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Other/Mixed How to Program Barbells, Kettlebells and Martial Arts?

Other strength modalities (e.g., Clubs), mixed strength modalities (e.g., combined kettlebell and barbell), other goals (flexibility)

jonno888

First Post
Hi all,

I am trying to put together a program that allows me to train jiu jitsu arts 2 - 3 times a week, at relatively high intensity, while also building strength and muscle.

I've tried doing beginners progressive overload strength programs before, which have been great, but I found toward the end of the program when the weights are becoming very challenging, I'm way too gassed out to train jiu-jitsu and I end up doing badly at both activities :)

So, my idea is to take a beginners progressive overload program, and stretch it out over the course of a week with the hope that by doing 1 or maybe 2 exercises a day, I will leave enough energy in reserve to train jiu jitsu. I've experimented with this approach a little, and it seems to be an improvement.

The following are the exercises that I like to do:

- Barbell deadlift
- KB clean and press
- KB Swing
- Barbell or KB benchpress
- Bodyweight pull ups.
- KB rows on the bench.
- Barbell low bar squat.
- For vanity: KB Towel curls.

My question is basically this: How should I design a program involving these exercises, which allows me to traing jiu jitsu regularly. I still want to make strength and hypertrophy gains, but need to balance recovery. I really want to make progress in deadlift, bench and over head press movements as well.

Anyway, I understand what I'm asking via this forum is a lot, and there are many variables to consider, so I'm keen to hear how others might approach this problem.

Thank you.
 

Dayz

Level 7 Valued Member
Depends a lot on your schedule.

For strength and hypertrophy, 531 Boring But Big, Inverted template is hard to beat. You're meant to do conditioning, so it's very doable depending on your schedule and how you can fit BJJ around it. Because the lifting is upper lower it may be easier to recover from.

Let me know if you want/ need more info.
 

rayyagloski

Level 5 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Hi Jon,
I train Jiu-Jitsu, too.

If you have been lifting a long time, this may apply. One important lesson I've learned over the years is that it's difficult to significantly improve many movements or muscle groups at one time. Your body has only so much energy to move, recover, and build. So, I enjoy pairing my focus in my training to specific movements and focuses. It's definitely possible to progress strength, muscle, etc. all at once but it's much higher likelihood for success if you prioritize your goals.

The reason I found out this lesson is I was strength training and conditioning 6x/week, training wrestling & Jiu-Jitsu 4+ days/week, working full-time, and coaching part-time. My fitness (strength or conditioning) did not improve. It maintained. I was putting in a lot of work, too. Then, I got thrust into a situation where I needed to coach more classes. I trained strength and conditioning 3-4x/week and I started getting stronger again. On this day, I learned the value of the Goldilocks Principle. Not too hot (much), not too cold (little), just right.

If I were to organize all your requested lifts into training days then it would look like this:
Day 1: Deadlift, Pull-ups, and KB Rows
Day 2: Bench Press, Clean & Press
Day 3: KB Swings, Squat and Towel Curls
Notes: Quick lifts (KB Swings) = use as a warm-up to prime the nervous system. Big lifts (Deadlift, Bench, Squat) - target 15-25 reps. 3 x 5, 4 x 4, 5 x 3. Accessory movements - utilize as hypertrophy (target 5 quality sets where you leave 2-3 reps in the tank).

Main thing to balance is managing your energy. Lower energy that day = lighter weights or rest day. Higher energy that day = heavier weights. This will take skill.

Send me a private message if you want to talk through it a bit more so I can get even more context into your situation!
 

Ege

Level 6 Valued Member
For my planning, I distinguish in between size and strength. To train for size increase your strength if you are beginner or intermediate, and to train for strength increase your size if you are a beginner and maybe even intermediate.

But in my opinion there should be a prioritization among the two. And maybe cycle.

