Lifting for Grappling/Combative Sports

WARNING: I AM NOT A CERTIFIED TRAINER, NOR DO I HAVE A DEGREEE IN KINESIOLOGY OR MEDICINE.

However, I did compete in Judo and wrestling for 20 years all over the world and was accused many times of taking steroids because of my strength and appearance.  So take this information with a grain of salt, or preferably, a packet of Rapid Rehydration.

The first thing to ask yourself when starting a weight lifting program is ‘Why am I lifting weights?’ Is it to bulk up, lose weight, get ripped, get faster, for a specific sport, etc.  Knowing why you are lifting is the most important thing when devising a workout plan.  

Sometimes we decide to move to a lower/higher weight class, but most of the time we are just maintaining weight.  However, just because you don’t want to gain weight, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t lift, you can always get stronger and get more stamina. My take on lifting weights for this situation is to lift for Muscular Strength and Endurance.

When you are lifting, push yourself to be stronger AND be able to use your strength longer.  I’ve never been in a situation where I only had to squat down once, or grab something once. Most of the time when competing or training we are doing the same thing over and over again for extended periods of time.  So, as they say, train like you compete.  

The same thing goes for what muscles to train.  When do you only use just your arms or just your legs? I advocate lifting for the entire body each session.  Hit every muscle group, big and small, that you use for your sport every time.

Full body circuit training 3x a week. I like doing lots of little circuits. Each circuit is between two and four exercises, three sets of 15 reps for each exercise with minimal rest in between to get that strength and endurance.  When picking the lifts for the circuits I alternate between different theories, similar or opposite.  By ‘similar’ I mean choosing similar but not the same muscle groups for the circuits. For example pull ups and dips, bench press and shoulders, leg curls and leg extensions etc. This is so you give the muscles a break, but keep that area of your body working to keep endurance going. By ‘opposite’ I mean the opposite ends of your body, like squats and chin ups. This give the muscle a break as well, but gets you used to using your entire body at the same time. I usually do around 10 circuits and it takes me around 1 hour and fifteen minutes.

The first set of the three for each exercise is a warm up. ALWAYS WARM UP. YES, FOR EVERY SINGLE LIFT. YES, EVEN IF YOU JUST WORKED THAT MUSCLE 30 SECONDS AGO.  Better safe than sorry.  The worst that happens is it takes you a couple minutes longer but you may have just prevented a muscle strain or more serious injury.  For example, I always start “bench”  by just benching the bar. Once again, better safe than sorry. Each circuit typically takes me around five to seven minutes. When I say minimal rest in between sets, I mean minimal. Muscle A is resting while muscle B is working, even if your still physically moving, it counts. If you need to take a break, take one in between circuits.

Hydration hydration hydration. (Obviously I’d mention this).  The smallest amount of dehydration can seriously hinder strength and performance.  It is important to be continuously drinking (Rapid Rehydration of course) throughout the work out. The act of lifting breaks down your muscles so they can be rebuilt bigger and stronger. So the liquid you’re drinking will actually absorb directly into those muscles you’re training. You literally get ‘Swoll’ because of it.  Where do you think the term comes from?

Air on the side of lower weights than higher if you’re not sure at first. Stretch after finished as well to help prevent cramping and stiffness. But most importantly, be safe and have fun.  And drink Rapid Rehydration ☺