T Nation

Learning Martial Arts While Bodybuilding


I'd like to take a couple martial arts classes at some point, just the basics as useful skills to learn rather than as a primary sport, which will remain Bodybuilding and Powerlifting.

To what extent would it interfere with muscle growth or lead to muscle breakdown?

Would it be better to take the classes while in a fat loss phase? Is it good for fat loss cardio?

What sort of pre/during/post nutrition do you suggest if I decide to take the classes?


I did some martial arts this summer while lifting. I didn't really notice except when I did legs. Then my workout performance in the arts workout was hampered. Holding guard with sore legs will wear you out. I did adjust my cardio to account for the added martial arts work.


I have just started a martial art and all I can say is that I am having great difficulty combining the two.


If you've got a job and a life, it could interfere quite a bit.

Unless "a couple" means one or two like...next week, and then you're done. If you're going to do it steadily, it'll wear you down.


or you have a job that gives you 90 minutes for lunch to workout. then workout after work


Classes are either an hour and a half one day a week or an hour two days a week

Say I lift (DC) tuesday, thursday, sunday, do cardio saturday, climb wed and sat, and take the class friday.

Or should I wait until a fat loss phase (so next Spring)?


What type of MA is it? What's the training look like? Are you going one day or two? Is DC Doggcrap? What's that entail?


BJJ one day a week or muay thai twice a week

DoggCrapp yeah. It's kind of an intense full body routine


When I started lifting weights, I was doing BJJ as well and it was very difficult on my body to recover. I was going to class in the mornings and in the afternoons up to five times a week and I ended up choosing weight training. Once I concentrated in bodybuilding, things progressed better and I have no regrets leaving BJJ.

In your case, add in extra calories for the mma workouts and leave them as a cardio day. What are your overall goals, what plans do you have for the future?


If you're taking it recreationally and still care more about bodybuilding, then do BJJ. It's a fun time and a good workout. Muay Thai is more brutal, but also cool- however, two days of it for a rookie is going to beat the fuck out of you.

Don't plan on competing whilst training so rarely, however. Like I said- for rec purposes, go for it, but it takes ALOT of time and a tremendous amount of effort to get decent at either art.


5 times a week is nowhere close to what I'm considering. I'm just looking to take a class that's once or twice a week just to get some basic knowledge of self-defense.

My overall goals are primarily focused on bodybuilding and powerlifting. I plan to compete in powerlifting but I also want to maintain sub-10% body-fat indefinitely and also have some symmetry. I'll also eventually compete in olympic lifting and maybe strongman in the far future.

Yeah, I have no plans for competing.

Should I just go for it or as it's a big workout wait until I'm at a fat loss phase? (right now I'm in a mass-gaining phase)


Just do it. Does jerking off fuck with your routine. I lift and do Judo.

Most of those MMA lift pretty hard, and train very hard, they seem to be balance.

I can't see why a TKD would be any harder than that.


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I don't understand this. Why are you spreading yourself so thin? To be a "complete fighter"??!?! Seriously, don't even try it. I've never seen anyone make any type of consistent progress only training bjj once a week (except for uber noobs for the first couple of weeks). You will quickly reach that point where you will not make any progress. None of your three activities share the same skill sets so it's not as if you have the luxury of training them so infrequently.

IMHO, I'd rank your best options as follow (assuming you have a job):
1) Stick to DC/bodybuilding, but forget about BJJ/MT
1) Stick to martial arts, ramp up frequency for both BJJ and MT, but forget DC/BB or other S&C programs.

2) Simple S&C program geared for martial artists (not DC) PLUS 1 art trained 3 times per week

If you can stick to your original plan for more than a year and make clear progress in all three activities, please feel free to PM me and tell me I'm a fool.


I'd agree with this. If it's going to be mostly a skill/technique emphasis with a little live rolling thrown in here or there either at the beginning or end of the class, then I don't think it'll be too detrimental. You'll still have to eat substantially more calories though. When I was training seriously I was eating everything that wasn't nailed down and still couldn't gain worth crap. As soon as I stopped I gained 10 lbs in about a month.

