A few years ago, while I was working at a gym a professional bodybuilder by the name of Luke Wood came in and did a full body workout, and boy did he lift some huge numbers. Luke was massive, strong and one of Australia’s best ever bodybuilders. Unfortunately in 2011 he died on the operating table during a kidney transplant.
While he was in town for a few days Luke held a seminar and I was lucky enough to be invited along. At the seminar he talked about a number of things including what his usual training schedule looked like, what it was like competing at the Arnold Classic as well as how he diets and prepares for international bodybuilding tournaments. One of the best pieces of advice I got out of his seminar was that you should never neglect Deadlifts, squats and overhead presses. He stated that if you want to get big and strong you need to always have a variation of these lifts in each of your strength programs. He went on to say that the main reason why many young bodybuilders turn to steroids is because they are not getting the results they want from their current training routine. He believed that if these trainers implemented these three lifts into their weekly schedule they would see results. He continued by saying that many choose to avoid these lifts because they are too hard, too brutal and take way to much mental motivation to do them week in and week out.
How does this fit in with Judo?
Although I am nowhere near a bodybuilder I have to agree with Luke on the idea that if you want to get strong then you need to do these three core lifts (or a variation of them). This is because each lift has many benefits including grip strength, core strength, lower body power, injury prevention, balance, co-ordination and the list goes on.
All of this is valuable for you as an Judoka. The DIFFERENCE between doing these lifts as a bodybuilder and an Judoka is all in the strength and conditioning program not in the lift. Try not to think of these as ‘bodybuilding techniques’ but more as ‘strength building techniques.’
Squats and squatting variations:
Traditional squats and squatting variations are on of the best ways to develop lower body strength, stability and power. Some studies suggest that regular heavy squatting creates an anabolic environment within your body, which stimulates overall muscle growth. Although this is still not fully proven what is known is that heavy squatting generates a lot of strength and stability in your quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals and core. This is perfect for Judo fighters looking at throwing off one leg Uchimata and Haai goshi), generating overall lower body power as well as developing legs that can withstand a lot of trauma. Continual squatting also develops a lot of ankle, knee and hip stability which is great for injury prevention and balance whilst fighting.
If you are getting sick of doing heavy back squats you try doing:
• Front squats
• Overhead squats
• Box squats
• Goblet squats
• Jump squats
• Zercher squats
• Single leg squats
• Bodyweight squats (but not great for overall strength)
Deadlifts and deadlifting variations:
At the gym many bodybuilders referred to deadlifts and the “The King of Mass Builders.” Although this is relatively comical it stands to be a true statement. If you want to get a strong back and being able to generate massive amounts of pulling power then deadlifts is your go to technique. One reason why the deadlift is a true show of strength is because you cannot cheat when completing the deadlifting movement. In bench press you can bounce the bar dangerously off your chest, in the squat you can complete the movement without any real depth but with the deadlift if you cannot lift it off the ground, you simply cannot lift it.
The deadlift assists in developing your grip strength, back strength, core strength, stability and overall back strength.
Many trainers say that if you want to get a strong back you should perform seated rows, rope climbs or wide grip chin-ups. This in part is true, but can you chin-up 200kg? Can you seated row 200kg? But can you deadlift 200kg? You see by performing 200kg deadlifts you are putting 200kg with of force through your back, and you cannot do that with any other lift.
IF you get sick of doing deadlifts you can perform some deadlifting variations such as:
• ½ and ¾ deadlifts
• suitcase deadlifts
• dumbbell deadlifts
• one handed deadlifts
Overhead press and Overhead pressing variations:
The standing overhead press was one of the original feats of strength. The reason why the standing overhead press is so beneficial is because in order to press the bar above your head you must use a lot of core strength and stability, shoulder strength, tricep strength and overall balance and control. If any of these areas are lacking you will most likely not be able to lift much real weight.
If you are looking at incorporating some overhead presses into your weekly training regime you can do any number of pressing variations including:
• push press
• push jerk
• seesaw press
• Bradford press
• Behind the head press (not recommended)
• Arnold press
• dumbbell over head press
• seated dumbbell or barbell overhead press
• javelin presses
Like I said previously these three lifts are not designed to get you physically prepared for your next fight. What these movements do is generate a lot of overall strength and it is your programming which will ensure you are fighting to the best of your ability.