6 Ways To Boost Your Cardio For Martial Arts

There’s no question how important cardio is for martial arts. It increases the efficacy and capacity of your heart and lungs, which allows you to perform more consistently for longer periods of time.

Martial arts training usually involves intensive aerobic (with oxygen, using stored fats for energy) and anaerobic (without oxygen, using muscle glycogen as fuel) exercises. Which is why every martial artist should incorporate cardio workouts that go beyond the usual jogging or running routines.

If you’re a martial artist and you’re looking to power up your cardiovascular performance, then you’re in luck. Because today, Evolve Daily gives you 6 Ways To Boost Your Cardio For Martial Arts:


1) Hill Running

Boxer Manny Pacquiao, of the Philippines, runs along the trail at Griffith Park, Friday, April 10, 2015, in Los Angeles. Pacquiao is scheduled to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a welterweight title fight in Las Vegas on May 2. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Boxer Manny Pacquiao, of the Philippines, runs along the trail uphill at Griffith Park.

Running uphill adds the much-needed anaerobic element to the usual aerobic exercises like jogging or running. It generates powerful contractions in your leg muscles as they work against the force of gravity, building both your strength and stamina.

Have you ever seen eight-division boxing world champion Manny Pacquiao gassing out in a fight? Probably not. This is because running uphill is a frequent part of Pacquiao’s famous roadwork routine. So if you’re looking to have endless cardio like one of the greatest boxers alive today, then you’ve got to start hill running!


2) Sprint Interval Training

Sprint interval training is a popular workout among martial artists as it simulates the intense bursts of activity in training and competition. Sprinting helps you burn fat, increase muscle strength, and expand lung capacity; all of which are important in building your overall endurance.

You can start off with 10-second sprints every few minutes and slowly build it up to 30-second sprints. For optimal results, make sure you’re working yourself at maximum effort with minimal recovery time between each sprint. Famous martial artists and fighters like Roger Gracie, BJ Penn, and Georges St. Pierre have all been known to use sprints for strength and conditioning.


3) Anaerobic Swimming


The movements involved with swimming causes your heart to pump harder to send more oxygen and blood to your muscle tissues. This increased pumping strengthens your heart, improving your cardiovascular conditioning.

For martial arts, anaerobic swimming workouts like sprint swimming or high-intensity swimming for set distances is preferred. Anaerobic swimming mimics the pace experienced in training or competition and will push your lactic threshold. This expands your lung capacity and strengthens your body to perform better during high-intensity workouts as well.


4) Jumping Rope

Legendary boxing world champion and Olympic gold medalist Sugar Ray Leonard jumping rope during his training camp in vegas in1981.

Legendary boxing world champion and Olympic gold medalist Sugar Ray Leonard jumping rope during his training camp in vegas in 1981.

Simple yet effective, jumping rope for just a few minutes can do wonders to your overall cardiovascular performance. Other than strengthening your heart and lungs, it also works your arms, legs and core. Jumping rope is a popular workout for striking-based martial arts as it also increases hand-eye coordination, agility, speed, timing, and rhythm.

For optimal results, jump rope at a faster pace and add in different jump patterns like side steps, crosses, high knees, and doubles. This will work every muscle in your body to a greater degree and push your lungs to the limit.


5) High-Altitude Training Mask

Former UFC Interim Welterweight World Champion Carlos Condit training with the elevation training mask.

Former UFC Interim Welterweight World Champion Carlos Conditon training with the elevation training mask.

Whether it’s running, cycling, swimming or martial arts, high-altitude training is being used by top athletes from different sports all around the world more than ever before.

The science behind high-altitude training is simple; because your body works harder at high altitudes where the air is thinner, your ability to process oxygen increases. And when you return to lower elevations, you will be able to perform with increased strength, endurance, and speed.

Wearing an elevation training mask or high-altitude training mask during training will make your workouts seem like it’s being held at high altitudes. And because wearing the mask forces your lungs to work harder, your stamina and ability to go harder in training will increase. Just strap on the training mask during your regular martial arts training sessions or any of the workouts listed here to get even greater results.


6) Circuit Training


Circuit training is one of the best ways to improve stamina, mobility and strength. In fact, studies have shown that it is the most time efficient way to enhance cardiovascular fitness and muscle endurance.

Circuit training usually comprises of 6-7 high-intensity upper-body, core, lower-body, and full body aerobic exercises. Each exercise is done for a specified number of repetitions or for a set time before moving on to the next. You can separate the exercises with a short rest period or completely omit rest periods to boost your muscular endurance and cardio.

Remember to always push yourself hard during your cardio conditioning workouts. This will help you develop mental toughness and give you the strength to push through the later minutes of training or competition as well. So start adding these things to your martial arts training and you’re well on your way to becoming a better athlete and martial artist!


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