So although I am not a big fan of hypertrophy training , Currently I want to lose weight, and keep as much lean mass as possible and I have picked an hypertrophy program, once I am done with a few cycles and lost weight as much as I can ( regardless of the amount) I will switch to a strength focus one. And I hope if I can lose enough fat for my taste, I will stay strength focused as long as I can.

Though I am not against other opinions or strategies. I am just sharing my strategy.

Even if I chose a BtS plan to build size, I still approach my cycle as Hypertrophy.

I believe someone can adjust many programs towards strength or size. After reading PTTP I believe I have understood at least basics of strength and hypertrophy protocols.
 

LoneRider

Level 6 Valued Member
Minimalism is your friend here. One way I'd tackle this problem is a 2x/week Wendler split (I'm a huge fan of the Krypteia program 2x/week). I'd use kettlebell swings as a deadlift assistance exercise and getups as bench assistance.

 

LukeV

Level 6 Valued Member
I don’t know how draining ju-jitsu 2-3 times a week is but if ju-jitsu is your primary focus and building strength and muscle is a secondary focus then you should look for a program that reflects that and avoid programs that are designed for people whose primary focus is building strength and muscle. For example, if you’re doing ju-jitsu at high intensity two or three times per week then I’d look for a resistance training program that was probably only two (or even one) days per week. And I would want to wake up on my ju-jitsu days feeling ready to tackle King Kong, with no muscle soreness or stiffness or disrupted sleep from an intense weights workout the day before. I really like Dan John’s two day program specifically designed for people whose sport is not weightlifting - squat and bench one day, deadlift and bench the other. Just take big leaps in weight up to a sorta max. If you want some hypertrophy keep the reps high, around 10 will do. For you, maybe try and lift later after your ju-jitsu sessions so your rest days are for resting. That’s the kind of program that’s easy to recover from, minimally distracting from your main priorities, but gets good transferable results.
 

Tony Gracia

Level 6 Valued Member
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
I suspect that unless you are 25 years or younger, trying to do 2x per week heavy lower body training plus the BJJ will be unsustainable. I think you'll need to find a way to rotate barbell SQ and DL so you're not trying to do both of them heavy each week.

FWIW: I am co-owner / operator of a gym the does exactly what you are describing. We offer barbell based strength training, kettlebell training, and BJJ (and I am our head BJJ instructor). So, this concept of finding the right balance is right up my wheel house.

Best of luck with the training!
 

jonno888

First Post
Hi all, thank you. You're all awesome! I've lurked on this forum for a long time, and this was my first post. Wow... thanks for all the responses. You've given me much to think about!

I will come back with questions soon!
 

Justin_M

Level 5 Valued Member
@jonno888
I also train BJJ 2-3x per week. A program I have enjoyed as supplementation to BJJ has been doing some A+A KB work followed by some barbell ladders 1-2x per week. I usually train BJJ on M/W/F and do the gym workout Tue/Sat so I'm not training more than 3 days in a row.

Session
  1. KB Swing, 5/emom, 20-40min
  2. Bench Press
  3. Front Squat
Weekly Barbell Cycle
  1. 60%, 2-3-5 [20" rest between rungs], x4 [1' rest between ladders]
  2. 65%, 2-3-5 [20"], x3 [2']
  3. 70%, 2-3-5 [20"], x2 [3']
  4. 75%, 1-2-3 [20"], x3 [3']
  5. 80%, 1-2-3 [20"], x2 [4']
  6. 85%, AMAP
The early weeks volume drives some hypertrophy and the ladders promote consistent power.

I don't do much deadlifting or low bar back squating because of all the swings. If you chose to deadlift instead of squat, I would reduce the number of ladders by 1. Also, if you wanted to overhead press instead of bench, I would increase the number of ladders by 1.
 
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jayjo

Level 5 Valued Member
I would suggest keeping movements that work the same muscle group on the same day's workout.
Kettlebell Swing can be a good warm up for Barbell Deadlift.
 

