Can you please describe how should one proceed with gym training (resistance training and cardio) along with learning a martial art? Preferably MMA? How to handle recovery days /time, stress levels, training session, etc.

action activity adult attack

Q. Another question. You mentioned that you held a brown belt in karate sometime ago and have been training for a long time. I learnt basics of kyokushin karate in my school for 2 years and while doing my graduation, I learnt kung-fu for 3 years. During that time, I was absolutely not exposed to gym training at all.


Few years ago, I joined an MMA club because I have a penchant for learning martial art of some kind. But I found that the rolling movements, grappling etc was taking a toll in my body and I kept injuring myself most of the time.


The head instructor said, again, that it is because of mobility issues/flexibility, or in other words what he meant to say was that because I workout in the gym (resistance training), I had a hard time grasping the details of grappling, tumbling and other agility movements required for doing MMA, although the kicks and punches were just fine and I think that with time those could have been refined.


I felt discouraged and left the club after a few months.


Can you please describe how should one proceed with gym training (resistance training and cardio) along with learning a martial art? Preferably MMA? How to handle recovery days/time, stress levels, training session, etc.


Also, wouldn’t training for a martial art basically cause muscle atrophy? Because most of the martial artists that I see in documentaries are lean with cuts.


Now, if that’s the case then how to progress with (muscle) hypertrophy and training at the same time, iff I train 5-6 days a day at the gym in the evening and if the MMA classes are held 4 days a week(2 days grappling and 2 days kick boxing).


P. S. Especially more curious about this after seeing the physique of Michael Jay White and Scott Adkins from movies like “Blood and Bone” and the Boyka trilogy.



A. It’s funny what you say about martial artists being anti-gym, because I’ve had the same experience. It’s a quirk you’ll have to live with almost anytime you’re near a martial artist.


Without going into much detail, the short answer is, ‘No, it’s probably not the gym which made you stiff & inflexible.’ It could be the way you weight-trained, but there is nothing inherent about lifting heavy weights which affects one’s mobility.


What is more likely to me, is that lack of focus on proper flexibility & mobility training, stress, inflammation & poor diet, age, focus on isolating *muscle groups* instead of training compound movements all played a role in your flexibility issues.


Is that an accurate assessment?


In any case, if you get injured multiple times during MMA class, then it’s the trainer’s responsibility (or fault, if one were more cynical). He’s then not a very good trainer at all.


You train for MMA like fighters generally train. They train almost all days of the week, but they vary or “wave” their training loads.


Your week will be divided into light days & heavy days.


Generally, you don’t want to design your own routine, especially when there are sample MMA training programs which have been designed by expert coaches, have a history of good results & are readily available online.


In general though, these are the different aspects of training for MMA that you’ll have to keep in mind when planning one.


1. Training for muscle mass (not just strength)


2. Strength endurance (so that long grappling sessions don’t leave you as winded). I recommend kettlebell swings, & you almost certainly won’t need anything else for this.


3. Skill training: Strikes, locks, holds, throws etc


4. Doing much steady state cardio isn’t really necessary when you’re already training for strength endurance. Usually you run out of breath when grappling, sparring won’t really wind you that kuch unless you’re really moving around or are really heavy. Speaking of grappling, you also need to be able to breathe “behind the shield”, or be able to take short quick breaths or pants with your core braced, as if about to receive a punch.


5. Don’t do any flexibility training. Because of the nature of MMA training, too much flexibility is quite counterproductive, and quite honestly, a bit dangerous.


You want to keep your entire focus on mobility training, & strengthening your muscles & soft tissue in the end-ranges of your ROM.


6. Recovery: Diet, rest, sleep, stretching & myofascial release (roll a tennis or similar ball under the soles of your feet while standing, and come & tell me how good that feels)


7. Power, explosiveness training. The strength & muscle mass that you have built, now also has to be put to work for dynamic athletic movements, which involve neurological as well as physiological adaptations in your muscles as a result of training for power.


I don’t think you can realistically expect to hit the gym 5-6 days a week, train MMA 4 days, & still make progress in both. You have to decide what’s more important & then prioritise your routine accordingly.


So, to summarise, follow a proven MMA program. Also understand that MMA fighters are paid athletes, & make a living off this. You don’t have to train as hard as they do, because training for optimal *performance* & optimal *health* are two different things.


Michael Jay White is naturally a huge dude anyway, and I can say with some conviction that Scott Adkins might not be completely natural, but you have to understand that’s because of the industry he’s in. He has to be big to play Boyka.


Hope that helps.



I’m morbidly obese, and lead a pretty sedentary lifestyle. I’ve tried going on keto, but have given up after 2-3 weeks everytime. How do I sustain a steady weight loss curve?

Q. Okay, to start off I’m morbidly obese, and lead a pretty sedentary lifestyle. I’ve tried going on keto, but have given up after 2-3 weeks everytime. How do I sustain a steady weight loss curve?

