I perform many exercises to stay functionally healthy for Taekwon-do competitions, and to improve my overall health. When I’m not training on the mats, you can find me at the gym hitting a mixture of weights and high intensity interval cardio. While training for national and world competitions over the past few years, I have made some big changes to my lifts to improve strength, and explosiveness. This has resulted in a much stronger dead lift and bench press.
While listening to a Joe Rogan Podcast from 2016, I heard about a style of lifting that some power lifters use, I believe it’s called the conjugate method, and is heavily practiced at West Side Barbell, and developed by a power lifter named Louie Simmons. He has many lifting credentials to his record, and the records of people that train at his gym. After listening to the podcast, I decided to start incorporating his strength training methods to improve my explosiveness, and overall strength and power. I gravitate towards these power lifting methods because they focus on increasing power, not muscle mass, so I can get stronger without getting too big for my fighting weight.
As a light weight fighter, someone who fights at 138 lbs, but walks around between 145 – 150 lbs, I was very interested in improving my strength without packing on too much mass through traditional body-building style workouts. Since using some of Louie Simmons methods for training, and some additional research, I have increased my bench press from 180 lbs to over 200 lbs, and I can dead-lift 330 lbs. I understand my numbers are not record setting, but for guy of my frame, and the type of activities I do, this is significant. I bench press and dead-lift about once a week, so I do not spend a lot of time on these exercises, but have gotten some good results. I will go through the exercises that I believe have helped me the most.
Kettle bell swings, I love doing kettle bell swings. Kettle bell swings are known to engaged many important muscles in the posterior chain, such as your back, glutes, hamstrings, and smaller stabilizer muscles from your arms down to your calves. I usually do kettle bell swings with heavy weight on my leg and back days. It is great for improving lower back, and overall core strength.
Core work! Do not neglect the core. I do a variety of core exercises, from the previously mentioned kettle-bell swings, all manner of planks, and a few more.
The farmers walk. I have recently been working on a single arm, and double arm farmers walk, and have noticed big results. The farmers walk strengthens your legs, core( must stabilize yourself constantly), and all the muscles in your arms, shoulders and back related to carrying heavy shit by your sides. My grip strength has dramatically increased, and my posture feels and looks better. A benefit from increased grip strength is that it will help with all your lifts that require to you grab and hold weight, such as dead lifts, bench press, rows, skull crushers, tricep extensions, etc… Since incorporating a heavy farmers walk, I have more control over the bar when I am handling it, which allows me to engage other muscles more appropriately. For example, when doing heavy dead lifts, I do not need to devote as much focus and energy on simply holding the damn bar, I can focus on good form, and engaging the correct muscles. The same goes for my bench press and rows, I do not need to use as much energy to simply hold the weight, it has been a game changer for my lifts, and I absolutely feel the difference.
So if your interested in improving your bench press and dead lift, add the farmers walk, and kettle bell swings to your workout. Make sure to do research on the proper form for each exercise.