Strength training for sports

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Strength training for sports

Postby Nath » Tue Jul 21, 2009 5:49 am UTC

I've been doing jacket grappling (judo/jujutsu/sambo) for a couple of years, and I've recently started some strength training to support it. I grapple a couple of times a week, so I figured a full Starting Strength-style program might be a bit much to recover from. I've been doing two workouts a week with presses (not the bench kind), squats, and deadlifts: a couple of warmups and one working set, five reps each. Also, a set or two of chin-ups and dips if I have time, without added weight. I haven't really been eating to gain weight; I'm looking to gradually increase strength, rather than undergo some quick transformation.

Any recommendations? Is that enough volume to make progress? The weights have been going up so far, but that's probably more to do with figuring out the form than any real increases in strength.
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Re: Strength training for sports

Postby BlackSails » Tue Jul 21, 2009 6:07 am UTC

Several MMA fighters swear by crossfit, but its really intense. Id go for a scaled down version of it. Keep the intense, compound exercises and high power workouts, there just isnt any need to do 120 pullups and 120 pushups at a time.

There are some really wierd movements in grappling that a normal workout program wont really cover very much. Try asking around your clubs
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Re: Strength training for sports

Postby Nath » Tue Jul 21, 2009 7:56 am UTC

I haven't done Crossfit, but from what I've read it seems to spend a lot of time on endurance and cardiovascular fitness. This is good, but the grappling probably takes care of that sort of thing reasonably well, and can be made more intense as I get better. The strength training is more of a fill-in-the-gaps thing.
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Re: Strength training for sports

Postby Victoria Maddison » Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:06 am UTC

Nath wrote:I've been doing jacket grappling (judo/jujutsu/sambo) for a couple of years, and I've recently started some strength training to support it. I grapple a couple of times a week, so I figured a full Starting Strength-style program might be a bit much to recover from.

I think you'd be surprised at what you can recover from given that you're already well conditioned. It may only require a modest increase in calories for you to handle both. If you grapple in the evening then perhaps do your strength training in the morning. If there is excessive fatigue I'd say that it would be the grappling that would affect your strength training and not the other way around. Novice strength training shouldn't affect grappling provided there's a good 4+ hours and a meal in between them.

Nath wrote:I haven't really been eating to gain weight; I'm looking to gradually increase strength, rather than undergo some quick transformation.

Unless you specifically eat to gain weight it's unlikely that you'll gain anything more than a few kilograms/year by virtue of being new to lifting. Weight gain isn't necessary for strength gain (although it makes it easier) so it's fine if you don't want to gain mass.

Nath wrote:Any recommendations? Is that enough volume to make progress? The weights have been going up so far, but that's probably more to do with figuring out the form than any real increases in strength.

I don't think that will be enough volume for the squats and presses, in my opinion they would work better with 3x5. Deadlifts are fine at 1x5 once a week/fortnight because they're taxing. As to misc. recommendations I would suggest that you bench in addition to pressing because it will lead to a stronger press and help keep it unstuck.

If you're worried about recovering from heavy squatting 3x/week with your other activities then perhaps you could do something like the following. Increasing the squat load only on Monday and Friday:

Monday
Squat 3x5
Press/Bench Press 3x5
Chinups 3xTF

Wednesday
Squat 2x5 at 80% Monday's workload
Bench Press/Press 3x5
Deadlift 1x5

Friday
Squat 3x5
Press/Bench Press 3x5
Pullups 3xTF

Or if you don't want to bench perhaps something like this:

Monday
Squat 3x5
Press 3x5
Chinups 3xTF

Wednesday
Squat 2x5 at 80% Monday's workload
Press 3x3 at 80% Monday's workload
Deadlift 1x5

Friday
Squat 3x5
Press 3x5
Pullups 3xTF

Both are modifications to SS with reduced workload on Wednesday to allow for extra recovery while still providing the stimulus required for maintenance of motor pathways.

BlackSails wrote:Several MMA fighters swear by crossfit, but its really intense. Id go for a scaled down version of it. Keep the intense, compound exercises and high power workouts, there just isnt any need to do 120 pullups and 120 pushups at a time.

