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Other/Mixed Training For Martial Arts Strength/Endurance Tests

Other strength modalities (e.g., Clubs), mixed strength modalities (e.g., combined kettlebell and barbell), other goals (flexibility)
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sharp423

Level 1 Valued Member
Hello Everyone. I currently train in a martial arts system that involves 3 to 5 minute simulated tests where 2 to 3 instructors attack after around one minute of calisthenics to get the heart rate up - pushups, mountain climbers, etc. We also practice bjj rolling for 5 minute rounds and boxing for 3 minute rounds.

My training goal is to maximize strength for a 3 to 5 minute period. I attended the SF 1-day Kettlebell course last year to learn the basic kettlebell lifts. I've trained with S&S but felt like I lost some upper body strength on the program. I've had 2 shoulder surgeries to repair a torn labrum, so shoulder health is a priority for me. I have access to a gym with barbells but kettlebells are great because I travel a lot for work.

I don't max out much, but I my current strength levels are around:
KB Press 40% x BW
Deadlift 1.5 x BW
Squat BW x 5
Bench Press BW x5
Pull-ups 8 w/BW

Does anyone have any suggestions on training programs that would be help with this kind of training?
 

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
My thinking on this continues to evolve. Also, my competitive years were well before starting S&S or any real exercise regimen (besides chinups, dips and running/walking.) My opinions come from direct experience and not from science, so keep this in mind.

In any case we have to keep in mind that S&S is tailored for good all round strength and fitness. However, when it comes to specific applications of strength, things change. I hate to say it, but 1 handed swings limit the weight load on the body through the limit in grip strength. This impacts both the weight of the bell you can handle and also how many times you can swing it forcefully. I think this is a problem. I perform far better at judo when I'm doing 2 handed heavier swings in lengthy sets (say 30 or 20 reps with the 40kg kettlebell) as opposed to the traditional 10X10 1h swings with the 32kg bell (which I can handle 1 handed like this.) The weak link is the grip in particular. There is far more power generated with 2 handed swings, provided the bell is heavy enough to warrant it - I will not 2h swing a 32kg bell for instance, it's just too light. Also, 2h swings don't pose a strain on the anti-twist strength system in the body. On the other hand, the anti-twist strength system is also important for its own reasons.

I think your regimen only contains slow strength moves. You are missing weighted power and endurance moves. The quickest fix is to do relatively heavy 2h swings, probably at around 40% bodyweight, at the weight you're using for presses, provided your doctor okays the movement and you don't hurt your back. Aim for lots of reps and several sets, like over 100 total reps in one session. 1h swings are also worth doing, with a lighter kettlebell as they target a related but different strength system. The rest of your stuff seems good. The swings will grant you newfound athletic endurance and power.

I'm a bit frustrated because I don't like making up my own programs as I'm not in a position to do that nor to trust myself. However, it has been clear to me for a long time (and posts on these forums from years ago will show it) that as far as judo is concerned the heavier 2h swing is something that needs to be done very regularly. Something about 1 handed swings does indeed seem weak to me as it does to you. I really hate saying that though. My strength just isn't "full out" when training 1h swings exclusively. 2h swings are "full out" full effort movements where you just "let 'er rip".
 

sharp423

Level 1 Valued Member
Thanks guys. Yes, same shoulder, both from the same injury. It’s been a little over 2 years now and no pain. Just some stiffness still but the Dr said he wanted it that way
 

Pavel Macek

Level 9 Valued Member
Master Certified Instructor
@Kozushi

As for your 1-hand swings, few tips:

- use chalk
- have longer rest periods
- if the grip gives up, split the set of 10 into two subsets (e.g. 6+4) with very brief rest
- persist
- last but not least, get over the mental obstacle of "1-hand swings are too hard/not for me". If somebody told me I would be comfortably swinging the Beast, I would laugh - 32 was very heavy for me. Few years later - easy. And I have done 1-arm swings with 56 and 68 as well (which is my bodyweight) - it took me about 3 years. I am not saying this to brag, but to emphasize that "whether you think you can, or you think you can't - you're right."
 

WhatWouldHulkDo

Level 7 Valued Member
I'm no trainer, but some general thoughts...

