You should never neglect strength and conditioning training if you want to perform optimally as a martial artist. Yes, technique is the single most important thing you should focus on as you grow as a martial artist, but many other factors can give you an edge over opponents, like your strength, flexibility, balance, and mobility.
When two equally skilled martial artists collide in a competitive setting, these factors are often the ones that separate the good from the best. The stronger and more athletic fighter typically has the advantage when mastery of technique is equal.
Calisthenic exercises are an excellent way to improve your strength and conditioning as a martial artist. These exercises can typically be performed anywhere you have some space, so there is rarely ever a good excuse to miss a workout.
Calisthenics involves resistance exercises using your body weight and gravity. They can be used to add muscle mass to your frame while building up your muscular endurance. They can also be incorporated into your fat-burning and cardio workouts.
There is a common misconception that calisthenics isn’t an effective way to build muscle, but that isn’t true. While lifting weights might be a more effective way to add muscle mass, people who perform calisthenics regularly are typically physically impressive specimens.
For example, most prisons worldwide don’t allow inmates to use free weights since plates and metal bars can be used as weapons. Yet, the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about a male prisoner is a physically built guy. Prisoners work out using calisthenics, and the dangerous environment they find themselves in gives them extra motivation to work out and stay physically strong.
That’s the beauty of calisthenics exercises: once you’ve learned enough to craft a complete fitness routine, you can always get a good workout regardless of where you find yourself. You can work out effectively whether you find yourself stuck at home or on the road. If you intend to make fitness a significant part of your lifestyle, learn enough calisthenic exercises to give yourself a great workout. They will come in handy on days you can’t make it to the gym.
Three Calisthenics Exercises You Should Add To Your Workout Routine As A Martial Artist
Now that we’ve gone over how effective calisthenics can be when it comes to building strength and endurance, let’s take a look at some simple calisthenics exercises that will improve your performance as a martial artist:
Here’s one of the best calisthenic exercises for athletes. It works most of the muscles in your body simultaneously, and it raises your heart rate. It’s an effective exercise for increasing muscle mass and improving your cardio. The exercise also helps to improve your explosive strength.
The best part? You don’t need any equipment to enjoy the benefits of this exercise. You just need some space, preferably on the first floor, since you’ll be jumping during each rep.
Burpees are a more advanced calisthenic exercise, so you should have decent core strength before moving on to this exercise.
Here’s what the exercise looks like:
- Get into a push-up position with your hands a little more than shoulder-width apart.
- Perform a push-up and jump your legs forward, so you’re now in a squat position.
- Jump up straight in the air as high as you can to complete a rep.
- Land and sprawl back your legs to get back into the push-up position.
2) Sit-Up Crunches
These are some of the simplest calisthenic exercises to master. Sit-ups give your abs a good burn, and they’re an excellent way to strengthen your core muscles. Anyone can learn how to perform sit-ups regardless of their fitness level, and they serve as an excellent warmup for your other exercises.
The key to getting the most out of crunches is to add a twist to the motion, so your obliques also get a good burn. You can also slow down the exercise to increase its difficulty.
Here’s how to perform sit-ups:
- Get into the starting position laying on the ground. Bend at your knees while keeping your feet flat on the floor and interlock your hands behind your head. Your hands should only support your head, do not pull on it as you perform your reps.
- Lift your torso off the floor using your abdominal muscles. At the top, use your right elbow to touch your left knee and return to the starting position without letting your head and shoulders touch the ground.
- Perform another rep, this time using your left elbow to touch your right knee. Return to the starting position to complete a rep.
- Aim for three sets of as many sit-ups as you can perform. Only rest for about five to twenty seconds between sets.
3) Dragon Flags
These are some of the most challenging calisthenics exercises to perform, but they are great for martial artists, especially those who love throwing kicks. It also happens to be one of the favorite exercises of the legendary Bruce Lee.
Dragon flags help to strengthen and condition your abdominal and leg muscles. You will likely struggle with the exercise if you aren’t already in somewhat decent shape.
Here’s what it looks like:
- Get into position lying faceup on the ground or a bench with something you can brace yourself with behind you. Reach behind your head and grab the object.
- Engage your entire torso and lift your hips and legs off the ground as you shift your weight towards your shoulders. Keep your back straight throughout the motion.
- Drive your legs towards the ceiling as if you were performing a reverse crunch. Try not to bend at your hips when doing this. Try not to use any momentum when performing the exercise.
- Slowly lower your legs until your toes, hips, and shoulders form a straight line.
- Balance your weight on your shoulders and hold the position for a second. Return to the starting position to complete a rep.
- Perform three sets of as many reps as you can perform.
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