Damen’s Martial Arts Workout
One thing that every martial artist wants is to stay in good shape. It doesnt matter they are an instructor, a student, an actor, or a fighter. That said, just because the need and desire to stay in shape exists doesnt make it easy – even for martial artists. Putting together a good workout routine, for when not in class or specifically in training, can be extremely challenging. Is weight lifting a good idea? What about cardio? There are a lot of questions that need answering. Thankfully, I’m here to help.
I’ll start off with one of the most common areas of confusion – weight lifting. It is not the solution to every problem, and it is not your enemy. In martial arts, you generally do not want to bulk up. Why? The bigger you are, the slower you are. Now, if you are on the scrawny side (like I am) then bulking up a little can be ok – just dont overdo it. What does this mean? Use a lighter weight, but do higher reps. This will help with your stamina, which is important in a fight/sparring match. Find a weight you are comfortable with, and do lots of sets with lots of reps. You can gradually increase the weight if you want, but dont go crazy. I have a Bowflex, which I think is perfect here. I get the best of weight and resistance training combined.
Cardio is the most important thing a martial artist can work on. Period. I should probably end this paragraph right now, because I’ve said all that needs to be said, but I’ll explain anyway. If you are training, or sparring, or fighting, or whatever, your muscles will stop getting all the oxygen they need, your heart rate will go up to try to compensate, you will start breathing heavier, and you will turn red and be done before you’ve started. Cardio will help teach you how to breathe properly, it will help get your heart into proper shape to pump all that oxygen-filled blood around to your muscles, and it will help you keep going. My recommendation for working on cardio? Well, aside from the old standby of running/jogging, practicing stationary punches and kicks is a great way to do it. Yes, I’m serious. Try getting into a low stance and throwing 100 kicks with each leg without taking any breaks – you’ll work up one hell of a sweat, and refreshing yourself on the basics of your style is always a good idea anyway.
Do you have a heavy bag? Why not? Get one. See how long you can go hitting a heavy bag before you become exhausted. At my peak, I could go for ~45 solid minutes. Great for cardio. Not only that, but you can learn great control on one of these (try to punch the bag at full speed, but only tap it), and get a better feel for what its like punching something other than air. Also, if you can manage to bob and weave appropriate while hitting the bag (no, you shouldnt just stand in front of it like an idiot and pound on it), you can get a great workout going for your core – which is another absolutely vital area for a martial artist.
Yes, I’m going to talk about your core now. The most vital area for a martial artist to train is the core. This is where all of your speed and power comes from. It is also a vulnerable target, so building up muscle here is key. How? Well, first thing is… breathing! Yes, that’s right. You know all those kicks and punches you are doing to work on your cardio? Well, while you’re doing them, make sure to stomach breathe (and breathe out hard on those punches and kicks!). This will work your ab muscles. Do situps/crunches with resistance. Trust me – the first time you get punched in the stomach and dont double-over, you’ll thank me.
Bodyweight exercises are fantastic, and can be done pretty much everywhere. What do I mean? I mean, exercises that use your own weight as resistance. Pushups are a great example – do lots of pushups. Do lots of pullups. Do dips. These simple little exercises will keep your blood moving and help keep you in proper condition.
I hope this helps answer your questions, and good luck!