There’s no denying that improved levels of fitness are a common by-product of studying a martial art. Even with that in mind, many martial artists seek out further training in order to condition their body for optimum performance.
Today we’re going to be taking a look at different pieces of fitness equipment that a martial artist can use to aid their performance and increase their overall level of fitness.
One point worth mentioning before we begin is that it’s important to find pieces of equipment that are in some way related and interlink with your martial art. For example, when considering which piece of equipment to use or buy, think about which part of your body the equipment is targeting, and how often that part is utilized when participating in martial arts.
Let’s get to it.
First up we’ve got the speed bag, probably the most iconic piece of boxing equipment thanks to the many glorified scenes in Hollywood movies. Despite some claiming that a speed bag is an ‘outdated boxing ritual,’ there’s still a number of benefits to be had by incorporating them into your work out.
One such benefit is improving and developing your timing and coordination. Once a speed bag has been hit, it will rebind back and forth at a fairly fast pace, depending on how hard it was struck. You will then need to hit the bag again, at just the right time, in just the right place. If you miss-hit the bag, it will rebind awkwardly and ruin the rhythm; therefore precision is everything.
Also, when working the speed bag, your hands must be raised near the bag for the duration of the workout. Considering speed bags are often used for multiple rounds of 1-3 minutes, they provide a fantastic endurance exercise for your arms and shoulders.
If you’re looking to get your own speed bag, you’ll need to buy a few other components in order to get it set up. For example, you’ll need a platform (like these ones) and a speed bag swivel. Speed bags also come in a variety of different sizes, with the larger models being designed for beginners, as they are easier to hit and rebound slower.
The TRX was created by a former Navy Seal looking for an effective way to exercise whilst on the move. He then proceeded to create a form of suspension training that utilizes gravity and your body weight.
The TRX is essentially a strong rope that hands down from a beam, with two handles. You can then hold onto the handles and perform some different exercises. One such exercise is a suspended push-up. This is like a regular push up. However, you lean forward, allowing the TRX to keep you suspended, and perform a push-up.
This is significantly harder than a regular push up as it activates your core muscles, as well as our arms in order to keep you balanced.
What’s more, TRX’s are pretty affordable and when you take into consideration their versatility, are a great piece of fitness equipment for any martial artist or athlete.
Next up on our list is a heavy bag, probably one of the most utilized pieces of equipment in a striking martial artists’ arsenal. This is due to the fact that they provide an intense workout, while at the same time allowing you to develop your striking techniques.
Heavy bag workouts have become so popular, that ‘fitness boxing’ or ‘boxercise’ classes have started to gain a massive amount of popularity. These classes involve utilizing the heavy bag with the intention to develop cardiovascular and muscular endurance, as opposed to focusing on specific boxing techniques and skills.
There are two different types of heavy bags that you’ll come across, while both serve the same purpose, each has their own set benefits and drawbacks.
Firstly, is the more traditional hanging heavy bag, which as the name suggest, hangs down from above and swings back and forth when it has been struck. This is often the preferred option, as the swinging motion of the bag most accurately simulates the movement of an opponent. The only downside to buying a heavy hanging bag is you’ll either need to find a suitable place to hang it or buy a specialized heavy bag stand, which can add to your cost.
The other type of heavy bag you’ll come across is a free-standing model, which tend to be more popular for home gyms. This is because they’re much easier to set up, as you just need to fill the base with either water or sand, stand the bag up and you’re good to do. That being said, freestanding heavy bags can sometimes topple over if they’re struck with enough force, for example with a high powered kick. As such, they’re much better suited for cardio oriented workouts, as opposed to developing explosive power.
Another fantastic piece of fitness equipment a martial artist can utilize is the battle rope. While the battle rope hasn’t been around as long as the other items on our list, it’s quickly becoming a popular choice, not just amongst martial artists, but among fitness enthusiasts as well.
A battle rope is a long, thick rope that is either weighted down or pegged to the ground in the middle. The idea is to hold onto both ends and swing your hands in different motions for a certain amount of time.
One such exercise is the battle rope waves, which is where you hold each end of the rope, and alternately swing each hand up and down while standing in a squat position. This exercise, in particular, is great for working out your core, arms and legs as well as provides pretty intense cardio workout as well.
Double End Bag
A double end bag, also known as a floor to ceiling bag, is a type of punching bag designed to develop accuracy, speed, and movement. The bag is typically attached via two elasticated straps attached to the floor and ceiling, allowing the bag to bounce back and forth when it has been struck.
Although helping to train similar aspects, many people prefer the double end bag over a speed bag for a number of reasons. Firstly, you’re able to circle the bag, something you can’t do with a speed bag as it’s either mounted to a wall or platform. Secondly, the bag rebounds at a much lower height, allowing you to practice slipping punches, as well as throwing them. Both of these reasons make a double end bag much better for simulating a fighting scenario, without having to spar.
What’s more, the double end bag also provides an intense workout, developing the endurance of your arms and core, as you throw punches and slip the bag as it rebounds towards you.
The final piece of fitness equipment we’re going to be taking a look at is the jump/ skipping rope. Whatever you want to call it, you can’t fault the jump rope. While running is the preferred option of cardio for many people, it is unfortunately pretty weather dependent. At the end of the day, no one enjoys running in rain or snow, so why not give the skipping rope a go?
Believe it or not, there are a few different types of skipping rope to choose from. Firstly, there are speed ropes, which tend to be fairly thin and allow you to push the pace a bit faster. You can also get much thicker ropes which are perfect if you want to feel the burn in your forearms. This is ideal for grappling based martial arts that involve having a tight grip on your opponent, which is extremely dependent on the strength and endurance of your forearms.
While martial arts in themselves provide an amazing workout, it’s always good to supplement your classes with additional exercises in order to make you a more well-rounded athlete. By trying out some of the equipment we’ve mentioned in this article, you’ll provide yourself with both a fun and effective way of improving your overall fitness levels, while ensuring your work out is tailored towards your martial art of choice.
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