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Building Real “Functional” Strength in a Hurry

What do you do when you’ve a limited window of opportunity in which to make strength and conditioning gains before an event?

I know this sounds like poor planning and preparation but this is exactly what happened to a Bjj fighter recently.

He’s been training pretty hard at his Bjj for the upcoming event and also using taking advice from the Guy who runs the “functional fitness” out of the place he trains.

This coach had the fighter swinging light kettles badly but seems to centre everything else around the TRX straps. I’ve nothing against the TRX but I really don’t believe it can be used as a primary training tool. Especially if the goal is to increase speed and explosive power for a fight.

So the fighter was brought to me where we had a discussion about his wants and needs and put a plan together.

Turns out we only had three weeks until the fight date, that means two full weeks before a taper into the event. Far too late to use any of my normal methods. I usually insist on an 8-12 week commitment.

So in two weeks what can we do?

Simple, train as often as possible, daily if possible. Instead of targeting the muscles, we’re going straight to the control centre, the central nervous system. Each day we use the same lifts for the same sets and reps, the weight however will change according to how the body feels.

The lifts are:

1A : Deadlift x 5 x 2 2A : Clean & Press x 5 x 2 2B : Pull Up x lots x 2


Deadlift - as functional as it gets

Simple. Each time you train warm up and go to your minimum training weight. If this feels good, keep working up heavier, if you feel sluggish from the Bjj practice, stay at the minimum. This is a style of auto-regulation where you go by feel rather than following set parameters. If your training daily, especially if your preparing for an athletic performance where the specific skills training is your priority, this style of training allows for progress but will allow you to monitor your fatigue.

In two weeks with high frequency work on the big lifts, you should notice significant improvement in your strength and athleticism. Just be sure you always hit the daily minimum and whenever possible go over it.


Dave Hedges

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