So you want to get in shape? The Martial Arts are perhaps one of the best forms of exercise for a fitness program. If done correctly a typical workout incorporates every muscle group in your body. But the most important reason the Martial Arts is one of the best forms of exercise is because it is FUN!! Enjoying your exercise routine helps you stick with it and attain your personal goals. Additionally practicing the Martial Arts increases your self-confidence and improves your self-confidence. You feel better physically and mentally.
Regardless of your age a Martial Arts will benefit your overall fitness. A complete Martial Arts training program includes:
- Cardiovascular Training
- with sparring, and repetitive drills;
- Resistance and Strength Training
- with weights, dynamic tension, and partner drills
- Flexibility Training
- with breathing and stretching practices.
- Balance/Stability Training
All of these factors coupled with a balanced diet provides a well rounded fitness program.
Now that you understand better why the Martial Arts make for a great fitness program, what should you look for in your Martial Arts program? Every Martial Arts program should include some fitness and conditioning exercises and drills. If your focus is using the Martial Arts to get in shape then there are some things you want to specifically look for:
- Beginning Warm-up and Stretching (Cardio/Dynamic tension/flexibility/balance)
- Repetitive Form or Fighting Drills (Dynamic tension/Cardio)
- Partner and Bag Work (Strength/Cardio/Balance)
- Sparring (Serious Cardio)
- Cool-down and stretching exercises (flexibility)
Remember that this list is a guide as every program can approach training differently. The one challenge in Martial Arts training is typically the Cardiovascular training component. Your Martial Arts training will give you a total body workout but will it provide an adequate Cardiovascular workout? There are thee basic types of Cardiovascular workouts:
- Long and Easy;
- Short and Hard
Most drills and exercises in Martial Arts training are a great source of Short and Hard Cardio workouts. Short and Hard Cardio workouts offer the largest increase in metabolism, increased Cardio health and respiratory output (the ability to not get winded!). When looking at your Martial Arts program you do need to make sure that it includes at least one set of 10-30 minutes of sustained activity to achieve the benefits of a short and hard Cardio workout. Sparring, kick drills, combination drills and bag work are all great Short and Hard Cardio activities to look for in your program.
Unlike many exercise programs the majority of your Martial Arts training requires little more then a few feet of space. If you do have the room and the money, having your own heavy bag is a nice training tool to have.
You are now well on your way to getting into shape, all you have to do now is start training! Like everything in life things go better if you plan ahead and take it slow. A serious fitness program requires you to workout at least 3-5 days a week, but never more then 6 days a week. If you are just starting out or haven’t workout in a while ease into your workout to avoid discouraging yourself and injury. Here is a suggested workout schedule* to guide your progress towards a complete Martial Arts fitness program:
Starting Month 1-3:
– Martial Arts class 1-2 days a week: [1 hour]
– Additional Strength Training (warm-up exercises) 1-2 days a week: [10 min – 20 min]
– Additional Cardio Training (bag work, jump rope, etc.) 1 day a week: [10 min – 20 min]
– [Total Weekly Time Commitment: 1 hr 20 min to 3 hrs]
Starting Month 4-5:
– Martial Arts class 1-3 days a week: [1-2 hours]
– Additional Strength Training (warm-up exercises) 1-2 days a week: [20 min – 45 min]
– Additional Cardio Training (bag work, jump rope, etc.) 1 day a week: [20 min – 30 min]
– [Total Weekly Time Commitment: 1 hr 40 min to 8 hrs]
Starting between Months 6+:
– Martial Arts class 2-3 days a week: [1-3 hours]
– Additional Strength Training (warm-up exercises) 1-2 days a week: [30 min – 1 hour]
– Additional Cardio Training (bag work, jump rope, etc.) 1 day a week: [30 min – 1 hour]
– [Total Weekly Time Commitment: 3 hr to 12 hrs]
Even just working out 2 days a week will greatly improve your fitness level. The best part about all of this, ITS FUN!
*Remember to always consult your Doctor before beginning any new exercise program.