This section focuses on traditional and modern martial arts conditioning exercises. It provides written instructions & videos to help students learn these conditioning exercises.
To become a great martial artist, martial arts students need to add martial arts conditioning exercises to their workout routine in order to build overall endurance and stamina. The most powerful martial arts kick and fastest punch will not help you if you are out of breath late in a match and are unable to move. Moreover, conditioning exercises are often combined with strength training in order to maximize an athlete’s performance.
Before any strength and conditioning training, martial artists should stretch and warm-up. All stretches and exercises should be supervised by a trained martial arts 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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Conditioning Drills By Martial Arts Style – Review the conditioning programs used by different martial arts styles in order to find new exercises to incorporate in your own martial arts conditioning program.
- Arnis, Eskrima and Kali Conditioning
- Boxing Conditioning Drills
- Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Conditioning Drills
- Karate Conditioning Drills
- Kung Fu Conditioning Drills
- Mixed Martial Arts Conditioning Drills
- Muay Thai Conditioning Drills – These Muay Thai conditioning drills include the famous (or infamous) banana tree workout.
- Shaolin Conditioning Drills
- Also visit our section on traditional martial arts training equipment that are used to build strength and conditioning (i.e. Nigiri Game – Gripping Jars, Chi Ishi – Weighted Levers and Tetsu Geta – Iron Sandals).
Traditional Martial Arts Hand, Leg and Body Conditioning Drills – Many of these traditional training methods can cause injuries if done improperly. Use with caution.
- Knuckle Push-Ups – Traditional hand and wrist conditioning exercise.
- Kung Fu – Eagle Claw Push-Ups – Finger tip push-ups used in traditional Kung Fu training.
- Kung Fu Iron Palm Training
- Medicine Ball Stomach Conditioning – This is an “old school” medicine ball routine. It is used to strengthen a boxer’s stomach muscles in order to better withstand an opponent’s punches.
- Muay Thai Shin Conditioning
- Rice Bucket Hand Exercises
- Sand Bucket Hand Exercises
- Stone Target – Hand Conditioning Exercises
- Traditional Karate Hand Conditioning Drills – Training with a Makiwara (padded striking board).
- Traditional Taekwondo Hand Conditioning Drills
- Traditional Taekwondo Shin Conditioning Drills
Modern Martial Arts & Sports Conditioning Exercises – Use these sports conditioning and cardio exercises to supplement the training done in your regular martial arts classes.
- Bicycling – Bicycling builds your martial arts endurance, leg strength and is easier on the knees than running. So go join that spin class if you can’t get outside to bike.
- Bear Crawl – This odd looking exercise is great for building sports strength and conditioning.
- Burpees – This is a solid all-around martial arts conditioning exercise. It is similar to a squat thrust.
- Elliptical Trainer – The elliptical trainer works your upper and lower body with less strain on your joints.
- Fartlek – Fartlek training is a conditioning exercise that combines interval training with fast and slow running.
- Heaving Punching Bag Drills – Use a heavy punching bag to improve your conditioning and punching skills.
- Heavy Ropes or Battle Ropes – Heavy rope training (or battle rope training) works out your core and upper body.
- Indian Exercise Clubs – Indian exercise clubs are a strength and sports conditioning exercise tool. Best for upper body workouts, especially forearms, biceps and shoulders.
- Jumping Jacks – Jumping jacks are good warm-up exercises.
- Jumping Oblique Twists – Jumping oblique twists provide a core workout as well as conditioning.
- Jumping Rope – Jumping rope is a great way to build your martial arts & sports stamina.
- Kettlebell Workouts – Kettlebells is another great upper body workout.
- Kicking Bag Drills – Kicking bag drills are another great to increase your martial arts endurance as well as work on your kicking technique and power.
- Lateral Suicides – Lateral shuffles to cones or lines at progressively further distances.
- Medicine Ball Workouts – Medicine ball workouts are a traditional martial arts conditioning routine. You often see these routines used in Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts.
