Discussion: Weight training vs. Body-weight training for martial artists

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by Patrick Smith, Dec 8, 2009.

  1. Patrick Smith

    Patrick Smith Tustom Cuser Uitle

    I'm sure this has been discussed before, but I've searched quite a few times and browsed the pages but haven't found what I'm looking for.

    Either way, I think a discussion thread that deals with weight training vs. body-weight training would be very beneficial to those who aren't well educated in this subject (like myself :D).

    This are the questions:

    1. why should martial artists lift weights (pros and cons)
    2. why should martial artists primarily do body-weight exercises? (pros and cons)

    Last edited: Dec 8, 2009
  2. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    MA contains skill and ability. Skill is something you learn in school (school work). Ability is something you develop at home (home work). It's better to devote your time in "equipment training - enhance MA skill" than in "weight training - build big muscle".

    Here are 2 examples of "equipment training" (not weight training).

    Last edited: Dec 8, 2009
  3. Patrick Smith

    Patrick Smith Tustom Cuser Uitle

    But as far as I know, weight training doesn't necessarily build large muscles. It can, but it doesn't necessarily.

    Haha, thanks for posting those examples of equipment training. I was going to ask you what you meant.

    I see what you mean, but he's still using weight for developing strength. Plus, doing martial art techniques with added weight (first vid) is not necessarily safe. It seems to me that the guy in the first vid could develop the same kind of explosive strength using weights without doing it in such an uncontrolled and hazardous manner.

    Last edited: Dec 8, 2009
  4. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    It depends on whether you are trying to build "whole body" or just "muscle group". Bench press may help your punching power in striking but may not help you twisting power in throwing.

    For example, the Kelly Bell can help you to develop your better wrist strength than the regular dumb bell because the special design of the KB weight distributation (better equipment than DB). But the square bag that filled with steel balls can build both your wrist and finger strength at the same time (better equipment than KB).

    This is why the amount of the weight to use in the initial training stage is important. Fast pull and fast release of a weight pulley may tear your muscle apart, but it can help you to develop some "explosive power". I agree that there are certain risk involved in this kind of training (if you start with too much weight).
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2009
  5. Patrick Smith

    Patrick Smith Tustom Cuser Uitle

    Sorry, updated my post before I saw yours (again) :rolleyes:

    Explosive power can also be learned via safer methods. For example, in the first vid, the martial artist seems to be primarily working the hip flexors, the quads, and the abs (I'm likely wrong about this, I don't know all the muscles in this area). In this case, I think he could do lying or hanging leg raises (which can be done semi-explosively or fully explosively) to get the same effect without such risk.

    Last edited: Dec 8, 2009
  6. CDKungFu

    CDKungFu Valued Member

    You'll never go far wrong in bodyweight training. If you can't deal with your own bodyweight then you won't be able to deal with an opponent's weight easily. It's better to have that core basic strength, before this turns into a techniques and skill argument...
  7. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    IMO, the main purpose of the "equipment training" is not trying to develop muscle but to develop certain ability that we don't have when we were born, and also we cannot obtain it through our daily activity. For example, if you dig a hole and put a Bowling ball in it. You use your foot to 'scoop" that Bowling ball out of the hole daily. Through this kind training, you may not develop any noticeable muscle, but you may develop the "scooping" ability that most people don't have which is quite useful in the throwing arts.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2009
  8. Patrick Smith

    Patrick Smith Tustom Cuser Uitle

    Yes, let's keep this to the main point: should martial artists use bodyweight or weight training for strength?
  9. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    You should be able to kill 2 birds with 1 stone. The Bowling ball example may be a bit too extream but in gerenal, the weight is the same. It's up to "how you are going to handle it".
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2009
  10. Kuma

    Kuma Lurking about

    They should use both, naturally. Get the best of both worlds.

    Take some of my recent workouts. For a press workout, I did several sets of the military press, dips, and pull-ups. For a squat workout, I did several sets of the back squat, leg press, and glute ham raises.

    You're only hurting yourself if you avoid one or the other.
  11. liero

    liero Valued Member

    The purpose of any resistence training, weights or bodyweight is to improve the fundamental fitness and strength of the person training in the martial art with the intent for that to carry over to an improvement in technique/fighting ability of the practitioner.

    When you are stronger you are faster. Studies show that individuals who complete a strength training program show increases in speed.

    Being stronger can also help you reduce risk of injury etc, etc, etc.

    I think the benefits of using a strength routine as a part of martial arts training are pretty apparent to anyone.

    So, which one should we use, Weights or our own bodies?

