Posts Tagged ‘Charles Staley’

By  Charles Staley

Twenty years ago, strength training was considered taboo for martial artists.

Today, it is gaining in popularity, despite the fact that it is rarely carried out in a rational manner. Due to strong influences from the world of bodybuilding, most martial artists are only getting half the potential benefit that strength training has to offer.

Specificity and Strength Training

Virtually all martial arts depend upon the ability to develop force very rapidly. Technically, the rapid execution of a technique results in more damage to the target. Tactically, rapidly executed techniques have a greater chance of landing, since they are more difficult to defend against than slower movements. From a defensive point of view, rapidly performed blocks and parries, as well as defensive footwork, are made more effective if executed rapidly.

Strength training for sports normally progresses through three phases: hypertrophy (muscle mass), absolute strength (the most force that can be produced irregardless of time required), and finally, speed strength (the ability to develop force rapidly). In the case of the martial arts, most athletes spend most or all of their time developing hypertrophy. A few progress to methods designed to develop absolute strength. Fewer still venture into speed-strength territory.

Critical to this article is the concept that the ability to develop high levels of force (such as displayed during a 400 pound bench press) is not as important as the ability to develop a high level of force within a very short (less than a second) period of time. The development of muscle mass and absolute strength are important because they form the foundation for speed-strength, but by themselves, they are next to worthless.

Hypertrophy Training

Sometimes called “the bodybuilding method,” hypertrophy training involves the use of moderate (between 70 and 85 percent of maximum) loads for sets of between 5 and 10 repetitions. Such loads provoke an increase in protein synthesis within the muscle cells, leading to an enlargement of the existing muscle tissue.

This enlargement is the first step in developing speedstrength, since increases in muscle cross-section are highly correlated to increases in absolute strength. An athlete stays in the hypertrophy phase for as long as is necessary and/or appropriate— while hypertrophy is a necessary first step, too much of it can be counter-productive (i.e., growing out of your weight class, or developing flexibility deficits, etc.). When the desired level of hypertrophy is developed, the athlete moves on to absolute strength training methods. Note: Athletes should increase protein intake while in this phase to help the body resynthesize muscle tissue.

Training for Absolute Strength

Absolute strength is developed through the use of high (85+ percent of maximum) loads. Repetitions range from 1 to 4. Such training improves neurological efficiency, or the ability to recruit higher percentages of existing muscle fibers. Fast twitch muscle is preferentially recruited over slow twitch fibers at this intensity range. The development of absolute strength is considered to be a prerequisite to speed-strength, but this training method should only be attempted by mature, experienced athletes, due to the high loads involved.

Developing Speed-strength: Moving the Time-force Curve to the Left

Once absolute strength is brought to a high level, the next task is to move the force time curve over to the left. Several methods can be used for this purpose: plyometrics, the use of modified Olympic lifts, and the lifting of submaximal (70 to 80 percent of maximum) weights at a high rate of speed. The emphasis is on improving the rate of force development (R.O.F.D.).

During the period of time devoted to speed-strength work, one can expect gains in hypertrophy and absolute strength to degrade to a certain degree. For this reason, a rationally designed training program will constantly alternate between phases devoted to hypertrophy, absolute strength, and speedstrength, in that order.

For mature athletes who already have sufficient muscle mass, the hypertrophy phase will be greatly abbreviated, however. For competitive martial artists, training cycles are planned so that the speedstrength phase coincides with the competitive season. In this way, sport-specific strength is brought to a peak when it is needed most.

Strength as a Means to an End

I caution the reader to remember that strength, as a component of physical preparation, is not an end but a means to an end. It simply allows the martial artist to achieve high results on the technical and tactical levels of preparation, and thus, to a high level of psychological preparedness.

Get Strong! Stay Strong!



By Nick Nilsson (From Charles Staley website/newsletter)

So it’s no secret that I like using equipment that offers multiple exercises. When it comes to THAT, the sandbag is one of the kings of the hill. I’ve been messing around with this thing for awhile now (you’re going to see a lot more sandbag stuff coming your way in the coming months) and it is AWESOME. I HIGHLY recommend grabbing one of these, if you don’t already have one. I have a bag filled with 70 lbs of sand. It can be used for a TON of exercises. To grab yours (a bag and filler bags make a complete set), click here. We carry them in the Staley Training Store and have some great deals on them. Going to have to get me one of the 150 pounders next, I think. Anyways, this exercise puts the “fun” back in “functional”…okay, maybe not…it really depends on how much you like really hard, unglamorous work 🙂 Me, I find this one fun.


Set your sandbag on the ground and kneel down on one knee in front of it. Start with your right leg forward and the bag just in front of you, like in the picture. Beng forward and slide your hands underneath the bag


– make sure you keep your core and lower back tight – your lower back should have an arch in it. You’ll feel a great stretch in your right glute as you lean forward – most of your power is going to be coming from that right glute and from your back.

Now heave the bag up and over your left shoulder.


 Flop the bag down on the ground, grab it again then shoulder it again. After doing 4 or 5 reps on one side, switch legs (left leg forward now)

So many great applications for the sand bag—What a great work out!  And fun, in a sick way!

Get Strong! Stay Strong!



This was an excerpt from Charles Staleys’s “The Unatural Athlete.”  Some good sound advice!

1.  Don’t lift weights alone. Accidents can be avoided when a training partner is there to help. 

Bench pressing is particularly dangerous — many have died after becoming trapped under a 

weight they couldn’t lift back up. If you must bench alone, use dumbbells or a machine press. 

2.  Don’t lift weights unless you know what you’re doing. Seek qualified supervision so that you can 

get the most out of your training efforts, and stay safe in the process. 

3.  Don’t lift heavier than what your program calls for. Doing maximum-effort lifts (for any number 

of reps) can be dangerous, are not necessary, and have little place in most athlete’s training 

programs, except for occasional tests of maximum strength. As a general rule of thumb, leave 

2-4 reps to spare on every set. 

4.  Don’t training with weights right before skill training. Fatigue resulting from the weights will 

hamper your efforts at acquiring/improving skill, so do your skill training on days when no skill 

training is taking place. 

5.  Don’t train your legs with weights before running or jumping rope. Tired leg muscles (from 

squatting and other leg exercises) mean that your hip and knee joints are not as protected, and 

these activities create too much shock and jarring of these joints. 

6.  Don’t neglect to use safety equipment. Locking collars, proper training attire, solidly built 

equipment, and adequate space are all-important for accident-free training. 

7.  Don’t leave weights scattered on the floor or leaning against the walls or equipment. The single 

biggest cause of gym injuries is failure to put weights back on their storage racks. Keep a neat & 

tidy gym to avoid injuries. 

8.  Take a moment to make eye contact with anyone else lifting nearby before heavy lifts that 

require your total concentration (such as squats, power cleans, or deadlights). Doing so will let 

them know to stay at a distance so that you can concentrate on lifting, rather than whether or 

not someone is going to “walk into you” during a heavy set. This sort of thing happens more 

often than you think, especially in commercial gyms. 

9.  Don’t neglect any part of your body. Your training program should address every major muscle 

group so that a solid foundation can be developed. A neglected muscle means that you will have a weakness.  A recipe for injury.

10.  Don’t try to unload a bar one end at a time. Taking weights off the bar on one side only causes the 

other side to become unbalanced and fall (or more often, catapult) from the rack — sometimes 

with great speed and force. Be safe and unload plates from the bar by alternating ends.