I suspect the only way to get better at long periods of sustained effort is to practice long periods of sustained effort. Presumably you're getting a lot of that in your sport practice, so maybe your strength practice should actually avoid that, and instead look at addressing your weaknesses and/or making your most commonly used movements easier. Work your limit strength, let your practice handle the conditioning.

If you're concerned about shoulder health, I'd recommend arm bars and TGUs, those have been good for me.

I'm personally a big fan of 1 handed swings. Agree that the grip and anti-rotation limit it's value as a conditioner - but again, maybe best to leave conditioning to your sports practice, and instead take advantage of the strength "gap filling" that the 1 hand swing offers. I personally think the 1 hand swing translates very well into the hip drive needed to throw a good punch.

I'd agree that S&S won't add a lot to your pressing ability, which is what most people mean by "upper body strength". If that matters, add a little pressing work, or one arm pushup work. But here again - work heavy, lower volume, rather than burnout sessions. Build the max strength, leave conditioning to sport practice. Probably just a couple days a week, a few sets of 5, would be enough.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
I would definitely include some form of interval training at high intensity. Bike, rower, jumprope, even burpees will work if you extend the working interval. Keep it brief and no more than 2x/week <30 minutes total. 4 weeks of this and you will feel a big difference in recovery speed and overall endurance.

You will need a bunch of LSD jogging at lower HR as well, but the intervals will bind it all together and not interfere with other strength or conditioning work.

If the KB is the tool of choice, S&S will work just fine. You might want to add loaded deck squats, rows, crusher pushups - whatever you feel is lacking when it comes time to perform.

Sandbags travel well too.
 

Deleted member 5559

Guest
Get a timer, set it for 3min on, 1min off and then keep a bell moving for the whole round and repeat a few times. Any weight, keep it moving any way. Eventually you'll use a heavier weight, and perform more reps of more difficult movements. Training frequently, do less rounds. Training infrequently, do more rounds.
 

Pavel Macek

Level 9 Valued Member
Master Certified Instructor
@North Coast Miller , @Bro Mo : Yes, it is one way to go, but from my experience (and I coach many top combat athletes - mainly kickboxing and MMA fighters), Strong Endurance is the way to go. The protocols you suggest above will leave the athlete sore and tired, and he needs to have lots of juice for his sport specific training - hitting bags, drills, sparring.
 

WhatWouldHulkDo

Level 7 Valued Member
The protocols you suggest above will leave the athlete sore and tired, and he needs to have lots of juice for his sport specific training - hitting bags, drills, sparring.

This - high level martial arts is very demanding on it's own, I think @Kozushi has struggled with this a lot as well. Don't let outside-practice training take energy away from sport practice.

I think "easy" style S&S coupled with @North Coast Miller recommendation for easy LSD is a good compliment.
 

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
@Kozushi

As for your 1-hand swings, few tips:

- use chalk
- have longer rest periods
- if the grip gives up, split the set of 10 into two subsets (e.g. 6+4) with very brief rest
- persist
- last but not least, get over the mental obstacle of "1-hand swings are too hard/not for me". If somebody told me I would be comfortably swinging the Beast, I would laugh - 32 was very heavy for me. Few years later - easy. And I have done 1-arm swings with 56 and 68 as well (which is my bodyweight) - it took me about 3 years. I am not saying this to brag, but to emphasize that "whether you think you can, or you think you can't - you're right."
Just did my S&S (by the book) just now, had a shower and I logged in.
Thank you for that. In fact before logging in today I decided on my own to just stick with the program and here is why: it's patently obvious to anyone with the slightest sense that manipulating the same weight in one hand as you are in two makes you something like twice as strong. Also, the challenges to your balance doing things lopsided are extremely important for handling the chaotic mess that is the physical reality around us. In judo for example, we are not standing square to each other - we've got one side forward and one side back.

I'm just sticking with the program, stubbornly, and I want the Sinister qualification in a few years.
 

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
I'm no trainer, but some general thoughts...

I suspect the only way to get better at long periods of sustained effort is to practice long periods of sustained effort. Presumably you're getting a lot of that in your sport practice, so maybe your strength practice should actually avoid that, and instead look at addressing your weaknesses and/or making your most commonly used movements easier. Work your limit strength, let your practice handle the conditioning.

