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Power Lifter Scared of Losing Muscle- Muay Thai

Ok guys, I’ve started training Muay Thai just before Christmas. I’ve been doing MMA and BJJ on and off for years, but striking has always been my niche, where I feel at home. So I found this incredible gym to train at called Siam no 1 ( Toronto Canada) and I feel that I have really found my home as far as training martial arts goes. So one of the head coaches told me that if I start training more regularly, like 4 times a week, that he would put me in fight.

So obviously I’m ridiculously excited and can’t wait. My concern is however that i am going to lose my muscle mass. A tiny bit of background info: I started training weights when I was 17, I was built like a string bean at 6 foot and 150 pounds. I am now 25 and have finally hit 190 after 8 years.

Ok so getting to the point : the consitioning that these dudes do puts the damn army to shame. I was in for four years, infantry. It pains me to admit this but it’s true. So I am here hoping that some of you battle hardened veterans can shed some light on how I can balance my weight training, while training for a fight, and still hopefully GAIN muscle. In this past two years I’ve developed a serious passion for the iron and uave been starting to get into powerlifting. I just hit 405 Deadlift last week. So I really don’t wanna give up one passion for another.

Guys any and all advice is welcome. Those of you who have been in my position and can offer some wisdom, it would he greatly appreciated.


At 6ft and 190 and deadlifting only 405 you don’t really have that much muscle mass. Just eat a lot and you could still put on weight. If you’re planning on fighing you will probably be cutting weight so keep that in mind

You’re going to FIGHT. You’re gonna step in the ring, unarmed, with another guy that wants to beat the living fuck out of you, and if he puts you to sleep, it’s probably going to be one of the crowning moments of his life.

What sucks more: losing muscle, or getting knocked unconscious?

Pick your poison buddy.

@ fightinirish26
Lol I take your point Irish

I guess I want to hear from you guys who have been in this transition period. I want to know if by doing this intense level of conditioning is it possible to still successfully weight train and make GAINS.

@ lemonman
Yeah I realise I will have to cut weight. Having never been through the process entirely before I am asking for you guys to weigh in and tell me what I can expect/ what I can do to maximize an anabolic environment in my body while I am getting conditioned. I have this fear that through cardio I will burn muscle. I know generally fat is what goes first but I have this strong gut feeling that I will lose muscle.

I’m not sure what you consider a great deal of muscle. I am not Ronnie Coleman, but I am a very lean Body type and fighting to put on 40 pounds of muscle has been a lOng and enjoyable process. I’m simply lookin to avoid erasing all that hard work.

FightinIrish is correct. A bit terse, but correct all the same.

Nutrition can help maintain muscle mass even in the face of serious exertion, and you may want to look up supplementing with BCAA’s, whey hydroisolate, or casein hydroisolate. This website has a ton of articles on peri-workout nutrition and very good tasting and resonably priced products.

I am sure that all of the fighters in the K-1 Grand Prix strength train. I would also venture a guess that they are less concerned about losing pounds of muscle, or pounds off their total as the fight draws near. You have been involved in martial arts long enough to know being bigger and stronger is an advantage, but it not the most important factor.

If this is your first fight, train your ass off. If after you decide you would rather powerlift than kickbox, you will be able to make the decision out of experience and with no regrets. You said you think you have found a home at your gym. Show them that by following instructions, working hard, and working consistantley. If you have only been powerlifting for a short time than your strength levels can be regained and exceeded in the off time/recovery between fights.

Read Irish’s post. Take it to heart. Fighting hurts. You will hurt and be hurt. Don’t be the one injured. Slide the other guy’s jaw to side and put him to sleep. Cave his ribs in. Let him worry about his muscle mass while eats through a straw and breaths shallow.

[quote]FightinIrish26 wrote:
You’re going to FIGHT. You’re gonna step in the ring, unarmed, with another guy that wants to beat the living fuck out of you, and if he puts you to sleep, it’s probably going to be one of the crowning moments of his life.

What sucks more: losing muscle, or getting knocked unconscious?

Pick your poison buddy.[/quote]

Cant stress this enough!..I would take alot of what FightinIrish says to heart, dont know if the man can fight but he gives solid pointers and insight to boxing and combat competition.
I’ve obsorbed to alot of what he has to share here in the combat forum…and I am 5-0 as an amateur boxer(former football player btw). Not giving him credit for my success, but alot of what he has shared has gotten me prepared in the beginning, transitioning from one sport to another

Your food intake can compensate for most of the caloric deficiency you’ll be developing by upping your training volume. Don’t be afraid of fats and sugars, and the peri-workout nutrition mentioned above can both help you manage your weight and help you see maximum gains in strength and endurance.

