Everyone very lies about their training...especially martial artists

Everyone lies about training


Everyone lies about training

“I train 4 hours a day, seven days a week, 100% full contact.” – Any martial artist. 

Having trained in division I athletics, and competing on the highest amateur levels I will tell you that extended, intensive training is NOT GOOD for you, impossible and  will eventually break the body down and injure it.

The problem is people who don’t know any better read that quote and think – there’s no way I can do that (don’t worry, they’re not doing it either).

People tend to lie and exaggerate and the farther you are way from them, the bigger the lie. 

First, I’m going to tell you about elite athletes and their training regiment – then I’m going to tell you EXACTLY how I train – no bullshit, no folklore or exaggeration.

The typical Elite Athlete Year

Post season – REST AND RECOVERY (3 to 8 weeks depending on your age or injuries)

Depending on when your next competition or season begins, you need to heal your injuries, and clear your head. There’s actually more of a mental than physical demand and there’s not an athlete on the planet who’s not injured. This is the time to eat what you want and fix what’s broken.

Off season – STRONGER AND FASTER (8 to 12 weeks)

Now you start building strength and speed – but it’s not an everyday thing, more like every other day. Part of getting faster and stronger is REST. Your body needs to repair. You’re not a machine, and even machines break down. It’s important to listen to your body – know the difference between soreness and injury.

Preseason – RAMP IT UP (4 to 6 weeks before competition)

Here you start to increase your intensity and frequency of your work outs. Double sessions – strength or speed training (alternate days), drilling technique, sparring practice and then film.

The two weeks before your first competition is the most intense, then five days before you compete –  slow down to double sessions, light cardio and stretch, then drilling (no sparring or hitting), film and plenty of SLEEP (always need plenty of that).


Now if you’re in a combative sport, like football and wrestling – each week becomes a mini-year cycle. If you’re a fighter, you do this in between fights or tournaments – the cycle remains the same.

Day 1 – competition

Day 2 – recovery, film

Day 3 – drilling, film Lift/speed

Day 4 – Intense sparring/hitting, film

Day 5 – drilling, film Lift/speed

Day 6 – Walk through – light drilling

Depending on your time between competition – those time periods expand.

The reality is that there’s really only a 6 week period where you can really kick the crap out of yourself…more than that and you will start to fail.

And I’m not including any of the “hiccups” like getting sick or injured, etc.

But even at it’s highest level, an athlete can only do this from age 17 to 30 or so. Then REST and RECOVERY become the most important.

Note – the only day you REALLY HIT with 100% power is in the COMPETITION. You NEVER spar or play at 100% – you’re head CAN’T TAKE IT.

You only have so many head shots – this number varies from person to person. So you need to spend them wisely. Once they’re spent – you’re not getting them back.

Anyone who tells you they go “full contact every day” is either full of crap or has no idea what full contact is. It’s impossible and you’re eventually going to break down.

So what do I do…

I’m closing in on 50 years old.

And I’m here to tell you that I’m still pretty strong, hit pretty hard and can still do a lot of the things I did when I was half my age – I might not be able to do them AS LONG or AS OFTEN – but screw it, I don’t have to (nor do I want to!).

I lift weights. 

I love the Strong Lifts 5X5 work out.

I’ve done this work out several times in my life and it is the ONLY thing that has gotten me stronger.

Get the app, it’s like $10.

I lift three days a week. Monday, Wednesday and Friday – it’s an hour and a half of VERY intense lifting.

I do two basic work outs.

Workout A

  • Squat
  • Standing Shoulder Press
  • Deadlift

Workout B

  • Squat
  • Bench press
  • Pendlay Rows

Every work out I add 5 pounds – if I can’t get 5 clean, perfect reps for 5 sets I say at that weight until I can. If I get really stuck I drop 10 pounds and then add 5 the next session.

I will tell you – I used to work out 6 days a week doing a lot of “crossfit type” stuff and I have to tell you –

My knees, my hips and my back HATED ME.

Every injury I got seemed to rear it’s ugly head. But since I started doing this work out, nothing hurts – other than the usual muscle soreness. 

Remember – MUSCLE IS METABOLISM. The more muscle you have, the more calories you can burn.

It’s not more complicated than that. 

On my off days – Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

One day I train in the SDTS (yep, one day is all you need)…and I have to admit, I’m miss days from time to time, no matter – every time I go back to the SDTS, I haven’t missed a beat. That’s the beauty of this skill.

On the other days…

I walk.

Spend time with my family and friends.



Watch movies and do other stuff I really enjoy.

The two key components you REALLY NEED are REST and NUTRITION.

Get sleep and watch what you eat (what else is new).

Fact is, I still hit like a freight train, and still can do what I need to do and I don’t put in that much time.

I’m not going to lie to you, it’s NOT THAT DIFFICULT.

You just need to be consistent over time. 

Some weeks, months, years are going to be busier than others – no big deal, you don’t really need that much.

I gain weight, I lose weight – no big deal. It all comes in cycles. You just need to give yourself a break and come back to it when you can.

I was just told that an SDTS member just logged in again after being gone for 2 years – that’s the whole point of this –  once you get the SDTS you can come back whenever and as often as you wish.

Train Honestly,


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Published by Damian (Instructor)

Founder, The Self Defense Company

Join the Conversation


  1. Damian, welcome on nearly reaching fifty. Your above article shows the wisdom of your approach to training.

  2. Hi Damian
    your approach makes a lot of sense and its very refreshing to see. I myself am almost 59 and an ex British veteran of 24 years service. As such, we often have a mentality that you have got to beast yourself continuously in order to be ready for combat etc and it takes a conscious effort to slow that down to reduce injuries. Your comments have helped to put it in to context, Many thanks

    Mick in the UK

  3. Some people asked about the lifting app – program.

    It’s STRONG LIFTS 5X5 and you can get it in the itunes app store (not sure about google).


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