In the world of martial arts, there are various views on lifting weights to help improve performance. Some martial artists like to spend time lifting weights whereas others prefer to condition themselves through actual martial arts training.
Nowadays there is a lot of scientific data available and evidence that shows that everyone can benefit from pushing metal around in the gym a few times a week if done correctly.
Even people who aren’t physically active can benefit from lifting weights given how effective it has been proven to be at minimizing bone loss as you get older.
Martial arts practitioners can also benefit greatly from lifting weights. It will:
- Make you faster
- Make you stronger
- Improve your cardiovascular endurance
- Make you more explosive
Weightlifting will also help you perform techniques better since you can isolate and develop the muscles you use to perform these moves.
Focusing on the right workout routines
To get the most results from your weightlifting sessions, it is important that you target the muscles that you use when performing techniques in your preferred combat art style. For example, there’s no point in you following a bodybuilding routine if your plan is to improve your performance during Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Sure, packing on 60 pounds of muscle will look pretty impressive, but it’s not going to translate into much on the mat. Any strength gains you make will quickly vanish a few minutes into a rolling session since all that extra muscle likely came with a cost of reduced cardio, agility, and range of motion.
Baseball, football, and basketball players all have their respective workout styles that are customized for their specific needs. The same goes for martial arts. Fortunately for you, with the explosion of MMA in the past two decades, we now have lots of data on how the best martial artists in the world get their bodies in optimal condition.
Here are a few weightlifting tips for martial arts:
1) Always warm up
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Warming up for a weightlifting session is as important as warming up for a martial arts class. It makes it easier for you to get into your workout.
10-15 minutes on a stationary bike or a treadmill is a good way to get warmed up. Try not to overdo it since you don’t want to be tired before the real workout starts.
When you’re lifting weights, make sure you perform a warm-up set for each exercise. Use a weight you can comfortably get 20 reps with.
2) Always target the core
There are lots of movement-specific exercises that target smaller muscles used while performing martial art techniques, but your core muscles remain the most important. That means you want at least one exercise that targets your chest, back, and leg muscles every week.
3) Stick with free weights
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Guess what all the top athletes in the world have in common? That’s right, they all workout almost exclusively with free weights. Machines have their purpose as well, but they also do some of the work for you, especially when it comes to stabilizing the weight.
With free weights, there’s no cheating. It’s all you.
4) Drink lots of water
Make sure you are well-hydrated during and after your workouts, especially if you decide to use creatine as a supplement.
5) Follow a clean diet
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Not much explaining needed here. Following a proper diet will lead to even better results. Make sure you eat a high carb snack before each workout.
6) Space out your workouts
While it might be tempting to lift weights every day, it is important that you space out your weightlifting sessions. As a general rule, you don’t want to hit the same muscle two days in a row. Always give each muscle group at least one rest day after workouts. Targeting each area once a week is typically more than enough to get the job done.
7) Get lots of rest
Getting lots of rest is particularly important when you lift weights since your body does most of its repairs while you’re asleep. When you’re pumping iron and attending martial arts classes regularly, you need to make sure your body has enough time to rebuild itself.
8) Incorporate HIIT exercises into your workout
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High-intensity interval training is a great way to incorporate weight-lifting into your martial arts training. These are cardiovascular exercises that push the muscles being targeting to fatigue. This improves your ability to perform under low-oxygen conditions.
HIIT workouts are short and fun, so fitting them into your schedule shouldn’t be difficult. It’s also a great way to burn fat since it works the body a lot more than traditional exercises.
If you’ve ever attended a martial arts class, you’ve likely already had some HIIT experience. Activities like drilling, sparring, and hitting pads are high-intensity exercises.
As far as finding the right HIIT program is concerned, you will be better off with a program that was developed for martial arts specifically. This allows you to perform the techniques and drills you learn in class at high intensity.
Without a doubt, there are many great benefits martial artists can enjoy by lifting weights. Just remember to customize your workout for your specific style and incorporate HIIT programs into your routine.