Training for a competition as an adult is wonderful. Whether it’s a strongman competition, a bodybuilding show, a powerlifting meet, or a Spartan Race, all of it has merit because you now have a goal, where your fitness training means something, where there is an end point to display the fruits of your hard work.
Training for all of that is great, no question about it. But what about training for LIFE? What about fitness training for any situation that you may face? What about overall “readiness” in everyday life? Can you protect yourself and your loved ones? Can you sprint at the drop of a hat? Are you in shape enough to survive a fight that lasts for more than thirty seconds? That stuff is important, it may make the difference between keeping your life or losing it and it may mean the difference between keeping your loved ones safe or in harm’s way. I’m talking about situations where it’s just you, without a weapon.
So how do you train for life, to be ready in every situation?
First off, you must train with free weights. You must be strong and explosive. You also must train your fighting skills, so martial arts are a must, and finally, you must train to be fast and to be able to sprint for an extended period of time.
I’ve drawn up a sample week on how your program may look, with explanations and notes on setting the week up correctly.
First off, if you have never done any of this or you are coming off of a big layoff from all types of fitness training, start slowly. Cut everything in half if need be. And if you have been totally sedentary, get a physical first, then start slowly.
Weights: Where you see % signs, use the percentage of your one rep max. If you don’t have a max, estimate on the light side and use the percentages off of that number. If you don’t have weightlifting chains for the bench press, add 5-10% to the number that I have written with chains. On all sets without % signs, work up in weight each set until the last set is very hard, a max set of the number indicated.
As far as the martial arts go, I like Muay Thai Kickboxing, because it teaches your whole body to be used as a weapon. There is nothing wrong with Jiu- Jitsu, but if you do it, make sure to include striking skills also. If you have never done Muay Thai, take lessons. Look for an instructor that has fought before, preferably at a high level and also can teach you how to handle situations on the street. Also find a place that has sparring. The sparring is essential, because everything changes when you are getting hit and actually hitting someone. Gauging distance, answering punches and kicks and being able to spot openings only happens when you are sparring. Plus, you will learn how to get hit and you will realize that it isn’t so bad, it may actually get you more fired up once you realize that it's no big deal. The Muay Thai should be done at least three days a week, two with an instructor and 2-3 days on your own.
Also-find a football field to train your sprints. Some gyms have a prowler and push/pull sleds and a place to push them indoors. If not, use the football field for that fitness training also. Hill sprints (and stadium steps) can be done for time, for instance, performing as many reps as you can in 10 minutes (as listed in the program).
Also-perform everything as hard as you can, that means that the sprints are 100%, the Muay Thai is 100%, everything is focused, and you are supremely determined to push yourself.
Here is a sample week of fitness training:
Day 1 Monday - Fitness Training
Box jumps 3 sets x 5 reps
Squats - use % of one rep max here - 50% x 5, 60% x 5, 70% x 5, 75% x 5 sets of 5 reps and rest enough to keep bar speed fast.
Bent over rows 4 x 6
Chin ups 3 sets, one rep short of losing form
One arm rows 4 x 5
Glute ham raises 3 x 8
Dumbbell hammer curls 3 x 12
Prowler pushes 4 sets x 20 yards, light and fast, rest period is walking 20 yards up and back. Go immediately after the rest period.
Day 2 Tuesday - Fitness Training
Cleans 50% x 5, 60% x 2, 70% x 2, 80% x 1, 85% x 4 sets of 1 rep
Push press with barbell 6 x 2 Last set should be a max set of 2
Bench press with chains 50% x 5, 60% x 5, 70% x 5 (Move bar fast!)
Power shrugs with barbell (be explosive here) 4 sets x 5 reps
Lateral raises 3 x 12
Weighted pushups 3 sets, one rep short of losing your form
Triceps extensions 3 x 12
Thai Pad training- 4, 3-minute rounds with a 1-minute rest. If no one is available to hold pads, hit the Thai bag instead. Move and kick and punch and knee.
Day 3 Thursday - Fitness Training
Overhead squats 4 sets x 5 reps
Snatch 50% x 3, 60% x 3, 70% x 2, 75% x 6 sets of 3 reps
Front squats 60% x 5 and 70% x 4 sets of 5 reps
Deadlifts 60% x 5, 70% x 5, 75% x 6 sets of 3 reps. Move bar fast on the deadlift. Take as much rest as needed to keep bar speed high.
T-bar rows or Bent over rows- 4 x 6
Chin-ups, 3 sets, one rep short of losing form
Dumbbell curls 3 x 12
Hill or stadium sprints- 10 minutes of as many as you can finish.
Shadow boxing - 3 x 3 minute rounds with a 1-minute rest
Day 4 Friday - Fitness Training
Consecutive vertical jumps 3 sets of 10 reps with a 30 second rest in between sets
Cleans 50% x 5, 60% x 4, 70% x 2, 75% x 1, 80% x 6 sets of 1 rep
Standing press 5 x 2, last set should be a max double
Bench press with weightlifting chains 50% x 5, 60% x 4, 70% x 3 and 80% x 7 sets of 2 reps
Dumbbell incline bench press 4 x 6
Weight plate raises for front delts 3 x 8
Dumbbell shrugs 3 x 6
Dips 3 sets as many as possible with a 1 minute rest between sets.
Sled runs - light weight here, light enough that your running form doesn’t change. 6 rounds x 40 yards with a walk back rest.
Saturday Gassers - start at the goal line and sprint 20 yards. Sprint back to goal line and then back 20 yards again. That is one rep. Do 3-8 reps depending of your fitness level. Walk slowly to the 20-yard mark and back for your rest period.
Sunday - this should be a shadow boxing day, 3-5 rounds just working up a good sweat. And walk or ride an exercise bike for 30 minutes.
There you have it, a sample week of Ready for Anything fitness training! If you follow this to the letter, you will make yourself into and all around badass, ready for life and whatever it may throw at you!
About The Author
Jim Steel has been immersed in athletics and the Iron Game for most of his life. He has been a college football player and coach, powerlifter, Muay Thai fighter and is currently a competitive bodybuilder. In 1999, Steel was named Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania, and moved up to Head Strength and Conditioning Coordinator in 2004. He is the owner of the blog basbarbell.com, and is a motivational speaker, frequent podcast guest and the author of two books, Basbarbell Book of Programs and Steel Reflections. Steel is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with the National Strength and Conditioning Association.