all posts post new thread

Kettlebell Questions regarding strength development as a teen martial artist

Andi-in-BKK

Level 4 Valued Member
So, I have read all of your replies and done some thinking, here are the conclusions.
I vastly overestimated the time that it would take for me to get basic proficiency with kb's. It's definitely not 3-4 years, but more like 6-8 months, at least to reach a more or less effortless Timed Simple. I also realized that bells wouldn't cost me as much as I thought, and I'm not that tight on money anyways, so I can keep my old equipment. However, for me to do barbell moves like @Andi-in-BKK and @Coyotl suggested, I'd need to build a lifting platform from plywood and horse stall mats.

Yes, that's right, but that's not really what I need or what is best for my goals, like @Steve Freides said, kettlebell work might suit better for what I want to do than building a lot of muscle and maximal strength with barbells.(might even hinder MA progress(?)) And to what Andi said about the deadlift giving a good hip hinge and core strength for bjj, swings and TGU's deliver that as well, right? And yes, I have a pull-up bar for LEO/mil tests.
I agree with @North Coast Miller on the fact that I should prioritize on MA training. Kettlebell training would fit this quite well, as the sessions are short and wouldn't take much out of me. I'm also intrigued by the idea that Miller said about learning good movement mechanics with kb's to then learn barbell lifts effectively and safely. I might also dabble with @Kev 's recommendation of training with sandbags.
There is also a possibility that I could train at my schools gym affordably, but it wouldn't be available on holidays and such, so I won't count on it.
Final conclusion. I will not sell my barbells(at least yet), I will take up S&S until I reach a solid Timed Simple. Then I'll maintain that with 2-3 sessions a week, and add one day of barbells. Later I'll maybe increase barbell time to get some strength from there, and then start chasing after Sinister. Obviously somewhere in there I need to do mobility/stretching as well. Any thoughts on all of this? And thanks to everyone who replied, amazing to have people help a young bloke in the beginning.
To clear up a few things from what I said before:

In my years of realistic martial arts (BJJ, MMA, Judo and Muay Thai) I’ve never run into someone who was so strong that it was a problem for themselves(weight classes are a different thing). The issues arise with mobility and not musculature or strength. The things to pay attention to are your mobility, dexterity, and cardiovascular capability, so balancing strength and hypertrophy training cycles, with both intense and long steady state cardio cycles is crucial to staying functional as a martial artist. If you have the time, take a 3 month block, 4 times a year, and make that the focus of your physical training outside of martial arts (maintain martial arts training and mobility work the entire time) while reducing the other to one day a week to maintain, (example: Jan-Mar: LSD(long slow distance) cardio, April-June: strength cycle, July-Sept: Interval Cardio cycle, and Oct-Dec: Hypertrophy Cycle) In you plan, S&S can be reached and done for maintenance as you work on other stuff, the barbell lifts, etc, so it’s a good plan.

Saying that, having a strong deadlift, strong clean, and strong back squat build the hip hinge and core strength better, IMO, than most TGU. The specific application I’m talking about for this kind of strength is pairing up when someone is fighting against you to break your posture down, it’s almost entirely a posterior chain strength that makes this successful. TGU is important as a loaded version of the technical stand up(up) and sit out(down) in BJJ. The deadlift specifically also builds grip strength in a way that few other lifts can match, and that’s huge in BJJ (particularly gi BJJ).

Lastly, I used to be a huge fan of stretching, but have since changed my mind on it, as I can see the problems it can create. I would recommend grabbing a copy of “Supple Leopard” and reading on mobility work as opposed to stretching (stretching can lead to loss of stability under load, particularly in the knee joints and hip joints).
 

Pete L

Level 5 Valued Member
To clear up a few things from what I said before:

In my years of realistic martial arts (BJJ, MMA, Judo and Muay Thai) I’ve never run into someone who was so strong that it was a problem for themselves(weight classes are a different thing). The issues arise with mobility and not musculature or strength. The things to pay attention to are your mobility, dexterity, and cardiovascular capability, so balancing strength and hypertrophy training cycles, with both intense and long steady state cardio cycles is crucial to staying functional as a martial artist. If you have the time, take a 3 month block, 4 times a year, and make that the focus of your physical training outside of martial arts (maintain martial arts training and mobility work the entire time) while reducing the other to one day a week to maintain, (example: Jan-Mar: LSD(long slow distance) cardio, April-June: strength cycle, July-Sept: Interval Cardio cycle, and Oct-Dec: Hypertrophy Cycle) In you plan, S&S can be reached and done for maintenance as you work on other stuff, the barbell lifts, etc, so it’s a good plan.