CrossFit programming is primarily geared towards metcon with a moderate amount of absolute strength work. It's quite good for improving aerobic and anaerobic capacity but not so great for someone weak looking to get strong. I believe Glassman (the founder) has said that if one doesn't have a reasonable strength base that they'd be better off doing Starting Strength before beginning CrossFit.
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Re: Strength training for sports

Postby BlackSails » Tue Jul 21, 2009 5:17 pm UTC

Nath wrote:I haven't done Crossfit, but from what I've read it seems to spend a lot of time on endurance and cardiovascular fitness. This is good, but the grappling probably takes care of that sort of thing reasonably well, and can be made more intense as I get better. The strength training is more of a fill-in-the-gaps thing.


The idea behind crossfit isnt to increase strength or endurance, but to increase power output, which is really exactly what you want for grappling. (Well that and freakishly flexible joints)

CrossFit programming is primarily geared towards metcon with a moderate amount of absolute strength work. It's quite good for improving aerobic and anaerobic capacity but not so great for someone weak looking to get strong. I believe Glassman (the founder) has said that if one doesn't have a reasonable strength base that they'd be better off doing Starting Strength before beginning CrossFit.


Yeah, thats true.



Keep in mind no matter what strength training you are doing, for grappling you should not be looking for strength. You want power (in the scientific sense - you want to be able to do the most work per time).
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Re: Strength training for sports

Postby Nath » Tue Jul 21, 2009 7:30 pm UTC

Victoria Maddison wrote:Unless you specifically eat to gain weight it's unlikely that you'll gain anything more than a few kilograms/year by virtue of being new to lifting. Weight gain isn't necessary for strength gain (although it makes it easier) so it's fine if you don't want to gain mass.

Yeah, that's what I figured. I'm probably at a reasonable weight-level for my height and body-type, though I'll consider adding a few pounds if I can't make progress otherwise.

Victoria Maddison wrote:I don't think that will be enough volume for the squats and presses, in my opinion they would work better with 3x5. Deadlifts are fine at 1x5 once a week/fortnight because they're taxing. As to misc. recommendations I would suggest that you bench in addition to pressing because it will lead to a stronger press and help keep it unstuck.

Thanks, these are good suggestions. I'll probably increase the squats and presses and cut the deadlifts to once a week. Don't know if I can fit in the third lifting day, though (five workouts a week is a lot of time :)).

BlackSails wrote:Keep in mind no matter what strength training you are doing, for grappling you should not be looking for strength. You want power (in the scientific sense - you want to be able to do the most work per time).

That's a good point, but I think we mean slightly different things when we talk about grappling. I'm looking for a bit of extra strength to perform certain throws safely on people larger than me. Power is important of course, but I think strength is more of a limiting factor for me in the stand-up game. For groundwork, absolute strength is less of an issue.

I might or might not have a sufficient base level of strength for CrossFit (if the Exrx standards are to be believed, I'm an intermediate), but either way it doesn't seem like the most efficient way to meet my goals.
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Re: Strength training for sports

Postby Victoria Maddison » Wed Jul 22, 2009 12:07 am UTC

BlackSails wrote:Keep in mind no matter what strength training you are doing, for grappling you should not be looking for strength. You want power (in the scientific sense - you want to be able to do the most work per time).

Maximum power is produced at approximately 60% 1RM depending on sex and the particular muscles involved. If you become stronger you will become more powerful. In fact there's little one can do to increase power without becoming stronger.

Nath wrote:Don't know if I can fit in the third lifting day, though (five workouts a week is a lot of time :)).

The workouts should only take about an hour or so but if you have to cut one then it would be the Wednesday session, moving the deadlifts to Friday. It would look like this:

Monday
Squat 3x5
Press/Bench Press 3x5
Chinups 3xTF

Friday
Squat 3x5
Bench Press/Press 3x5
Deadlift 1x5
Pullups 3xTF

Depending on what your schedule is like of course the strength training days can be changed to suit you. Just keep the 72 and 96 hour windows between workouts. It could be Monday-Thursday, Wednesday-Sunday, whatever fits best.

