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tl-bullet.gif Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of our most frequently asked questions. If you have a question and do not see it answered here, please contact us. We'll answer your question and then post it here for others to see.

What foods are best to eat when dropping weight to make a weight class?

It is best to eat low sodium foods, such as lean meats and cruciferous vegetables. Stay away from canned and processed foods. They all have sodium-based preservatives that will make one retain water.

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What is the best way to gain strength without gaining weight?

Train with high loads and low rep ranges (i.e. 4 - 6 reps)

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What kind of running should I do to get in fighting shape? What are the optimal distances for fighters to run?

Fighting, regardless of discipline, is an intermittent sport. Since fighting requires repeated explosive efforts, running should mirror that. Our favorite runs for fighters are 300 yard shuttles.

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Should fighters train with the Olympic lifts?

If a fighter has learned the lifts and has excellent technique we will go ahead and use them, just like any other tool. However, we have found most fighters do not have experience with the Olympic lifts; therefore, we will use easier versions of the lifts, such as dumbbell versions of the high pull, clean and one-arm snatch.

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When is the best time to drink your protein shake?

The best time to drink a protein shake is after a workout. The body is ready to absorb nutrients because of the effects of resistance training.

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Should I weight train with a lifting belt?

NO – the best way to train is the same way you fight; no belts and no wraps.

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Have you ever seen guys that are great at conditioning and drilling technique, but don't perform well in competition?

This is what is called competition anxiety. I have seen a lot of people with this. It requires that you compete more. On a coaching level, it means that in practice you have to set up practices that mimic the competition environment as closely as possible.

For example, have a mock “National Championship”. Make everybody at practice register and weigh in.  Give them match cards, set up referees, tables, etc., and run a tournament in-house. The wrestlers at the Olympic Training Center had a mock Olympics and some of the Olympians lost. They said they were nervous and that it was great practice for the real thing.

Some of the things you can do in practice, you cannot do at tournament time. For example, in practice when you get close to the wall or the out-of-bounds marker, you shut down because you and your partner don’t want to get hurt. Well, in competition, when you get close to out-of-bounds this is where you attack or circle to move to the center.

Can you see how you can train yourself to relax and how this can be counterproductive in terms of competition? Small things like this have to be addressed so that you don’t take these training practices to the mat with you.

So your answer in a nutshell is don’t just do sports-specific training -- do competition-specific training.

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I am a weightlifter & a martial artist. I have a difficult time adding muscle. I am also 43 years old. What can I do?

Okay, there are a couple of things that we have to address.

First, at the age of 43 your body is not producing as much testosterone as it once did.  Getting big is going to be a little more challenging for you than for others (without the use of testosterone supplementation).

Second, it is very very difficult to gain strength while doing a lot of aerobic exercise. It is counterproductive. Olympic style weightlifters and powerlifters don’t perform any cardio because it compromises strength gains. You would need to get on a program that allowed you to back off the intensity of your Tae Kwon Do workouts and get in the weightroom and perform sets of 6 - 12 reps of exercises that really tax you at that particular rep range so that your body can go through some hypertrophy (muscle growth). And then you must eat, eat, eat.

As far as the mental aspect is concerned – check out my DVD The Inner Realm.

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How many times should fighters train a day?

One good conditioning practice and one good sports specific practice with a possible, stretching, massage or film (video) session sprinkled in every once in a while.

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I would like to know, in particular, what kind of program you can develop using the Olympic Lifts to train grapplers.

I do not necessarily use the whole movement of the Clean & Jerk or Snatch per se, but a subset of the movements and/or I use them in a complex format. I utilize a lot of clean pulls, not so much the Clean & Jerk movement. Why? Because there is no need to rack the weight unless you are going to jerk it and I don’t need to jerk it.

I am a judo player, not an Olympic Style weightlifter. My forearms are very tight and that’s the way that I need them to be for my sport, so the rack position hurts me and the time that I would spend learning the rack position is not time well spent. It will not increase my game in any fashion.

Furthermore, I do not perform the front squat, because that movement is to strengthen an Olympic style weightlifter in the rack position as he gets ready to jerk. I don’t have the flexibility in my forearms and wrist to perform the movement. There really is not much difference between the front squat and the back squat and what I don’t get from the back squat I get through other exercises like good mornings, hypers and reverse hypers, supermans, etc.,.

So, I follow my clean pulls with (weighted vest) box jumps or hurdle jumps. In terms of the Snatch, I use a lot of DB Snatches. I usually perform a complex of 3 high pulls, 3 DB Snatches, and 3 overheads Squats. Or some movements like that.

I don’t believe that Olympic lifts improve mat performance. I believe that Olympic lifts and their derivatives improve explosive power and that power channeled properly through refined technique and good conditioning can improve performance on the mat.

A holistic grappling program can be developed by analyzing the weaknesses and strengths of each discipline and “cutting and pasting” the strengths and weaknesses to form a system that has virtually no holes save for the ones of human error.

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