LoneRider

Level 6 Valued Member
@jonno888
I also train BJJ 2-3x per week. A program I have enjoyed as supplementation to BJJ has been doing some A+A KB work followed by some barbell ladders 1-2x per week. I usually train BJJ on M/W/F and do the gym workout Tue/Sat so I'm not training more than 3 days in a row.

Session
  1. KB Swing, 5/emom, 20-40min
  2. Bench Press
  3. Front Squat
Weekly Barbell Cycle
  1. 60%, 2-3-5 [20" rest between rungs], x4 [1' rest between ladders]
  2. 65%, 2-3-5 [20"], x3 [2']
  3. 70%, 2-3-5 [20"], x2 [3']
  4. 75%, 1-2-3 [20"], x3 [3']
  5. 80%, 1-2-3 [20"], x2 [4']
  6. 85%, AMAP
The early weeks volume drives some hypertrophy and the ladders promote consistent power.

I don't do much deadlifting or low bar back squating because of all the swings. If you chose to deadlift instead of squat, I would reduce the number of ladders by 1. Also, if you wanted to overhead press instead of bench, I would increase the number of ladders by 1.
Are the percentages here percentages of a 1RM or more conservative (e.g. a training max of some kind)? As a fellow nearing forty I’d probably use a TM at 85%-90% for calculating my loads to account for recovery.
 

jonno888

First Post
Depends a lot on your schedule.

For strength and hypertrophy, 531 Boring But Big, Inverted template is hard to beat. You're meant to do conditioning, so it's very doable depending on your schedule and how you can fit BJJ around it. Because the lifting is upper lower it may be easier to recover from.

Let me know if you want/ need more info.
I've looked into 5/3/1 a bit more and I think it may be the right fit for me.

I understand the program, and the additional Boring but big stuff, but what do you mean by "inverted template"?

Thanks.
 

cwheeler33

Level 5 Valued Member
I'm on the mats 6 days per week and I "lift" 5 days per week. I'm coming up to my 48th bday in a few weeks. I been training like that for the past 20 years or so....

in short, this is what I found works best for me:
First - manage your mat time intensity. I go at about 65-75% of "my" capacity most of the time. About 2 weeks out from a competition I up it to some 90-110%. I do about 4-6 competitions per year. Mat time is either in the weekday evenings or Saturday noon.

Second - joint mobility wakeup routine EVERY DAY for about 10-15 minutes. Find something that hits your tight spots. Explore movements. Nothing crazy, just enjoy it. There are a million possibilities here. Scott Sonnon's Warrior Wellness is my primary staple, but I've done other stuff like Tibetan Rights, some yoga, Amisov 1000 recharge, Tom Morrison's mobility stuff, or even make your own from Flexible Steel or Pavel's Super Joints... regardless of your choice, these daily morning sessions are non-negotiable to stay healthy and energised. If you can find time to throw in walks occasionally, they help a lot for recovery.

Third- the supplemental gym session. Seriously, treat them as a supplement. Best option has been to do shorter minimalist blocks over fully developed programs. S&S is a great place to start, hit that Timed Simple before doing anything else. Once you do, go hit up PttP, 5x5x5 or something similar. Blocks of Naked Warrior or Fighter Pullup Program are a must. Personally I tend to stick with just strength building and avoid hypertrophy sessions. I leave body composition to in the hands of diet/nutrition. For sporting reasons I avoid putting on weight. Depending on the program I'm doing and how much time I have I either put these right after my joint mobility work first thing in the morning, or I do it during my lunch. Sessions more than 45 minutes take away too much, for me optimal was 25-35 minute sessions.

Fourth - Other stuff. Nutrition, dial that in. Use your food to gain or lose weight. Make sure the diet is set up to gain or lose slowly. Clean up your sleep habits. To train hard, you have to sleep hard! I've found length of time is less important than quality / depth of sleep. Hydration is another big problem.

