Routine Design for Martial Artists?

Howdy all,
For a while Ive been focussing on more body building style training.
Needless to say I didnt perform a 100 sets of curls and cable flies but mostly stuck with good old squats, deads and benchpress.

However, I have started training in martial arts twice a week: tue and thu for a couple of hours.
This means I can be in the gym only on Mon Wed and Fri.

What sort of routine would you guys reccomend ?
I usually start off with heavy squats on Monday, but it leaves me with DOMS for the rest of the week and I cant perform cardio, train in MA etc.
So Im thinking about having the last day of the week, Fri as my squat day.
The rest Im hoping you guys can help me out with.
I was on high volume training but after a little while I didnt see any results but stuck with it ( yeah i know that was stupid).

Im looking for a programme that will give me gains in both size and strenght.

Current stats 6’0, 88 - 90kgs @ 20% bf, lifting for about a year.
Cheers guys,

The first thing you need to do is clarify whether you want to be a martial artist who lifts weights or a lifter who does martial arts.

I train judo and I lift weights 2-3 times a week. I almost exclusively do compound movements - front squats, cleans, rows, chins/pullups, deadlifts, presses. Low reps, heavy weights. Usually my judo sessions include conditioning work, so I concentrate on maximal strength.

If the frequency of my classes drops down to 1-3 a week, I’ll also include a conidioning session with sandbag clean & presses, hill sprints etc,



My experience is that lifting is great for MA, if done wisely. Don’t do endurance training with weights- your art can be that. Don’t go to failure, and do multiple short sets, rather than long sets.

That’s important. I like to go no higher than triples for heavy work, I feel I recover from them much faster than 5 reps. Do as many heavy triples as you have time for, 5 to 10, and stop when you feel you have one or two sets left in you.

You are on the right track with whole body movements- heavy squats will hit calves enough for me, rows and chins hit biceps enough, etc. I am not focussed on bodybuilding as a primary goal, obviously.

Look up Jack Reape’s back off article; MA + weights is high volume and you will need down weeks planned in to recover. Listen to your body- frequent DOMS is not desirable for althletes nor is it a reliable indicator of a good workout.

I work out 5 days a week, and do MA 2 days. I do fewer sets on the two double workout days (M,W)and make them light or medium days. It can be done if you can just focus on the exercises that pay off big- Squat, Dead, a Press, a Row, and Ab work. GM and GHR will help squats and deads if you have time to add them.

Have Fun!

Thanks for your replies guys.
Since Ive relatively recently started M.A. id I say Im a lifter entering martial arts.

Pete what does your split look like. Sounds like you perform a 5days a week whole body split right ?
Much appreciate it if you were to let me in on it.
ps: Dont you guys find recovery an issue after heavy deadlifts and squats ?


Well, right now it’s like this:

MWF: Squat triples, heavy GM
T,Th: MP, bent-over row, 1 set high rep band-only GM

Low rep, heavy ab work every time rotating 4x5 with standing ab curls on the pull-down machine, dragon flags, and weighted decline sit-ups, also diesel side bends every other workout.

Manual GHR at the end, if I have time.
Deads late at night when I get home, for maybe 3x3.

As far as recovery goes, doing triples at most helps, and most of my work is in the 75-85% range. I wave up for 3 weeks and take a back-off week. Don’t worry about finding you new max, weightlifting is just a tool for an athlete. Just to satisfy my curiosity I may test my max once every 3 or 4 months, no more than that. It is rarely necessary to work at over 90%, unless your sport consists of demonstrating strength, like PL or strongman comps.

The key is to find the weight that’s heavy enough for progress, but not too much for other work to happen. Did you see the tip of the day from Charles Staley yesterday? That’s what I mean.

As far as training goes, I don’t think that the fact that you do the martial arts should have a great deal of bearing on what routine you use in the gym - you should just get as strong as possible. However, I am saying this from a non-competitive, self-defence oriented bunkai-sparring karate practictioner point of view. I profess to have no knowledge of what MMA guys do.

What art do you practice?

Appreciate all your responses.
Common consensus seems like: stick with heavy <5RM compound lifts, and take time off when necessary to recover.

The art I train in is one of the older forms of traditional Japanese Jiu Jitsu - NOT only groundwork.
Classes consist of Striking work, Groundwork and Throws.
Pretty much it has Judo, Karate, Grappling and Aikido moves built into it.

I can work out only 3 times a week.
Here is my proposed split,
let me know what you guys think.
Please note, I have included in a set or two of high rep work, this stuff was taught to me by some powerlifters as it helps develop connective tissue and give you more hypertrophy gains while piling on strenght with the lower rep stuff.
format in sets x reps

Incline BB bench: 2 weeks @ 5RM, 2 weeks @ 3 RM. amount of sets to be determined.
Flat DB Bench: 2x12
Behind the Neck Military presses: 2x8
AB work
High rep lower back work: GM or Hyperextensions: 2x 15.

Bent over BB rows: 2 weeks @ 8RM, 2 weeks at 5 RM. amount of sets to be determined.
Chins: Bodyweight to failure over 3/4 sets.
weight will be added as I get to higher reps on Bodyweight.
AB work and stretching.

Squats: 2 weeks @ 5RM, 2 weeks @ 3 RM. amount of sets to be determined.
Leg Press: 2x10
Halmstring work: Stiff legged Deadlifts 3x 6.

At the end of every 4 continuous weeks of squatting, I will take a week off. Then Ill stick in some some deadlifts for about 2 weeks and return to squats… silly ? or seems logical ?

In terms of M.A. plan is to continue with Jiu Jitsu for the next year or two. When I have the opportunity I will go for MMA or start off with both Judo and Kickboxing at the same time.
Any pro MMA fighters on here ?

Looking forward to your opinions.

Routine Design for Martial Artists? Recommend time on the mat vice time under the bar assuming martial arts that is your priority. If you must lift - go olympic. 1). Most guys have more strength than their technique allows them to use. 2). Olympic lifting is explosive just like technique should be.
Good luck. jim

I would try Crossfit’s workout of the day. It really isn’t for getting huge but it’s really intense. There are a few MMA guys who do it and they love it. Oh and its nice to see another Manowar fan. HAIL and KILL!!!

I would rec that you start kickboxing much earlier than jj since jj is so easy to to learn in comparison. You will learn armbar and triangle in a day and be good after a month, but after years of training you still wont be throwing your hook correctly. Are you seeking to learn mma for competition or defense. If its for defense i hope you dont plan on falling to the ground to work your jj if 1 or more ppl jump you, you might not far well. Much luck

[quote]kickbxer wrote:
I would rec that you start kickboxing much earlier than jj since jj is so easy to to learn in comparison. You will learn armbar and triangle in a day and be good after a month, but after years of training you still wont be throwing your hook correctly.[/quote]

Wow, man. Spoken like a true kickboxer. Not to get into an art vs. art debate here, but that’s a wildly generalized comment. If you can’t throw a punch correctly after “years” of training, there’s a flaw in the system.

Varven, a bunch of MMA guys I know have had great results with DeFranco’s Westside for Skinny Bastards:

If that doesn’t float your boat, I’ve had some people also do well with 2 or 3 days a week, 2 or 3 big, basic exercises a day, each for 5x5. It’s no-frills, basic, and straight-to-the-point.

I dont mean to talk down jj at all… everyone needs to know it. In a real fight even good fighters loose their technique (striking) as im sure most of you would agree.