5 Martial Arts Workouts That Will Get You Ripped
Martial arts alone do an excellent job at conditioning your body. Certain styles may focus on specific areas of the body over others (e.g. an emphasis on punching with boxing compared to grappling and throws in BJJ), but the training practitioners undergo still work to strengthen the entire body.
I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times. – Bruce Lee
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The following contains five of some of the best workouts that martial arts practitioners use to condition and strengthen themselves. Whether or not you practice a particular style, you can still take full advantage of any exercise on this list.
Top 5 Martial Arts Workouts that will Help You Condition Your Body (aka get you strong and ripped!)
Focus Pad Training
Focus pads, otherwise known as “focus mitts” or “punch mitts,” are flat, hand-held pads that come in a variety of sizes, and they have been used in martial arts training for years now. They are inexpensive, versatile tools that you can take anywhere as long as you have a partner or coach to hold them up for you.
Focus pad training conditions the body as it forces you to exercise in several different ways. The exact exercise you do is up to you and your partner, and it’s best to switch things up now and again to work on a variety of moves.
Go on the offense, utilizing footwork to move around while you strike low and high. Add combinations and work on your speed, timing, accuracy, and basic hand-eye coordination so that you’re landing each strike correctly.
Switch up and go on the defense. Have your partner “swing” at you with the pads. This forces you to move some more to block, roll, parry, etc. Raise and lower the intensity levels, and go a few rounds depending on how difficult you want this exercise to be.
Heavy Bag Drills
The heavy bag is another tool used across various martial arts styles. It is such a great conditioning tool that many non-fighters and other athletes have embraced it as a part of their workout arsenal.
One of the best ways to condition your body by using the heavy bag is through performing drills in a series of rounds. Now, there are several ways to go about doing drill work on a bag. Before you do so, be sure you have all the right protective gear and that you keep in mind proper form so that you don’t injure yourself.
Try your hand at going five rounds with each round being three minutes long; rest for 30 seconds between each round:
- Round 1: This is simply a warm-up drill. Make use of only the jab here, but be sure to move around the bag to fall into a comfortable rhythm. This builds up a good pace that you’ll need for the upcoming rounds. The first round also helps your body understand the distance between your reach and the bag.
- Round 2: Pick up your pace and make use of combinations. You can completely freestyle here with whatever you’re comfortable with. If you want to stick with striking, you can try a jab-cross, jab-rear hook, cross-lead hook, etc. Those good with kicks can try out double jab-hook-right kick, left kick-cross-left hook, etc. Improve your speed and change your combos as the round goes on.
- Round 3: Turn this into a “speed round” of sorts. Move in and out of the bag as if you were in a real fight. Keep up the momentum the entire round, and don’t forget to mix up your combos.
- Round 4: This is more of a “power round.” Attack the bag with power strikes/kicks. Act as though you have an opponent in front of you that you’re trying to knock out.
- Round 5: As this is the end, just empty yourself out. Stay busy by going in fast and hard, using different combos while moving around the bag. In essence, the final round is a combination of the previous two rounds.
By the end of the five rounds, if you’re completely spent, then you’re done. You have the option to repeat the drills again if you feel as if you can for a truly intense workout.
If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of. – Bruce Lee
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HIIT w/ Medicine Ball
Most people understand by now just how incredible HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is. Throw in a medicine ball, and you can condition your body with minimal equipment. Depending on your level of skill, you can use anywhere between an 8lb to a 20lb medicine ball.
The following workout should be performed in 30-sec intervals with a 5-sec break or so between each exercise.
Here’s the list of what you’ll be doing as well as an explanation on how to do them:
- Wood Chops: Stand with your feet a bit more than a shoulder width apart and keep your knees slightly bent. With the ball in-hand and your arms straight, rotate at your waist while you bring the ball up to shoulder height and to the left. Lower to waist-height and raise the ball again, this time to your right. Repeat the process.
- Squat-Curl-Press: Starting with the ball held in front of your pelvis, sink into a squat, return to the start position, curl the ball under your chin, press it up overhead, and return again to the start position.
- Jackknives: Hold the ball with both hands and assume the usual jackknife position (laying flat on your back, arms extended past your head). Tighten your abs and bring your arms and legs up, holding for a second before returning to the start position.
- Mountain Climbers: Perform these as you would regularly except by using the medicine ball as support. Begin in the push-up position, grasping and balancing with both hands on the ball. Alternate bringing your knees in toward your chest and the ball.
- Transfer Push-Ups: Place the ball in front of you and assume the plank position. Grip the ball with both hands so that you’re in the push-up position. Remove one hand, doesn’t matter which one first, and lower yourself toward the ground to do the push-up. Return the hand to the ball and repeat with the opposite hand. A more advanced variation of this is to just roll the ball from one hand to the other after each push-up.
Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own. – Bruce Lee
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Jump rope is a fine way to get in your cardio to improve endurance, agility, and burn calories. It seems like such a simple exercise, but if you use it right, jumping rope can stimulate interval training you’d get at the gym.
There are endless jump rope techniques that martial artists use. If you’re unsure, always start with the basic two feet skip, but never stay with that as it doesn’t nearly give you the conditioning workout you’re looking for.
You want to integrate more difficult moves. Alternate your feet, hop on just one foot, double under, jump and squat, crisscross, etc. Jumping rope is super easy on your joints, can go just about anywhere you do, and doesn’t cost as much as other gym equipment. All-in-all, it’s a great, cheap tool that provides you a head-to-toe workout if you know how to use it right.
Speed Bag Drills
This small bag may not seem like much at first glance, but it is a great piece of equipment that works various parts of your body. It improves hand-eye coordination, timing, shoulder endurance, and more. When you want to work some drills with the speed bag, you need to remember to never sacrifice control for speed.
Time yourself for 30 seconds and strike the bag as many times as you can, making sure to count how many times you actually hit the bag. When you do this, use one type of strike like a hook or a jab, and go for three rounds. Try to increase the amount of hits you land each round. This will help you build up your punching speed over time.
Author Bio: Jason Maine
Jason is the founder of FullContactWay, a blog dedicated to provide best martial arts advice and information. Jason helps his readers with martial arts training by sharing personal tips and thorough research. Check out fullcontactway.com to get more about Jason’s work. You can find him on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.
Dai “Coach Moose” ManuelDai Manuel: Your Lifestyle MentorJuly 11, 2017