Nath wrote:I might or might not have a sufficient base level of strength for CrossFit (if the Exrx standards are to be believed, I'm an intermediate), but either way it doesn't seem like the most efficient way to meet my goals.

If you're lifting in the intermediate category for your weight then you're strong enough to do CrossFit well, in case you were wondering. Actually, if you're firmly in the intermediate column but still making progress per workout, i.e. still a novice, then your recovery ability is above average. I'd say you may have 2-3 months more of gains with a program like the above before you need something more advanced.
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Re: Strength training for sports

Postby Nath » Thu Jul 23, 2009 12:18 am UTC

OK, thanks to both of you for your input. I'll try the above 2-day-a-week program for a while, and see how it goes.
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Re: Strength training for sports

Postby BlackSails » Thu Jul 23, 2009 3:40 am UTC

By the way, does your club not do that much conditioning? Im usually about to vomit by the time the "warm up" ends. Between the burpees, crunches, curling each other by our gis, etc, its usually pretty exhausting.
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Re: Strength training for sports

Postby Nath » Thu Jul 23, 2009 4:55 am UTC

BlackSails wrote:By the way, does your club not do that much conditioning? Im usually about to vomit by the time the "warm up" ends. Between the burpees, crunches, curling each other by our gis, etc, its usually pretty exhausting.

We do some conditioning to warm up, but it's mostly sport-specific movement (falls, shrimps, throw set-ups etc.). We're expected to take care of strength and conditioning mostly on our own time, since a one-size-fits-all workout isn't ideal for such a diverse group.
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Re: Strength training for sports

Postby Nith Azra » Mon Jul 27, 2009 1:02 pm UTC

Okay; I'm not really sure exactly what you're looking for in your sport; whether you are after explosive strength, or 'endurance' type strength. I do parkour, and have for some years. Parkour is possibly one of the only sports/disciplines in which you do actually use all of your muscles.

I now have a basic type workout which can be done without any weights, and you can modify to your strength level. The idea is that any of the exercises you do should only be able to be done 10-15 reps in a set. If you start doing more; find an exercise which works the same group, but is a little harder. Firstly, you do the exercise to fail (should be around 10), take a 30 second rest, then reapeat. You should do 5 sets this way. Then move onto your next exercise.

It is separated into two parts so you can stagger it over your week, with one rest day.

Upper body:

***The idea is that any of the exercises you do should only be able to be done 10-15 reps in a set. If you start doing more; find an exercise which works the same group, but is a little harder. Firstly, you do the exercise to fail (should be around 10), take a 30 second rest, then reapeat. You should do 5 sets this way. Then move onto your next exercise.***

-Pull-ups (hands away is pull-ups, towards you is chin-ups). You can make them harder by doing wide-arms or behind the head.
-Hand-stand push-ups (against a wall if you can't do 'em). Even easier, but working the same group are 'dive-bomber' push-ups.
-Hanging, twisting sit-ups (Like Rocky).
-Dips.
-leg raises.

Lower Body:
-Hill sprints. Find a steep (and I mean really steep) hill, or a long flight of steps. SPRINT up about 50m of them, or 30 if that's too far. slowly walk down. When you reach them bottom, start sprinting again. Every two sprints take a drink of water. If you vomit; think of it as weakness leaving your body, and keep going!
-Squats (again, sets of 10 reps or fail). If these are too easy, do Pistol-squats, depth jumps (tuck jump, squat, tuck jump.....) or 'Death Jumps' (my own invention) which are pistol-squat depth jums... :D

I also like to go for a long cycle every week. As well as training for parkour....

It might seem like a lot; but it works for me, and I'm a skinny nerd! :P
Hope you find this helpful!
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Re: Strength training for sports

Postby Nath » Mon Jul 27, 2009 10:24 pm UTC

Thanks; I might look into this while traveling. It reminds me a little bit of a conditioning workout I used to do -- at most 10 reps, little or no rest -- though I didn't have a two-day split. Unfortunately, my knees don't much like pistols, so I'll have to figure out some other evil leg exercise to substitute.

