Baki Training: Train Like Baki Hanma

By on November 12, 2020

You guys have been asking me to make a Baki training video for some time now, but I’ve been a little reluctant…

Baki is like Batman on steroids: he’s ostensibly a normal “human” and yet he can perform absolutely insane feats. Keisuke Itagaki attempts to provide logical explanations for many of Baki’s abilities: drawing on scientific explanations and genuine martial arts techniques.

Note: The full workout can be found at the bottom of this post!

The Problem With a Baki Workout

Baki muscular physique

But here’s the thing: those explanations take some serious poetic license. Are endorphins a thing? Sure: but they won’t make you an invincible fighter! Surely adrenaline and the fight or flight response would have made more sense to go with here? Baki likewise can perform pull ups too fast for anyone to see, eventually snapping the pull up bar off and flying up into the air. When he sprints, he leaves craters behind him. His vertical jump is 20 foot.

See also: Pink Muscle: Is Akisame’s Training in Kenichi Humanly Possible?

And that’s the other problem: there’s just too much to delve into here. Where would we even start with a Baki training program? Carrying your entire gym gear up a mountain? Throwing yourself off a cliff? Wrestling apes? Fighting imaginary praying mantises?

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I didn’t feel like a workout could really do justice to Baki’s training. Even if we tried to focus on his aesthetics, that would mean developing back musculature to the point of it looking like a demon face. Nothing in this manga is subtle!

See also: New Batman Program 2020

But then I decided to take a step back and look at the themes here. Obviously we can’t develop a 20 foot vert, and I’m not going to recommend training to the point of hallucination. But we can apply some of the commonly occurring principles to our own workouts and take on the spirit of Baki training.

And this actually gives me an opportunity to talk about some awesome stuff. And to demonstrate some of the things I’ve spoken about recently but in a practical setting. Yes, it’s finally time for a Baki training video!

The Pillars of Baki Training

Baki Martial Arts Training

So, what are those themes and principles?

  • Baki is a “grappler,” or effectively an MMA fighter. He needs to train like a fighter, and especially in ways that relate to grappling.
  • Baki pushes himself ridiculously far to break through human limitations.
  • Baki workouts are badass. I think any Baki workout that tells you to perform regular curls and squats is going to fall a little flat!

The good news is that many of these things go hand-in-hand!

Forget Beast mode, it’s time to go Baki mode!

Rotational Strength and Fighting Apes

A concept I have mentioned in passing many times on this channel, is the importance of rotational strength: but I’ve never gone into it in a lot of detail.

Rotational strength is your ability to exert force on the transverse plane: to twist your body against resistance. This is critical for fighters seeing as rotational strength is what you use when throwing a punch or a kick, AND it’s what you use when trying to twist an opponent to the floor.

See also: Training the Serape Effect for Maximum Power Generation

Baki demonstrates his incredible power as a fighter early on in the first saga when he wrestles the Yasha-Crag Ape.

Yasha Crag Ape vs Baki

This is of course a little beyond the realms of believability (just a tad), but there is one real-world comparison we can draw: wrestlers that used to fight bears. The bears wore muzzles and had their nails clipped. It’s also extremely cruel and definitely not cool. But this still demonstrates just how much force a much smaller human is capable of generating. An ape would rip your arms off though!

Bear wrestling

Locked in a hold with a bear or an ape, your only hope would be to pull and twist them to the ground. And as I’ve discussed in the past, if all you’re doing is squats and deadlifts, you won’t have developed that amount of torque.

Why Fighters Need Rotational Strength

There are those that proclaim all you need is the big three lifts but this simply doesn’t make sense: twisting the body requires strength in the obliques, the serratus, and more. You can’t create muscle damage or metabolic stress or mechanical tension in muscles that aren’t directly involved in a movement – no matter how much you want that to be true. If strength applied globally like this, then you would only need one exercise! Sorry Mark.

Training rotational strength

This also ties into my recent discussions regarding the importance of training standing up. The bench press is performed lying down. Therefore, you aren’t bracing the spine and the core when you push and you aren’t coordinating that strength with feedback from your muscle spindles. As Olympic Wrestling Coach Dustin Myers explains:

“When you are on your back pressing up… it’s too late. You’re pinned! I think it’s important to de-emphasize everyone’s favorite exercise – the bench press – and incorporate some different types of presses that also require a lot of core and back stability.”

Dustin Myers

In other words, if you have amazingly powerful pecs but never use them in an upright stance, you’re more likely to push yourself over. And again, simply performing regular exercises that everyone else uses… that ain’t Baki training!

Pulling Strength for Grapplers

Rope climbing Baki Training

The same goes for pulling strength, which is even more important for a grappler. This is where band and cable training comes in, alongside sandbags, kettlebells, medicine balls, and clubbells. These challenge you in every plane, force you to fight against momentum and shifting centers of gravity, and challenge your strength endurance.

