Monday, 2 March 2009

Strength Building for Martial Artists

Training should not be the same movements and exercises over and over again. Hopefully you will be aware that the body easily adapts to continuous repetition. In order to progress you must be constantly changing your training. For this reason many people add days of pure strength workouts into there regimes. They go to the gym and pump out heavy weights in order to force there muscles to adapt and grow. While this is good and needed, sometimes it may be worth including a week of strength workouts.

As martial artists your training should involve not just only working out with weights but also your cardiovascular training and martial arts style/s. The strength week training principle is exactly what it sounds like. A week of training where whatever type of workout you perform, it is done with full intensity and using as much strength as possible in order to gain as much strength as possible.

Weight training – This is obvious. For this week when you are working out with weights, warm up thoroughly then go straight to power sets where you lift weights for a maximum of 6 reps per set, increasing the weight per set. Each exercise will be taxing so rest adequately between sets. Remember, every single set should be a power one (after warming up).

Cardio – Your cardio should be high intensity interval training. This is where you perform a certain length of time (e.g. 30 sec’s) to your max, and calm it down for another certain length of time (e.g. 1 min). So if you’re running you would jog for a minute and then sprint as fast as possible for 30 seconds, repeating this cycle at least ten times. It is a quicker method of cardio compared to the aerobic style where you perform for a long period of time.

Shadow boxing – Using the round system, you can either use the interval training principle as with your cardio, or you can just shadow box as fast as possible for the whole round. Your rounds should be short because you will be going full out, so 30 seconds.

Bag work – I guarantee that if you are using as much strength for each strike on the bag, these workouts will not last more than twenty minutes if you are lucky. Using the round system of about 1 minute a round (because you will be striking hard) or whatever you feel appropriate, hit the bag as hard as possible each time. Imagine yourself punching and kicking holes in the bag. Go full out on it!

Isometric kick strength – For kickers, this is brilliant. Simply hold a chair, wall or anything else for balance and hold a kicking position as high as possible for as long as possible. Do this a number of times for each leg. It is a great way to improve the strength needed in the kicking muscles. The ideal time to perform these exercises would be after your cardio or bag work, once the legs are fully warmed up.

Strength sparring – Put on your 16 oz gloves, gum shields, head guards or whatever you feel you need to fully protect yourself and spar full contact with full intensity. If you grapple, find the heaviest person who is training and grapple with him/her.

Eating – For everyone who is now thinking what has eating got to do with it, let me remind you that proper nutrition is just as much a part of your training as sparring, and without the proper nutrients in you, you will never get through this week. Quality protein and lots of it, at least 1.5 grams per pound of body weight in order to repair the damaged muscles via your hard training sessions, and lots of complex carbs, at least 2 grams per pound of body weight in order to provide the energy needed to train.

Whenever I perform this strength week, my schedule looks like this,

MONDAY – Cardio in the morning, shadow boxing with bag work in the evening (hands only).
TUESDAY – Weights in the morning (back, shoulders, triceps and abs), bag work in the evening (kicks only) with isometric kick holds.
WEDNESDAY – Cardio in the morning, bag work in the evening (elbows and knees only) and pickups, throws and slams using the heavy bag (video here)
THURSDAY – Weights in the evening only (chest, legs, biceps and abs), cardio straight after.
FRIDAY – Sparring in the evening only.

I don’t like to spar more than once during this week, because as the sparring is very intense there is a big risk of injury. You may want to use the same weeks plan outlined above or come up with your own

If you are performing each workout using all your strength constantly, then this week will be taxing on your body, and you will need a couple of days to recover so take them. Likewise before you start this week of training, take a couple of days off in order to prepare your body for it.

It is a hard week of training but one which will bring great benefit. I recommend only performing this type of week about three times a year, just as a change to shock the entire body in order to produce natural raw strength.


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