Strength Training for the Martial Arts

Shai Hulud

Purple Belt
Joined
Nov 5, 2014
Messages
308
Reaction score
131
Location
St. Petersburg
I'm curious to see how the MT community trains for strength. Does strength feature in your martial art? Any technique, however technical or "soft", must require some modicum of strength to be executed against a resisting target. So how do you train for strength? Do you go for general or more sport-specific strength? :) I'm aware different martial traditions have different views and approaches on the subject of strength, but the need for it is the same nonetheless. While a skill, strength allows you to generate force in accordance with your style or technique.

I'm interested to know how you guys do it. :) I'll start!

For those of you who still don't know, I'm very passionate about training with body-weight and kettle-bells. I don't even go near dumbbells, curl bars or barbells, unless it's to test for PR's and break past PR's for myself.

For strength, I use either push-ups,squats, leg raises, pull-ups, back bridges, or handstands. (Thank you, Paul Wade) It's a high number of reps and sets if I'm working for endurance, but naturally those figures scale down greatly when we're talking about strength. I'll usually pick three variants of each basic exercise in increasing difficulty and make a kind of ladder like below:

Wave 1: 1 set of 20 push-ups on the ground
Wave 2: 1 set of 10 push-ups with my feel elevated above my shoulders
Wave 3: 1 set of 5 push-ups from a handstand position.

Form and muscle tension are everything here, so slow is good and jerky movements are a no-no. I try not to rush through repetitions as not to gas my muscles out.

Another simple circuit! This time on a barbell. I'll have to refer to previous PR's to compute how much load I'll be working with. Put simply, it's my take on the 5/3/1 principle. These days my PR would be close to 150% of my body-weight.

Wave 1: 5 reps of 50% of PR
Wave 2: 3 reps of 75% of PR
Wave 3: 1 rep of PR (100%)

Whatever I'm working with, gradually increasing intensity is the key, not so much volume.
 

hawkryger

White Belt
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
15
Reaction score
6
I train a wide variety of muscle groups in a wide variety of ways. As martial arts are very dynamic, I try to come up with ways to stress the muscles at varying angles and speeds. If you haven't already read it, The Art of Expressing the Human Body is an excellent resource. Each body is different, but I train for strength/endurance as much as I practice. Ensures a long and healthy life of martial arts!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
OP
Shai Hulud

Shai Hulud

Purple Belt
Joined
Nov 5, 2014
Messages
308
Reaction score
131
Location
St. Petersburg
I train a wide variety of muscle groups in a wide variety of ways. As martial arts are very dynamic, I try to come up with ways to stress the muscles at varying angles and speeds. If you haven't already read it, The Art of Expressing the Human Body is an excellent resource. Each body is different, but I train for strength/endurance as much as I practice. Ensures a long and healthy life of martial arts!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Bruce Lee, yes I'm familiar. The program laid out in that book is intense. Push-ups on my fingers? That's mental. So you follow the routines from the book?
 

hawkryger

White Belt
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
15
Reaction score
6
Many of them, yes. I also incorporate kettlebell training too. You'd be surprised how quickly you can start doing fingertip push-ups with diligent practice. I find his approach to be one of the best I've come across for well-rounded training


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

kuniggety

2nd Black Belt
Joined
Jan 3, 2015
Messages
795
Reaction score
272
Location
Oahu, Hawaii
At the gym, I'm a big fan of rowing. It is good cardio/endurance training and works a lot of muscle groups. I tend to do cross-fit type workouts for building explosive strength. Sometimes I hop on the bench. I have some dumb bells I use for two "push" and "pull" centric work outs that I do at home which is actually what I usually do. I like to throw in p90x's plyo, kempo, and yoga routines to mix up my cardio with 5 mile runs. In a week, I do strength twice, cardio 2 or 3 times, and then of course I get a work out when I roll in BJJ.
 

Kan Ryu

Yellow Belt
Joined
May 7, 2015
Messages
24
Reaction score
9
Location
London, England & Copenhagen, Denmark
Here's a short explanation of my current method, however, I am constantly evolving my "routine". I put explanation marks on routine because I try to keep it all fluid somewhat.

In the mornings I practice 2 different forms of Qi Gong (approx. 30 mins).
I find Qi Gong helps to build up internal energy, revitalize the system and strengthens the muscular system internally.
I have never read anything on the subject, and have only received a little instruction, but have many hours of personal experience that tells me this.

I also practice an old Indian heart meditation in the mornings. 1 hour approx.

After that I do an hour to two hours of solo training (depending on plans for the rest of the day). This is mostly Japanese weapon arts. I find both the Bo (staff) and Katana are excellent for training muscle - and they active lots of smaller, supportive muscles I never could activate before knowing this training.

One or two days a week, no morning training, only qi gong and meditation.

