Historically, weight training was discouraged among those who practiced martial arts. The conventional wisdom held that bulking up would cause one to become slow and muscle-bound. Technique was regarded as all-important by martial arts experts.
As with most sports, weight training’s benefits have been recognized by karate practitioners. Weight training is known to increase an athlete’s strength, speed and resilience to injury. All of these contribute to improvements in technique.
There are some things to know before embarking on a training program to augment your martial arts training. The following are tips geared toward a beginning weightlifter interested in reaping the benefits to be had from weight training. More advanced techniques and suggestions are appropriate for more advanced weightlifters.
- Make sure you always warm up. At least 10 to 15 minutes of cardio on the treadmill or stair master is essential to preventing injury. This becomes doubly important if you are training in a cold climate. If you are primarily interested in gaining strength, you only need to do enough cardio to break a light sweat. If you are more interested in developing your endurance and stamina, more rigorous cardio is recommended.
- A good way to start out is to alternate pushing mass away from your body with pulling something toward your body (like doing bench presses followed by pull-ups). Then use your arms and legs to alternately flex and extend. Work your calves, do some abdominal work and then call it a day. This is all you really need to do when you are first starting out on a weight-lifting program.
- Although you will be warmed up from your cardio, you need to treat your first set of any given exercise as a warm-up set. After that, do two or three “working” sets.
- Tackle the heaviest, most difficult exercises first. This means you’re going to do squats before leg curls and pull-ups before bicep curls.
- Keep your mind on your form; if you are doing an exercise improperly, it is not going to be as effective and will put you at risk for injury. With squats in particular, don’t allow your knees to wobble, make sure your head comes up ahead of your rear, and make sure that you can go down to where your thighs are parallel with the floor. This may require you using less weight, but so be it.