Martial Arts Strength Training
Here are instructions for a wide range of martial arts strength training exercises. They will enhance your upper body, lower body and core strength. In turn, these strength training exercises will help to improve your punching power, kicking power and grappling techniques.
On your "off days" when you do not have your regular martial arts classes, you will need to cross-train and develop your strength in order to maximize your potential as a martial artist. Try to mix up martial arts and sports strength training exercises in order to work on different muscles and moderate the potential for training burnout and boredom. You should also alternate your exercise focus areas in order to allow for muscle recuperation days (i.e. Monday focus on upper body strength training, Tuesday focus on lower body, etc.) in order to reduce the potential for overuse injuries and to maximize muscle recovery and improvement.
Before any strength training, martial artists should stretch and warm-up. All stretches and exercises should be supervised by a trained instructor in order to prevent injuries and to ensure the proper technique is utilized. If you have had an injury or are in pain, please see a doctor before starting any stretching or exercise program. For additional stretches and exercises, please visit the main Martial Arts Physical Fitness section.
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Modern Strength Training Exercises
Traditional Martial Arts Strength & Conditioning Drills - Many of these traditional training methods can cause injuries. Use with caution.
Upper Body Strength Training Exercises - These upper body exercises will help you to generate stronger punches and grappling techniques. These sports exercises work on strengthening the muscles in your chest, shoulders, back and arms.
- Back Extensions - Back extensions work on the muscles of your lower back.
- Barbell Row - The barbell row exercise works on the muscles of your upper back (i.e. lats and traps).
- Battle Ropes or Heavy Ropes - This exercise improves your upper body strength and conditioning.
- Bench Press Variations
- Bench Press - The traditional flat bench press that focuses primarily on your chest muscles.
- Close Grip Bench Press - This exercise gives greater emphasis to your triceps.
- Decline Bench Press - The decline bench press targets the lower chest muscles.
- Incline Bench Press - The incline bench press targets the upper chest muscles.
- Bicep Curls - This exercise works on your biceps.
- Chair Dips or Bench Dips - This exercise focuses on your triceps.
- Chest Fly - The chest fly works mainly on your chest (pectoral muscles) and shoulders.
- Chin-Up - Chin-Ups work primarily on strengthening your arm and shoulder muscles.
- Concentration Curls
- Dumbbell Press
- Dumbbell Pullover - Dumbbell pullovers work on your chest (pectoral muscles), shoulders, triceps, etc.
- Dumbbell Row or One Armed Bent-Over Dumbbell Row
- Dumbbell Shoulder Press
- Dumbbell Shrugs - This exercise works on the muscles in your shoulders and upper back. Moreover, it puts significant emphasis on your upper trapezius muscles.
- French Press - The french press works your triceps and forearms.
- Hammer Curls - Hammer curls work on your biceps and forearms. It works on different areas of the arm (esp. forearm) than traditional bicep curls.
- Hand Gripper Exercises - Exercises for greater hand and grip strength.
- Incline Press - The incline press targets the upper chest muscles.
- Isometric Push-Ups - Isometric push-ups provide a core and upper body workout.
- Lat Pulldown - Lat pulldowns work on your back, shoulder and arm muscles.
- Lateral Raise
- Military Press - The military press focuses on primarily on the shoulders and triceps.
- Preacher Curls - Preacher curls work on your biceps and forearms.
- Pullover - This chest exercise uses a dumbbell or barbell.
- Pull-Ups - Pull-ups work primarily on your arm and shoulder muscles.
- Traditional Push-Up - The basic push-up focuses on your chest, shoulders, triceps, etc.
- Clapping Push-Up - This is a great plyometrics exercise for building explosive chest power.
- Eagle Claw Push-Ups - Eagle claw push-ups are used to strengthen fingers/hands as well as the muscles in your chest, shoulders, triceps, etc.
- Elevated Push-Up - Elevated push-ups put a greater emphasis on your upper chest and shoulder muscles. This technique is also known as a decline push-up.
- Incline Push-Ups - Incline push-ups are easier push-ups as you are doing a push-up against a wall, etc.
- Judo Push-Ups - Judo push-ups strengthen your arms, shoulders and chest. They also help your core strength.
- Knee Push-Ups - This is an easy modified push-up used by people recovering from an injury or beginners who lack sufficient upper body strength for regular push-ups.
- Knuckle Push-Ups - Some martial artists use this exercise to "strengthen" their knuckles by making them less sensitive to hitting hard targets.
- Medicine Ball Push-Ups - This medicine ball exercise puts more emphasis on your triceps.
- Pike Push-Up - This push-up variation places greater emphasis on your shoulders.
- Plyometric Push-Up - A plyometrics exercise for building explosive chest power.
- Single Arm Medicine Ball Push-Ups
- Single Leg Push-Ups - This push-up exercise will also help your core strength.
- T Push-Up - This advanced push-up exercise can be done with or without dumbbells.
- Triangle Push-Up or Diamond Push-Up - This push-up variation places greater emphasis on your triceps.
- Wide Grip Push-Ups - This push-up variation places greater emphasis on your chest muscles.
- Additional Pushup Variations
- Reverse Curls - This exercise will increase the strength of your forearms and biceps. It works on different areas of the arm (esp. forearm) than traditional bicep curls.
- Reverse Fly - The reverse fly works on your back and shoulder muscles.
- Seated Cable Rows
- Shoulder Press
- Shoulder Shrugs with Dumbbells - Shoulder shrugs work on the muscles in your shoulders and upper back.
- Triceps Extensions
- Barbell Lying Triceps Extension or Barbell Skull Crusher
- Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension or Dumbbell Skull Crusher
- Seated Triceps Extensions
- Standing Triceps Extensions
- Triceps Kickbacks
- Triceps Pushdowns
- Upright Row
- Wrist Curls - A wrist curl improves your forearm, wrist and hand strength.
- Reverse Wrist Curls - Reverse wrist curls improve your forearm, wrist and hand strength.
- Wrist Extensions
- Wrist Rollers or Wrist Rolls
Core Strength Training Exercises - These core exercises will help your rotational power or "twisting" power and thus lead to stronger kicks, punches and grappling techniques. These sports exercises are designed to strengthen your abs, obliques and lower back.
Lower Body Strength Training Exercises - These leg exercises will help you to generate stronger martial arts kicks. These sports exercises strengthen the muscles in your calves, quads, hips, etc.
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