Twice a week, I teach my students. On one of these days, we do a hard and fast work-out including running, jumping, rolling, push/sit-up's, punching, kicking, squats, a.s.o.
The other day the workout is a little less hard and fast and focusing on a few basic techniques such as only rolling or only striking.
On both days we stretch first, mostly exercising/warming up the joints but also some yoga-like stretches.
Then 1翻 hours of unarmed fighting training on most weeks. Some weeks, weapon arts.

Once a week I do an advanced work-out on my own in conjunction with my solo morning training:

10 one legged squats on each leg, other leg stretched forward.
10 one legged squats on each leg, other leg bent backward - knee to ground in squat
10 normal squats

15 push ups, hands are joined and touch chest as body sinks
10 push ups on the middle knuckles (shikanken)
10 push ups from handstand
5 Indian push-ups
50 backwards push ups

60 sit ups, narrow
20 sit ups, reversed (stand on head, bring legs (must be stretched) down to 90 degree angle off hips and up again)
20 back ups

I do it, interchanging the type of techniques, in five rounds: some squats, some push ups, some sit ups.
A steady non-rushed pace with focus on deep breathing.

I never go near my max. effort, as I always workout in conjunction with very physically demanding martial arts training.
If I wish to improve something in particular, I work on it consistently for a while until a high enough level is reached, then I stop and moderate it into my "routine".
Now and again, I will check to see if my max. effort is still where it should be.
It normally is, otherwise I focus on the exercise for a while again.

I also do a lot of heavy lifting in conjunction with my work.

I do not aim for big muscles but work more for technique, balance (bodily) and flexibility.

I think a balance (of the entire human system) is important and that flexibility and technique are more important factors than strength on the weight of that scale.
For the goals that I have with life and martial arts at least ;o)

I believe a weaker person can learn to be very effective at self defense/fighting. However, a strong body will obviously have lots of advantages.

Oh yeah, and for flexibility I stretch sometimes in the evenings after a hot shower, my own style of yoga like stretches and osteopathic inspired movements.

Hope it was a good contribution to the debate!
 

JowGaWolf

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Aug 3, 2015
Messages
11,393
Reaction score
4,140
Looks like I need to up my training.
 

kuniggety

2nd Black Belt
Joined
Jan 3, 2015
Messages
795
Reaction score
272
Location
Oahu, Hawaii
I've recently tried out the Bas Rutten MMA workout. For those who don't know, he developed it as a way to keep in shape when he wasn't in a gym. It's endurance training. Looking around online, I saw some folks ranting and raving about it so I thought I'd give it a try.

There's four workouts: boxing, muay thai, all around fighting, all around workout. Each workout adds moves to the previous workout. I jumped into the all around workout. There are 2 min and 3 min versions of each. That's how long each "round" is with one minute of shadow boxing between each round and there's 10 rounds... so the 2 min version is 30 min and the 3 min version is 40 min. As a trial, I did the basic 2 min round/30 min version. I'll be honest... as someone who is in shape, my reaction was kind of "that's it?" I'm used to working out 45 - 75 min at a time. This weekend I'm going to try the 3 min round/40 min version while holding some weight for some of the plyometric moves and see how I feel after that. The 2 min round/30 min version, I would still highly recommend it for anyone wanting a workout that they can do at home, don't already have great endurance, or are just looking for a good 30 min cardio workout.
 

Flatfish

Black Belt
Joined
Nov 12, 2014
Messages
679
Reaction score
296
Currently:
3 x per week:

Pull ups: following a program with the goal of 20 reps eventually, right now I'm at about 30 total per workout
Pushups: 15 to warm up, 3 sets of 5 rep handstand pushups, 3 sets of 20 reps with feet elevated to shoulder height ( sometimes I do 3 sets of 10 plyo pushups instead)
Core: 3 30-40s sets of RKC plank, 2 sets of 5 reps dragon flag, sometimes back bridges 2 sets of 10.

Finisher: Ross Emanait's Magic 50:
5 one arm KB swings, switch sides
5 one arm KB snatches, switch sides
10 burpees
Rest 1 min, repeat for a total of five circuits

I am still working on sorting out a bum knee, so besides running on cardio days and physical therapy exercises I don't do any extra leg work these days.
 
Last edited:

Kung Fu Wang

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
11,785
Reaction score
3,344
Location
Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
For strength training, you can train with your Karate belt. It's easy to carry with you when you travel. There are a lot of fun too. I drill this 480 times daily. It takes all the fat out of my body.

 
Last edited:

JowGaWolf

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Aug 3, 2015
Messages
11,393
Reaction score
4,140
My workout outside of daily kung fu practice is
15 minutes of almost continuous punching and kicking in 1 minute rounds with only 10 second rest between each round. Recently I've started doing 2 minutes rounds.
For strength training, you can train with your Karate belt. It's easy to carry with you when you travel. There are a lot of fun too. I drill this 480 times daily. It takes all the fat out of my body.

I've seen the full video of this. Those guys are strong.
 

Latest Discussions

Top