Saying that, having a strong deadlift, strong clean, and strong back squat build the hip hinge and core strength better, IMO, than most TGU. The specific application I’m talking about for this kind of strength is pairing up when someone is fighting against you to break your posture down, it’s almost entirely a posterior chain strength that makes this successful. TGU is important as a loaded version of the technical stand up(up) and sit out(down) in BJJ. The deadlift specifically also builds grip strength in a way that few other lifts can match, and that’s huge in BJJ (particularly gi BJJ).

Lastly, I used to be a huge fan of stretching, but have since changed my mind on it, as I can see the problems it can create. I would recommend grabbing a copy of “Supple Leopard” and reading on mobility work as opposed to stretching (stretching can lead to loss of stability under load, particularly in the knee joints and hip joints).
Flexibility is part of mobility. The important thing is to have strength to provide stability. This is why I rate TGUs so much for shoulder health.
 

Pave

Level 1 Valued Member
To clear up a few things from what I said before:

In my years of realistic martial arts (BJJ, MMA, Judo and Muay Thai) I’ve never run into someone who was so strong that it was a problem for themselves(weight classes are a different thing). The issues arise with mobility and not musculature or strength. The things to pay attention to are your mobility, dexterity, and cardiovascular capability, so balancing strength and hypertrophy training cycles, with both intense and long steady state cardio cycles is crucial to staying functional as a martial artist. If you have the time, take a 3 month block, 4 times a year, and make that the focus of your physical training outside of martial arts (maintain martial arts training and mobility work the entire time) while reducing the other to one day a week to maintain, (example: Jan-Mar: LSD(long slow distance) cardio, April-June: strength cycle, July-Sept: Interval Cardio cycle, and Oct-Dec: Hypertrophy Cycle) In you plan, S&S can be reached and done for maintenance as you work on other stuff, the barbell lifts, etc, so it’s a good plan.

Saying that, having a strong deadlift, strong clean, and strong back squat build the hip hinge and core strength better, IMO, than most TGU. The specific application I’m talking about for this kind of strength is pairing up when someone is fighting against you to break your posture down, it’s almost entirely a posterior chain strength that makes this successful. TGU is important as a loaded version of the technical stand up(up) and sit out(down) in BJJ. The deadlift specifically also builds grip strength in a way that few other lifts can match, and that’s huge in BJJ (particularly gi BJJ).

Lastly, I used to be a huge fan of stretching, but have since changed my mind on it, as I can see the problems it can create. I would recommend grabbing a copy of “Supple Leopard” and reading on mobility work as opposed to stretching (stretching can lead to loss of stability under load, particularly in the knee joints and hip joints).
Well, when you put the strength thing that way, it seems completely logical, and by no means am I opposed to barbell training for martial arts. The problem that I had in mind was one that you mentioned, the loss of mobility that can come with increased muscle and strength. I have heard about supple leopard and have it on my reading list, but I've heard that it is primarily injury prevention(no idea actually). Will the methods in that book give me the "mobility" to do high kicks? Because regardless if stretching is bad or not, I need to be able to kick high for kickboxing. Thanks for the generous advice!
 

Kev

Level 4 Valued Member
So, I have read all of your replies and done some thinking, here are the conclusions.
I vastly overestimated the time that it would take for me to get basic proficiency with kb's. It's definitely not 3-4 years, but more like 6-8 months, at least to reach a more or less effortless Timed Simple. I also realized that bells wouldn't cost me as much as I thought, and I'm not that tight on money anyways, so I can keep my old equipment. However, for me to do barbell moves like @Andi-in-BKK and @Coyotl suggested, I'd need to build a lifting platform from plywood and horse stall mats.

