In KMG we talk about 4 “legs” that we need to improve all the time, Technical, Tactical, Mental and Physical. If one of them is lacking the whole platform on top of them will fall to one side. I will talk about adding to Krav Maga and physical training.
Physical qualities are without a doubt an extremely important part of your Krav Maga. Lets think about it, if you can perform a deep squat with a heavy weight without compensations and help, your body has a bigger engine that will be more efficient in generating force, which means that you can punch harder, kick harder, and move faster. In short, you will be a better practitioner of Krav Maga. Are you training Krav Maga two times a week, three times a week, five times a week? Do you have time to add another activity to your schedule? Do you really need to, and if so what should you focus on and how much of it should you do?
First of all, Krav Maga is your main activity. That means that all your other activities, all your other training should help you become better at Krav Maga. If you break yourself in the gym, your Krav Maga will suffer because of sore muscles, lack of energy and so on. In addition, I guess we can agree on that that is counter productive for your main goal: To improve your Krav Maga skills.
Make sure that you focus on quality of movement and that you don’t overtax your CNS (Central Nervous System) by going all out in the gym every session. You do not need to get tired to get stronger.
Activity that suits you
Make sure to choose the right activity for you; ask yourself (and your trainer) what you need. Do you need strength, mobility, speed, flexibility, endurance…? There are many different qualities to choose from; we are all different with varying “left overs” from earlier training or injuries. Find what you need now, at this moment and go with that.
Choose a few exercises to focus on, exercises that are “high pay-off” exercises. Exercises that help you improve what you need to improve. Focus on exercises that connect your body as much as possible – because in Krav Maga you need coordination and a body that works efficiently as one unit. Focus on exercises that follow natural movement patterns as squat, bend, lunge, pull, push and carry.
Your body is a highly integrated organism and when you improve one quality you will most of the time improve in other qualities too. What I mean with this is that if you focus on strict push-ups (where you can hold a tight plank with abs, glutes and legs in tension) for a few weeks and then you change to pull-ups. There is a big chance that your pull-ups has improved too, without working them at all, and vice versa. This is because you trained on getting stronger and improving your full body tension which will “spill over” to other exercises.
Staying too long at the same exercise routine can be counter productive. Use the same regimen of exercises for 4-6 weeks and then change to some other exercises. Planning your training this way will allow your body and brain to adapt to the exercises that you are currently doing but not stagnate, you will change to a new routine before that happens.
This will help you work on different qualities and it will also help you to improve your GPP (General Physical Preparedness) which is what you as a Krav Maga practitioner need, a general wide base of physical preparedness so that you will be able to fight for a few minutes if you need to (sometimes after sprinting).
Another thing that determines your physical routine is what you have at hand, do you own Kettlebells, do you go to a gym that has barbells and kettlebells, do you have time to go to the gym, do you need to go to the gym? If you don’t have the possibility to go to the gym, you will do fine with bodyweight training and kettlebells.
Make sure that you treat your bodyweight training with the same detail that you use in technical Krav Maga training. You start at the weight you are comfortable at and progress when you are ready for it, make sure that you do not cheat the exercises, treat them like practicing a technique in Krav Maga and make sure that you are at the correct level. You will get stronger over time and trying to rush it might bring you injuries.
Here is a an example of a push up progression, from not being able to do one push up to being able to do One arm-One leg push up with the feet elevated. You will feel a difference after a few weeks. Progress to the next level when you can do 10 strict repetitions (two hand versions), 5 strict repetitions (one hand versions) on the level you are at. The plank is a different thing, progress when you feel strong enough to attempt the push up without loosing tension in the plank.
Push up progression:
- Push up plank position (elevated if needed)
- Push up – hands elevated
- Push up
- Push up – feet elevated
- One arm push up – hand elevated
- One arm push up
- One arm push up – feet elevated
- One arm, one leg push up – hand elevated
- One arm, one leg push up
- One arm, one leg push up – feet elevated
This is just an example on how you can treat a bodyweight exercise the same way that you treat the barbell while doing bench press, dead lifts or squats, you start at a weight that you can lift with good form and add weight as you get stronger.
The kettlebells are in my (and others) opinion the ultimate tool for bringing you strength, work capacity, conditioning and over all GPP at the same time. As long as you learn the techniques correct the kettlebell will bring you to a new level of fitness in a short period of time. You will get stronger at the same time as you are increasing your conditioning, and you can get it all in a 15-20 minute training session.
Within Strongfirst we talk about the 6 major lifts
They are all good lifts and will bring different qualities to your physical development.
The starting point for kettlebell training
Start with Sumo Dead Lifts, the Swing (two hand and one hand variations), the Get-up and the squat. If you add these lifts to your “arsenal” and practice them you will be able to elevate your GPP in a fast and safe way.
These fundamentals will help you regain some movement patterns. Your legs, your back, your shoulders, your abs and your core (among other things) will get stronger and more stable over all it will give you a much better base to fight from. At the same time as your conditioning will improve which will make you “a better machine”.
The last modality for strength is barbell training.
The barbell training is a world with a huge amount of different lifts but I recommend that you stay with the basics lift where you have a big payoff and a low risk. They are lifts that incorporates big muscles groups, they connect your body when done right and they will make you stronger.
- Dead lift
- Back Squat
- Front Squat
- Bench Press
- Standing military press
Over all mobility and flexibility is very much needed in Krav Maga, the better you move and the better you control your movement the better your Krav Maga will be.
Primal Move has a very good approach to over all body control, mobility and ways to regain lost movement patterns, patterns that we loose when conforming to modern life with a lot of sitting and not enough moving around like we are supposed to do. Of course there are other options to mobility too. Just make sure that you find a system that will bring a complete solution so that it is just stretching without any stability work, preferably it is a system where you can pick up a good routine that you can use as a joint mobility/stability warm up before your training sessions. Again, find out what you need and try to work on that “knot” until you have loosened it and can move on.
Sometimes mobility is what you need; sometimes stability is what you need.
As I wrote a bit earlier in this article, it is up to you (together with your instructor) to find what you need at the moment and start there. If you are big and strong and feel like you might need to focus on mobility for a while, then that is definitely where you should put your efforts to take your Krav Maga to the next level. If you are very mobile and flexible then your best bet will be to try to add more strength and stability to improve your Krav Maga.
Remember that finding a good balance between the different qualities is the best you can do for your body.
Whatever exercises or modality you choose to work on/with, make sure that you seek out a good coach that has the correct knowledge and education to teach you how to do it correct (in the same way as you choose your Krav Maga instructor). If you are lucky your KMG Instructor is already certified with Strongfirst (Bodyweight, Kettlebells, Barbells), Primal Move (Bodyweight, Movement) or FMS (Functional Movement System) and can help you with a good assessment of your physical status and your needs.
Tommy Blom, currently Expert 5, is the highest ranking practitioner/instructor outside of Israel.
He started training Krav Maga more than 20 years ago (in 1994) and he took his instructor course in 1996.
Tommy works with StrongFirst, Primal Move and FMS (Functional Movement Systems), as well as being a former MMA fighter.
You can read more about Tommy on his website: www.tommyblom.com