T Nation

Martial Arts With Weight Lifting

Hey all,

I’m wondering if someone can give me a little info on how well martial arts and lifting would go together in a workout plan. I currently lift weights regularly. My long term goals are to add LBM and strength. My short term goals also include fat loss. I am interested in supplementing my lifting with martial arts for a couple of reasons:

  • I find the idea of martial arts interesting
  • I feel that martial arts could improve my flexibility and overall conditioning
  • Martial arts could serve as a decent source of cardio

At first glance, I was thinking martial arts would be an ideal analogue to my lifting - but as I read up on things, it seems the opinion of many people is that the two do not go together. Indeed, most guys I know who train in martial arts never touch a weight (they do only MA), and most guys I know who lift have no interest in MA. For example, when talking to someone I know who is heavily into MA, it was suggested that I give up “gym type workouts” in favor of MA.

Needless to say, this isn’t an option for me. Weight lifting is, and always will be, my primary focus. MA, if I take it up, would be clearly secondary. Given this, is it worth taking up MA at all? What advantages or disadvantage would there be? Would I be better served with a more traditional form of cardio such as biking?

Thanks for the help!

one word : searchbutton

I have searched, and while I have found plenty of posts addressing the use of weight lifting to supplement martial arts I have seen little information on the opposite issue, namely, the use of martial arts to supplement weight lifting.

About the only thing I saw was a response to one post suggesting that if martial arts is not your main priority, it is probably not the best choice of pursuits.

Is this the general consensus on this forum?

Also, I note that a once a week Tai-Chi class is also an option for me. Assuming for a moment (and this is a big assumption) the class teaches some semblance of actual Tai-Chi, namely, Tai-Chi the martial art and not the “new age standing up yoga” Tai-Chi, I was thinking this might be a good option. Taught correctly, its as real a martial art as any other, but its internal and slowed down (for training) nature makes it somewhat less high impact than, say, karate.

Maybe this would fit better into a program where weight lifting is the priority than a more traditional pure combat/striking MA. As always, any input would be appreciated.

Search and read what Charles Staley has on MA and strength. He’s the first guy to come to my mind about it.

Then, if you are just doing this for conditioning, do ANY martial art. Hell, do them all. You won’t be a “master” at any of them, but you’ll be in better shape.

There will be no “hidden, ancient, deadly secrets” to getting better flexibility, stamina, etc in any art. I hope you aren’t looking for any.

“Dojo’s” are just a place to practice a very selective sport. Every group class I ever attended was about half technique (read NO conditioning) and half push-ups, jumping jacks and trying to do the splits.

If that’s all you want to do, do it at home for free. If you are interested in MA then join and have fun.

Just reread your first post again and want to add this:

If you are looking for an advantage consider tae kwon do or kickboxing.

It’s been noted that sprinting will/could increase the amount of fast twitch fibers in your legs. It may be possible that the dynamic kicking actions of those two may have some carry over effect as well. As well, to move your legs with any explosiveness requires a stronger “core”. Some of my most painful “ab workouts” were sessions of increasing my sidekick speed.

IMHO I would opt for kickboxing. With that at least you have the chance of knocking someone out. Of course, the opposite is also true. :slight_smile:

[quote]Sniper99 wrote:
I have searched, and while I have found plenty of posts addressing the use of weight lifting to supplement martial arts I have seen little information on the opposite issue, namely, the use of martial arts to supplement weight lifting.

About the only thing I saw was a response to one post suggesting that if martial arts is not your main priority, it is probably not the best choice of pursuits.

Is this the general consensus on this forum?

Also, I note that a once a week Tai-Chi class is also an option for me. Assuming for a moment (and this is a big assumption) the class teaches some semblance of actual Tai-Chi, namely, Tai-Chi the martial art and not the “new age standing up yoga” Tai-Chi, I was thinking this might be a good option. Taught correctly, its as real a martial art as any other, but its internal and slowed down (for training) nature makes it somewhat less high impact than, say, karate.

Maybe this would fit better into a program where weight lifting is the priority than a more traditional pure combat/striking MA. As always, any input would be appreciated.[/quote]

I think that it can supplement your lifting well. I’ve been instructed in the martial version of tai chi and it is one of the most interesting things I’ve ever done. Lower impact is good because of less stress on the joints and connective tissue, but a martial art that is higher energy is better for cardio.

In my modest opinion, I think it is best to avoid being too sore to move well for the martial art of your choice. You’ll learn the art better. Frankly, learn the art because you want to learn the art, not because you feel like supplementing your lifting. It works better that way because you practice more, and balance your life better between extremes.

One thing though, most traditional martial arts are stuck in the dark ages as far as weight training goes. Don’t give their comments much thought. They still operate under the premise that it will make you musclebound and slow. That’s so 1960. You get what you train for, as Waterbury and others here are fond of saying. The only thing that happens is that you have to be careful not to “brute force” a technique through based on your strength levels. In other words, strength training can make you try and force things instead of learning and relying on proper technique (and letting your strength take care of itself). Also, it can tense you up via the increased resting muscle tension, and that’s bad for fighting, as tension WILL generally slow you down. But both these things can be more than taken care of with stretching, mobility work, and caring to learn the technique the right way.

I say go for it.

I find the two of them go together very well. Lifting will certainly help with explosiveness, power and flexibility.

It might be a good idea to train with lower reps since power is probably more important then maximum hypertrophy. Either way lifting is good.

I have a black belt from years ago, and my last couple of years of Karate I also lifted. It really did help improve my speed.

I consider weightlifting an important part of my martial arts training and am a big fan of Waterbury’s workouts. The only caution I would give is to listen to your body in terms of recovery.