- Mountain Climbers – Mountain climbers are a great cardio exercise.
- Parkour – Parkour helps your conditioning, agility, strength, etc.
- Plank Jacks – Plank jacks work on your core strength as well as improve your overall conditioning.
- Prone Walkouts – This dynamic exercise works out your upper body & core.
- Rowing – Rowing improves your martial arts endurance, upper body strength and lower body strength. It is a good all-round sports exercise.
- Running – Don’t just go for distance, you also need to get your heart pounding. Therefore, you need to mix in a variety of sprinting drills and long distance runs.
- Suicide Drills – Sprints to cones or lines at progressively further distances.
- Speed Bag Drills – Use a speed bag to improve your conditioning and punching skills.
- Squat Thrusts – Squat thrusts was one of my favorite Marine Corps “martial” exercises! Great all-round martial arts & sports conditioning exercise.
- Stadium Stair Workouts – Stadium stair workouts are great for martial arts leg strength and stamina.
- Strength Training – The stronger you are, the more you can endure. However, train to maximize repetitions versus a single lift at maximum weight.
- Suicide Drills – Suicide sprints & drills are a great way to build up your cardiovascular sports endurance. These type of drills are used by many professional and college sports coaches.
- Swimming – A good cardio exercise, especially if you want to take it easy on your joints.
- Tabata Training – High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) that last about 4 minutes.
- Wheelbarrow Race – Wheelbarrow races are a fun strength and conditioning exercise to use with younger students or to add some variety to a regular exercise routine.
Plyometrics Sports Conditioning Exercises – Plyometrics exercises are great sports conditioning exercises designed to develop explosive power in martial arts. They will help you to develop stronger kicks and punches, greater agility and more endurance.
- Broad Jumps – From a standing position, try to jump as far forward as you can. Keep jumping until you reach the other side of the dojo!
- Clapping Push-Up – Try doing a regular push-up so vigorously that you can do a hand clap in the air between each push-up. Push yourself into the air with your push-up.
- Forward & Back Bounds
- Lateral Bounds
- Lateral Box Jumps – Jump side to side over a box or something easier (and probably more readily available) such as a stack of Taekwondo kicking pads.
- Lateral Box Shuffle
- Lunge Jumps
- Medicine Ball Chest Pass – In this sports exercise, you will “pass” a medicine ball from chest level to a partner.
- Medicine Ball Chops – Hold a medicine ball in your hands and move the ball diagonally across your body.
- Medicine Ball Side Throws – You will rotate and throw the medicine ball at a wall (or to a partner) from your side.
- Medicine Ball Sit-Up Throws
- Medicine Ball Slams or Throw Downs
- Medicine Ball Supine Chest Throws – Lie on your back and throw the medicine ball into the air (by pushing it upwards with two hands) & catch as it comes back to the ground.
- Plyometrics Lunges
- Power Skips
- Squat Jumps
- Stair Jumps – Instead of running up stadium stairs, try jumping up the stairs.
- Tuck Jumps
What does athletic conditioning mean?
Athletic conditioning means improving an athlete’s stamina and endurance. Improved stamina and endurance allows athletes to compete longer and have more energy at the end of a race or match. Improved conditioning is usually achieved through cardiovascular exercises such as running, plyometrics, tailored conditioning drills (i.e. mountain climbers), etc. Conditioning drills can also work on improving upper body stamina so athletes can use their arms effectively for longer (i.e. the ability to throw multiple punches over many rounds in a boxing match).
What’s the difference between strength and conditioning?
Strength training builds muscle in order to increase an athlete’s strength and power. Conditioning is physical training that increases an athlete’s overall cardiovascular stamina and muscle endurance. “Strength and conditioning” programs combine strength training and conditioning exercises into an overall integrated workout.
Martial Arts Conditioning – Shaolin Kung Fu
Martial Arts Conditioning
Image From Wikimedia Commons