If it comes down to it though, better to fall to 175 and ready to fight than to stay 190 and be sucking wind. You’re probably going to tense up and gas early enough in your first fight as is, why make it worse by going in at less than the best condition possible just because you were worried about dropping a little weight?

Your situation is really no different than any college or professional athlete having to try and gain/maintain weight and strength through weight training, but still needing to practice and play their sport. When I was playing ball, we had weights in the morning, 6am, and had practice in the afternoons, started 130 pm.

If you can, hit your weight training first thing in the morning, eat, recover while working (assuming you aren’t a manual laborer), try to catch a 30 minute nap somewhere in the middle of the day, and go to mma training at night. Your muay tai coach can work a split schedule for you where you focus on strength in the morning, and skills & conditioning at night.

If he wants you training 4 night a week, train M,T,TH,F. It will give you 2 days of training, and wednesday off to catch up on sleep and work, and then 2 more days training before getting all weekend to recover. I know alot of freshman struggle with this schedule for the first semester, but the body will adapt. Give yourself a couple of months to really get your body conditioned for this type of schedule.

Also invest in a good cold tub. Doesn’t matter if you’re feeling sore or not, hop in that tub for 15 minutes after both your morning and evening training sessions every day, and for 15 minutes in the middle of the day on your off days.

Guys, just wanted to thank all of you for your insight. I’m just between classes right now, I will post a real response later. A lot of what you guys have said makes a lotta sense.

Dude muscle loss is so overrated, I would bet money that even if you only did 2 strength training sessions a week and cut back on calories, you would not lose muscle mass, or strength for that matter.

Regardless, time permitting, there’s nothing saying you can’t have your cake and eat it. Increase workload = increase food load

This is all pretty solid advice OP, I hope you’re listening. I would only add to make sure you are really strict, like militant, about hydration (4 liters daily minimum), proper sleep (8-9hrs minimum every night and a nap if you can get away with it) and reducing other stresses wherever possible. Sounds obvious, I know but it’s the stuff people blow off all the time and wonder why they’re dragging ass on the mat or in the ring.

Also consider bumping up your BCAA’s and Omega 3’s and maybe add MSM and curcumin to help manage inflammation. Your peri-workout nutrition schedule is critical so make sure that’s sorted. Otherwise eat clean and eat lots.

I second Davo’s suggestion of 2 strength sessions/week. Hit your big 4 (2 lifts/workout) plus maybe some pull ups in a 5/3/1 type scheme and then GTFO of the gym (after your post workout shake of course). Do this early am, as per SquatDeep’s post, and you should feel fresh(ish) for skill/conditioning work later that night. then get your ass to bed.

I think your focus needs to be on conditioning and skill work. I’m sure you already know this. If you treat your recovery strategies as staying as fresh as possible for these sessions, you’ll give yourself the best chance to hang onto more muscle, but that is just a by product of the other.

I wouldn’t worry about it till one style of training affects the other.
kind of my stock answer for people who want to be ‘bigger’ and still train some kind of MA seriously.
are afraid to loose any ‘gains’

Muscles don’t exactly dissolve overnight.

people get caught up in it cause its a hell of a lot easier to get stronger then it is to get better at MMA boxing judo wrestling etc

a week or so ago drecappa posted a very solid video of a strength training seminar for coaches,
and basically Jim Wendler came out and said that strength training for fighters is GPP
that’s all it it.

One more box to check at the end of the week of training.

Thank you.

Guys I am really grateful for all the advice and insight. I think you are right fightingirish and cutthoat25. I probably need to stoP concerning myself as much with my weight training and totall commit myself to my training.

With that being said, I like the concept of early morning weight routine followed by afternoon Muay Thai training.

@Roberta I really appreciate your post. You are right about a lot of things. The first being that I need to really show my trainers and my fellow fighters that I’m there to do work, I gotta step up and really show them that I appreciate being there.

I realize what I am getting into. I do. I have sparred full contact when I trained mma. I’ve broken a rib getting my buddy ready for his fight. So yes i know that fighting is gonna hurt. However it doesn’t hurt to have a couple of you guys remind me that maybe losing a couple pounds shouldn’t be my biggest concern.

That’s why I posted here guys. Sometimes you need some outside insight to sort out all the thoughts running through your head.

@batman730 batman I hear you on the inflammation. It is my arch nemesis so I’ll be taking action on that advice. I am responding on my iPhone so my responses are short. But dude inposted cuz I wanna listen. I am taking notes on the ideas you guys have for me and I will be looking at implementing a lot of these.

