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Strength Training for Martial Arts

Are there any good books or articles on strength training for martial arts ? The only author I am familiar with is Tudor Bompa.

teotjunk

Anything in particular you’re looking for, or just a general training program?

Some of the best books I’ve read on the topic are:

Science of Martial Arts Training by Charles Staley

Secrets of Martial Arts Conditioning by Alwyn Cosgrove

Super Strength and Endurance for Martial Arts by Bud Jeffries

I’ve heard good things about Martin Rooney’s, Ross Enamait’s, and Jason Ferruggia’s books, but I haven’t gotten to them yet myself.

As far as articles, Chad Waterbury’s Hammer Down series was good stuff.
http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=1034530
http://www.T-Nation.com/readArticle.do?id=1083869

I know a bunch of martial artists who just use Joe DeFranco’s Westside for Skinny Bastards

And again, Cosgrove and Staley I’m sure have written things I can’t think of. Mike Mahler also has some good info (though much of it is kettlebell-based).

Also, take a look at the MMA Training Hub thread and see what folks here are doing.
http://www.T-Nation.com/tmagnum/readTopic.do?id=1820430

(Wow, that looks like a lot. Can you tell I just finished off a Spike Shooter w/ Diet Coke? Ha.)

Ross Enamait
www.rosstraining.com

All of the above mentioned stuff is good. I personally have been training out of Ross Enamait’s books and also working with a local Crossfit gym. Combat sports are different to train for, because you need max strength, endurance strength, explosive strength, plus aerobic and anaerobic conditioning. In my training it try to hit every facet in a given week.

Anton

[quote]teotjunk wrote:
Are there any good books or articles on strength training for martial arts ? The only author I am familiar with is Tudor Bompa.

teotjunk[/quote]

My friend you have one of the best authors you could have for any competitive sport. I would suggest trying his sample periodization for your sport. Then you can jus throw in whatever specific training regiment any author that persuades you most has.

Example Max Strength phase - CW 10x3
Medium Endurance phase - AC full body workout
Maintenance Phase - Mike Boyle

I would definitely read into Alwyn Cosgrove, Staley, Boyle, Gentilcore, Cressey, and Roberts

Goodluck to ya’

Squat 1x20, military press 3x6, SLDL 1x20, BB rows 3x6.

Increase by 2.5kg when you complete sets x reps.

Every 3 days.

There are a ton of books and articles out there, as I’m sure you know. The main question is, what aspect of your martial performance are you trying to improve?

As has already been stated, the work by Bompa, Cosgrove, Waterbury, and Staley are pretty much all you’ll need if you can learn to tailor it to your personal needs.
-B

[quote]GHOSTrun wrote:
Squat 1x20, military press 3x6, SLDL 1x20, BB rows 3x6.

Increase by 2.5kg when you complete sets x reps.

Every 3 days.[/quote]

Well, okay then. That’s pretty close to a horrible routine for a martial artist. Any reason you’re suggesting it? (Nevermind the fact that it totally doesn’t answer the question teotjunk asked.)

It’s the 20-rep breathing squat program (or close to it), designed to put on mass, which some martial artists may need. However, it certainly doesn’t train any of the other attributes (aside from mental toughness) a practitioner would probably want to cultivate.

I haven’t read Ross Enamait’s new book Infinite Intensity or Never Gymless, but his older manuals ROCKED!!! The thing about all the strength training books for fighter’s is that they only focus on that one aspect: strength. A real fighter needs to max out his or her limit strength, explosiveness, anaerobic endurance, while maintaining high degrees of flexibility and aerobic endurance.

The Ross Boxing books help you figure out how to schedule / prioritize your training for all of these elements.

I like using the Waterbury/Cosgrove complexes for developing strength, because they each closely mimic the work/rest pattern of my fights (5 min / 1 min). Sticking to 4-6 reps forces me to develop fast twitch fibers, but the fact that I’m moving from one movement to the next keeps my heart and lungs on fire.

My second weightlifting workout of the week involves a lot of superests for same musclegroups, but I cover the whole body. That forces me to adapt to high levels of lactic acid, which is what kills a fighters punches, and legs. I keep the volume moderate.

My last weight workout of the week is a basic HIT style session. Hard to the bone on each set, going to positive and negative failure. I go through 12 exercises with little to no rest, keep the weights to an 8-12 rep max, then hit a few assisted reps (when I have a spotter) and negatives.