Yes, that's right, but that's not really what I need or what is best for my goals, like @Steve Freides said, kettlebell work might suit better for what I want to do than building a lot of muscle and maximal strength with barbells.(might even hinder MA progress(?)) And to what Andi said about the deadlift giving a good hip hinge and core strength for bjj, swings and TGU's deliver that as well, right? And yes, I have a pull-up bar for LEO/mil tests.
I agree with @North Coast Miller on the fact that I should prioritize on MA training. Kettlebell training would fit this quite well, as the sessions are short and wouldn't take much out of me. I'm also intrigued by the idea that Miller said about learning good movement mechanics with kb's to then learn barbell lifts effectively and safely. I might also dabble with @Kev 's recommendation of training with sandbags.
There is also a possibility that I could train at my schools gym affordably, but it wouldn't be available on holidays and such, so I won't count on it.
Final conclusion. I will not sell my barbells(at least yet), I will take up S&S until I reach a solid Timed Simple. Then I'll maintain that with 2-3 sessions a week, and add one day of barbells. Later I'll maybe increase barbell time to get some strength from there, and then start chasing after Sinister. Obviously somewhere in there I need to do mobility/stretching as well. Any thoughts on all of this? And thanks to everyone who replied, amazing to have people help a young bloke in the beginning.
Think it’s worth mentioning too that grappling just builds horrific strength. I’ve been around strongmen, powerlifters, rock climbers and various martial artists not to mention I’ve done kettlebells since 2004 and the most solid human beings I’ve met are the lads I get rag dolled off of twice a week at my judo club.
 

Andi-in-BKK

Level 4 Valued Member
Well, when you put the strength thing that way, it seems completely logical, and by no means am I opposed to barbell training for martial arts. The problem that I had in mind was one that you mentioned, the loss of mobility that can come with increased muscle and strength. I have heard about supple leopard and have it on my reading list, but I've heard that it is primarily injury prevention(no idea actually). Will the methods in that book give me the "mobility" to do high kicks? Because regardless if stretching is bad or not, I need to be able to kick high for kickboxing. Thanks for the generous advice!
Do you already have the ability to throw a high kick and are just worried about losing it or are you trying to gain the flexibility to do so?
 

Andi-in-BKK

Level 4 Valued Member
Flexibility is part of mobility. The important thing is to have strength to provide stability. This is why I rate TGUs so much for shoulder health.
I like the wording of being able to express your strength with control throughout your entire range of motion.

I say this as a hypermobile 34 year old (I can still put both feet behind my head and do a full lotus). But I’ve had issues in the past with finding the tension in the hips and hamstrings required for proper form for things like KB hinging movements and deadlifts.
 

Gypsyplumber

Level 2 Valued Member
Hey! I'm M/17, and fairly new to kb's. I have read S&S a couple of times but don't have any bells yet. I have been attempting to build a home gym to do barbelling with, but I've come to realize that it would cost a little too much money for me and I'm not going to live in the house for more than 4 years, so I have contemplated another solution. That solution includes selling my present equipment (a barbell and 120kg of weights) to buy kettlebells (and clubbells in the future) with that money.
Now, my goals regarding strength are the following. Develop decent level, all-around strength (and speed/power) for martial arts(bjj, kickboxing and Hokutoryu Jujutsu) and physical performance in general, and develop good resilience against injury. My ultimate goal is to get in to a police counter terrorism unit, but that's in ~10 years. I'm not asking for programming advice, just my only concern is that can I develop good levels of strength with only things like heavy swings, weighted chins, dips n' kb presses, TGU's, pistols and weighted carries like sandbag stuff and perhaps farmers walk? That if I would spend the next 3-4 years on this type of training, and then later, as an adult man, take up barbelling also, would I miss anything, or does this sound like a good idea? All and any advice and recommendations are welcome, thanks in advance!
-Pave

This is just my 2 cents. Being as young as you are, you could learn and progress a ton with maybe one kettlebell, body weight, and a pull up bar. Really learn to master the basic movements of life squat, press, hinge, pull, and carry. Don’t worry as much about isolation (mirror muscle exercises) and adding a ton of load… that was my biggest mistake. The reason I say to first really master your body weight is because I know a lot of people (myself included) who have f@#$ed themselves up on their 20s and spend the rest of their lives undoing the f****** lol…For example, I was in my mid 20s and was doing burpees with a weighted vest and ripped my Rhomboid muscle it took 3 years to heal and more than 10 years later it still knots up occasionally in that spot…these are what you want to avoid. I also recommend you find a good coach for a few sessions you don’t have to pay a ton of money, but find someone who knows what their doing and have them watch all your movements. Especially for ballistics (swings, cleans, and snatches). If you can’t afford it then videotape yourself and post to this forum. There are a ton of free coaches here. Also won’t hurt to watch “enter the kettlebell” a few times if KBs are what you wish to learn it’s a cheesy video (especially for youngsters) but it’s super helpful…Also try not to get distracted by the IG culture of fitness, most of those influencers are jacked up on steroids, and have been working out for years. A lot of the movements they do take a lot of time to perfect and if you do them wrong you will feel it….Lastly do not underestimate the value of stretching. For some odd reason I used to think yoga wasn’t manly, now it’s everything. It’s awesome to see young people take their training serious, if I could go back in time I’d train differently then again it’s all part of the journey.
 