A. There’s a few questions that come to mind when I read your question.


How many times have you tried keto? Have you tried any other diet?
What made you give up after 2-3 weeks?


You didn’t mention your current normal diet, or any other particulars like age, sex, height for me to be able to give very specific advice.


So without knowing more, here’s a few pointers I can give you.


It’s a question that isn’t actually about weight loss, but psychology & motivation.


What mental & emotional pattern did you notice happened after two weeks on a new diet? Boredom? Motivation starting to wane? Burnout or feeling overwhelmed from trying to sustain all the dietary changes?


One thing we know is that keto works, as do many other weight-loss approaches. So it’s not a question of you taking a decision to stop because of lack of results. The decision very likely was an emotional one such as (perceived) lack of progress, lack of motivation etc.


Also, if you have health issues or take any medication, it’ll affect your weight loss process significantly.


When trying to making a change to a healthier lifestyle, most people fail because they try to do too much too quickly, which can quickly lead to abandoning the new habit.


For a habit to stick, you should start off with one or two SMALL changes at a time, such as reducing your intake of a particular food, or adding in something healthier like a salad etc. Once that change has become a habit where you don’t think about it anymore, (such as brushing your teeth or taking a shower), you can add on another small change.


Over a period of a couple of years, this can lead to massive transformations in your health & fitness. And more importantly, the changes are sustainable.


In your case, I’d suggest you try intermittent fasting as it takes up quite lesser cognitive resources to manage effectively over long periods of time.


What does it mean to be in a caloric deficit? And as a skinny fat person should I be in one?


Luis Quintero

Q. I started going to the gym recently. I’m currently in a skinny fat stage. My trainer has started off with weight training.

Now, what does it mean to be in a caloric deficit? And as a skinny fat person should I be in one? Also any suggestions to get out of skinny fat will also be appreciated.

Thanks for your time!

A. As a former skinny fat dude myself, I feel your pain. You don’t need to be in a caloric deficit, because as you progress in your workouts, your body will undergo recomposition as you build muscle & lose fat.

Another approach is to lose the fat first and turn start bulking up.

You can actually do both with intermittent fasting (IF), which would be perfect in your case, as long as doing IF is not causing you to be in a calorie deficit.

As long as you’re getting *stronger* you’re getting closer to your goals.

Yash before after

Me, before & after

Q. So IF can be done at night or during the day, will eating breakfast and dinner only be an issue? Or is night fasting better? Also, why is it an issue if I’m in a caloric deficit?

A. The best part of IF is that it gives you great flexibility to schedule your eating window around your schedule.
It doesn’t really matter whether you fast during the night or the day. The reason most people fast at night is because it is a free 8-10 hours of IF without thinking about it.


If you’re working out, you will want to schedule your eating window in the hours around your workout.


For example, I workout fasted in the mornings, so if I had dinner at 8 pm, by 8 am in the morning when I finish my workout I’m 12 hours into my fasting window. I generally don’t eat anything for 2-3 hours more, so it works for my schedule.


If you don’t train fasted, then your eating window starts right before your workout when you first eat to fuel your training.


It matters greatly if you’re in a calorie deficit. While it’s true you won’t lose muscle mass in a slight calorie deficit, as long as you’re also strength training & getting enough protein, if your primary goal is to gain strength & mass, you want to maintain a healthy calorie surplus.


If you don’t mind waiting for a while for your gains while you lose the extra fat, then it’s alright to do it.


It all ultimately depends on your goals.

I started going to the gym recently. I’m currently in a skinny fat stage. My trainer has started off with weight training. That’s however made my muscles extremely sore. Any ideas on how to deal with it?

I started going to the gym recently. I’m currently in a skinny fat stage. My trainer has started off with weight training. That’s however made my muscles extremely sore.

Any ideas on how to deal with it? Should I work out with sore muscles or should I do some sort of restorative yoga?

Also, recently I saw this clip from the Joe Rogan podcast where a trainer said that he didn’t believe in intensity, because it made muscles sore, and would lead to them taking recovery days.

He believed in training everyday but taking it slowly and steadily to ensure no soreness or rest days occur. What is your view on this? Do you agree with his thought process?

Here’s the video link

1. Some soreness is to be expected, especially if you’re starting out, though you can do things to minimise the discomfort. DOMS (Delayed onset muscle soreness) is not a very good indicator of actual recovery, though soreness that doesn’t go away could mean you’re overtrained.

A good diet, warm showers, cold showers, magnesium supplements, optimised sleep, low stress, turmeric, adaptogens like ashwagandha, low inflammation, a stretching/yoga routine will all help.

2. I agree with everything this guy says in the clip, though you don’t need to go into so much technical detail. This is two fighters/trainers talking to each other.
Everything he says is on-point though.

