gym is going to drain even more time and money.

I found an oly bar with some weights on craigslist for $60, pretty cheap chinup/dip station at a consignment shop, then resistance aren’t expensive and are versatile. Just saying IME it can be done. If you have the space for it, it will save you a lot of time and money in the long run too.


#12

[quote]Dabral wrote:
Hey Man

I agree with you, that 2 year layoff that I mentioned in my post was in part due to an injury, I am currently nursing an injured elbow but that is due to an overexcited training partner.

At the moment I am taking 2 classes each of Muay Thai and BJJ, each class being 1.5 hr at least and most of my stretching happens there. I do some 10 minutes of stretching before beginning my session at gym and that’s about it. Nonetheless I would love to hear your suggestions.

Dabral[/quote]

Ok, then here are my suggestions in regards to mobility/flexibility:

  1. Perform primarily dynamic stretches pre-workout. Dynamic stretches are those which move the body through it’s range of motion without passing for extended periods in any one position (if you want to hold the stretch for a second or two that would be ok). Dynamic stretches can also be “passive” (meaning either gravity or some external resistance is pulling your muscles into an eccentric stretched position and then you are contracting them to pull yourself out of the stretch), or “active” meaning that you are contracting one muscle to pull it’s opposing muscle/antagonist into a stretched position) in nature. I will often incorporate some passive and some active dynamic stretches into my warm-ups depending on how I feel and how tight a muscle/range of motion feels.

If you are going to perform static passive stretches, then Inwould recommend you only perform them on muscle groups that will not be called on to produce high amounts of force (either dynamically or statically) during your subsequent workout/class. For instance, it would generally be ok to perform a static chest stretch in order to facilitate a better “rack” position prior to performing back squats as chest flexibility may limit squatting performance, but the chest won’t be called on to produce high amounts of force during the squat.

  1. Introduce mobility/dynamic flexibility exercises into your workout itself by placing them between sets of your strength training exercises. This increases time management as instead of just sitting around watching the clock tick between sets as many people do you will instead be using that “wasted” time to perform flexibility/mobility exercises. This tends to also increase the other all cardiovascular/conditioning effect of your workouts, keeps you warm, and keeps you focused.

I generally prefer pairing your strength training exercises with mobility exercises that target the antagonists of your exercise or at least the limiting muscles. For instance I might pair squats with an ankle/Soleus mobility exercise as many people’s performance of squats is limited/hindered by lack of ankle mobility. Or I might pair a rowing exercise with a mobility exercise for the chest as a tight chest will inhibit full contraction of the scapular retractors and shoulder extensors/horizontal abductors.

  1. Perform a dedicated flexibility workout for at least your upper body and one for your lower body (you can split the lower body up into a hip flexion/hip extension [sagital plane) session and one for hip abduction/hip adduction [frontal plane] if you want) once a week. During these workouts you will want to hold the stretches for much more extended times (1 minute to 2 minutes) and try to work towards your maximal (moderately uncomfortable, you should never feel sharp pain while stretching) range of motion for that day. That generally means going to the point of feeling tightness in the muscle (the stretch/myotatic reflex), waiting in that position until the stretch sensation decreases, then “taking up the slack” until you feel another stretch sensation and continuing in this process until time is up.

  2. Be consistent (consistency is more important than intensity IME), don’t push too hard that you risk injuring yourself, and be patient. Flexibility takes time to develop, just as strength or endurance do, so focus on performing your stretching/mobility exercises to the best of your ability and let the “outcome/long term” goals come in their own time. This outlook (which honestly can be applied to all areas of training) will provide for a much more pleasant and rewarding “ride/journey” then always focusing on the finish line.

Hope this helps.


#13

Sorry guys I have not been in touch, had some problem with my eyes which kept me off the screen for the better part of the week.

@Loftearmen - Got the book, onto it now. Btw, where are you based? Are you into BJJ as well?

@nighthawkz - You would do a backflip brother, just gotta be as committed as this dude :).

@ Facepalm.Death - U read my mind, me and my training partner were thinking on the same lines but at the moment we do not have space for the equipment and luckily the gym is only 10 min from my place.

@Sentoguy - You are a great help brother. When I was training in my previous gym, 2 Yoga classes per week were included in the membership. I got into them specifically with the objective to loosen up my body as I tend to be quiet stiff. I wasn’t expecting this but as I progressed into Yoga it immensely helped me with weight training and martial arts as well. Unfortunately that Yoga instructor isn’t taking classes anymore due to bad health and I am on the lookout for a new one. I know that most guys into bodybuilding and strength training treat Yoga as a waste of time, however I firmly believe it is a great catalyst to further other training goals.

Give it a shot some time.

Dabral


#14

OP: may I suggest have a look at DeFranco’s program: westside for skinny bastards. Its made for athletes so it may fit into your schedule. Sentoguy has given you some good info, but may I add on the topic of mobility, that a little bit done constantly is better than doing lots sparingly. Hope that makes sense.

nightHawkz: do you do any trampolining?

tweet


#15

[quote]theBird wrote:
nightHawkz: do you do any trampolining?
[/quote]

I’d probably have the time of my life doing it but there’s no opportunity :stuck_out_tongue: Also, I’d probably suck initially. The only backflip I’ve ever done was on a bungee trampoline.


#16

I live in Mesquite, TX (suburb of Dallas). I used to do powerlifting and strongman but now I am just doing bjj.