Tuesday, July 22, 2014

FIGHT MEETS FLIGHT: Cross training and Martial Arts – The Half Marathon (Pt. 5)

From the Stick Chick: Today's guest post is the fifth in a five part series on cross training and the martial arts that will be appearing on Tuesdays (so mark your calendars). Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, and Part 4 is here. Enjoy!

I hope that the majority of Martial Artists have already found what suits them when it comes to staying fit. I hope that beginning Martial Artists plan to add more into their routine as they progress. Everybody is different and therefore what works for every person will be different. A common link that every Martial Artist has regardless of style is the correlation between hard work and results.

Enjoying your exercise and goal setting is what keeps you getting better. Nothing saps your progress worse than burnout – you need to change it up once in a while to stay fresh. I started running because I hated it. I thought that that was a good enough sign that it needed improvement.

I signed up for the half marathon having never run further than 4 miles and in 16 weeks I just stuck to a training routine and made it. Now I love it. I love the feeling of challenging your body to push its limits.

If you haven’t already found an exercise outside of Martial Arts, I STRONGLY encourage you to do so. No matter what it is, it will have an amazing impact on your Martial Arts performance and keep you safe from over-use injuries. We owe it to ourselves to keep our greatest weapon (our body) in tip top shape.

Grand Master Pat Burleson and I after he taught
 a seminar at our school - what an honor!
Black Belt Test Routine

Here is a general overview of the training routine I used to get in shape for a Black Belt Test. I started this program 6 months out. I didn’t add the running into this mix until 2 months in. There were no “off weeks” during this program – I tried to never miss a session unless absolutely necessary. A month before the test I kicked the running up to every day, including Friday. I started to “taper” the final 2 weeks, backing off intensity to help recover – but never completely stopped.

  • Monday –Run 2-4 miles, 1 hour Tae Kwon Do
  • Tuesday – Run 2 miles, 1 hour cross training, 1 hour Tae Kwon Do, 1 hour Brazillian Jiu Jitsu (at least 20 minutes of Rolling – aka “BJJ sparring”)
  • Wednesday – Run 2-4 miles, 1 hour Tae Kwon Do (sometimes staying late to practice with testing group)
  • Thursday – Run 2 miles, 1 hour cross training, 1 hour Tae Kwon Do
  • Friday – First 3 months – Off day, then 1 hour Paulie Ayala’s Boxing Gym for next 2 months
  • Saturday – 1 hour Tae Kwon Do (sparring only), 45 mins Yoga
  • Sunday – 2 hours Tae Kwon Do Black Belt test training with testing group (forms, cardio, sparring) or Rest.

Find a friend to excercise with - it's more
fun and they motivate you to push harder!
Half Marathon Training Schedule

Here is the Half Marathon training schedule (courtesy of http://www.fitsugar.com/Half-Marathon-Training-Plan-Print-28504250). I want to add that on weeks 12, 13, and 14 Saturdays I ran the full 13.1 instead of the mileage listed. I though going the whole distance would be a good idea.


Hit those weights hard! (Not literally - the Stick Chick)
Strength and Conditioning with Weights

Here is my recommended schedule for losing weight/strengthening quickly. This plan focuses on building individual muscle groups and is the hardest of the plans to integrate with Martial Arts. To sustain this workout plan you will need to be extremely diligent on your diet, stretching/warm-up and even do some “shock therapy” (steam room to pool, hot bath to cold shower type of stuff). Make sure you space the weight training as far as you can in the day from Martial Arts. For me, I did the weights at 6:00 A.M before work and started Tae Kwon Do/aerobics at 6:00P.M. All lifts were low rep high weight, pushing hard to find a weight that could be done at least 4 reps, but no more than 6. Use free weights as cable machines are much less effective and do not build any of your stabilizer muscles. Search “MaxOT” in google to find the specific weight routines – I have outlined it roughly below. I would sometimes practice my material very lightly on non-TKD days. Take an “off-week” every 8 weeks.

  • Monday – Weights (Legs and Core), 1 hour TKD
  • Tuesday  – Weights (Biceps / Forearms), 1 hour aerobics
  • Wednesday  – Weights (Back), 1 hour TKD
  • Thursday  – Weights (Shoulders), 1 hour aerobics
  • Friday  – Weights (Chest and Triceps)
  • Saturday  – 1 hour TKD Sparring
  • Sunday – Off

Your results are a direct reflection of the
effort your put in training.
Martial Arts Based Program

Here is my recommended schedule for a “Martial Arts centric” exercise plan. This plan is great if you are looking to build muscle memory and sharpen your specific techniques while getting a hard workout. This is not to be considered a complete “cross training” plan as it is using your Martial Arts movements. I would add something else in this mix non-Martial Arts related. The hardest part of this plan is accountability; most of these exercises require discipline to not get lazy. Find a motivated partner who will help you push yourself. This plan leaves plenty of room for your Martial Arts schedule and your own cross-training routine. Be sure to dedicate one day a week to recovery.

  • Monday/Wednesday/Friday – 1 hour intense mit and bag work rotation. Finish 6-8 rounds, then move to sprint sessions. If you don’t have room for sprints, do another high intensity anaerobic exercise for 30 second intervals. Once gassed, do core exercises like ab planks. I find this part to be very rewarding. While you are physical exhausted, having the discipline to hold yourself in a plank is wonderful for strengthening the mind. It also gives you time to reflect on your workout. Before - Stretch and warmup for 10 mins. After - Cooldown and stretch for 10 minutes.
  • Tuesday/Thursday – 1 hour Cardio of any kind
  • Saturday – None
  • Sunday – None

I hope these different plans give you some ideas to help with your current program. I have had a ton of fun exploring cross-training with distance running and if you have the time, I highly recommend trying it for yourself. Whatever it is you decide to do, don’t underestimate the benefits of doing something other than your primary martial art. You will be surprised by how much your skills improve.

But remember! We all have one thing in common and that is we love Martial Arts. NONE of the activities mentioned will ever be a substitute for quality mat time.

Since each exercise plan I have listed is very generalized, please feel free to email me at troyseeling@aol.com for more detailed info on any of the exercise plans. Thank you for reading!



 “To build true confidence, through knowledge in the mind, honesty in the heart and strength in the body. To keep friendships with one another and to build and strong and happy community. Never fight to achieve selfish ends, but to develop, might for right!” – Student Creed, Jhoon Rhee



Troy Seeling is a 1st degree black belt and instructor in Tae Kwon Do, with 5 years experience in Boxing and a two-year white belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Troy also instructs a strength and fitness class, and helps to manage his families' dojo, North Texas Karate Academy  In his spare time, he enjoys trying different forms of physical fitness, including Olympic weight lifting and distance running. He also enjoys film photography with antique cameras.  You can contact Troy at troyseeling@aol.com.