The reason I keep my volume low is because I do intervals twice a week, 3 miles runs twice a week, and conditioning drills and sparring 3-4 times a week. If the weightlifting volume gets too high, the other aspects of my training will suffer. Keep the intensity high, but few sets!!!

Any of the functional stuff on this site fits the bill for your strength component. Just makes sure to do a sanity check on the volume IF you are doing all the otyher things a fighter needs to do: aerobic maintenance work, Intervals, sport specific work 2-4 days a week.

Check out Charlie Lysak’s Primal Strength material.

Right now there is just one dvd available (the “Crawl” routine), but it’s definitely worth getting (and doing) if you’re serious about marial arts performance.

I know he’s been trying to film a couple other vids, but it gets tough up here in New England in the winter (especially with all this snow we just got).

You can find the dvd, more about Lysak, and read some testimonials about his material here:

www.primalstrength.com

Also, just found this on youtube. Here is the introduction to the video. This is Shihan Lysak and co founder MSG. Mike Cutone going through some of the workouts. The Crawl isn’t featured here though.

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:
GHOSTrun wrote:
Squat 1x20, military press 3x6, SLDL 1x20, BB rows 3x6.

Increase by 2.5kg when you complete sets x reps.

Every 3 days.

Well, okay then. That’s pretty close to a horrible routine for a martial artist. Any reason you’re suggesting it? (Nevermind the fact that it totally doesn’t answer the question teotjunk asked.)[/quote]

If you train at an MMA gym you’re probably going to end up doing countless pushups and pullups with the rest of your team before spending the rest of the time fighting. If you’re serious, you’re also throwing in several conditioning workouts, and several sprint and jog days per week. If you bust your ass doing all of those things and then several times a week you squat 225 for 20 reps, mp 125 for 3x6, SLDL 225 for 20 reps, and then row say 185lbs. for 3x6 I’d say you’re probably a beast, and probably look a hell of alot better than most guys curling and bench pressing in almost any gym.

It’s not perfect, but it’s simple, and will more than likely work just as good as anything else for someone who’s just starting out with lifting, and already doing all the other conditioning and martial arts training.

p.s. This is almost completely random but I was watching UFC All Access with Forrest Griffin and he said something that really struck a chord with me personally. He said that he loves to lift weights, and in the past he’s been messed up because he tries so hard to lift hard and heavy and can’t fight the way he should. He said that before he goes to the gym he’s reminds himself that he works out to be a better fighter, not to be a better lifter. Forrest may not be winning any physique contests, but the guy is hyoooooge for a lhw, extremely strong, in extremely good shape, and did it all through hard work. Guy is not just some naturally gifted freak.

[quote]Deserteaglle wrote:
If you train at an MMA gym you’re probably going to end up doing countless pushups and pullups with the rest of your team before spending the rest of the time fighting. If you’re serious, you’re also throwing in several conditioning workouts, and several sprint and jog days per week.[/quote]

Right off the bat, I disagree with this. If you have several MMA training sessions each week, you probably won’t need several conditioning workouts and several sprint/jog days. (Bleckk, definitely not jog days). But the weekly plan will obviously differ from person to person.

[quote]If you bust your ass doing all of those things and then several times a week you squat 225 for 20 reps, mp 125 for 3x6, SLDL 225 for 20 reps, and then row say 185lbs. for 3x6 I’d say you’re probably a beast, and probably look a hell of alot better than most guys curling and bench pressing in almost any gym.

It’s not perfect, but it’s simple, and will more than likely work just as good as anything else for someone who’s just starting out with lifting, and already doing all the other conditioning and martial arts training.[/quote]

You’re right, it’s not perfect. But it won’t “more than likely work just as good as anything else.” It’s way too intense. 20-rep squats in addition too multiple weekly MMA sessions and extra conditioning? No thanks.

Exactly how well do you think his kicks will be a day or two after a killer set of 20-rep squats and stiff leg deads? Like you even pointed out with your Forrest Griffin tangent, what you do in the gym should improve your performance in the ring/octagon/whatever, first and foremost.

There are much better methods of improving strength, endurance, size (when necessary) and they’ve been explained by all the authors mentioned previously. 20-rep squats might be a good idea for folks looking for hypertrophy, but they’re a flat-out dopey idea for combat athletes.

