Strength Training For Fighters

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by Rhizome, Sep 19, 2005.

  1. Rhizome

    Rhizome Super Valued Member

    I know this should be in the article forum but i posted it here in the hope that it would maybe become a faq for strength training or maybe they'd put it on the site along with the stretching ones. I know the grammers bad ill get ma dad to retouch it up tomorrow and edit the post.

    This article is an introduction to strength training for fighters and martial artists. It will cover the exercises in which to do and how to do them, what to avoid and more. Many fighters these days understand that there is a need for weights in their training program to increase their performance. They now understand that weights if done in the correct manner will not make you slow or bulky. However what shocks me is that many athletes dont know how to take a rational approach to it. Many programs designed to increase “functional strength” are outdated or inappropriately designed.

    Why Fighters Should Strength Train?
    Now lets start by saying why do fighters need to train for strength. Well it has been proven that athletic performance depends either directly or indirectly on qualities of muscular strength and that strength builds the foundation for all other athletic qualitys and the other strength components(speed-strength etc). Strength training is a vital part of complete conditioning. Strength training is also very good for injury prevention such as the strengthenin of all the tendons, ligaments etc plus increased bone density.

    Biggest Mistakes
    The biggest mistake I have seen so far is an athlete who believes that working a muscle through isolation is better. This is a big mistake because any action for a fighter never acts in isolation the muscles work together so it is better to train many muscles at once through compound multi-joint exercises. Compound movements are multi-joint movements consisting of two or more joints moving and therefore many muscles are involved apposed to isolation which has only one discernable joint movement. Compound movements are far more influential to the development of size and strength than isolation movements due to the nature of their demand (complex, in the way that the body works) and the magnitude of stimulation. Compound exercises can also take heavier loads of weight than isolation exercises due to more than one muscle being used for the movement, heavy loads of weight is essential to train for maximal strength.

    Another big mistake is reliance on fitness machines to develop maximal strength. The problems with machines for your goal is that machines iare less versatile than free weights because they allow you for less variations in range of motion. Free weights require balance, and they tend to promote more activity of the joint stabilizer muscles. Also unless you’re a member at the gym they are very expensive compared to an Olympic barbell set or a set of heavy dumbbells. Some good advantages of machines is if you are a beginner is that they are generally safe to use. They are good for rehabilitating injured athletes. Free weights have shown to give quicker and better strength gains. However, free weights in some exercises require the help of a spotter and can result in more injuries. Note how i said can with good instruction on technique and form will decrease the chances of this from happening.

    The last problem is people believe that a routine of low loads and high repetitions is the best way to develop strength. Sorry but this couldnt be further from the truth as you will learn from what is written below. I see the question of so how do i train endurance alot recently. Well i soley believe that you shouldnt train endurance with weights. You should make your endurance training sessions as sport-specific as possible. So if your a martial artist or fighter then spar, heavy bag, focus mitts, hiit(high intensity interval training) will be your best way to increase functional endurance which will work in the ring or in class

    Strength Components
    I’m going to start here by mentioning that maximal strength also referred to as absolute or limit strength is not the only strength component a martial artist needs. There is speed-strength, strength-endurance and static strength. The two you should focus the most on is maximal strength and speed-strength. Speed-Strength is also known as explosive power. Now although I’m not going to go into how to train the latter strength components in this article I will mention how to add make your training program into a complex one. This involves the use of plyometric exercises for example you do a set of a maximal strength weighted exercise such as bench press followed immediately by a plyometric exercise similar to it such as medicine ball chest pass. The reason for this is that the resistance exercise such as the bench press activates the CNS(Central Nervous System) followed by an explosive movement such as the medicine ball chest pass to target the fast twitch fibers more. The heavy weight resistance exercise also recruits more fast twitch fibers which respond more readily, grow bigger and stronger than slow twitch fibers. So working them to their maximum capacity is the most effective means of gaining strength and if your goal is size(hypertrophy) of the muscles then. Recently trainers often advocate only maximal strength training while there is defiantly also a need for speed-strength training and rate of force development. You can also train rate of force development with Olympic lifts such as power snatch and clean and jerk. You may prefer to keep the two seperate, which is what i do but for time restrictions a complex routine can be a good one.

