Martial Base Fitness Experiment

The Goal: Functional Strength With Less Wear and Tear

This is a great goal for everyone, but it’s especially important as we age and recovery times lengthen.  The older I get the hard it becomes to maintain my ability to perform certain martial/wrestling strength movements without staying sore and crippled half the time.  So I’m experimenting with what I’m calling “MBF” which stands for “Martial Base Fitness.”

Which Got Me Thinking

I watched a few of Pavel’s Strongfirst videos (this is not an endorsement and I haven’t read his books) and they reminded me that I have had success in the past with something very similar to his “greasing the groove” philosophy.  I always called it “greasing the gears.” So I came up with this new program.

The Idea

The idea (as I intro’d in Training Involution #124is that frequent low-rep, low-intensity sets will get you stronger and keep you healthier than infrequent, high-intensity sets. Or as my son once told me, “Just because you’re not doing white-out calisthenics doesn’t mean you aren’t training.”

Example:

  • 3×5 sets 2 days/week at 95% load = 3 x 5 x 2 x .95 = 28.5 reps
  • 3×5 sets  5 days/week at 76% load =  3 x 5 x 5 x .75 = 57 reps
  • Double the reps means you get functionally stronger with less risk

Program Outline

Four or five days a week I’m rolling 4 dice to arrive at a list of 4 exercises (see photo right).  Then I set a timer for 8 minutes and do low-intensity sets of no more than 6 reps each until the timer beeps.

Here’s a breakdown of what’s on the dice:

Dice 1 – Upper Body Dice 2 – Lower Body Dice 3 – Core Dice 4 – Whole Body
Push-ups Ankle Picks Shrimps Splays
Pull-ups Shots Jackknifes Reverses
Handstand Push-ups Jump Squats Crunch’n’punches Bear Walks²
Divebombers Squats Back Bridge¹ Bodybuilders
Sit-out Push-ups Duckunders Forward Bridge¹ Get-ups
Hop/Clap Push-ups Mountain Climbers Pikes w/ Triangles Sit-outs

Today I did 4 sets of Ankle Picks, Forward Bridge¹, Sit-outs, and Push-ups (only 3 sets of Push-ups because the timer beeped). 

I will post results in a couple of months

If you are doing anything similar and/or if you have relevant past experience, please comment below.


¹ When I do Bridges, I do them one of two ways: either with weight or with rocking — gently! — forward and back 6 times, left and right 6 times.  I never rock with added weight when doing MBFD because they would violate the low-intensity focus of this routine.

² When I do Bear Walks, I do 6 laps of the CF Temple space, approximately 18 feet per lap, about 100′ total.

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