Pave

Level 1 Valued Member
Do you already have the ability to throw a high kick and are just worried about losing it or are you trying to gain the flexibility to do so?
I'm right about there in throwing a high kick, but I still need some more range of motion to have full control of the kick, if you know what I mean. Yes, worried about losing that mobility and gaining it back very slowly. Right now my goals are side and front splits, because if I get those, kicking will be easy, even if I, for some reason, haven't warmed up.
 

Andi-in-BKK

Level 4 Valued Member
I'm right about there in throwing a high kick, but I still need some more range of motion to have full control of the kick, if you know what I mean. Yes, worried about losing that mobility and gaining it back very slowly. Right now my goals are side and front splits, because if I get those, kicking will be easy, even if I, for some reason, haven't warmed up.
I think, honestly, that if you keep practicing while at martial arts, you’ll gain or maintain your ability to do high side and roundhouse kicks even through a pretty heavy strength training cycle. (Saying this as a 200lb 34 year old who can still put both feet behind my head) Just don’t go full body builder with the shortened range of motion isolation lifts. That’s where you can get into trouble, in my experience and research.

The content in Supple Leopard would allow you to maintain mobility (strength expressed through range of motion) while gaining raw strength in a safe manner. You are at the right time in your life to make mobility work and proper form a habit so you can have the longevity to last you another 30-40 years. He has a section on programming and training with hypermobility as well, which I’ve found particularly beneficial.
 

Antti

Level 9 Valued Member
I'm not sure about the negatives of the barbell training.

No one gets too big by accident. Getting too much hypertrophy for a natural guy who doesn't actually get too fat in the process? I've never seen it happen.

Sure, if all you do is squat and bench five times a week you'll likely end up worse in many regards. But no one is suggesting that? A couple of times a week of proper strength training along your regular practice and perhaps some kettlebell work will only help.

When it comes to injuries, they can happen with any tool.

I like the idea of block training, especially if you have an off season in your sport, but I would make sure that you always maintain every attribute you train.

To the original question, you definitely can get stronger with just about anything. But is it optimal? I would do big compound lifts with the barbell, longer set ballistics with the kettlebell, coordination drills with bodyweight, and so on. Why not use all of the tools if you have the means?
 

WhatWouldHulkDo

Level 7 Valued Member
I say this as a hypermobile 34 year old (I can still put both feet behind my head and do a full lotus). But I’ve had issues in the past with finding the tension in the hips and hamstrings required for proper form for things like KB hinging movements and deadlifts.
No one gets too big by accident. Getting too much hypertrophy for a natural guy who doesn't actually get too fat in the process? I've never seen it happen.
I'm with @Antti here - I think both of these are examples of worrying about something that very few people need to worry about.

I've heard & believe that too much flexibility takes away from your ability to create power. And @Andi-in-BKK may indeed be flirting with that boundary. But I suspect that most people are nowhere near that point.

Similarly, yes, building max strength can take away from flexibility. But that's a particular problem if you're talking about going into a caloric surplus and pack on several pounds of beef. Barbell training does not have to mean the same thing as bulking up, as many folks around here can demonstrate.

Most of us can benefit from both.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
FWIW when I was training barbell 400lb backsquat I could still kick a gatorade bottle off my roomates head with support heel on the floor.

Work mobility and relaxation, stretching has its place but is secondary to technique. Over time by relaxing antagonist muscle and slowly elevating contact point you'll achieve/maintain head level kicking (average).
 

Andi-in-BKK

Level 4 Valued Member
Well, when you put the strength thing that way, it seems completely logical, and by no means am I opposed to barbell training for martial arts. The problem that I had in mind was one that you mentioned, the loss of mobility that can come with increased muscle and strength. I have heard about supple leopard and have it on my reading list, but I've heard that it is primarily injury prevention(no idea actually). Will the methods in that book give me the "mobility" to do high kicks? Because regardless if stretching is bad or not, I need to be able to kick high for kickboxing. Thanks for the generous advice!
I found this in Supple Leopard with regards extending range of motion for things like Martial arts and dancing:
 

Attachments

  • 3079FEB6-24A3-4696-925F-1F83BB42232A.jpeg
    3079FEB6-24A3-4696-925F-1F83BB42232A.jpeg
    82.7 KB · Views: 7

oab

Level 2 Valued Member
I've read this unfolding thread with interest and offer a couple of comments.