I see where you’re coming from, and I definitely appreciate your positive attitude, but I still don’t think we’ve come to an agreement.lol. Here’s why…

“Right off the bat, I disagree with this. If you have several MMA training sessions each week, you probably won’t need several conditioning workouts and several sprint/jog days. (Bleckk, definitely not jog days). But the weekly plan will obviously differ from person to person.”

-I don’t know what to say. I can only hope you’ll take my word for the fact that training MMA a couple times a week without extra conditioning will NOT get you in fight ready shape. No way, not happening, 100% not true. The MMA training itself is not enough, and if it were combat sports athletes would not waste so much time everyday to get in shape and STILL gas when it gets late in the rounds.

Also, I see you are anti-jogging, and since most uneducated people have always cited “jogging” as the quickest and best way to get in shape I can somewhat understand that, but the fact is that once or twice a week longer distance lower-intensity jogs are necessary both to help the fighter condition without beating up his body even more and to help cut weight. I can’t think of any professional fighters who don’t run, many do it every single day!

“You’re right, it’s not perfect. But it won’t “more than likely work just as good as anything else.” It’s way too intense. 20-rep squats in addition too multiple weekly MMA sessions and extra conditioning? No thanks.”

-You shouldn’t be doing 20 rep squats like you would if you were trying to put on size and ONLY weight training, but if you drop the wight a little bit that’s really not that bad at all. Yeah it hurts, but hurting and working through that kind of pain is part of being an athlete. Plus, I might consider 20 rep squats “conditioning” if it were added to some complexes. That’s hardocore!lol

“Exactly how well do you think his kicks will be a day or two after a killer set of 20-rep squats and stiff leg deads? Like you even pointed out with your Forrest Griffin tangent, what you do in the gym should improve your performance in the ring/octagon/whatever, first and foremost.”

-EXACTLY! You’re wanting to improve your performance in the ring/cage. Getting kicked/punched in the face/body/legs is taxing, you have got to be prepared to hate yourself for the pain you’re putting yourself through but keep on fighting. You’re training should be harder than the fight, everyone will tell you that. You train so that you peak when you walk into the cage/ring.

DO NOT do this or any other “hardcore” strength training session within at least a week of your competition, but you ARE going to be sore sometimes when you are training. I wish sore legs was all I had to worry about when sparring, but since I started training I’ve never been able to spar without broken fingers or toes, sore muscles, or banged and bruised up shins. You’re always hurt, and that’s just the way it is, but hopefully before you step into the ring/cage you were smart enough to skip your 20 rep squats the day before.lol

I’d also go and check out some of the programs professional fighters are using. Obviously you’re not going to be able or need to do what they do, but it does give some insight into what kind of training it takes to make it.

Deserteaglle, Sounds like you and I agree!! My first pro fight is Feb 16th!. Come 6wks out, I’ll do very little jogging, provided I’ve already made weight ± 2 pounds. But yeah, road work , i.e. aerobic efficiency, is what helps a fighter (not Martial Artist) recover in the 1 minute rest between rounds.

Quoting myself: The reason I keep my volume low is because I do intervals twice a week, 3 miles runs twice a week, and conditioning drills and sparring 3-4 times a week. If the weightlifting volume gets too high, the other aspects of my training will suffer. Keep the intensity high, but few sets!!!

Fair warning… gigantic post ahead. :wink:

[quote]Deserteaglle wrote:
I see where you’re coming from, and I definitely appreciate your positive attitude, but I still don’t think we’ve come to an agreement.lol.[/quote]
Yeah, and we probably won’t end up agreeing, but the cool thing about training is that’s cool. You know, the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum. What might be right for you, may not be right for some. 'Cuz it takes diff’rent strokes, it takes diff’rent strokes, it takes diff’rent stroke to move the world.

I didn’t say just doing MMA training would cover all the conditioning. I said it’s generally unnecessary to train MMA AND do conditioning work AND do sprints (AND do weight training too.) That’s a lot of overlap and training redundancy.

For half a second, I thought you were calling me uneducated. Then I re-read it. Glad I did.

That’s just the thing, though. Low intensity cardio isn’t necessary for conditioning and certainly isn’t optimal for fat loss. Aerobic training is so far down the priority list for a competitive fighter, it doesn’t warrant direct attention. Time would be better spent training anaerobically; complexes, medleys, HIIT, something along those lines.

