How does lifting weights impact martial arts training?

A common question when someone starts martial arts is “how does lifting weights affect my martial arts training?”

The answer is it depends on your goals and the type of weight training you do.

If you are a recreational practitioner lifting weights will be of little value. There are plenty of resistance training exercises performed in the average martial arts class that are fantastic for building more strength and athleticism. Typically these in-class exercises are full body compound movements that will actually yield more strength conditioning results than going to the gym and sitting on some boring machine or doing a few mindless sets of dumbbell curls.

There is a popular belief in the martial arts community that strength training can reduce your flexibility and make you “muscle bound”. One only has to observe an Olympic gymnast to dispel that myth.  Strength and conditioning is a part of any good martial arts program and the question is really should you do more?

Going beyond the martial arts classes and adding a strength training regimen is only really recommended if you want to get into serious competition.  This is not the typical workout most people perform at the local gym however and is a science on its own. The goal is to build the highest strength to weight ratio possible to maximise every variable to one’s advantage. One quick tip if you are currently working out with weights is to immediately ditch all the “bodybuilding” exercises (small isolation movements) and focus on Olympic type lifts like deadlifts, squats and cleans for low reps. This alone will start building explosive power which will have a direct impact on competitive performance.

For a more detailed program geared to your personal needs ask your instructor for more guidance. If you are simply looking to add some basic resistance training to your martial arts classes for general fitness skip the gym and try a Cagefitness class!