Martial arts training gets you in the best shape of your life, but there are many exercises you can add to your training routine to take your martial art skills to the next level. You get the most out of your martial arts training by incorporating sport-specific movements into your workouts.
Simple Exercises That Complement Your Martial Arts Training
Let’s take a look at some simple exercises that will improve your abilities as a martial artist:
Deadlifts are the king of compound exercises since they work almost every muscle in your body. They mainly help to build muscles in your legs and lower back. Deadlifts will increase the power you can generate with your legs and increase your muscle mass.
Many martial arts like Muay Thai and Boxing teach students to generate power by digging their feet into the ground and rotating their hips. Strong legs lead to more powerful strikes and make your movements more explosive. There’s a reason why some of the hardest punchers in history, like Mike Tyson, have sculpted legs.
To perform a deadlift:
- Start standing with a barbell in front of you. Half of each foot should be on both sides of the barbell, and your feet should be approximately shoulder-width apart.
- Reach down to grab the bar while keeping your back straight. Your arms should be just outside the barbell.
- Pick the barbell up by extending your legs to push your body to an upright position. Don’t pull the bar up with your hands. Your hands should only hold on to the bar.
- Bring the bar up until you’re standing straight, then return to the starting position. When done correctly, the bar should roll up your legs as you straighten your body. Aim for three sets of about 8 to 12 reps.
Squats are popular with martial artists for the same reasons deadlifts are. Squats target the muscles in your leg and glutes, making them bigger and stronger. That will lead to your strikes and drives becoming more powerful. To perform a squat:
- Get into starting position with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Walk under a barbell and pick it off the rack with your shoulders. Take a step back or forward, depending on the type of rack you’re using, so you have enough space to perform your reps.
- Move your hips backward as you drop down into a squat as if you were about to sit on a chair behind you. Get down until your thighs are parallel with the ground. Go lower than that if your flexibility allows.
- Explode back to the starting position to compete a rep. Aim for three sets of 8 to 12 reps.
Sprints are an effective way to push your cardiovascular endurance to the next level, and it doesn’t take much time. Sprints also help to build up your fast-twitch muscles, making your movements more explosive.
Long-distance running also benefits martial artists since it helps build endurance, but sprints allow you to get a complete workout in as little as 5 minutes. There’s not much to making sprints part of your training routine. Find a track or safe place to run and go as fast as possible for about 30 seconds. Rest for about the same amount of time and sprint again. You can increase the duration of your sprints as your cardiovascular endurance improves.
Burpees are a bodyweight exercise that targets most muscles in your body. It is a great way to build muscles and improve your cardiovascular endurance. Burpees are really two exercises combined into one: pushups and squats.
Here’s what the exercise looks like:
- Start in a squat position with your back straight, legs hip-width apart, and your back straight
- Lower your hands to the floor in front of you, so they are inside your feet.
- Shift your weight to your hands and kick your legs back, so you’re now in a pushup position. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your toes.
- Perform one pushup, then bring your feet back to their starting position.
- Perform a squat and jump into the air to complete a rep. Aim for three sets of as many reps as you can do.
5) Pushups/Bench Press
Strong chest, triceps, and shoulder muscles will make you more formidable as a martial artist. Many of the techniques used in martial arts generate power from these muscles. Pretty much any pushing motion you do in the dojo involves your chest and triceps.
If you’re new to working out, you probably want to start with pushups since that only involves your body weight. Once you can easily perform more than 30 pushup reps, it’s time to move on to bench pressing. Bench presses are performed with barbells, allowing you to add as many weights as you can handle. To perform a bench press:
- Lay down on a bench with the barbell over your head. Use a spotter to be safe.
- Grab the barbell and push it up to take it off the rack. Your spotter can also help you to lift the barbell off the rack.
- Bend at your elbows to lower the barbell toward your chest. When the bar is about to touch your chest, explode back up to complete a rep. Go for about three sets of eight to twelve reps.
Pull-ups are arguably the most effective way to target the muscles in your back. It also gives your biceps a good workout. The key to getting the most out of pull-ups is not cheating during your reps. You want to bring your chin close to the bar for each rep. Cheating just means your muscles won’t grow as much.
To perform a pull-up:
- Jump up and grab onto a pull-up bar. Your arms should be a little more than shoulder-width apart.
- Pull yourself up towards the bar and drop back down to complete a rep.
- Do not let your legs touch the ground until you’re done with the set. Aim for three sets of as many pull-ups as you can do.
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