Thank you!

I gave swimming a try. I couldn’t float on the water while holding a bar. The trainer said that it is because my body is too rigid/or because I train in the gym

I also want to ask that, last year I wanted to learn something different so I gave swimming a try. I couldn’t learn how to float on the water while holding a bar at all.

The trainer said that it is because my body is too rigid/or because I train in the gym. Is it true?

How to make the body more agile/flexible then without losing muscle mass or undergoing muscle atrophy?

I should mention that I couldn’t go for many days in the 8 month learning phase because of various reasons.


If you’re reasonably healthy, you should be able to float almost right off the bat. Do you have issues with back pain or felt a tightness in the back as you tried to float?
It’s fairly simple (maybe not easy though) to get more flexible.


Read Flexibility & Mobility 101 first & check out the Daily Flexibility & Mobility Routine linked at the end of the post.

This is designed to be done simultaneously with your current workout, so you won’t lose any muscle mass.

Yes, I did feel a considerable amount of stiffness/tightness in my lower back as I was trying to float, everytime.

Should the flexibility and mobility routine be done at mornings (if I work out in the evening) and vice – versa? Or, should they be done pre/post workout?

The joint rotations should be done on waking.

I personally don’t recommend *any* stretching or flexibility training right before your workout, only afterwards. It doesn’t matter though if there’s a few hours gap between the sessions.

Morning/evening doesn’t really matter to be honest. The main thing is to do these regularly. The biggest challenge will be finding the time.


I always end up quitting my exercise routine whenever I travel/drink. How is a good way to get back to the routine after a break?

Hi, this is AJ here. I always end up quitting my exercise routine whenever I travel/drink. How is a good way to get back to the routine after a break?

Now we’re getting to the truly good stuff: psychology, habits & goal-setting.

I spent much of the past year backpacking around the country, so I got to experiment with a lot of different approaches to stay fit while travelling.

The best way to get back into a routine is to try to not lose it in the first place, because training momentum is a real thing.

Maintaining the habit of training regularly is the most important part of the equation, even if it is a fraction of your regular training workload.

You have a limited & non-negotiable amount of cognitive resources to work with at any time.

When you travel, these resources are already being used extensively with all the novelty & stimulation of new people, foods, places & experiences, and even if you find a place to train, trying to keep track of your training progress is too much to expect.

What I recommend you do instead while travelling is to follow a simple fitness routine to maintain your baseline strength & stamina, & forget about all else. This will save a fair bit of cognitive horsepower.

Bodyweight training is a godsend while travelling because you don’t need equipment or even much space. I’ve ended up doing pushups & squats in the bathroom before taking a shower.

Maintaining this training habit is the only thing that you should think about. Don’t worry about losing progress, because you will. You will lose some strength & muscle mass and probably put on some fat, but still psychologically be invested in your training.

I lost a shamefully large amount of muscle in the past few highly-stressful months filled with relocating & work projects in a new city. But I made sure to train every single day, even if it was only a few sets of pushups.

When travelling, routines get chucked out of the window. So how you should approach this is instead of ‘anchoring’ your training to a fixed time of the day, anchor it to another daily habit.

Eg. As soon as you get up, freshen up, brush your teeth & go do your workout.

This way, you can have a night of partying with friends in Goa, waking up in the afternoon & yet fit in a training session before going out again in the evening.

If you prefer variety, then instead of a fixed workout, have a fixed time-period (say one hour), where you can do whatever kind of training you want, but it should last the entire hour.

If on any particular day you don’t have an hour to train, then do it for half an hour. If you don’t have even that, do it for 15 minutes.

This isn’t just limited to travel, by the way. The same advice applies to a new job, new city, family emergency or any other thing that disrupts your carefully designed routine.

Is this helpful?

Recommended Fitness Books


Simple & Sinister – Pavel Tsatsouline

Convict Conditioning: How to Bust Free of All Weakness Using the Lost Secrets of Supreme Survival Strength – Paul Wade

Convict Conditioning 2: Advanced Prison Training Tactics for Muscle Gain, Fat Loss, and Bulletproof Joints – Paul Wade

Explosive Calisthenics: Superhuman Power, Maximum Speed and Agility, Plus Combat-Ready Reflexes Using Bodyweight-Only Methods – Paul Wade

Pain Free: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain – Pete Egoscue

The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman – Tim Ferriss

The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram Your Genes for Effortless Weight Loss, Vibrant Health, and Boundless Energy – Mark Sisson



Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness – Scott Jurek

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen – Christopher McDougall



The Way of the Superior Man – David Deida

The 48 Laws of Power – Robert Greene

The Art of War – Sun Tzu


Life Habits / Goal-Setting

The 4-Hour Workweek – Tim Ferriss

Mastery – George Leonard

Meditations – Marcus Aurelius