Training Protocols and Volume Acquisition for Martial Arts | Strength Training for Martial Arts Part 2

01 Mar

Written by Crafted Coach Mizar Fuentes-Ortega

During our first blog, we discussed tests of strength requirements specific for martial arts. Now that we know what the structural imbalances are, it is important to understand how to train to fully maximize your time at the gym and on the mats. It is important to recognize that you may be able to do a Bench Press 1.5 x Bodyweight but struggle to do a squat at Bodyweight. What this indicates is that there are significant imbalances from upper to lower body strength and we must spend time in these weak areas, otherwise the difference may become even greater. Trust the process and keep your white belt mentality. We are here to learn and become a better version of ourselves. 

Our previous blog discussed the tests needed to identify your strength levels. We defined key specific points of performance of each level. In this section, we will address training protocol for strength training and volume acquisition for martial arts specifically.

Training Schedule and volume

In part 1 of this blog series, we discussed the different tests and have now a baseline to follow.

Note that your goal and current level in your martial arts practice will define your training schedule.

For example, I hear too often of white belts who train 5-6x per week, yet have trouble performing 1 good push-up or pull-up. These individuals will either be (1) ready to take the challenge because they have the physical attributes to continue fighting and improve or (2) get discouraged because they are overwhelmed by what it takes physically for them to overcome these challenges and quit. 

Below is a breakdown of how a training week could look like for different practitioners: 

White Belts

Monday – Martial Arts Skill class

Tuesday - Functional Bodybuilding

A1. Chin over bar hold (supination grip) 30-60sec hold x 4; 1 min rest

A2. Dumbbell  Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat 10/leg x 4; 30 sec rest bt legs


A3. Reverse Crunch 10-15 x 4; 1 min rest

break as needed; @ 4 sec control down

  1. Sustain

Nose breathing

Bike/run/row/skierg/Assault bike (choose your weapon)

3 min @ sustainable pace - report cals and average pace

1 min walk rest

x 4-6

Wednesday – 60 min walk in the sun (BREATHE)

Thursday – Martial Arts Skill class

Friday – Functional Bodybuilding

Saturday  – 60 min walk in the sun (BREATHE)

Sunday – Meal prep, Rest Day

Blue & Purple Belt

Monday - Martial Arts Skill class – position rolls/combos/technique refinement

Tuesday – Functional Bodybuilding

A1. Top down DB Bench Press 20 alternating reps x 4; 90 sec rest

@ 2 sec hold on top of each repetition

A2. Strict Knees to Elbow 10-15 x 4; 90 sec rest

  1. Front squat 5, 5, 5, 5; 90 sec rest


  1. Sustain

4 rounds for sustainable pace

10 matador dip

15 goblet squat @ 24/32kg

15 tuck sit-up

500m row @ sustainable pace

90 sec rest bt rounds

increase pace each round

Wednesday – Martial Arts Skill class / Light Sparring

Thursday – 60min walk outside in the sun (Learn how to BREATHE)

Friday – Functional Bodybuilding

Saturday - Martial Arts Competition class 

Sunday – Meal prep, Rest Day

*Note that the competition class is there to put you in a position that will simulate the conditions you will be fighting. Often this occurs during the weekend, but depending on your art, you can program accordingly. Take notice of your fuel intake and the timing/quantity because you want to practice this. Not a good time to try the new Mexican restaurant and then get a knee on the belly right after.

Brown & Black Belt

Monday - Martial Arts Specific Drills – things to practice that are specific to your game plan!

Tuesday – Martial Arts black belt class / Light Sparring

Wednesday – Functional Bodybuilding

  1. Kick to handstand hold 

5min practice

  1. Squat clean

Build to a heavy 3 in 15min 

10 sec rest bt lifts

focus on accelerating bar with legs and speed under the bar

C1. Back squat

3, 3, 3; 2min rest

@ 32x1

focus on depth and form as you stand-up from squat

C2. Weighted pull-up

3, 3, 3; 2min rest

@ 31x2

  1. Pain

3 rounds for time - ALL OUT

300m row

21 KBs @ 32kg Male/24kgFemale

10 burpee

21 KBs @ 32kg Male/24kgFemale

300m row

3min walk rest bt rounds

report times for each rounds

Thursday – 60min walk outside in the sun (Learn how to BREATHE)

Friday – Martial Arts Specific Drills – Guard passing, combos punch/kicks

Saturday – AM - Martial Arts Competition class – PM - Functional Bodybuilding

Sunday – Meal prep, Rest Day

What is important to understand is that you need to train according to where you are in your Martial Arts journey. Understand that there is the practice of the art and there is the conditioning aspect.

You should be going to your martial arts school to practice the skills and get some specific training. It's not time to work on your cardio or strength. You should not spend 45min in your dojo doing push-ups and pull-ups. That should be done at the gym in a separate session or on a strength training day.

The mentality in martial arts is often that you must suffer to get better or get promoted to a higher belt. In my opinion, this is the perfect way to fizzle out within the first 2-3 years of practice, full of injuries and burned-out. Instead, we should aim for the long term. Build a strong foundation, both physically and with great technical skills and positions that will allow you to express yourself fully at a higher level. 

Martial arts is a way of living. 

Bushido - "the way of the warrior."

Personalization and Strength and Conditioning

To make sure that you will be a lifelong martial artist, it is important that you match your skill level with your strength and conditioning level. Know that each individual has different goals and a different lifestyle. 

Some martial artists practice the art because it's part of their daily living. These may be mom/dads, doctors, nurses, mechanics, teachers, lawyers… in any case, each person has a specific reason! Everyone has a unique starting point, relationship with food, training experience, nagging injuries, etc.

It is important to surround yourself with coaches that can guide you through this process. During your martial arts class you are instructed on how to properly align your body to throw a punch or a kick, or how to set-up a triangle choke. You also need a coach to teach you how to structure your training routine, how to help you set-up your fueling schedule and quantities, or simply discuss your recovery strategies. 

Don't wait any longer to ask for help to find a balance in your training and daily living. The coaches at Crafted Coaching are here to help you structure your training lifestyle to reach your true potential inside and outside the dojo.

Are you a martial artist who is ready to reach their full potential with the support of a smarter fitness program? Click here to start your journey with Coach Mizar today.

CrossFit® is a registered trademark of CrossFit, Inc. Big Dawgs' uses of the CROSSFIT® mark are not endorsed by nor approved by CrossFit, Inc., and Big Dawgs is in no way affiliated with nor endorsed by CrossFit, Inc.

< Back to Blog

Sign up for exclusive free content