Quite a while ago, I was a very lean competitive cyclist weighing about 175lbs. After relocating and ending competitive racing, I decided to dedicate most of my time on martial arts (which I've been doing since the age of 7) and finally act on something I always wanted to do myself: weight lifting. Ever since I was a kid and saw Van Damme, Schwarzenegger, Wesley Snipes etc., I wanted to become strong and therefore better at martial arts. However, as you know it is not a good idea for a cyclist to be bulky so I was never able to act on that goal.
The first few years after cycling and doing weight training off and on, I gained a great amount of muscle mass. At this point in time, I weigh about 215lbs with a fat percentage of approx. 14% (up from 8% when cycling). The reason behind the higher fat percentage is less cardio (I was on the bike 18 hours/week) and a less strict diet since I was no longer competing until now.
It was very important for me to retain my full range of motion, flexibility and speed. Mass means nothing if you can't put it to good use after all, especially as a martial artist. This is why I always focussed on explosiveness, speed drills, stretching and giving martial arts training 100%. The right attitude means everything. You can train 6 hours/day but if you only give 50%, results will stay behind. I was also very fortunate to study in a great college (while cycling) and since one of my majors was Physical Education, we had about 12 hours of different sports every week. This absolutely made me a more complete and diverse athlete, challenging me in every way. I feel stronger than ever and haven’t compromised my speed, flexibility etc.
Now that I have reached some of my goals, I am looking forward to continue to improve and test myself. That is why I am doing the Tough Mudder race with the Define Defense Team and in the weeks before, run the Bolder Boulder and participate in the Sunrise Boulder olympic triathlon (I want to finish in less than 2h30minutes). For these goals, it is my intention to lean out and lose all additional weight (I expect to return to 8% body fat while retaining my muscle mass). I have no ambition in competing with others, only with myself (which is always my biggest motivator). My training will shift towards cardio and muscle endurance (which we also do in our strength & conditioning classes) and I will adjust my nutrition to accommodate my goal and new training program. High resistance weight lifting will still remain a part of my routine as well since I want to retain strength and muscle mass. Of course, martial arts will remain the biggest part of my training but doing these other races will simply make me a better martial artist as well.
Next week, we are doing a workshop about the Paleo diet. I will do a 30 day Paleo diet challenge throughout March and expect this to be a great help in my training. It will also be a great experience as I really like the idea behind the Paleo diet. I will be posting blog articles, updates and videos about my upcoming training, progress and Paleo diet experience. Every week, I will show you what I am doing and what differences I notice by changing my routines.
Until then, my training will be stepped up a notch and the focus will be on 5-6 meals a day with unsaturated fats, complex carbs and protein in every meal. Drinking lots of water is vital and fruits, vegetables and lean meats will be my refuge. Stay tuned for more updates!
By Sander Vanacker, owner and head instructor of Define Defense Martial Arts & Personal Training.
Define Defense in Boulder, CO
- Modern Martial Arts
- Brazilian Jiu Jitsu & MMA
- Self Defense Classes & Workshops
- Personal Training
- Cross Training / TRX Classes
1805 11th Street Suite B
Boulder, CO 80302