Alwyn Cosgrove has said, in no uncertain terms, “There is no benefit to doing long slow training of any kind.” and “For fighters, there’s not much benefit [to jogging a bunch of miles] other than burning a few calories. Fighting is too fast, too high intensity. The energy system is completely different.”

Like mothers all over the world have said since the dawn of time… if professional fighters jumped off bridges, would you?

So 20-rep squats with a slightly lighter weight? Defeats the point of doing 20-rep squats in the first place, and you’re back to being better off training more efficiently (lower sets, low-to-moderate reps.)

Tossing 20-rep squats into a complex would kill the purpose of the complex (moving quickly from one exercise to another). They’re a fad (albeit usually successful though brutal) training style, not a cure-all. 20-rep squats for size… 20-rep squats for fat loss… 20-rep squats for conditioning… Doesn’t work that way.

The part I’ve bolded, which is a common catchphrase for combat sports, should refer to your training in the ring not in the gym. What you do in the weight room and what you do in the dojo should not cross paths. Build a strong, fast body in the gym, then put it to use in the dojo.

Going balls out in the weight room is much, much less important to performing well than going balls out in sparring/bag work/ training drills.

That’s why doing 20-rep squats three days a week is a lousy idea. See? We sorta agree on something. Sorta. :wink:

As I alluded to before, professional athletes, more often than not, succeed even though they training a certain way, not because they train a certain way. Just like the routines “written by” pro bodybuilders in Fiction Fitness magazines.

That’s about it for me, man. I think I tap outta this one. Ha.

“I didn’t say just doing MMA training would cover all the conditioning. I said it’s generally unnecessary to train MMA AND do conditioning work AND do sprints (AND do weight training too.) That’s a lot of overlap and training redundancy.”

-Everyone does this. I don’t know, maybe you do have more knowledge and experience than all these professional fighters and fight trainers, but I’m going to side with them in this.

“I can’t think of any professional fighters who don’t run, many do it every single day!
Like mothers all over the world have said since the dawn of time… if professional fighters jumped off bridges, would you?”

-No fighter has ever asked me to jump off of a bridge, but if an elite level fighter told me to do his program I’d sure as hell do it. The jumping off a bridge thing is completely inane, we’re talking about training…not peer pressure.

“As I alluded to before, professional athletes, more often than not, succeed even though they training a certain way, not because they train a certain way. Just like the routines “written by” pro bodybuilders in Fiction Fitness magazines.”

-While that may be true some of the time, I think it’s kind of insulting to athletes who ARE NOT so naturally gifted that they can excel without BUSTING THEIR ASS as well.

I’m glad we can agree to disagree. I have read Cosgrove and Waterbury’s MMA stuff, and I took alot from it, but I haven’t heard of many people cutting out running completely because of those authors.

Have you checked out Ross Enamaits stuff? Guy has a ton of real world experience with his own boxing career and has trained many other athletes. If you go to his site you can get direct advice from him FOR FREE, he has several great books out, a dvd, and a good forum. I think you’d be very hard pressed to find more than 1 or 2 people who had a problem with Ross. Everyone talks great about him because he does a great job.

Was over at ufc.com checking out what the guys that will be fighting on the 29th had to say and I noticed a trend…let’s see if you can.

George “Rush” St. Pierre-“TRAINING: I run in the morning and then spend the rest of the day working on wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), and boxing. At night, we do MMA sparring.”

Chuck Liddell-“TRAINING: Chuck works on combining his kickboxing skills, submission skills, and his wrestling skills. Chuck runs in the morning and then does a workout focusing on stand up and then later he’ll do a workout focusing on grappling and submissions. Sometimes he mixes the workouts. He runs five or six days a week and does interval training with a trainer three days a week. He does a high rep weightlifting routine three times a week. I try to keep my training about the same for all my fights.”

Wanderlei Silva-“TRAINING: Physical training in the morning, jiu-jitsu training and boxing technique in the afternoon, sparring in the evening”

Rameau Sokoudjou-“TRAINING: We train two times a day. 5 to 6 days a week. Morning is focused on technique and conditioning. Evening is for sparring, drilling and harder training”

James Irvin-“TRAINING: We train two times a day. 5 to 6 days a week. Morning is focused on technique and conditioning. Evening is for sparring, drilling and harder training”

Manny Gamburian-“TRAINING: I�??ve been training twice a day. Its hard workouts every day and I�??m training like I never did before.”