@ Aussie davo I like your message man. That’s basically what I posted looking for lol. Somebody to tell me how I can have my cake and eat it. Well I’m glad for the positive encouragement man. Ps I’ve been eating a a ridiculous amount of food lately cuz I noticed when I do no uave been getting really super lean. Pretty sure anabolic body must have a healthy amount of fats, sugars and proteins. Anyways thanks bro.

@squatdeephomie yeah you know what man, I’m giving your idea a go starting this week. I can really see it working. Not sure why I didn’t think of that. But again that’s why I posted on here, hoping to get some great ideas from more experienced guys. Dude everything you said makes sense to me, but the one thing I’m not sure about is the cold tub. First did you mean I should be getting ice and filling up a tub or should I simply run the bath as cold as possible and sit in it. Second: what’s the purpose? Controlling inflammation? Just curious about the reason behind it. I was maybe thinking that it’s to signal to your body to hold onto more fat potentially?

@Aussie davo

I’m impressed with myself for writing that entire response on iPhone. That’s why there are typos guys sorry. Also why there are Dave and squatdeephomie at the bottom.

@Kmcnyc GPP?

@ devildogjim yeah man I’ve been eating a lot less clean of a diet lately just trying to make sure my body’s got the fuel needed.
About tensing up and getting gassed early: I’ve been doing reasonably serious training since I was pretty young. I have ‘fought’ before. This would just be my first fight that goes against any record. Anyways I’ve developed a fairly calm head in the ring, in some ways I’m more calm in there than when I am writing a chemistry exam lol. Anyways, let’s hope that fighting in front of a big crowd doesn’t get me overly excited. I’m gonna post the fight video though. So you can be the judge.

strength training as fun as it is ,
is a much smaller part of MMA training then people think.

General Physical Preparation
Specialized Physical Prep

ball dribling, throwing , sparring etc,
that’s the skill work in your sport.

GPP is the other stuff you do to get there like
S&C work.

you can get allot out of 2 days a week
of strength training
one upper one lower
1 big compound move
2 accessory lifts
you wont need much more to keep getting stronger
eat accordingly

I trained muay thai and BJJ for 4 years. The last 2 years of training, I started lifting for the first time. Over those 2 years, I experimented with different templates and ways to get stronger while still focusing on improving my BJJ and muay thai. The reality is that you can’t improve everything at once. You need to dedicate certain periods of time to getting stronger (further away from fights), certain periods of time to becoming more technical (around the beginning of training camp) and certain periods of time to getting your conditioning up to par (all through camp).

The best results I ever got, in terms of stronger while still improving my BJJ and muay thai, were when I was lifting 2 days a week using the Starting Strength workouts. I tried lifting 3 and 4 days a week but I just couldn’t ever make it work without either ending up overtraining or sacrificing my skill training/conditioning. 2 days a week with the SS workouts (or very similar workouts) are what I’d recommend for you, especially while actually preparing for a fight.

When I was training, I was grappling, striking and/or sparring 4-5 times a week, doing some sort of conditioning twice a week and then doing strength training on top of that. If you want to seriously pursue muay thai, you need to now think of lifting as something you use to improve your ability to fight, and it certainly shouldn’t take away from your training. You could lift 3 or 4 days a week further out from a fight, but you still should move down to 2 times a week and eventually once a week as the fights nears.

This isn’t the same as if you were a fighter who just started lifting, and you wanted to try your first powerlifting meet. Nothing bad is going to happen to you at a meet besides possibly bombing out. In a fight, bad things can happen. A guy from my old muay thai gym ended a police officer’s career in a semi-pro muay thai smoker. He broke the cop’s arm when he tried to block a kick to the body, and the guy apparently never fully recovered from the injury. You have to have your priorities in order to fight man. What would be worse, lifting 1-2 times a week for a few months, being fully prepared to fight and coming out of it unharmed? Or following your normal lifting schedule, getting injured in the fight and having your lifting negatively effected for the rest of your life? The choice is easy, IMO.

You will lose some muscle mass and your lifts most likely will go down (besides the deadlift). This is something you just can’t avoid. You can eat a lot and rest as much as possible, but if you are truly getting into fight shape, then some muscle loss is inevitable. It’s just something you have to deal with if you want to be a fighter.

Ice tubs are the best way to treat inflamation, small injuries (such as muscle strains and minor tendon sprains) and keep the body fresh, especially in a 2 a day training protocol. Cold tubs are believed to cool down the muscles deeper, as compared to ice packs that will generally only cool them down more superficially (meaning closer to the skin.) Ice tubs also dull pain receptors diminishing pain and soreness from training. If you don’t have access to a cold tub, dump a couple bags of ice in a bath tub that has been filled up with cold water. The ice prevents your body from increasing the temperature in the cold water.