Meanwhile, I tried the 3x5 program. Too early to say how well it's working, but it was a rather more satisfying workout than doing a single working set :).
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Re: Strength training for sports

Postby Nath » Sun Aug 23, 2009 6:27 am UTC

(Pardon the double-post.)

An update for the curious: going to three working sets has made a noticeable difference. Deadlifts are going up quite comfortably; I'll hopefully hit 2 x bodyweight next workout. There were some form problems with the squats, but I deloaded, (hopefully) figured it out, and worked my way back up. It's still 33% less than the deadlift, but I don't think that gap will continue to widen.

The press has been stalled for a while, though, even through a deload. I threw in some weighted dips to help, but I don't think the problem is the lock-out, so I don't know if dips will do much good. I might finally have to start bench pressing. It could also be a form issue; I picked up a copy of Starting Strength to see if I can iron it out. Or maybe I just need to eat more.

It's a bit early to say how well this is transferring to the mat; I've been going easy recently due to a sprained ankle, and now I'm going to be traveling for a few weeks. Hopefully I can find a good gym while I'm away; if not, I'll probably focus on conditioning till I get back.
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Re: Strength training for sports

Postby BlackSails » Sun Aug 23, 2009 11:27 pm UTC

Nath wrote:
It's a bit early to say how well this is transferring to the mat; I've been going easy recently due to a sprained ankle, and now I'm going to be traveling for a few weeks. Hopefully I can find a good gym while I'm away; if not, I'll probably focus on conditioning till I get back.


Ive been out for a sunburn. Gi + sunburn = incredible badness.

Good luck finding a gym. (Are you going to NY/NJ? I know some places)
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Re: Strength training for sports

Postby Victoria Maddison » Mon Aug 24, 2009 1:09 am UTC

Nath wrote:I threw in some weighted dips to help, but I don't think the problem is the lock-out, so I don't know if dips will do much good. I might finally have to start bench pressing.

Benching helps the press by allowing the triceps to be overloaded.

Nath wrote:It could also be a form issue; I picked up a copy of Starting Strength to see if I can iron it out.

The biggest mistake novices make is allowing the bar to drift away from their face on the way up creating a longer lever arm. Keep an eye out for that, it's pretty common.

However I think your problems are a combination of not benching, not microloading and reaching the end of your novice gains. Microloading is essential if you want a strong press, even if you can't jump 5 lbs anymore you can probably still jump 1 lb for several more weeks.

Your other option is to switch to a 5x5 on Monday with a 5RM PR on Friday. This will still require microloading in a few weeks though anyway.
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Re: Strength training for sports

Postby Nath » Mon Aug 24, 2009 1:22 am UTC

BlackSails wrote:Ive been out for a sunburn. Gi + sunburn = incredible badness.

Ouch. Underarmour might help if the sunburn isn't on the back of the neck. Or if you can borrow a SAMBO kurtka, they tend to be less scrapey than judo and BJJ gis.

BlackSails wrote:Good luck finding a gym. (Are you going to NY/NJ? I know some places)

Thanks, but I'm not going to the NY area. (Well, technically, I'm transiting there, but I don't think I'm looking to workout while waiting in the airport :)).

Victoria Maddison wrote:The biggest mistake novices make is allowing the bar to drift away from their face on the way up creating a longer lever arm. Keep an eye out for that, it's pretty common.

This might be it, given that failure usually happens when the bar is just a bit higher than the top of my head.

Victoria Maddison wrote:However I think your problems are a combination of not benching, not microloading and reaching the end of your novice gains. Microloading is essential if you want a strong press, even if you can't jump 5 lbs anymore you can probably still jump 1 lb for several more weeks.

I was hoping the dips might hit the triceps hard enough, but I guess I might as well start benching. My gym doesn't have microloading plates, but I could always hang a 2.5 from the middle of the barbell. Or buy some 0.5 and 1lb plates and bring them in. I'll probably try the 5x5 + 5RM plan first, though. I'm guessing it's based on a similar idea to the volume/recovery/intensity plan, but with the recovery bit taken out because it's a 2 day a week workout?
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Re: Strength training for sports

Postby Victoria Maddison » Mon Aug 24, 2009 1:53 am UTC

Nath wrote:My gym doesn't have microloading plates, but I could always hang a 2.5 from the middle of the barbell.

