So Many Exercises, So Little Time
One reader wrote me an e-mail with questions:
Q: I have owned your books Science of Sports Training and Stretching Scientifically for many years as well as your DVDs Secrets of Stretching and Clinic on Stretching. Due to my own misunderstanding and bad practices at martial arts schools I have attended, I have never made the progress I wished on my flexibility and conditioning. More recently, I have been training at a good martial arts school in the arts of MMA and BJJ. I am looking for the best way to organize my workouts to get the best results.
My training, apart from that done in class, consists of power training, strength endurance training, flexibility and cardiovascular endurance. I am having trouble with the strength training. Is it best to have power training, strength training and endurance training in separate workouts? I understand the idea of doing high-rep endurance exercise after the higher intensity strength training, and was wondering if this is the best way to go. I am trying to fit the power workouts, as well as the strength workouts into my week, in order to get the best results with the best recovery. Also, I do find that if I do high-rep exercises after my heavy strength workouts in the same workout, it becomes a rather long workout. I am keen to increase my strength and get an increase in my kicking power and performance as well as the long awaited, suspended splits, once I have prepared my body better, this time.
Are you able to point me in the right direction with my workouts, please? I know my understanding of the material is limited and that is what I am trying to rectify.
A: Think about how good your new martial arts school really is, if you have to design your conditioning program and do it on your own, considering that MA conditioning, in itself, is an essential weapon.
Regarding your trouble with the strength training, yes, it is best to have power training, strength training and endurance training in separate workouts, but explosive power exercises may be done in a strength workout. It depends on the specifics of your power exercises and your strength exercises.
Information on sequences of workouts in a week is on pages 69–72 in Science of Sports Training and will help you fit in all your workouts in a week. Regarding the high-rep exercise after your heavy strength workout, to keep your workouts brief, you need to be selective about your exercises and periodize your training. Read about periodization in Science of Sports Training.
Do only those exercises that give you the most benefit in the least workout time. So, for any two exercises with a similar purpose: if doing A improves your performance in B, but doing B does not improve your performance in A, then drop B. Test the effectiveness of your exercises periodically. Drop some off your schedule and do their alternates for say 2–4 weeks, and then measure your performance in those dropped exercises. If it has improved, then perhaps you don't need them. To make sure, you can test again switching those exercises.
Also keep in mind what I wrote in my post titled “Strength Training vs Skill Training or More on Super Slow and Similar Approaches” at www.tomkurz.com: At any stage of training, those exercises that address the greatest deficit are the most effective.
You say you need to work on power, strength, strength endurance, cardiovascular endurance and flexibility. While you may need to work on all those abilities all year round, the amount of time and effort that you dedicate to each should change. That is what periodization is about.
Having read Science of Sports Training, you must know that to work on power or explosive strength, one has to have a sufficient maximal strength (for more info and exact numbers see pages 156–161 in SST). If you don't have that maximal strength, don't do explosive power work. If you do have the sufficient maximal strength, then just maintain it, which takes less workout time than building it. The same goes for other abilities.
By the way, flexibility takes just a few minutes a day to develop and then to maintain—if one uses a rational training method—so the time it adds to a workout is negligible.