If you're concerned about shoulder health, I'd recommend arm bars and TGUs, those have been good for me.

I'm personally a big fan of 1 handed swings. Agree that the grip and anti-rotation limit it's value as a conditioner - but again, maybe best to leave conditioning to your sports practice, and instead take advantage of the strength "gap filling" that the 1 hand swing offers. I personally think the 1 hand swing translates very well into the hip drive needed to throw a good punch.

I'd agree that S&S won't add a lot to your pressing ability, which is what most people mean by "upper body strength". If that matters, add a little pressing work, or one arm pushup work. But here again - work heavy, lower volume, rather than burnout sessions. Build the max strength, leave conditioning to sport practice. Probably just a couple days a week, a few sets of 5, would be enough.
From my experience there is a difference between striking combat sports and grappling ones. I have certainly found S&S extremely helpful for conditioning to handle the rigours of judo training and fighting. I am the only guy at my club (and it's a big one) who rarely if ever takes a break between rounds. I'm not saying it isn't brutally exhausting to keep fighting hard for 20-30 minutes straight, but the S&S training has given me some kind of residual endurance strength to handle it and to recover with the slightest bit of relaxation in between rounds or spurts of activity. Striking sports aren't really "contact sports" as you are not holding onto the opponent, and so your system isn't wiped out in the same way. I could be wrong as always, this is just what I think I've felt over the past 4 years with S&S and judo together.
 
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Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
LSD - yes. HIIT - no. HIRT - yes.
Agreed 100%. Walking or jogging has been helpful for me, and also S&S and slow heavy lifting, but I haven't gravitated towards HIIT (i.e. spurts of running type stuff for those who don't know). In judo my body is always encumbered by the opponent's body, so just running without weights in spurts doesn't mimic the endurance stress on me, whereas S&S does mimic this perfectly. The British Olympic team used to have their guys do running spurts (HIIT) holding onto heavy dumbbells, which makes it HIIRT actually.
 

Deleted member 5559

Guest
at least some time (especially when peaking for test/competition) - but not necessarily all time
What do you recommend for athletes that have a constant need for near peak performance?

The protocols you suggest above will leave the athlete sore and tired
Lately I have come to thinking that is exactly what is needed in many athletes until a good understanding of what hard really is. Otherwise the bipolar method of easy and hard are lost in the middle.
 

Pavel Macek

Level 9 Valued Member
Master Certified Instructor
What do you recommend for athletes that have a constant need for near peak performance?


Lately I have come to thinking that is exactly what is needed in many athletes until a good understanding of what hard really is. Otherwise the bipolar method of easy and hard are lost in the middle.

I recommend to peak at the competition, not in the gym. What we do is:

- Strong Endurance protocols
- breathing exercises before training, during rounds, between rounds (MMA or strength training), outside training
- Fast & loose drills (very important)
- easy-medium-sort of hard training

Our fighters are mainly pros, none of them fights every week (usually just few fights/year), but if they would, I can't trash them at the S&C sessions.

You simply can't be at the peak constantly - it not possible.
 

sharp423

Level 1 Valued Member
Thanks again guys. Great feedback.

My actual martial arts training is 2-3 days a week. The school also offers a HIIT-type strength and conditioning class that includes heavy bag work, core exercises, bodyweight strength, etc. 3 other days a week. Classes last about an hour and are pretty challenging.

Would you recommend these classes in addition to S&S and regular martial arts training or is that too much? I notice lower back pain when I'm training too often, mainly when we're training bjj
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
The protocols you suggest above will leave the athlete sore and tired, and he needs to have lots of juice for his sport specific training - hitting bags, drills, sparring.

If a session or two of HIIT per week (not metcons, not done with a bunch of resistance but accomplished by intensity of effort against light resistance) interferes with any other work, I'd say it is being done wrong or for too long a session.

As with other forms of training for adaptive response, just use small doses and let the effects accumulate. By not periodizing this sort of work (and OP is not training to peak for a specific match or season) you will be able to easily and sustainably improve high intensity output without having to pound it in a short period.

I think the approach has to fit the outcome, Agreed you cannot be peaking all the time, but you can appreciably raise and maintain your baseline.
 
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