I think Pave should determine who of those replying is primarily involved in martial activities (ie martial arts, law enforcement, military). Those who are not probably have more time to train and naturally spend it on strength and conditioning (thats why they are on this forum!!! ).

The skills in martial activities are time consuming. If I recall correctly both Pavel T (and Dan John) have stated that 20pc of the time should be devoted to strength training and conditioning\endurance training should mainly be from sports\martial activities (at same time as learning skills). In other words, 80pc skill and 20 pc strength (can include some antiglycolytic training).

If one had 10 hours a week to spend on training then that would be 2 hours on strength and so on and 8 hours on skills. If one has a lot on then that would be an hour or so on strength and 4 hours on skills.

General principles seem to indicate that Pave should be building his base ie general physical preparedness (GPP) and leaving "specialised" training for later on. Perhaps S&S would be a good way to go transitioning to a martial version of it after reaching Simple. Refer:
https://www.strongfirst.com/preparing-a-mma-fighter/ or alternative shifting to Q&D.

I wish you all good training!
OB
 

Tarzan

Level 6 Valued Member
One thing I didn't see anyone make note of here is your hip anatomy, people from different regions tend to have varying hip structures. People from an Anglo-saxon heritage tend to have deep hip sockets with a somewhat limited range of motion that are very stable and people from Asian and eastern block European heritages tend to display shallower hip sockets with a much larger ROM which can be somewhat prone to dislocations. A hip scour test can help to determine what type of hip structure you have.
I did a lot of competitive martial arts in my teens and early to mid 20's and I could do a front snap kick above my head after about 3 months of training but it took me nearly a year to get the point where I could perform a head height round house kick with any level of proficiency where others were doing them in less than six months. Looking back and knowing what I know now that was just the wrong thing for me to me to be training as I have a Northern English/Scottish heritage and I have deep hip sockets with limited ROM, I was forcing myself to perform a movement I wasn't designed for.
I'm also a short a#@ with a relatively short femur length, so for me the perfect training was barbell work and I excelled at the Olympic style lifts when I started training them in my mid 20's as an adjunct to my cycling training. Find what's right for your body type and don't push too hard at anything you're not cut out to do.
I work with several BJJ clubs as an advisor for their strength training programs and most of what we do is designed to strengthen joints as they approach their ROM so they don't get injured. BJJ is (arguably) 70% technique, 15% strength and 15% conditioning but law enforcement is different, a bit of size and bulk definitely goes a long way there.
At 17 I wanted to look like Arnie but it was very unrealistic, just train with what you can afford and by the time you're in your mid 20's you'll be in better shape than most of the men you went to school with, if you do it intelligently and avoid injury and over training you'll be a beast by the time you're 30.
 
Last edited:

Andi-in-BKK

Level 4 Valued Member
Not if you follow the guidance of Flexible Steel.

-S-
I’m not familiar with it. I’m talking purely about the static stretching that kids are taught in gym class around the country, and in most martial arts classes I’ve been a part of since the mid 90s, particularly done before a workout.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@Andi-in-BKK, Flexible Steel is built on a foundation of earlier works by Pavel - Super Joints, Relax Into Stretch, Beyond Stretching - and that of Flexible Steel founder, Master StrongFirst Instructor Jon Engum. Rest assured it's good for you and will make you both more flexible and stronger.

Flexible Steel is a partner of StrongFirst - I think one can get a discount in some direction as a result, perhaps for our Certified Instructors if they wish to take a Flexible Steel workshop, but I'd have to check on that.


You'll see me in a place or two in the video that's in the article.

-S-
 

Andi-in-BKK

Level 4 Valued Member
@Andi-in-BKK, Flexible Steel is built on a foundation of earlier works by Pavel - Super Joints, Relax Into Stretch, Beyond Stretching - and that of Flexible Steel founder, Master StrongFirst Instructor Jon Engum. Rest assured it's good for you and will make you both more flexible and stronger.

Flexible Steel is a partner of StrongFirst - I think one can get a discount in some direction as a result, perhaps for our Certified Instructors if they wish to take a Flexible Steel workshop, but I'd have to check on that.


You'll see me in a place or two in the video that's in the article.

-S-
Oh that’s cool! I’ll read up on it!

I’m looking at taking SFG1 when I come back stateside next summer (currently no SFG1/2 in Bangkok- or Thailand to my knowledge) and I think the local budding MMA and BJJ communities could benefit from the information.
 
Top Bottom