Jordan Radev-“TRAINING: In the morning I run, and in the afternoon I practice a mix of kickboxing and wrestling.”

Also I think it’s worth noting Tito:“TRAINING: I wake up, run three miles, come back home and eat a small meal. Then I go to the gym for MMA training for 2.5 hours. I come home, have another small meal, go back to the gym and drill in wrestling, jiu-jitsu, and boxing. Then I go lift weights for another hour and then I�??m done.”

I can udnerstand the argument for “weekend warriors” not doing the same workouts as the champs, but let’s get serious here, if you want to be just a weekend warrior cut out the extra workouts, train completely different than the pros, and then call it a martial arts workout that’s fine, but if you really want to fight, or be in that kind of ass-kicking shape you might consider doing what got those guys to where they are, and Chris, I can tell you’re a very intelligent guy, but I just don’t think you have the credentials to say your word on this subject supercedes theirs.

I said I tapped out before, but it looks like we’re on to round 2. No prob.

[quote]Deserteaglle wrote:
and I noticed a trend…let’s see if you can.[/quote]
Don’t be that guy. The guy who cops an attitude. We’re having a decent debate about training methods, even though we’ll just end up agreeing to disagree (but I thought we already did that).

[quote]Deserteaglle wrote:
A bunch of examples about professional MMA athletes.[/quote]
What you showed was that those guys, in those circumstances, prefer 2-a-day workouts which cover a variety of training goals.

Okay… but that wasn’t exactly what we’re discussing here. We’re starting to play the telephone game, and things are getting off-track and misinterpreted. The very first statement you made which I disagreed with was:

You were suggesting lots of MMA training, “several” conditioning workouts, “several” sprint and jog workouts, and “several” full body weight training sessions each week. That’s an elephant-sized crapload of work to be doing. And it’s redundant, especially to suggest as a blanket statement.

Again, that’s copying it just because “it’s what the pros do”, regardless of whether it’s appropriate for you, the individual. It’s the same as a high school kid copying Dorian Yates’ training program rep for rep, set for set. Will it give the kid some results? Yep. But it won’t be as productive as taking the time to learn what he actually needs to be doing.

I can’t quite tell if that’s a backhanded compliment or not. So I’ll just take it at face value. All I can say is that I am a professional coach, I’ve worked with martial artists (not pros, but folks that do compete locally), and the methods I implement work.

But for what it’s worth, you’re right. I’m not a professional MMA fighter and I’ve never held a UFC championship. I guess, to some people, that negatively impacts my opinions and skills when training clients. Sorry to hear that.

What the professionals do, training-wise, nutrition-wise, “supplement”-wise (yeah, I put it in quotes, but let’s not open that can of worms right now) works for them. If it didn’t, they obviously wouldn’t be where they are.

There are many paths all heading to the same goal. Some are just more round-about than others. I think that’s what we’re getting snagged on with this topic.

Truthfully, I was going to double-check the books I’ve studied on the topic (martial arts sports conditioning) and quote them as appropriate to counter-point your examples, but I really don’t want to invest that much time into this online debate. No offense intended.

(My apologies for this next bit of self-horn-tooting, but…) I’ve interviewed Alwyn Cosgrove on the topic, I’ve interviewed current champ Matt Serra and discussed his training, I’ve spoken with the strength coach of another UFC pro, and for a decade I’ve read-up on numerous coaches in the field (yes, Ross Enamait too.)

All that book-learnin’ plus the results I’ve created with my own clients has me pretty close to 180 degrees away from where you’re coming from. But like I said earlier, the cool thing about strength training is that that’s cool. You do what you do, I’ll do what I’ll do, and we’ll meet up one day in the Octagon to see who’s more right. (Grrrr. Just kidding, man.)

Take care.

I’m not trying to bait you back into this and cop an attitude or give you backhanded compliments. I posted that for anyone else who is following the thread, and made that one statement to you which I apologize for if it seemed backhanded.

And I don’t think a fellow fighter following a similar program as a professional is the same as a weight lifter following Dorian Yates program. The fact is that while SOME fighters have tested positive for steroids, the vast majority of them are drug free athletes, and it would be ridiculous to say that about professional bodybuilders who do not compete in natural bodybuilding contests.

But once again, I wasn’t trying to start round 2 with that, just putting some more facts out there for the other readers of T-Nation.