weight lifting vs bodybuilding

jarrod

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every so often, i'll notice a thread where someone asks about adding strength training to their MA training, & someone will reply "just make sure you're weight lifting & not bodybuilding!" over the years i've grappled or trained mma with competitive powerlifters, olympic lifters, highland games athletes, & bodybuilders, so i thought i'd post what i know based on my experiences.

of the approaches to lifting mentioned, pure bodybuilding is the least suited for martial artists, unless they want to be in movies maybe. however it's not true that bodybuilding will make you slow. while it will not help your speed like other approaches may, it doesn't exactly turn you into a lumbering ox, either. some bodybuilders i've trained with were slow & clumsy, some were quick & agile. generally they did better at grappling than striking, but not always. because they usually lift a lot of high-reps, they had excellent muscle endurance as well as strength.

the powerlifter i trained with held a record at his university for squatting over 1000lbs, & weighed around 300lbs when i was training with him. he wasn't all that quick, & tired quickly. now it's true that powerlifting is good for explosive strength: but if you persue it to the point that you blow up to 300lbs...well, that will certainly hurt your speed, even if you are quick for your size. heavyweights can be very fast, but there are limits as to how fast the human body can move that much mass.

the two olympic lifters i trained with were probably the strongest all around guys i worked with. both were quick, strong, & had good endurance. the same is true for the highland athletes, although they tended to have more serious & nagging injuries.

to wrap it up, if someone looks strong, they probably are. some approaches aren't ideal, but that doesn't mean they are a hinderance.

so which approach do i take? well i pretty much do the same as with martial arts: i take what i like/what works from each & use it.

jf
 

Hagakure

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every so often, i'll notice a thread where someone asks about adding strength training to their MA training, & someone will reply "just make sure you're weight lifting & not bodybuilding!" over the years i've grappled or trained mma with competitive powerlifters, olympic lifters, highland games athletes, & bodybuilders, so i thought i'd post what i know based on my experiences.

of the approaches to lifting mentioned, pure bodybuilding is the least suited for martial artists, unless they want to be in movies maybe. however it's not true that bodybuilding will make you slow. while it will not help your speed like other approaches may, it doesn't exactly turn you into a lumbering ox, either. some bodybuilders i've trained with were slow & clumsy, some were quick & agile. generally they did better at grappling than striking, but not always. because they usually lift a lot of high-reps, they had excellent muscle endurance as well as strength.

the powerlifter i trained with held a record at his university for squatting over 1000lbs, & weighed around 300lbs when i was training with him. he wasn't all that quick, & tired quickly. now it's true that powerlifting is good for explosive strength: but if you persue it to the point that you blow up to 300lbs...well, that will certainly hurt your speed, even if you are quick for your size. heavyweights can be very fast, but there are limits as to how fast the human body can move that much mass.

the two olympic lifters i trained with were probably the strongest all around guys i worked with. both were quick, strong, & had good endurance. the same is true for the highland athletes, although they tended to have more serious & nagging injuries.

to wrap it up, if someone looks strong, they probably are. some approaches aren't ideal, but that doesn't mean they are a hinderance.

so which approach do i take? well i pretty much do the same as with martial arts: i take what i like/what works from each & use it.

jf


Great post mate. I've often wondered at what the specific differences are between training types. Does it centre around how much weight, and in how many reps?

I tend to do a variety of upper body and core workouts with relatively light weights of around 15 to 30 kilos. Combined with press ups, stomach crunches, and running.

I'm very keen to start grappling classes too, I've found a traditional JJJ near me that incorporates a lot of throws and ground fighting. I spoke to a guy who trains there on Sunday morning (I went to that Karate class I'd been threatening to do for a while) and he said it's well worth attending. From what this chap was saying, it was a lot of judo ground fighting and throws, combined with JJJ knife defences/SD related stuff. The other class I've found is a pure Judo class, but is much further away.

So. For a grappling noob, a virgin no less, :D what would be a good weights/fitness regime to incorporate for the ground game?

Cheers,

H
 

Bill Mattocks

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The strongest guys I've ever met were the powerlifters. Not bodybuilders.

http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=886028

In terms of training, bodybuilders focus a lot more on higher reps, more sets, isolation exercises, aesthetics exercises, focusing on muscles like calves/forearms etc, and incorporates cardio. Powerlifters generally do few exercises other than the big three, do very little reps and sets, and much higher weight. Bodybuilding also has a much more stringent diet, while powerlifting is generally just eating as much as you want all the time. Also it may appear that bodybuilders are healthier but having an incredibly low bodyfat level is actually very unhealthy because it dries out your organs and drastically hurts your strength by making your joints more prone to injury.
 

punisher73

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The strongest guys I've ever met were the powerlifters. Not bodybuilders.

http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=886028

Agreed, just like sprinters usually don't make good marathon runners and vs. versa, it all comes down to what you are training to accomplish.