Few commercial gyms do. Unfortunately you can't hang a plate from the middle of the bar either because once the bar clears your head you push your head forwards underneath it which would smack you in the face with the dangling weight.

Nath wrote:I'm guessing it's based on a similar idea to the volume/recovery/intensity plan, but with the recovery bit taken out because it's a 2 day a week workout?

Texas Method, yes.
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Re: Strength training for sports

Postby Nath » Thu Aug 27, 2009 3:14 am UTC

Victoria Maddison wrote:The biggest mistake novices make is allowing the bar to drift away from their face on the way up creating a longer lever arm. Keep an eye out for that, it's pretty common.

Watching out for this (plus a couple of other things from the book) got me close: 5, 4, 4. Ideally, I'd have given it another shot next workout, but unfortunately my next proper workout might be after I get back. Still, thanks, useful tip.

On the bright side, the 2 x bodyweight deadlift went OK, and the squats are feeling better after reading that chapter of SS (though I still haven't mastered the bounce at the bottom). I can see why the book comes so highly recommended; if only my judo books were this well written :).
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Re: Strength training for sports

Postby TheSkyMovesSideways » Thu Aug 27, 2009 4:44 am UTC

Nath wrote:I picked up a copy of Starting Strength

On a similar note, my copy of SS 2nd Ed arrived today! :D :D

*Wonders what the 1st Ed would go for on eBay...*
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Re: Strength training for sports

Postby Victoria Maddison » Thu Aug 27, 2009 10:40 am UTC

Nath wrote:Watching out for this (plus a couple of other things from the book) got me close: 5, 4, 4.

Increasing the rest between sets to 8 minutes may help.
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Re: Strength training for sports

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Fri Aug 28, 2009 1:44 am UTC

Hi, I just finished reading an article on strength and conditioning for judo, in Matside (the British Judo Association's magazine) It had three key points:

1) Many young players seek to develop raw power as an advantage; in doing so they often use oversimplistic approaches to both training and fighting and in doing so fail to develop apropriate technique, this then begins to hold them back as they advance.

2) Core Strength and Flexibility are the most important considerations in developing contidioning programmes which will impact positively on technique.

3) Weight training in its conventional form can be a waste of time to commited judoka; players are strongly advised to seek coaches with a knowlege of both strength and conditioning techniques, and practical judo, who will be able to advise on the most apporpriate exercises, sets and training regimes.

I hope that's of some interest.
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Re: Strength training for sports

Postby Victoria Maddison » Fri Aug 28, 2009 2:23 am UTC

TheKrikkitWars wrote:Many young players seek to develop raw power as an advantage; in doing so they often use oversimplistic approaches to both training and fighting and in doing so fail to develop apropriate technique, this then begins to hold them back as they advance.

This is the opposite of what I've read regarding karate. Raw power is desirable and technique is mastered over the course many years.

TheKrikkitWars wrote:Core Strength and Flexibility are the most important considerations in developing contidioning programmes which will impact positively on technique.

The squat and deadlift are at the very best core strength exercises.

TheKrikkitWars wrote:Weight training in its conventional form can be a waste of time to commited judoka; players are strongly advised to seek coaches with a knowlege of both strength and conditioning techniques, and practical judo, who will be able to advise on the most apporpriate exercises, sets and training regimes.

If "conventional form" means gym rat style training consisting of bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, dumbbell flies etc. then I'd agree, those are poor exercises for most athletes. However the squat, bench press, deadlift, snatch and clean are fundamental strength and power exercises. It would be naive to suggest that they hinder martial arts.

The article sounds silly to me. Commentary on strength training should be left to the strength experts, that is, Olympic weightlifters, powerlifters and gymnasts. It's rare that anyone would ever say "I'd perform better in my sport if I were weaker," because it's not true.
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Re: Strength training for sports

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Fri Aug 28, 2009 3:16 am UTC

Victoria Maddison wrote:
TheKrikkitWars wrote:Many young players seek to develop raw power as an advantage; in doing so they often use oversimplistic approaches to both training and fighting and in doing so fail to develop apropriate technique, this then begins to hold them back as they advance.

