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Another Definite Chief Aim

May 31, 2002 07:25 PM

As a single parent time is in short supply for physical and martial arts training. Since my attention is directed primarily towards being a father, I have little time each day to train. This is why abbreviated workouts are essential for me and others who don't have unlimited time to work out.

I spent many years attempting to copy the workouts popularized in bodybuilding and martial arts magazines only to find myself continually frustrated and physically drained. After a weight training session consisting of 3-4 exercises per muscle group for 8-12 reps per set I found myself half-assing my way through my martial arts training. When all of the hours of effort were done I would go home feeling completely wiped out and weak. This was absolutely not the effect I was looking for! I wanted to feel strong and confident that I could handle myself in any situation. I wanted to feel energetic and confident, not disillusioned and tired, then a friend of mine introduced me to the works of Pavel Tsatsouline.

After borrowing Power to the People! and Bullet-Proof Abs from my buddy Mike I became obsessed with his short, intense workouts. I immediately began purchasing his books on strength and flexibility and searching out other resources that adhered to similar methodologies. After experimenting with these programs I found that I had much more energy and felt strong all of the time, not just during my first few sets at the gym.

Being a big fan of Bruce Lee I began to see the similarities in his ideas toward martial arts and Pavel's ideas toward strength training. Cut away the unessential and go crazy with what is effective. What good is it to practice 100's of different fighting skills if you only use 10 in real combat? What good is it to practice 100's of different exercises if you get the most benefit from just a handful?

In the martial arts there are only a handful of moves in each fighting range that have been proven to be effective in just about all situations. Jab (for set-up), hook, cross, uppercut, elbow. Low side kick, round kick. Rear naked choke, guillotine, arm-bar, knee-lock, ankle-lock. If these few moves are mastered they are devastating. This is not to discredit any other moves, many others are effective, they are just examples of moves that have been proven time and time again to be dangerously effective.

In strength training the same mindset applies. Deadlifts, squats, presses, and bodyweight exercises build the most useful strength in the shortest time. That is not to say that there aren't other effective exercises for building strength, but if you are on a tight schedule these type exercises tend to give you more bang for your buck.

If you are trying to gain endurance, both muscular and/or cardio-vascular, in the shortest time possible, I can tell you from personal experience that kettlebell training is the way to go. High repetition kettlebell training is the way to ungodly endurance. The best thing about kettlebells is the fact that the specific exercises are really not that important, imagination is the key. As long as you switch exercises before any one muscle group gives out you are in business! Keep changing things around until you either run out of ideas, puke, or pass out! Oh, and by the way, don't forget that while kettlebells are busy building up incredible endurance, they also build strength-endurance, I mean the damned things weigh somewhere between 35-72lbs! Also, keep in mind that while running, stair-stepping, and aerobics are great exercises they don't effectively simulate the ballistic shock and strength endurance challenges of grappling or stand-up fighting, but kettlebells do!

To steal a phrase from Bruce Lee? "my definite chief aim" is to gain as much as possible in as short of a time as possible. To be efficient in your training learn from as many varied sources as possible, but take away the key themes and discard the superfluous extras. Stick to the main ideas. Simplicity and efficiency go hand in hand.
I personally find that a combination of weight training, high-rep kettlebell, and martial arts training make me feel very well rounded. I do 3 days per week of PTP style lifting mixed with 2 days of KB lifting and 2 days of stretching (one upper body, one lower body). Abs are done daily. I spend a maximum of 45 min. on strength days and a maximum of 20 min. on cardio days, although sometimes less. The reps vary between 2x5, 3x3, 5x2, etc.

Sample Week-

Tues., Thurs., Sat.

  • Deadlift or Squat
  • Dip or Bench Press
  • Pull-up or Bent Row
  • Military or Side Press
  • Grip Work

Wed., Sun.-

  • Kettlebell (see RKC or Steve Maxwell's video)

Mon., Fri.-

  • Stretching

I mix in martial arts training wherever possible, depending on outside interference, but try to do at least 30 min. of grappling and 30 min. of stand-up at least a couple of times each week. Sometimes I can manage more, but often settle for the bare minimum. Either way I feel better now than ever before. I hope that this helps others in similar situations.

Jeff Brown
 

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