1) Bodybuilding is dedication to making the body aesthetically pleasing. They don't care how much they lift as long as they have the look they desire. Heavier weights is just a byproduct of increasing the muscle and not the goal.

2) Powerlifters are dedication to being able to lift as much weight as possible in their lifts (Squats, Bench Press, Deadlift). They don't really care about how they look or having bigger muscles, this is just a byproduct of heavier lifting.

3) Olypmic Lifters same as powerlifters except they are concerned with their prospective lifts (clean, snatch etc.)

Suuplemental training for all 3 groups is designed to bring up a weak link or weak area (either through looking better or making the weak link stronger).

None of these groups (as it's own pursuit) train for other things. Bodybuilders will include cardio at certain phases to burn off extra bodyfat so they look better, but any endurance gained is again a byproduct of the main reason...burning fat.

These are broad generalizations though and is dependant on the group only focusing on that main activity. You might have someone who trains as a bodybuilder, but who also pursues combat sports and adapts their training. I think that when most people say "weightlifting vs. bodybuilding" they are actually just referring to strength training using weights in view of a total training program.
 
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jarrod

jarrod

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the powerlifter was the strongest, but he had no muscle endurance. if he couldn't get someone in a minute or two, he was done.

So. For a grappling noob, a virgin no less, :D what would be a good weights/fitness regime to incorporate for the ground game?

Cheers,

H

like bill & punisher said, bodybuilders focus on high reps (10-15) & isolation work in order to look a certain way, whereas power & olympic lifters train for max singles in particular lifts.

now in the so-called golden era of bodybuilding, athletes were expected to perform feats of strength as well as look good. by feats of strength i mean things like rolling up a frying pan barehanded, bending steel bars, breaking a baseball bat over their leg, etc.

but back to your question, you might try going for lower-reps/higher intensity on your core & upper body exercises. i still use high-rep exercises for my arms, because you'll do a lot of pulling in judo, so the endurance helps. chin ups are also really good for the same reasons. push ups are good but don't really mirror anything you do in grappling, so i've switched to dips lately. i'll let someone else answer you about cardio, since i have notoriously bad stamina :D one thing you can do is super-set your strength training so you get a pretty intense cardio workout as well.

let me know how the class goes!

jf
 

Carol

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Bodybuilders often divide their training in to a building cycle where they try and bulk up, and a cutting cycle where they focus on the definition of their muscles. The irony is that when bodybuilders look their "strongest", they are technically at their weakest.

I don't think its fair to say that bodybuilders aren't strong. However, the bodybuilding scene is full of traps that really don't do a martial artist any good. Dropping one's calorie consumption way down before a competition, using/abusing diuretics or thyroid meds or supplements all in the name of looking "cut", excessive UV exposure from the tanning booths...all things that aren't essentially healthy in order to win a competition. There are bodybuilders that manage to avoid the garbage and focus more on getting fit and having fun,personally I think these folks have a healthier approach to their training and their life.

As far as strength training making you slow or inflexible...that is largely bunk. Yes, if 100.00% of one's training is weight training and 0.00% is flexibility and 0.00% is speed, then the person that works in flexibility training, speed drills, cardio intervals, etc. in to their fitness regimen. Likewise, someone that invests 0.00% of their time lifting will not have the strength of someone that pursues a more balanced program. Simply put - well rounded training leads to more well-rounded performers, regardless of one's base ability level.
 

Kwan Jang

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From my decades of experience as a powerlifter and bodybuilder (and having placed or won in both on a national level...at least during the era that they were drug testing in BB), I can say that bodybuilding is a superior training method for improving overall athletic performance. Carol is dead on when she mentions that bodybuilders in their pre-contest phase are far less healthy or effective and I will say nothing contrary to that. However, I am talking about bodybuilding as a training method for athletes including martial artists and not for the guys ready to pose down. Also, I am referring to BB as a drug free training method rather than using drugs as a crutch to accomplish results.