Not a fan of Tai Chi, but if your goal is just activity and some conditioning then go for whatever interests you.

[quote]MytchBucanan wrote:
I find the two of them go together very well. Lifting will certainly help with explosiveness, power and flexibility.
[/quote]

Agreed. As long the martial art isn’t too physically demanding, they mix well together. Just don’t get carried away with 10x3 on squats and expect to perform nice, fast high kicks the next day.

The key is balance.

[quote]Aragorn wrote:
One thing though, most traditional martial arts are stuck in the dark ages as far as weight training goes. Don’t give their comments much thought. They still operate under the premise that it will make you musclebound and slow. That’s so 1960. You get what you train for, as Waterbury and others here are fond of saying. The only thing that happens is that you have to be careful not to “brute force” a technique through based on your strength levels. In other words, strength training can make you try and force things instead of learning and relying on proper technique (and letting your strength take care of itself). Also, it can tense you up via the increased resting muscle tension, and that’s bad for fighting, as tension WILL generally slow you down. But both these things can be more than taken care of with stretching, mobility work, and caring to learn the technique the right way.

I say go for it.[/quote]

This is an important point. The guys who have told you that weight training will conflict with your MA training are wrong.

I’d guess that their knowledge of weightlifting is limited at best; they will have an entrenched, false view on the topic.

Weights can make you faster, hit harder and make you generally more explosive to name but a few benefits.

Will this help your MA…um,yes!

[quote]Sniper99 wrote:
Hey all,

I’m wondering if someone can give me a little info on how well martial arts and lifting would go together in a workout plan. I currently lift weights regularly. My long term goals are to add LBM and strength. My short term goals also include fat loss. I am interested in supplementing my lifting with martial arts for a couple of reasons:

  • I find the idea of martial arts interesting
  • I feel that martial arts could improve my flexibility and overall conditioning
  • Martial arts could serve as a decent source of cardio

At first glance, I was thinking martial arts would be an ideal analogue to my lifting - but as I read up on things, it seems the opinion of many people is that the two do not go together. Indeed, most guys I know who train in martial arts never touch a weight (they do only MA), and most guys I know who lift have no interest in MA. For example, when talking to someone I know who is heavily into MA, it was suggested that I give up “gym type workouts” in favor of MA.

Needless to say, this isn’t an option for me. Weight lifting is, and always will be, my primary focus. MA, if I take it up, would be clearly secondary. Given this, is it worth taking up MA at all? What advantages or disadvantage would there be? Would I be better served with a more traditional form of cardio such as biking?

Thanks for the help![/quote]

Quite an old school idea regarding martial arts was that strength training would slow you down and make you too bulky, these days more and more martial artists are supplemnting strengh training into their routine to improve their art. Different MA styles and systems have a different outlook towards strength training, by many traditional schools it is “frowned upon”. MMA, Muay Thai etc emphasise on encorporating strength training as part of their martial arts training. Look at Bruce Lee. I first started strength training to get stronger, while still practicing Martial arts. The more I learn, there are some famous martial artists who train, look at any MMA fighter, UFC, Pride etc. Take a look at Dolph Lungdren also. I first came across T-Nation as a good reference from a Martial ARts forum…

[quote]
Aragorn wrote:

One thing though, most traditional martial arts are stuck in the dark ages as far as weight training goes. Don’t give their comments much thought. They still operate under the premise that it will make you musclebound and slow. That’s so 1960. You get what you train for, as Waterbury and others here are fond of saying. The only thing that happens is that you have to be careful not to “brute force” a technique through based on your strength levels. In other words, strength training can make you try and force things instead of learning and relying on proper technique (and letting your strength take care of itself). Also, it can tense you up via the increased resting muscle tension, and that’s bad for fighting, as tension WILL generally slow you down. But both these things can be more than taken care of with stretching, mobility work, and caring to learn the technique the right way.

I say go for it.[/quote]

MA, that date back to 1960, are not fucking Traditional, they are “traditional”, in the quotes, and lower cased. You might want to throw a trade marked symbol in their too.

Not all Traditional/“traditional”, schools will bar a student from weight training. Mine never did and it dates back to the early 1800’s.

Everything thing else in this quote is pretty good though.

I weight train several times a week and I go to a karate (Tang Soo Do) class twice a week (2hrs each). I see no conflict between the two practices. I will say that at my dojang class time is pretty much a cardio experience. We do a lot of body weight stuff (mainly pushups and situps), but other than that it’s cardio.

If you are interested in adding to your cardio load then MA would be a great (and fun) way to incorporate that into your weekly routine. Inversely if cardio isn’t something you’re interested in then MA probably won’t aid you in your training.

It’s not unusual for me to lose (sweat) 2-4 pounds during karate class. I’ve taken to bringing a carb based sports drink with me instead of relying just on water. That makes a big difference in my ability to maintain performance during class.

I always get a second wind about an hour into class, but I find that by adding some carbs with my water (I use powdered Gatorade and mix it 1/2-3/4 strength) keeps my performance levels from dipping prior to that second wind kicking in.

I train tkd two nights a week and I don’t have too many problems with it. A few things I do to help my class performance.

  1. I don’t do a leg workout the day before. Ever. If I’ve done one 2 days before I do everything I can to maximise my recovery before my class.

  2. I try to workout on the morning (class is in the evening).

  3. Before and straight after class I have a protein shake to minimise catabolism.

That’s about it! It’s really more cardio mostly so I feel it only helps my conditioning and recovery.

The tai chi class that you mentioned wouldn’t affect your recovery at all I think.