    Either type of exercise modality can give you substantial gains, assuming you train the right way...


    negative of weight training- Training like a body builder in high reps (12+) and doing isolated muscle excercises like bicep curls will not increase functional strength which will be unlikely to increase performance.

    positive of weight training- Training compound exercises (e.g. Deadlifts) with a moderate amount of reps and plenty of rest to prevent injuries can increase core strength, power generation ability and functional strength, the fighter who incorporates this will probobly see functional improvement for the martial arts.

    negative view of bodyweight training- A fighter who can perform 200 slow bodyweight squats has great strenght endurance. But this person needs to develop the ability to use their strength explosively...they may be able to do 500 kicks from their endurance training, but each of those kicks has to count.

    Positive view of bodyweight training- A fighter who regularly completes conditioning workouts using exercises such as burpees, push ups, pull ups and who also incorporates strength building and explosive exercises including, plyometric pushups, one armed pull ups, and jumping squats. This fighter will develop tremendous explosive power. This method would likely develop endurance more than many weight training plans.

    My theory is a combination is necessary. For a novice athlete bodyweight training would be the easiest to lean, and least likely to cause injury.
    For reasons of personal preference, plateauing in gains or just access to a gym- Using free weights will also give benefits if the lifts are performed correctly. Machine weights are usually isolation exercises which dont give gains in core stability, muscular controll and coordination, all of which are attributes a martial artist needs to have

    just one thing

    Weight training if machine or otherwise shouldnt supplement good martial arts training. just because you can bench more, or do more pullups, doesnt mean your better at sparring. Your main goal should be skill development, with the other training secondary and seperate, with enough recovery time in between each session for maximum performance in whatever your trying to do...
  12. Kuma

    Kuma Lurking about

    Good post liero.

    Small rant: It's a pet peeve of mine, but I absolutely hate the term "functional strength." Is there really anything such as dysfunctional strength? I personally laugh at the goofs balancing one legged on a Bosu ball as they curl a resistance band with one arm and press a kettlebell at the same time, yet can barely deadlift 300 pounds.
  13. Ad McG

    Ad McG Troll-killer Supporter

    My answer to this is always a question: why only use one or the other exclusively? The best by far is to use a mix of both. Weights are better for maximal strength/power development and for movements that are difficult to achieve without external resistance so you can work towards becoming more balanced. Bodyweight stuff is generally easier on the joints and gives you more control and skill at moving your own body. This is why MMAers mostly use both. Contrary to old-school opinion, weight training pretty much only has benefits when it comes to martial arts training and bodyweight movements are limited when it comes to strength development.
  14. Frodocious

    Frodocious She who MUST be obeyed! Moderator Supporter

    I agree with Ad McG and Leiro, a mix of weights and bodyweight is the best way to train.

    With weight training it is much easier to monitor progress and increase the weight than it is with bodyweight exercises. Bodyweight strength work often relies on more difficult progressions of exercises such as the planche, and it can take time to build from one progression to the next, with progress being measured in the length of time you can hold the position rather than the weight being lifted.

    When talking about bodyweight training most people think of it as a conditioning element, i.e. 500 pushups etc, but fail to realise that, when appropriately trained, it can actually contribute to excellent strengh gains - just look at gymnasts.
  15. Patrick Smith

    Patrick Smith Tustom Cuser Uitle

    Sweet, this is awesome. :)

    How about Christopher Sommers book? He trains athletes to develop muscles that contract very quickly for gymnastics so wouldn't his type of training be very beneficial to martial artists?

    Here's an article I just read: http://www.dragondoor.com/articler/mode3/229

    What do you think? Isn't gymnastic training similar enough to martial arts training that a martial artist could benefit very much from doing Sommers routine?

    (the link to his book and description: http://www.gymnasticbodies.com/store/library/building-the-gymnastic-body.html)
  16. Frodocious

    Frodocious She who MUST be obeyed! Moderator Supporter

  17. Patrick Smith

    Patrick Smith Tustom Cuser Uitle

    Thanks, Frodocious. Very insightful.

    Here's the thing, My goal is to become as adept as I can in both martial arts and gymnastics, and quite frankly, right now, gymnastics kind of strength training (mixed with my martial arts specific training) is looking very promising. I'm going to research it more, though, and see what I can find. I'm also going to go through the thread you linked to again. I often miss whole sections of threads...

  18. Stuart H

    Stuart H On the Mandarin bandwagon

    The original question is a false dichotomy. Look at professional athletes in MMA, Olympic wrestling, judo, football, rugby, boxing... it's a combination of the two.
  19. Patrick Smith

    Patrick Smith Tustom Cuser Uitle

    Thanks, Stuart. From what I've been reading a lot of lately, I think you're right about that.
  20. Talyn

    Talyn Reality Hacker

    If doing a handstand pushup is a bodyweight workout, does strapping on a 10kg vest or some ankle weights turn it into a weight workout? If so, the fine line between bodyweight and weight seems rather arbitrary.

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