This is the opposite of what I've read regarding karate. Raw power is desirable and technique is mastered over the course many years.


Judo != Karate; being entirely an opponent weight transfer discipline, Judo is unlike many martial arts.

Victoria Maddison wrote:The article sounds silly to me. Commentary on strength training should be left to the strength experts, that is, Olympic weightlifters, powerlifters and gymnasts. It's rare that anyone would ever say "I'd perform better in my sport if I were weaker," because it's not true.


Strength & Conditioning experts such as Aurelien Broussal, the man who wrote the article?

The article doesn't say "I'd do better in my sport if I was weaker"; but "I'll do better in my sport if I train specificaly to maximise the specific muscle groups that I'm using for major techniques, aiming to increase power & decrease injury risks, whilst intigrating my strength work with increased amounts of randori (freeform practice, or sparring), and technical coaching"

I really don't see how you can justifiably claim that using a one size fits all regime will be more beneficial than a regime developed specifically to improve performance in athletes in their specific dicipline;

The two men responsible for training the (notably successful) British international judo squad; (Aurelien Broussal and Patrick Roux) have put their name to the article in question, and frankly I'm inclined to believe that they're more likely to have a better bearing on effective training for judoka than weightlifters and gymnasts.
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Re: Strength training for sports

Postby Victoria Maddison » Fri Aug 28, 2009 3:55 am UTC

TheKrikkitWars wrote:I really don't see how you can justifiably claim that using a one size fits all regime will be more beneficial than a regime developed specifically to improve performance in athletes in their specific dicipline

One size does fit all for novices, such as the OP. Complexity and specialization of training is proportional to the level of advancement of the individual. Your post seemed to imply that the OP should switch to a special training program for martial artists but that would be a mistake.
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Re: Strength training for sports

Postby Nath » Fri Aug 28, 2009 5:29 am UTC

TheKrikkitWars: thanks for your input. Are you a judoka as well?

I agree that over-reliance on strength can backfire in judo, but I'm unlikely to get strong enough to be able to muscle techniques rather than doing them right. Most of my practice partners are significantly bigger than me, up to twice my weight. It doesn't matter how much I can deadlift; if my technique isn't right, the throw won't work. Being stronger will increase my options and lower my risk of injury, and will probably help rather than hurt my technique. Even though judo is a good choice for a smaller or weaker opponent to use against a larger one, many techniques need a certain amount of strength to be executed correctly, safely and effectively.

My instructor does some strength training, but he's more focused on conditioning with kettlebells than absolute strength. I might incorporate some of that on my grappling nights, but right now I'm emphasizing strength, for reasons above.

The question of how much and what kind of strength training to do is as widely debated among judoka as it is in other circles. There are the bodyweight only people, the kettlebell people, the heavy barbell people and so on, and all these groups contain some well known, strong, technically proficient judoka. They disagree about many things, but there are two recommendations that seem almost universal:
- Use strength training to complement randori and technical instruction, not replace it.
- Squat.

So while what Broussal says is basically true, I doubt he'd object to the sorts of workouts being discussed here.

EDIT:
I had time for one more workout after all, and got the 3x5 quite comfortably. Probably a combination of catching up on sleep and going easy on the grappling due to the ankle injury.
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Re: Strength training for sports

Postby Nath » Sat Sep 26, 2009 4:45 am UTC

Another update: so I'm finally back in a proper gym. I had a quick workout today to check how much strength I've lost. My press seems about the same, but I've lost a few pounds on the squat. To be expected, I suppose, after several weeks without heavy squats. Ah well, nothing I won't get back in a few workouts.

One good thing that came out of the travel workouts is that I had to learn to power clean so that I could do some front squats (there was no rack). It seems like a good thing to alternate with deadlifts -- quite applicable to my grappling.

Incidentally, my wrists hate front squats.
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