The Benefits of Weight Training for the Martial Arts

A commonly overlooked aspect of martial arts training is weight training. It is assumed by many that lifting weights will make one too bulky, decrease flexibility and speed, while overall just bringing the skills of the martial artist down. This common misconception can actually cause the opposite problem by weakening the martial artist’s strength, hurting their speed and cardio, while also lowering muscular growth and athletic gains.

The issue in weight lifting is not the weight training itself but, rather…

HOW are you training?

Consider important questions such as:

WHAT is your goal?

WHAT are you training for?

HOW are you accomplishing those goals?

WHAT steps are you taking to achieve them?

Weight lifting as a whole has a variety of different end goals. Your goal will dictate the focus of your weight training.

How will weight training help me as a martial artist?

The goal of the martial artist should be to lift weights for athletic gains, in the same way a professional athlete weight trains. The exercise routine should be formulated to not only promote muscle growth but fast twitch muscle fibers for explosive movements, as well as endurance and strength.

By lifting weights, a martial artist is building a strong muscular and physical base, in order to perform technique more efficiently and in the most optimal way.

Hee Il Cho, a famous Taekwondo master stated, “Weight lifting can help athletes in any sport, including the martial arts. The more strength and size you have, the better you will perform. If two people weigh the same, the one with more muscle can hit harder.”

What are the different types and methodologies of weight lifting?

BODYBUILDING involves workouts that are constructed to reach an aesthetic goal, not to perform an athletic task. Lifting is done for size and appearance, with isolation based training to target specific locations on the body. Not to produce functional muscles for athletic tasks. For an efficiency in martial arts, body building is not optimal training

The same for POWERLIFTING, which has a goal of pure strength and mass, in order to support the body when lifting extremely heavy weight. While strength is important for martial arts, powerlifting involves slow, heavy lifts but, decreases the individuals speed, endurance and overall athletic ability, outside of completing heavy weight lifting tasks.

In FITNESS LIFTING, there is no real goal in mind other than working out to stay healthy. However, with no real goal in mind, this does nothing for a martial artist other than maintaining basic health and wellness. It will not help in increasing strength, speed, endurance or any athletic needs in the martial arts.

OLYMPIC LIFTING will help build power and strength, through explosive exercises and learning how to produce force quickly. The exercises in Olympic lifting are extremely functional for athletic training, building a strong base for strength and fundamental athletic movements. Most exercises in Olympic lifts require full range of motion and use of the joints in a small space, not only building strength and conditioning but, muscle control and good technique.

While HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) training focuses on intervals of exercising in small bursts of time periods. HIIT is meant to build endurance, conditioning, stamina, cardio and burn fat, rather than strength like Olympic Lifting. The HIIT mythology relies on using intervals of exercises and performing them to either failure or until time runs out, building up the strength of your heart, lungs and muscular conditioning.

So what type of weight lifting routine should I be doing?

One of the best methods recommended for martial artists to train under is OLYMPIC LIFTING, HIIT or a combination of both. Through Olympic lifting a martial artist can build strong, functional power through athletic exercises. Olympic lifting will provide the ability to explode quickly and powerfully, without losing speed or strength. HIIT training provides the ability to perform draining tasks, while maintaining muscular endurance even when tired. These methods allow for the optimal preparation needed for a long drawn out fight or combat situation.

It is also important to find the right program for your schedule and personal needs. Make goals, follow that plan and stick with it. You’ll be surprised at how much you will improve in the dojo or on the mat, once you’ve begun a consistent weight lifting program.

So what are you waiting for, get started today!

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