In both powerlifting and olympic lifting, you are trying to lift as much weight as possible on specific lifts. You will do specific assistance exercises to help attain this goal. Because of this, all too often strength imbalances occur, esp. in oly lifting. Most of your training is focused on developing the myofibrils within the muscle, therefore muscular, let alone cardiovascular, endurance is not any major consideration.

In bodybuilding, you are trying to develop every aspect of the muscle to it's maximum potential, but pay a lot of attention to keeping both the natural strength curve and body proportions in balance. This means that the myofibrils, mitochondria and sarcoplasm of the muscle cell should be fully developed. This means that training should include low, medium, and high rep work taken to failure on every muscle group. Other than genetic advantages and specialization on a certain lift, a BB should be comparable in strength to a powerlifter on their low rep work. They should also be much stronger when it comes to the high rep stuff and have far greater muscular endurance. Also, most high level BB's do quite a bit of cardio work and stretching, not only to "cut up", but also because it enhances their muscular growth. Some of the guys don't work this the way they should because they can use certain drugs as a crutch, but that doesn't diminish the value of BB training when it's performed properly.

I probably need to clarify my point regarding genetics and the strength of BB's and PL's. Unlike the strereotypes thrown out there by the non-BB's who try to knock their training (usually as they are trying to promote their own methods.$$$), during the vast majority of the time, BB's are doing far more compound lifts and basic traing than isolation work. (BB's will shift to isolation work in their pre-contest phase, but this is usually only for roughly 2-3 months a year and often every two years.) Most of the guys who have developed any real muscular size are lifting really heavy on the basic compound lifts. Ron Coleman (and I for that matter) have performed full squats with over 800 lbs for low reps. I could probably squat WELL over 900 if I had a bigger hip structure, but the same small waist that is a plus in BB is a genetic drawback in powerlifting. I have really great core strength, but my narrow hips and long waist is a weak link there. Still, I have (many times prior to my knee injury) done 20 reps with 500 lbs. that most 900-1000 lbs squatters can't even touch. Tom Platz could surpass that for high rep work with heavy weights and reputedly could squat 225 lbs for 10 minutes straight.

Another main advantage of BB's over powerlifters and olympic lifters is that not only are bodybuilders developing every aspect of their muscles fully, but that to promote " proportional balance and symetry" in their physiques, they have to keep their body in it's natural strength curve. The old saying of a "chain is only as strong as it's weakest link" comes to mind. PL's and OL's can and often will neglect many muscle groups or under-develop them since they are not required to accomplish their goals. There are some guys in BB who resort to drugs or implants to "pump" up a less developed muscle, but as I am talking about BB as a training method, their idiocy is pretty much a moot point for this discussion.

Finally, I will close with saying that both PL and OL can be good methods for a martial artist, especailly one who may not have the time and energy to follow an effective BB routine. If you lack the time or can't get the nutritional support or enough rest to recuperate between both BB and your MA training, PL and OL may well be a better option. For me, I was already a black belt who had won national titles in forms and was fighting full contact before I ever began weight training, let alone a full bodybuilding routine. I already had a really strong technical base. If someone is trying to work 50(+) hours/per week, go to martial arts classes 2-3x a week AND raise a family. I may well recommend a PL workout or ESPECIALLY a OL routine for them becuase it requires a lot less volume of training and they might make better progress because they would be less likely to overtrain. Still, this does not mean that BB isn't a superior training method for those who DO have the time and energy to devote themselves to it.
 

Ronin74

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Just to add my two cents, I keep my weight training to the very basics, with more emphasis on compound exercises, as opposed to isolating ones. My goal is to achieve a decent level of "functional" strength for doing martial arts. I'm also overweight, so the small gains in muscle mass allow for some additional fat-burning, as well as joint support for cardio acitivities.

I also do bodyweight-based strength training, for both muscle endurance, as well as learning to handle my body's weight. Putting that together with my weight training, I find that it balances out for me to both move my body, as well as move things towards and away from my body (such as the difference between squats and leg presses).

Another thing I also keep in mind is to maintain a balance in strength. I once had a rotator cuff injury, and the doctor said that while I didn't require surgery, I should consider having a more balanced strenth training program. For example, if I'm looking to do 10 reps of a 150 lb bench press, then I should work towards achieving the same thing in a reverse motion- in this case, seated or bent-over rows.

As far as any kind of strength training hindering martial arts techniques, I've found- and I think part of this is due to my approach- that making sure I get a post-workout stretch in helps to maintain my flexibility. The added benefit here is that the strength training helps to avoid injuries.
 
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