Assuming an average woman... a.k.a

NOT already strong or very much in-shape for their chosen sport... And following the following training plan:

First, get strong with a simple beginner barbell strength program.

The foundation of the routine would be the big compound lifts: squats, deadlifts, presses (bench and overhead), pull-ups, rows, dips, snatches, power cleans, clean and jerks.

To that list of fundamentals, add farmer's walks as a buttress for the squats and deadlifts in developing a strong posture against heavy loads.

Use Barbells for getting strong, with dumbbells a close second. Kettlebells work well for combining strength with conditioning, but they don't provide the really heavy stimulus that makes squats and deadlifts maximally productive.

After strength

Once she's strong enough, she focuses on power and sport-specific strength. She has already incorporated power work in the form of power cleans quite early in training. Now she prioritizes more power exercises because she has a strength baseline.

Her program for a moderate medium-term set of strength goals would roughly look like a double bodyweight deadlift, squatting bodyweight ten times with ease, a dozen strict pull-ups, a bodyweight power clean, and so on.

Sword-fighting-specific work, may involve rotational work, farmer's walks, more sprints, snatches and jerks for power development, barbell complexes or 20-rep squats for strength-endurance, unilateral work like lunges and pistols, gymnastic feats... she would benefit from being capable across a range of strength movements, so once she is strong, she may cycle through variations of basic movements in order to become familiar with a wide range of athletic movements. For example, cycling between back squats, front squats, loaded pistol squats, and Bulgarian split squats.

For both speed, conditioning, and power, she would do sprints and interval running. For power--which also benefits speed--she does the power variants of the Olympic lifts: power cleans, power snatches, jerks.

As it may be hard to challenge her conditioning during skill work, she may incorporate conditioning in addition to sparring, or perhaps she may get plenty of conditioning just from rolling.

If that was the case, perhaps because of a surfeit of technique work instead of sparring, then she may perform something from this cornucopia of conditioning options that is too numerous to fully list.

For example: cycle through a moderate variety of power-biased conditioning workouts (such as kettlebelling, tire flips, sandbag complexes, Prowler pushes, and sled drags) and occasionally return to benchmark workouts (e.g., "how many 24kg kettlebell clean-and-jerks can I do in ten minutes?") to gauge progress.

The Question:

How long would it take ON AVERAGE to get to the point so that she can:

Fight while wearing really heavy armour. The helm itself can weigh up to 2kg, the mail can weigh up to 12kg. Add the gambeson and plates and you end up with around 20-30kg.

And have the anaerobic capacity to do 1 minute of really intensive swordfighting with a single handed sword weigh around 1.2kg.

Plus have superb control over her blade at all times.

With the strength to knock another armored knight to the ground.

Assuming that she is devoted to being that good.



Making a training plan for medieval swordsmen / reenactment

Does this even belong here? Or perhaps on one of the other fitness-oriented sites, 'cause this site doesn't seem to be about HOW long it takes, but more WHAT it takes...

  • The reason we tend to stick to what it takes instead of how long is because, AFAIK, there's simply no way to know. And, from a different perspective, it doesn't matter. You say you really want to do X and we tell you the best/fastest way to get into shape to do X. If you're really determined to do X, does it matter how long it will take, as long as you know you're on the most efficient path? (Most efficient/best/fastest are a little bit of an overstatement, but you get the idea.)
    – Tyler
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 15:51
  • @Tyler - I was gonna go to Worldbuilding for this, 'cause it's theoretical... but all the guys here know fitness and WB, doesn't so.. yeah... If you guys don't think it belongs here, where's it go then?
    – Malady
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 15:54
  • Oh, is this for a pen-and-paper RPG, or for LARPing with swords? Like, are you going to do this in physical reality? Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 22:34
  • @DaveLiepmann - Planning how my character has trained before her start in the story... so I can get her age and stuff... I don't want Impossible Ages, but I'm, doing a Child Soldier-type girl... and avoided that 'cause I think that's even harder than this question is right now... I'm planning on taking the answer of this question and multiplying by 1.5 or something...
    – Malady
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 22:48
  • In that case she's in her late teens and started training as an adolescent. And this would do better in an RPG-centered stack exchange subsite. Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 22:51

2 Answers 2


I boxed for four years and came out of one of the best gyms in the midwest. It was no frills and no excuses type of place in one of the worst areas of the US. But they were popping out guys for the Olympic team like candy. We also had a trainer that is recognized internationally. I will let his methods answer your question since you are more or less asking how long does it take to fight.