They also offer us the “repetition without repetition” that I discussed in the last video (a quote from legendary movement physiologist Nikolai Bernstein). Man, it’s almost like I plan these things out…

See also: Coordination for Strength and Power

In other words, it’s no good only ever performing the same movement with perfect technique on a nice flat surface because that’s not how you use your strength in the real world. This is also the benefit of training outside, training barefoot, and more.

Training Outdoors

There is a reason that MMA fighters gravitate toward functional training methods and not simple powerlifting programs.

See also: Bruce Lee Cobra Lats: How to Build Big, Powerful, Functional Lats

A Place for Traditional Weightlifting

I should note here that the Baki workout shown in the manga does include bench press. But his bench at age 16 is rated as “over 320lbs” at age 17 when the manga starts (at which point he’s already a champion). This is impressive, sure, but it’s not impossible. It’s is about his only “feat” that isn’t completely bonkers.

Bench Press

But the inclusion of the bench press is also good: because the bench press allows us to pack on weight and it allows us to somewhat isolate the pecs, triceps, and shoulders. This in turn means we can trigger more adaptation. The key is to practice this AND upright, dynamic movements in combination. Otherwise, you’re going to be really powerful at pushing yourself away from the opponent as you’ll lack the core stability necessary.

Baki carries all that weight AND his bench equipment up the mountain.

A Baki training program should place moves like the bench press and deadlift at the start of the workout (after warming up) and then follow these up with more complex movements that use a slightly lighter weight and incorporate endurance. Alternatively, we can place these on a separate day. Which may make more sense as most of us won’t want to carry our power racks into the woods.

Baki Workout - Loaded Carries

What’s significantly MORE impressive than the bench itself, is that Baki carries all that weight AND his bench equipment up the mountain. That’s about a thousand times more difficult and impossible. Clearly: Baki favors functional strength. The kind of strength and endurance that comes from a farmers’ walk, up-hill.

Training Baki’s Iron Will

And this is where we see the other two aspects of Baki training come into play: pushing ourselves ridiculously far and training in a way that’s truly badass.

The strength endurance and work capacity are also critical here. A fighter needs to be able to continue exerting dynamic strength for a long period of time. Again, functional tools are perfect for this.

Baki vs Yujiro

Recently, user Curtis Cameron shared a video with the Patreon-exclusive Bioneers Facebook Group that detailed the history of 19th Century Indian Club Swinging Contests. You can watch the video over at Physical Culture Historians – it’s truly a fantastic and fascinating video. In it, we hear about club swinging strongmen like Thomas Bax, that were able to swing Indian clubs continuously for days on end. Without sleep! If that’s not Baki-levels of insane, I don’t know what is.

And this also demonstrates the crucial aspect of the iron will: of mental hardiness and pushing yourself past that point where you want to stop. Ex Navy SEAL and ultramarathon runner David Goggins talks about 40% rule: how at the point where your body tells you you can’t train any further, you probably only used up about 40% of your max capacity.

And this does trigger endorphins – certainly when performing endurance tasks – as this is what gives us the “runners’ high.”

The Return of Endorphins

I’m going to go into this in detail later, but suffice to say that we get feedback from our body regarding fatigue and exhaustion at least partially from the free nerve endings in the fascia: interoceptors. However, this raw data then needs to be interpreted by contextual cues and cues from the environment in order to result in an action or behavior. In short: if you can convince yourself that those fatigue signals are a good thing then you can overcome the desire to stop and power through.

See also: Mental Toughness: Think Like a Navy SEAL / Spartan Warrior

But it’s crucial to understand the difference between your body making excuses for you and actual pain that signals an incoming injury. As much as Baki is cool, we do need to be smart about our training here.

Heavy Carries

But exercises like heavy carries and the car push are perfect demonstrations of moves that build endurance into their very DNA. This is something that JC Santana talks about: “recalibrating the human will” of his fighters. He explains in one talk how the car push is the perfect tool for this. Particularly as, when the car reaches the bottom of a decline, it’s important to keep pushing your hardest so as to maintain momentum for the next climb. Those athletes that give in to the temptation to ease up at this point are the ones who ultimately will fail.

See also: The Truth About Muscle Fascia

The car push is also an ideal functional alternative to the squat that trains the legs the way they would be used when running or grappling while also including a vertical push element. If you’re driving to the woods to train with your kettlebells and sandbags, then you have your car on a dirt track somewhere ready to push!

Badass Baki Training

Now we’re out in the woods, swinging heavy clubs, heaving heavy rocks, carrying logs, and more. Maybe we’re pushing cars too. We’re training like real-life anime characters! And it’s no surprise that David Goggins also has a propensity for carrying logs around.

This is the closest thing to Baki Training I could conjure up, but it’s not new.

Insane Baki Training

If you want a cool example of someone else who trains like this, then check out ex-spec ops Pat McNamara who trains like an absolute beast. And if you want to learn more about mace, kettlebell, and club training then definitely go check out Mark Wildman’s channel/website which is just the best resource for that kind of stuff.

