My guide to effective strength training

Discussion in 'Strength Training' started by Enkidu, Jun 20, 2012.

  1. Enkidu

    Enkidu Destroyer of your martial arts fantasies

    I think a lot of martial artists underrate the importance of strength. As far as I am concerned, strength is the foundation on which all other physical skills are added. I am not saying strength is the ONLY thing that matters, but it is certainly a foundation, and sadly, I find that many people have a very shaky foundation of strength that is limiting their abilities. Well, I could spend more time trying to sell you on the importance of strength. But the reality is you either buy it or you don't. So, let's say you buy it and want to do something about it. What next?

    Well, as with most things, it is usually the basics that are the most important. If you master the basics and keep working at them hard, you can rest assured that it is impossible for you to stray from what works. This isn't to say there aren't other types of training to include beyond the basics, but be wary of any program that spends too much time away from the basics. So, what are the basics?

    Well to help you, here I am reprinting an article I wrote a few months ago on the subject of how to design an effective strength training program:

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  2. Blade Maker

    Blade Maker Master

    what do you thing of isometrics as a strengthening excersize as opposed to weights?
  3. Enkidu

    Enkidu Destroyer of your martial arts fantasies

    Isometrics are a tool that can be, at appropriate times, be used in conjunction with, but not in place of, traditional strength training methods. There are several reasons for this. One of the reasons is that, with isometric training, strength is only really gained +/- 15 degrees of the joint angle being trained. Strength is angle specific. Now, this can be used to your advantage in conjunction with traditional strength training by doing isometric holds at your "sticking point". If you get stronger at your weakest point, it will make your entire lift stronger. Another reason that they are not a replacement for traditional methods is that strength built without movement or at very slow movement speeds has limited carry over to demonstration of strength at higher speeds, unless you specifically train at higher speeds. Another reason is the potential issue with decreased flexibility from not training muscles through a much larger range of motion. There are some other practical issues as well, but I think you get the idea.

    This is not a knock on the use of isometrics. I have used them to assist in building strength at various points in my training. However, I have never used them as a replacement for traditional strength training movements, only as an adjunct to them. Indeed, one of the great proponents of isometric strength training was the legendary strength coach, Bill Starr. That said, Starr never used isometrics as a replacement for more traditional methods of strength training. Isometrics are helpful IF the rest of your house is in order and you are using them correctly. In this sense, isometrics aren't what I would consider to be a biggest bang for your buck form of training.

    The fundamental lifts are the back squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press, dips, pull-up, rows, front squats, cleans, Jerks or push presses, and (if you have the proper training) the snatch (the lift I am performing in my avatar). Yes, there are other lifts you can and should use. Yes, you don't need every single one of those lifts in your training program all the time (although they should be in there regularly and I am hard pressed to think any program is worth a damn that doesn't have you squatting).
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  4. Blade Maker

    Blade Maker Master

    sweet thanx, I had someone ask me last night if they should add isometrics to their routine and why or why not. I said that i could not think of a reason why not to, but that i would look and see what i could find. When i went through my college texts all i could find was a definition and lots of pictures, but no real discussion on what it does scientifically. That was extremely helpful thank you.
  5. Enkidu

    Enkidu Destroyer of your martial arts fantasies

    Two extremely dense and technical reads on the subject of strength training (although, given your kineseology degree, you should be able to muddle through them... although they are not an exciting read) are:

    "Science and Practice of Strength Training" by Vladimir Zatsiorsky, Ph.D.
    "Supertraining" by Mel C. Siff, Ph.D. and Yuri Verkoshansky, Ph.D.

    These are very scientific looks at the subject of strength and physical preparation for sport. A far more accessible resource (and an excellent one that I highly recommend) is:

    "Practical Programming for Strength" by Mark Rippetoe & Lon Kilgore, Ph.D.

    If was only one training book I could have, it would be "Science and Practice" but I am a nerd for this stuff. If there were two books I would get, the second would be "Practical Programming". "Supertraining" is more like an encyclopedia to learn a great deal about specific topics, but is not something to read cover to cover.
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  6. Blade Maker

    Blade Maker Master

    I'll check those out thanks
  7. Enkidu

    Enkidu Destroyer of your martial arts fantasies

    Another good free resource on workout design is:

    The site is run by Mark Rippetoe (who owns the Wichita Fall Athletic Club and trained under the legend, Bill Starr). He also has a book by the same name and there are many online guides that summarize the recommendations of "Starting Strength". There are a lot of interviews, reprints of old Bill Starr articles, original articles, training videos, and of course, a forum. It is a great resource.

    Another great resource for general knowledge is:

    If you have an interest in Olympic-style weightlifting, I strongly recommend (run by Glenn Pendlay who used to be at WFAC before moving out West -- on a side note, I have exchanged numerous e-mails and had several phone discussions with Coach Pendlay... he is an amazingly knowledgable and friendly guy willing the share of himself).

    There are plenty of other resources out there as well, but these are a few of my favorites (and ones that aren't trying to shove their supplement line down your throat like t-nation does.)
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  8. Blade Maker

    Blade Maker Master

    yeah the suppliment thing is usually not something i am interested in. I never did weight lifting enough to justify the need for protein and water retention suppliments, though if you have any good ones to break up lactic acid i am all ears, after last nights class my legs are stiff and my abs/ back sore
  9. Enkidu

    Enkidu Destroyer of your martial arts fantasies

    Honestly, the best supplements are the cheapest ones. A good solid multi-vitamin, fish oil capsules, a solid whey protein powder, perhaps a joint support formula, anti-oxidants, and perhaps an adaptogen (Siberian Ginseng is the best known type of adaptogen). You don't even NEED any of that, and frankly, about all I take on a regular basis are fish oils and why protein pre and post training.

    As far as recovery from training goes, hot epsom salt baths are great before bed, mild stretching of course, self massage works (get a foam roller or put a tennis ball in an old sock and use it against walls to hit trigger points). Contrasting hot and cold works well too, as does an ice bath immediately post training (sounds crazy, but it works -- I shrieked like 9 year old girl at a Justin Bieber concert the first time I got in an ice bath, and lasted less than a minute, but after sticking at it, I used to look forward to them and would fall asleep in the tub for 15 minutes stretches and had to set an alarm to know when to get out).
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