2-4 weeks. Doing something that you are doing is just as much psychological as it is physical. You must work out both of these at the same time. There is no use of you getting into your armor and fighting only after you are in peak condition.

For new people we always had a saying - "Get his ass in the ring." We would never talk about how strong, how weak, how good someone looked training, how in shape someone was, how hard someone hit, until we saw them in the ring a few times.

Your sport is no different from this. Let me give you an example. My second week there I was in PRIME condition. The trainer looked at me and asked if I was ready to fight. He had me and a veteran (out of shape former Golden Glove champ) spar. Three times four minutes. Four minutes might as well have been four hours. He beat the crap out of me the first round. The second I got a few blows in. Halfway through the second we both were wobbly and ready to pass out. During the third we stood within 6 inches of each other and pushed each others' gloves every 30 seconds. We couldn't move.

So my point is you will want to get in your garb as soon as possible and start "real" training. The weights and other stuff is extra. That's not the real thing. Even if you can barely move at first, who cares. Get into the garb and try to go through a (intense) simulated workout. This should be a much bigger piece than weights and running.

Also you said that you want to have great sword control. Running sprints won't help that. You will want to spar 2-3 times a week while doing sword work on the side every day.

My normal routine while boxing included: weights 4 times a week (45 minutes), 2 times long cardio, 4 super intense training sessions times 1 hour (bag work, jump rope, footwork, handwork), 2-3 sparring matches at 4 minute rounds (amateur rounds were 2 mins back then).

Wearing the armor and sword work would be everyday after the first few weeks or at least 2-3 days a week. How fast you get to this optimal level is much dependent on the amount of time you put in, the effort level, the coaching you get (practicing bad habits 2 hours a day gets you no where), and your natural ability. You could be in shape and pretty good in 3-6 months. But FOR SURE this will include just as much work getting you up to par on the sport, not just in shape.

Note: You are not entering a cross-fit competition. Getting in shape is great. However how you perform is directly correlated to your current ability to do the role playing things right now and how fast you can pick them up. This may have some correlation to how well you are in shape but I would tend to think that is 10-20% of the whole equation. I fought plenty of fat guys who couldn't squat jack that could kick some ass for four rounds.


As the person who wrote that answer, I'd say that no one has any idea how long it will take. It depends on your specific level of fitness at those tasks now, which you haven't told us. In general, I'd say that most fit women should plan for a few months of training to reach the goals you stipulate. However:

  1. It's impossible to be more accurate than that without evaluating your performance on your goal tasks and some benchmark strength exercises
  2. The program covers long-term tasks like power development and sport-specific strength and conditioning. The program description is extremely general and should be a productive approach for at least several years of diligent progress alongside sport or technique training. For instance, the strength portion should last at least three to six months. Your goal may or may not be reached by that point, but this "program" describes how to organize one's training for several years past that point.
  • 1
    "Assuming an average woman... a.k.a NOT already strong or very much in-shape for their chosen sport... And following the following training plan:" ... If that's not good enough, what else is needed? What measurements do you want, in what format, for performance evaluation? I'll summon up some projections, if you tell me how...
    – Malady
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 21:40
  • Ideally I'd want to evaluate you in person for how well you can do basic movements like squatting (front or back), deadlifting, pulling (e.g. barbell or dumbbell rows, or pull-ups), and pressing (e.g. push-ups, Hindu push-ups, or overhead press) (e.g. can you do each movement, can you do it loaded, how much can you lift and how many times). I'd also want to see how you perform with the armor on today. And how you handle the sword today. And how much physical output you can muster in 1 minute today, for instance sprinting or doing a benchmark CrossFit-style bodyweight circuit. Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 22:15

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