If it's more of a workout class though, i.e. lots of live rolling, lots of conditioning drills, and maybe some technique training thrown in here and there, then it's probably going to screw up your progress lifting wise.


IME it is more than possible to do 2 two hour martial art classes a week on top of a 3x/wk lifting regime. MORE than possible.

I agree, with full time work it will be a test, but what i would do is have transition periods..

So when i add in the MA i would just train full body one day a week for the first week, maybe the second.. and as time goes on you increase the workload in the gym as your recovery and fitness improve.

Sure if your first priority is the gym work this may feel detrimental to your goals, but; a) gym is the only of the two activities that can be modulated as such and b) while you will put the BB on a back seat temporarily, once you have built your workload back up your physique will surely thank you.



One of Dante's posts copy/pasted from IM -

This post is going to make me look like an ass--so be it. Im seeing posts in this forum that are seriously alarming me here and if it pisses you off what im saying, well welcome to the freaking wake up call! My methods arent for the weekend quarterback and they sure arent for the beginning lifter, they never have and never will be.

This is for hardcore bodybuilders ONLY, lets get that straight right here and now. Im seeing posts in here about, "well I cant play basketball and I cant rockclimb if I do deadlifts on thursdays and I dont want to use wrist straps because"..... WELL THAT SUCKS----PICK ONE OR THE OTHER HERE THEN!!!!! BECAUSE MY METHODS ARE ABOUT MAKING SOMEONE A BODYBUILDER THE FASTEST WAY POSSIBLE. My methods arent out there so you can be a hybrid bodybuilder/tennis player.

Thats what mens health and muscle and fitness is for! This is about extremes and limits and if you can run around jumping and playing full court basketball, there is no doubt in my mind that you dont have a clue how hard we are training legs here.... Do you want to be a rock climber or do you want to be a bodybuilder? Because my methods are 100% made to get you on the fasttrack in bodybuilding. If your worried about your hamstrings being sore so you cant play handball every tues and thurs nite, then your in the wrong fucking forum!

IM sorry but these things dont mix well. Just like if I wanted to become a wordclass 50m swimmer, you wouldnt see me eating and training like a superheavyweight powerlifter. This isnt for weekend warriors and i dont want it to be--this is serious stuff--extremes. So if your goals arent to be the best bodybuilder your genetics will allow, your in the wrong place readingwise and doing the wrong thing trainingwise.
Second of all--there is starting to be a proliferation of 16-20 year olds jumping on this bandwagon.

Now there are some 20 year olds that have their head on straight with this (very rare) but when I start seeing posts about run of the mill basic Flex magazine crap (squatting low is bad for your knees and other crap) then there is a big problem. Whats next--the body can only assimilate 25 grams of protein a meal? eating according to the food pyramid? blue ball core training? I dont want to see a dumbing down of this forum--this is for advanced lifters who already know the basics and have been thru them.

You have seen Massive G say this a million times and IM going to reiterate this. THIS IS NOT FOR ANYONE THAT HASNT BEEN LIFTING FOR AT LEAST 3 YEARS. Can any 30 year old in this forum say to me that he is less hardcore and can drum up less intensity than he did when he was 18 years old? Because I can crank it out about 4 times as hard now, and I know you guys can too. I roll my eyes every single time I see a 16-20 year old telling everyone how "hardcore" and "balls to the wall" they are.

Unless your Usmuscle who is an old man in bodybuilding years compared to his real age, trust me you havent got a clue in the world. A set of 8 that you do at 18 years old (that you thought you were the "man" doing) can probably be grinded out for 13 reps at 30 years old.... even if the strength is the same, because you develop a serious brutal fortitude with age. If you have been lifting 5 years steady with flat biceps genetically, and still think that if you bomb concentration curls you will somehow magically 'all of a sudden' develop a Colemanesque peak, your in the wrong damn forum.

Thirdly, everybody wants to cookie cutter this stuff and its frustrating the hell out of me and Inhuman and others. Some things are basic and can be used by everyone. But there is alot of stuff that has to be individually decided according to you dietwise and also to you injurywise, strengthwise, timewise, etc etc etc. I see people asking questions sometimes outside of the basic training regimen (which is pretty universal but definitely not in all cases recovery wise) and others giving cookie cutter answers like "one size fits all" even if its dietwise.

