Want to up your game as a martial artist? Then maybe it’s time to include some strength and conditioning exercises in your training! Besides fuelling your strikes with more explosive power, strength and conditioning would boost your stamina. Hence, maximizing your performance.
“Strength and conditioning plays a vital role in martial arts,” shares US Olympian and Evolve Fight Team Head Coach Heath Sims. “When you start to feel fatigued, your movements slow, power diminishes, and explosiveness reduces. All these factors have a significant effect on technique, training, and sparring.”
He also emphasizes on the importance of good stamina, as it plays a part when it comes to mastering new techniques.
“Training high repetition movements to learn new techniques requires stamina,” he explains. “Without good stamina, you cannot learn and perfect techniques with good form… To effectively spar and improve, you must have lasting power, explosiveness, and endurance.”
Because martial arts requires you to use your entire body to perform techniques in high repetition, a well-rounded diverse training regime is most effective. Heath shares with Evolve Daily some exercises that would effectively work your major muscle groups while building up your stamina.
Are you ready to take your martial arts training to the next level? Today, Evolve Daily reveals The Most Effective Exercises for Strength & Conditioning:
1) For your legs: Squats, Lunges, Jumps
If you want to strike with greater power, your legs are something you should work on. After all, power ultimately comes from the ground – and that’s exactly where your legs are in contact with, as they push off to give your body the power you need.
A great way to strengthen your quads and calf muscles is to include squats, lunges, and jumps in your workout.
How to do it: Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and squat as low as you can before coming back up to your starting position.
If you want to challenge yourself: Transit from a squat to a tuck jump, by jumping with your knees towards your chest upon getting up from your squat.
How to do it: Straighten your upper body, engage your core, step forward with one leg and lower your hips until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle.
If you want to challenge yourself: Do walking lunges by moving forward with every lunge. The forward movement maximizes contraction of your lead leg’s glutes, quads and hamstrings!
Burn more calories by doing jump lunges. Basically do a basic lunge, but jump as you’re switching leg positions.
2) For your core: Planks, Leg Raises, Sit-ups, Twists
Your core is made up of a strong set of muscles which essentially holds your body together. Although your limbs can generate power individually, your abs play a part in combining your limbs’ forces into one powerful total force.
Build your core strength with planks, leg raises, sit-ups, and twists.
How to do it: Start by kneeling on the floor with your hands directly below your shoulders, then lift your knees and support your weight with your hands and toes.
Stabilize yourself by spreading your fingers, and ensure that your shoulders are in line with your hands, and your heels over your toes. Keep your body in a straight line and tighten your core so that your stomach doesn’t sag.
If you want to challenge yourself: Shake things up with a knee-to-inside-elbow plank! From your basic plank position, bring one of your knees underneath and across your body towards the inside of your opposite elbow. Get it as close as you can without dropping your shoulder and hip, then repeat on the other side.
How to do it: Lie on the floor, then bring your knees up and keep your legs bent at a 90-degree angle. Remember to breathe!
If you want to challenge yourself: Increase the duration of your leg raises, or hang from a pull-up bar and raise your feet towards the bar while keeping your legs straight.
How to do it: Lie on the floor with your knees bent and pointed to the ceiling, with your hands behind your head and your elbows pointing out to the sides. As you exhale, contract your abs and lift your shoulder blades and head off the ground. Inhale as you return to your original position but make sure your head doesn’t touch the ground.
If you want to challenge yourself: Work on your coordination and balance with some bicycle crunches. Start from the standard sit-up position, then contract your lower abs so you can raise your legs off the ground. After which, twist your upper body and bend one knee so that your opposite elbow can cross your body and reach the bent knee. Switch and twist to the other side, and keep alternating sides.
How to do it: Sit on the floor with your feet flat on the ground, and bent knees. Keep your torso at a 45-degree angle to the floor, and ensure your spine is straight. Lace your arms in front of your chest, with one hand above the other, then raise your core and rotate to one side, as far as you can. After that, pause and reverse this movement to the opposite side, as far as you can.
If you want to challenge yourself: Add some weight by twisting with a dumbbell or medicine ball, or simply lift your feet off the ground.
3) For your back: Pull Ups, Rope Climb
Strengthening your back muscles is important because – like your abs – they’re also responsible for holding your body together. What’s more, stronger back muscles translate to better punch recovery, which means you’ll be able to pull your hand back faster after punching!
Some exercises that enhance your back muscles include pull ups and rope climb.
How to do it: Keep your hands more than shoulder width apart, and hang on a bar. Pull yourself up until the bar reaches your chin level, then hold it there before returning to your start position.
If you want to challenge yourself: Take things to the next level with the L-sit pull up. Hang from a bar while keeping your legs straight and bring them up at a 90-degree angle, forming an “L” shape. Bend your waist as you bring your legs up so you don’t lean backward. When your legs are up, do a pull up without losing the “L” shape.
How to do it: With the rope at the center of your body, reach your hands overhead and hold the rope. Tuck your knees, and step down on the rope with your dominant foot while using your other foot to press up on the loose end. Keep your feet squeezed together as one presses up and the other presses down – this keeps the rope locked in place.
After which, push off and straighten your legs as you reach overhead. The more you tuck your knees and lock, the better you can push off and climb.
If you want to challenge yourself: Use a thicker rope to build your grip strength.
4) For your chest and shoulders: Push-ups, Presses
Your chest muscles combine the force from your arms, lats and shoulders into one explosive force, and help power up your punches. As for your shoulders, it is important to strengthen them so that you have greater punch endurance – that means you’ll be able to hold your hands up for extended periods of time and throw more punches.
For stronger chest and shoulder muscles, be sure to do push-ups and presses.
How to do it: Start in plank position, with your hands under but slightly outside your shoulders. Then lower your body till your chest is almost touching the floor, then push back to your original position. Keep your core tight and make sure your hips don’t sag at any point.
If you want to challenge yourself: Attempt single-leg push-ups for a more intense core and upper body workout. Lift one leg off the ground and do a set before switching to your other leg on the next set.
How to do it: Lie on a bench with your feet flat on the ground, keep your hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart and grab the bar, holding the weight over your chest. Pull your shoulder blades together and back, lowering the bar to your chest. Pause, and then push the weight back up.
If you want to challenge yourself: Increase the amount of reps.
5) For your posterior chain: Deadlifts, Kettlebell Swings
In order to maximize your performance, a strong posterior chain is necessary. Besides giving you a powerful hip extension, a solid posterior chain helps you move better as it contributes to running, pulling, jumping and pushing.
Work your way to a stronger posterior chain with deadlifts and kettlebell swings.
How to do it: Stand mid-foot under the bar, hip-distance apart with your toes out at a 15-degree angle. After which, keep your arms straight and shoulder-width apart, then grab the bar (don’t lift it yet). Bend your knees until your shins touch the bar. Lift your chest and straighten your back without dropping your hips. Pull, take a deep breath, hold the bar and stand up. Do ensure that you don’t shrug or lean back.
If you want to challenge yourself: Load more weight to the barbell.
How to do it: Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, with your toes pointed out and knees bent slightly. Hold a kettlebell between your legs with both hands, and look straight ahead. Arch your lower back and bend your hips back till the kettlebell is behind your legs, then extend your hips by squeezing your glutes and swing the weight up. Let it swing back between your legs after.
If you want to challenge yourself: Work out with heavier kettlebells.
So tell us, which of these strength and conditioning exercises are you going to include in your next workout?