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8 Strength Training Accessory Exercises for Martial Arts Practitioners

Martial Arts – Why I train

After 30 years as a Martial Arts practitioner, I earned my 3rd degree black belt in Kajukenbo Hawaiian Martial arts. I have also done a fair amount of grappling and wrestling. I have been very fortunate to participate in the Martial Arts and in the Fitness industry as long as I have.

If I was being completely honest, what’s kept me going this long is having a good strong strength training program in play. And let’s face it, the number 1 reason that I have participated in Martial Arts as long as I have, is because of my great passion for it. At the end of the day I enjoy doing Martial arts, and I have so many people that I am grateful for and I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for their support and encouragement in my journey in Kajukenbo.


In my system there are practitioners that have been training for over 50 years. In my opinion I believe they would not have lasted in training as long as they have If they didn’t have some type of strength and conditioning program in play. My goal in Martial arts is to keep doing my passion for as long as my body will allow. And I feel having a good fitness and conditioning program in play, I can achieve this goal.

Why Practitioners need a good training program  

Strength training is important for injury prevention, regardless of what type of martial arts you study.

Training seasons can be grueling. The fact of the matter is the stronger you are the less chance you will have of getting injured. Some Martial Artists have a fear of implementing a strength training program, mostly because they don’t want to overexert themselves and/or have a fear that if they were to implement a strength training program, they would pack on too much muscle and it would slow down their speed and reaction time.


However, this decision, may compromise their speed, flexibility, and agility. The reality is that having a proper program in play, if done right, will help a Martial Artist continue to increase his or her speed, flexibility, and agility. 

Having a good strength training program in play, doesn’t necessarily mean lifting heavy weights. A lot of athletes train specific to their sports, which means they improve the movements and muscles that are needed to improve the skill associated with the sport. The program that I have put together is specific to Martial arts regardless of the type/sport you may practice. These exercises are designed to help with your aerobic and anaerobic conditioning, as well as increase your muscle strength and condition your fast twitch muscle fibers, which are used in powerful bursts movements like sprinting.   

Strength Training for Martial Arts

This workout program can be modified based on your fitness level, I would recommend doing 3-minute rounds using a timer.  I would also recommend stretching out for about 10 to 15 minutes to help your joints move thorough their full range of motion. This enables your muscles to work more effectively, efficiently and increase blood flow to the muscles.

Excerise 1 (Burpee Pull Ups)  With a pull up bar, do a burpee then add in a pull up. Do this exercise for 1 to 3 minute rounds.

Excerise 2 (Jump rope) Do this exercise for 1 to 3 minute rounds.

Excerise 3 (Plyo Box Jumps with a squat) Start the box jump by quickly getting into a quarter squat while hinging at the hips to engage the hamstrings and glutes. Then, forcefully extend your hips, swing your arms, and push your feet off the ground and come down into a squat. Do this for 1 to 3 minute rounds.

Excerise 4 (Jab, Cross and Hook, combo punching) Do this excerise slowly with 5 to 10 pound weights,  and with placing good emphasis on hip and lower body rotation. This excerise can also be done with a resistance band. Do this exercise for 1 to 3 minute rounds.

Excerise 5 (Chain punching with weights) Use 5 to 10 pound weights. This is a vertical punch out with emphasis on keeping the hands on the center line with fist replacing fist in this excerise. Go slow with this excerise. It is important to go slow on the punching exercise for your brain is recording the movement that you are doing with fatigue. Going to fast leads to poor technique and increases the risk of injury. Do this exercise for 1 to 3 minute rounds.

Excerise 6 (6 Corners kicking drill) In Martial arts it’s important to coordinate both the upper and lower body. This next excerise you will be doing is 2 front snap kicks, 2 side kicks and 2 back kicks. Again on this excerise go slow and get good extension in the legs. With your back kicks make sure you turn your head, so you can see where your kick. If you feel off balance, I have my students start off by using a wall to stabilize themselves for balance.  Do this exercise for 1 to 3 minute rounds.

Excerise 7 (Planks) Do this for 1 to 3 minute rounds.

Excerise 8 (Sprints-50 to 100 meters) Sprinting works great for working on speed, agility and endurance. Make sure to get at least 5 to 10 reps in, rather than using a timer.

Again, these exercises can be modified based on your fitness levels. I take at least 30 seconds to a minute between exercises for proper rest. If you are to fatigued your form and technique gets compromised and sloppy. If I do each of these exercises twice it becomes such a good workout. I always feel great after this workout. Not only does it improve my physical health but my mental health as well.  Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD and more. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you to sleep better, and boosts your overall mood. I love to exercise, and I love that I’m fit enough to continue enjoying life with my family.  My advice is to always  keep the mindset of a white belt and strive to get better every day. At the end of the day the goal is to have fun with your workout and strengthen your body, so you can continue doing the activities you love, and have fun with the people you care about. 

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