If Inhuman or myself arent training you (this is to newer guys) you got to use some deductive reasoning in all of this please. On cycles for pennies there was a guy who asked me what I ate and I posted what I ate the day before exactly. I didnt think much about it. Sometimes I post things and dont think of the consequences of them (like the goddamn 6 second negative phase which I didnt think everyone would be so anal about and has been a monkey on my back ever since) ...at that time I wrote about what I ate the day before...... I was 290 or so lbs but was working an incredibly hard labourous job and was finding it really difficult to gain weight.

That single day if I remember right came out to 7800 calories and 564 grams of protein--THAT WAS FOR ME AND ME ONLY!!! And even with eating that much my weight gain that year sucked pretty much, thats how hard that job was. What do i see? That exact days eating has been passed around and around and around for the last 3-4 years in a Doggcrapp training pdf as "DC's diet recommendation" and people are following that.

If I ate that diet now I would be a blimp because IM much more sedentary and do alot of office and desk work. I still eat 450-650 grams of protein but my calories are much much lower. There are things I have certain trainees doing in their workouts that I wouldnt have anyone else do. Injuries to work around. Hell Ih knows this firsthand as he has to really watch his back. There are alot of decisions to make outside of the basic structure of this all including timing of cardio and carb cuttoffs due to how/when a person works.

But the biggest thing of all is fixing problems. I have to continually fix problems every time a trainee of mine comes to a plateau and i have to look at everything as a whole and plug the leak. Its been very very rare that I have had a trainee who didnt plateau out at some point and I had to fix it somehow. Thats so important and needs to be done or someone will be training and spinning his wheels in place indefinitely. And noone including myself wants to train for 6 months busting his hump getting nowhere.

My main point here is I'm seeing people want this all set in stone and it cant be done like that. If Fred is 300lbs, with a bad back, and has 200lbs of lean muscle, and works 14 hours a day, and is lactose intolerant, with high blood pressure, I sure as hell am not going to have him doing the exact same things as Rick, who is 230lbs, with 200lbs of lean muscle, with a really bad shoulder, incredibly bad recovery ability, works 6 hours a day, 6 days a week, and has shin splints limiting his treadmill walking.

Do I want everyone starting out to be doing the M W F split--yes because thats proven to work best for the majority but when we get into diet and other things, thats a whole new ballgame here and it cannot be done with a cookie cutter


I dont know enough about the martial arts to comment on if this is being spread thin, but i agree that you shouldn't spread yourself thin.

But i disagree that you cannot progress in bodybuilding if you do a martial art too.

It is true if you want to excel in a martial art you will need to focus your gym work around multimple sessions a week over many years - but if you are a bodybuilder wanting to add 1-2 sessions of a MA a week for a little more fighting skill, some conditioning (health, physique AND taking shots) and still train as a bodybuilder it most certainly can be done.

I also agree with BBB and Sento though, if you are doing the fitness portion of the session (many split it into 2 two hour sessions of which you can sometimes choose which to participate in IME) then you are likely to reduce your ability to grow as much muscle as possible - even if you dont physically (or mentally) notice a large impact on your recovery - and you are highly likely to as starting a MA is particularly tough when you arent used to that kind of work.

Point is, you don't have to choose either/or as suggested above IMO, and there have been many a bodybuilder who are high level martial artists too (and while they will have made the majority of the progress before BB, they still train the MA as part of their regime).



This is actually something that pisses me off with the way some martial arts instructors run their classes. Other than a beginners class, a martial arts class should be teaching me techniques and giving me a chance to practice them. Strength gains, flexibility gains, conditioning, that should be in it's own class or your own responsibility.

I know they do it that way because a lot of people turning up have this as their only excercise however it annoys me.

The flip side of that is if you come train with me and the class starts at 7, my expectation is that you are here, warmed up and ready to go at 7. I will probably start with some specific drills that will ensure you are lose and warmed up with the movement pattern that we will be using in the class but I don't want to give up 15 mins of a 60 min class to getting you to a working sweat.


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