    How To Train For Strength

    To train for maximal strength you need to lift heavy weight with low reps. The weight should be in the region of 80-100% of your 1RPM (One Repetition Maximum). 1RPM basically means how much weight you can lift for one rep. Maximal Strength is trained for in the 1-6 repetitions region any more will produce hypertrophy(size) of the muscle with smaller strength gains compared to the reps above.

    The exercises that you should include in your program should be bench press, military press, squats, dead lifts and bent over rows. You should also include dips and chin-ups you will probably start these two at bodyweight but eventually you will do these exercises weighted. There are many other assitance/variation exercises that you can add to your routine just make sure there a compound exercise. These are the main exercises but their are many assitance exercises that can supplement your program. Basically a rule I use is as long as your training program consists of at least 75% compound exercises your ok any less will result in you wasting too much time on isolation exercises which are not as physically demanding on the CNS(Central Nervous System) resulting in little or no physically enhancing gains. Better to stick with 100% compound but some people will always want to hypertrophy a specific muscle through isolation so use the rule above. The amount of sets can be anything from 1-8 sets. For example 3 sets of 3 repetitions or 5 sets of 5 repetitions just tweak your program until you see what works best for your body. Also change the sets/reps parameters around every once and a while

    Beginners & Considerations
    Before any program or routine is created several factors need to come into consideration such as any severe or recent injuries, the athletes training history, what strengths and weaknesses they have and much more. So if you are creating your own training program you may have to alter or tweak the program to get the total benefits of it for your body everyone is different how they react to different exercises.

    Note: If you are not a beginner to weights please skip this section
    If you are a beginner to weight training then you will need to strengthen your ligaments, tendons etc so start with sets of 3 for 10-15 repetitions for about 8 weeks until your body becomes used to the new demands of resistance. There is absolutely no chance a beginner could walk straight into a proper strength training program as it is far too intense and would result in injury. The weight should be considerably lighter than for strength training, it should be a weight you can complete 12-15 repetitions with good technique. Just see what weight your body adjusts too without feeling too sore and make sure you are using proper technique and form on all exercises.

    Chris Sharkey
    EDIT --- Added missing parts in the exercise selection bit.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 26, 2005
  2. CX Imran

    CX Imran Valued Member

    Nice article, should be great for the newbies.
  3. Rhizome

    Rhizome Super Valued Member

    Cheers mate :)
  4. bobbysmilesok

    bobbysmilesok New Member

    Good sound info.
  5. Rhizome

    Rhizome Super Valued Member

    Thanks. Yeah it's aimed at beginners more as i see there are lots of questions on this topic.
  6. Colucci

    Colucci My buddies call me Chris.

    Once again, nice stuff Sharkey. Should be of use to all the new folks, standing in the gym with that sad, confused look on their face, as they slowly wander towards the Smith Machine. :eek:
  7. Rhizome

    Rhizome Super Valued Member

    Thanks bewater comments are appreciated. Yeah it took a long time to get this up as microsoft word wasnt working but i formatted the computer and its all good now.
  8. Ophqui

    Ophqui Valued Member

    Maybe an exemplar workout could be added? Other than that, great article, keep up the good work
  9. Ad McG

    Ad McG Troll-killer Supporter

    Nice work mate, I haven't read it thoroughly but I skimmed through it and it looks great.
  10. Rhizome

    Rhizome Super Valued Member

    Thanks again people :)

    Ohh yeh i forgot an example workout but i dont really know if theres a need because its better for people to create their own so it suits theirs needs,injuries etc.

  11. ninjamonkey

    ninjamonkey New Member

    It's fair enough to want a example workout, but I'm glad they've left it out. If a noob comes across it with more specific goals, following the example will on most cases not meet their needs. At least the article advises the noob how to write their own to an extent.
  12. scorpiousmac

    scorpiousmac Valued Member

    Nice one fella.Anymore info on weights for newbee's is always appreciated.
  13. Combatant

    Combatant Monsiour Fitness himself.

    Read most of it mate, well written good basic information set out in a good format.
  14. Rhizome

    Rhizome Super Valued Member

    Cheers again:)

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