Planning My Training Part 1: What I Want From My Plan

topless man in black shorts and white socks running on gray concrete floor

So, now it’s time to get into my new training plan. There’s just one little problem. I…uh…haven’t planned it.

See, I know I need to train, and I sorta kinda know where I’m going with a lot of this, but I’m not remotely read to say “here’s the plan.” Why? Because I’m going to have to go a bit beyond my comfort zone.

You see, one thing everyone has to do is decide what their training is going to be for. A good trainer understands the needs of an 80-year-old woman who simply wants to hold onto whatever muscle she has left and the needs of a 16-year-old high school football player are going to be very different.

While there will likely be some overlap in what you do with each–science is still science, after all–their needs are still going to be very, very different.

So, with that, we got to the first thing I needed to figure out:

My Needs

What are my needs. What am I wanting out of my training?

Well, to start with, it’s got to help support my HEMA training. However, my HEMA training is starting to shape a little differently. See, at first, it was all about the longsword. However, in addition to that noble weapon, I’ve also started to play around with the dagger and even a bit of grappling.

Now, grappling is wrestling. While we intend to play it safe, I still need to do my part as well. That means training not just to be a better grappler, but also training to armor my body against the rigors of what we’re doing.

Further, I need to position myself into a better place for what the longsword has in store down the road.

See, I’ve already tested on all the “zhogo largo” plays, which means the plays by Fiore that are distance plays. Once I integrate them successfully in my fighting, it’ll be time to learn the zhogo stretto plays. These are close plays. Think grappling with a sword.

All of that makes on thing clear. Life is going to get interesting.

HEMA is going from this fairly leisurely activity to something a bit more intense. It’s a combat sport, after all, so I need to train myself like a combat sport athlete. I need to look at the training of MMA fighters and wrestlers.

Because, well, I guess I’m about to be a wrestler of sorts.

What does that entail?

That’s a good question.

For years, I’ve been a fan of Zach Even-Esh. Even-Esh is a strength and conditioning coach in New Jersey who is has been dubbed the Underground Strength Coach. He’s a big proponent of unconventional training and odd-object lifting, among other things.

He’s also known for training athletes, particularly wrestlers. Additionally, he’s a former wrestler himself and he’s apparently had good results with training them. While he doesn’t talk about the skills in his work–he could since he was also a wrestling coach–he does talk about the training he puts his athletes through.

There’s a lot of mental toughness work in there, but he also just makes his wrestlers better.

My first exposure to him was through his book, The Encyclopedia of Underground Strength and Conditioning. (Affiliate link, so if you buy, I get a small percentage but you pay nothing more.)

I love that book. I’ve read it something like five times. It’s part memoir and part training manual. However, it’s not perfect. It lacked much information on programming. There are workouts included, but that’s not really programming.

Yeah, it took me this many times to realize that there wasn’t specific advice about programming. I’m not a dumb guy, but I can clearly be a little slow at times.

However, after finishing the book a couple of days ago, I saw Even-Esh had another book that was available on Kindle Unlimited. Titled “The Underground Strength System: Strength & Conditioning Blueprint for Building Dominant Athletes,” the book has what the Encyclopedia was missing. It has the blueprint, as Even-Esh put it, for building your program.

I haven’t finished the book just yet, and I’m not going to just follow one book because the author said I should, but I’m thoroughly enjoying it. In part, I enjoy it because he talks about training an entire team or just training yourself.

And it goes into his training for wrestlers.

It’s not perfect for me, but why would it be? He’s talking about organized athletics and I’m part of a niche activity where most of the practioners don’t even bother with grappling from what I can see. In fairness, it’s where we’re most likely to get injured, so I get it, but still…

So what am I doing now?

Right now, I know there are some thing I plan on doing when things kick into high gear. However, I needed to make sure I could actually do them.

I’ve also been doing some calisthenics as a starting point.

One thing I’ve seen from Even-Esh is that he likes to make athletes “earn” the iron. They have to work toward being able to do the big lifts. They’re not a starting point, which isn’t a bad thing. After all, you can get a lot of work in with calisthenics at the beginning.

Oh, you probably don’t want to stay there indefinitely, but there are a lot of other ways you can step things up incrementally, which I probably will.

Regardless of where I’m going to end up, calisthenics seem to have a shorter recovery period. I’m a middle-aged man trying to build himself up for a combat sport. I need to maximize recovery as much as I can.

I’m also working on some mobility stuff. Yes, Even-Esh talks about it in the above-linked book, but he’s not the first I’ve heard it from. I also read about stuff like this from Dan John, who I’m also a fan of. This involved doing a bear crawl for the first time in ages yesterday.

I also did some band pull-aparts. These, coupled with the bear crawls, have got my lats screaming at me this morning. The same can be said of my hamstrings and glutes, so…win?

Right now, my goals are to build up enough strength to actually not feel like a weakling doing the workouts coming down the road and to keep from being unable to function due to soreness. I can’t afford to be incapacitated these days, so it’s worthwhile to plan ahead a bit.

But, that’s where I’m at. A bit more research and reading and I should be able to formulate the full plan.

That will still be a few days off, though. For now, this is a starting point.

Author: Tom

Tom is a writer from Southwest Georgia. His "day job" is writing for sites like By Spear and Axe, Townhall, and PJ Media. In addition to writing, he enjoys physical training, martial arts, action movies, and food.

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