And while we can’t go wrestling bears or apes, maybe we could try wrestling trees. Trees are the perfect isometric training tool, and again we’re drawing on great examples of historical strongmen here: like the Wrestler Gama who also trained with clubs and maces AND spent time trying to heave trees out of the ground. Gama reportedly won over 5,000 fights with no losses.

Wrestler Gama

Gama also reportedly performed 1,000 Gama casts (which were presumably just called casts at that point!) with an 80lb club every single day.

Progressive Overload

What’s important during all this though, is to ensure that our Baki training is still built on a foundation of progressive overload. The problem with swinging things and lifting logs is that it can be tough to track progress. Again, that’s where it’s still useful to include exercises like the bench press, and also more dynamic movements that are easier to track and improve upon: like the cable woodchop, or calisthenics skills performed for high repetitions.

The Baki Workout

So, with all that said, what does our Baki workout look like? Here’s a four-day program that is built around functional training concepts, pushing yourself to the limits of your work capacity, and looking like a badass in the process.

Ideally, perform the three non-powerlifting days in the woods somewhere and bring a kettlebell and some bands with you. Failing that though, you can find most of what you need in most gyms these days. And there are plenty of ways to modify these concepts to use standard equipment. A barbell with weights on just one end is great alternative to a mace, and a dumbbell with one weight can work as a kettlebell.

Baki Intense Training Legs

Rest 1.5 minutes between exercises. Choose weights that bring you right up to failure at the end of the recommended number of sets (unless specifically stated otherwise).

See also: Flow States Deconstructed: Mastering Ultra Instinct Part One

Push Day

  • Warm Up
  • Hand Stand Push Ups (Or Progressions) (2 x Technical Failure)
  • Overhead Log Press (3 x Technical Failure)Band/Cable Rotational Press/Punch Out (3 x 10)
  • Isometric Tree Push (3 x 10 seconds max effort – imagine you’re trying to push the tree down)
  • Kettlebell Clean and Press (2 x 10)
  • Med Ball Slam (1 x 20)
  • Rotational Med Ball Slam (1 x 20)
  • Optional: Battle Ropes HIIT (1 Minute Full Pelt, 30 Second Slow x 5)
  • 200 Push Ups (Rest as much as you need to, drop to your knees if/when you need to, but finish the total in as little time as possible)
  • Heavy Bag / Shadow Boxing (20 Minutes)
  • Cool Down

Pull Day

  • Warm Up
  • One Arm Chin Up (Or Progressions) (2 x Failure)
  • Tree Branch Pull Ups (3 x Failure)
  • Gama Cast / Kettlebell Halos / Alternating 360 (25 Each way)
  • Bent Kettlebell Rows (3 x 10)
  • Band/Cable Rows (3 x 10)
  • Cable Wood Chopper (2 x 10) OR Actual Wood Chopping!
  • Isometric Tree Pull (3 x 10 Seconds)
  • Optional: Bouldering / Tree or Rock Climbing (20 Minutes)
  • Farmers’ Walk With Kettlebells (1-2 miles increase weight or time as this becomes easier)
  • Cool Down

Leg Day

  • Warm Up
  • Sandbag / Log Clean and Squat (2 x 10)
  • Kettlebell Cossack Squat (2 x 10 either side)
  • Sandbag / Log Overhead Lunge Walk (10 steps ether side)
  • Rotational sandbag back lunge (2 x 10)
  • 100 Kettlebell Swings (Again, aim is to complete this with as few breaks as possible START LIGHT)
  • Hill Sprint HIT (30 second sprint, 1 minute recovery x 10) OR Car Push HIIT (30 second sprint, 1 minute recovery x 10)
  • Skipping 10 minutes
  • 200 Hindu Squats
  • Heavy Bag / Shadow Boxing (20 Minutes)
  • Cool Down

Strength Day

  • Warm Up
  • Squat Warm Up Set (Bar x 10)
  • Heavy Squat (80-85%1RM 3 x Failure)
  • Bench Warm Up Set (Bar x 10)
  • Heavy Bench Press (80-85%1RM 3 x Failure)
  • Deadlift Warm Up Set (Bar x 10)
  • Heavy Deadlift (80-85%1RM 3 x Failure)
  • Cool Down

And there you go! That’s your Baki training routine. Just make sure to listen to your body and start out easy. Adapt to suit your current level and your available equipment. Remember: you are not an anime character!

Yet…

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About Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki, AKA The Bioneer, is a writer, personal trainer, author, entrepreneur, and web developer. I've been writing about health, psychology, and fitness for the past 10+ years and have a fascination with the limits of human performance. When I'm not running my online businesses or training, I love sandwiches, computer games, comics, and hanging out with my family.

One Comment

  1. Hello, you do an awesome Job. I like your articles very much. I just wanted to say thank you and I have linked your article about Baki Training in my own blog (https://vegathlet.de/trainieren-wie-ein-anime-held/). Really appreciate your work!

    Kind regards,
    Marcel

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