Things that killed me or others:
-THE TOP KILLER is training too hard too often on the mats. I've seen to many guys training at 95-110% EVERY class. They end up injured and taking off a lot of time. Skill wise you're not playing / problem solving optimally so you won't develop as quickly. It also means no energy for supplemental work.
-DO NOT ignore joint pains. Address them immediately. Figure out root cause and solve it. Overuse? Bad Technique? Ignored movements?
-heavy hypertrophy programs, even if you eat like a trucker
-strong man / powerlifting programs. Oh man West Side and other similar programs really wiped me out.
-minimalist programs where you train to hard on the nerve.
-ignoring sleep, nutrition, daily posture and breathing habits
-alcohol, smoking and other general partying behaviours (you can get away with it when you're young though)

I hope my ramblings help kick start your mental gears into overdrive.
Cheers.
 
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Hrungnir

Level 6 Valued Member
Things that killed me or others:
-THE TOP KILLER is training too hard too often on the mats. I've seen to many guys training at 95-110% EVERY class. They end up injured and taking off a lot of time. Skill wise you're not playing / problem solving optimally so you won't develop as quickly. It also means no energy for supplemental work.
I disagree with this entirely, every good guy I know trains fairly hard every session without issue. BJJs strongest feature is the ability to spar hard in a way you can’t in other martial arts. This might be your experience, but the Lovato, Hall, Torres, etc of the world do train like this without issue and they’re the cream of the crop.
 

Wyanokie

Level 5 Valued Member
I disagree with this entirely, every good guy I know trains fairly hard every session without issue. BJJs strongest feature is the ability to spar hard in a way you can’t in other martial arts. This might be your experience, but the Lovato, Hall, Torres, etc of the world do train like this without issue and they’re the cream of the crop.

I'm only a blue belt in BJJ but my experience has also been that guys who go full-bore in all of their rolling are the first ones who get hurt (or quit). Now rolling for position at high intensity, I can agree with that, but applying and being on the receiving end of submissions at >75% on a regular basis? I think that's a recipe for disaster.

Also, I think rolling at higher intensity between two experienced people is much more productive than the rolling I've seen at lower levels (that includes my level as well), because the upper level guys seem to know exactly when to back off before injuring themselves or others. Most higher intensity rolling at lower levels just becomes ego rolling anyway, not productive.

Just my $0.02, YMMV
 

Hrungnir

Level 6 Valued Member
I'm only a blue belt in BJJ but my experience has also been that guys who go full-bore in all of their rolling are the first ones who get hurt (or quit). Now rolling for position at high intensity, I can agree with that, but applying and being on the receiving end of submissions at >75% on a regular basis? I think that's a recipe for disaster.

Also, I think rolling at higher intensity between two experienced people is much more productive than the rolling I've seen at lower levels (that includes my level as well), because the upper level guys seem to know exactly when to back off before injuring themselves or others. Most higher intensity rolling at lower levels just becomes ego rolling anyway, not productive.

Just my $0.02, YMMV
lol, you’re agreeing with me and adding qualifiers that weren’t there. Submissions are a small part of daily training, going high intensity is in relations to the entire roll and has nothing to do with ripping heel hooks.

I have yet to train with a guy that has ADCC or IBJJF gold that doesn’t roll like a buzz saw.
 

cwheeler33

Level 5 Valued Member
Firas Zahabi and other coaches say the same thing I stated. And they train world class fighters...
Just remember, their 75% might be your 200%... If you are not at their level and don't want to break, you'll need to ask them to tone it down, or you need to find other partners who are in your training range and work your way up to the next level.
 

Hrungnir

Level 6 Valued Member
MMA isn’t the same as BJJ training, has Firas trained any notable BJJ athletes?

Even in your example, you said the top killer is training too hard. If they were training in a way that is suboptimal, how are they the top killer? If their goal is to be the best in the gym and their training style has them as the best in the gym, isn’t that proof of concept?
 
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