No matter how strong of a fighter you are, you are only as good for as long as your stamina will allow you to hold out. This can not only cause you to loose a match during a tournament or competition, but more importantly, can be dangerous in a real life emergency that requires you to defend yourself or others. Fortunately, there are many ways to boost your physical endurance. Here are some endurance exercises that I have used to help build my stamina to prepare for martial arts competitions.
Martial Arts Endurance Exercise #1 – Weight Training
Lifting weights is a great way to boost endurance. This not only tests your muscles ability to work under pressure for an extended period of time, but builds muscle mass for added strength. Endurance training using weights must start months before a martial art tournament to have much effect. The reason being that conditioning muscle can take weeks and weeks of training.
Tip – Most professionals recommend using light weights for toning muscle and heavy weights for building muscle mass. For endurance training, try to use medium size weights. This allows you to still lift a decent amount of weight without getting tired after just a few reps.
Martial Arts Endurance Exercise #2 – Multiple Partner Sparring
Personally, I feel this is the best strategy to enhance your fighting stamina. For this exercise, you will need to ask at least two (the more the better) of your fellow martial arts students to help. Start by sparring one-on-one with each of your assistants in 2 minute rounds. When the two minutes are up, have your opponent switch places with one of the other fully rested fighters. The point is to not give yourself a break. This will condition your body to withstand fatigue from long matches. It also allows you to practice your technique while building your overall stamina.
Martial Arts Endurance Exercise #3 – Heavy Bag Training
If you don’t have partners to help you, build endurance by sparring with a heavy bag. Visualize that you are facing off against a real opponent and attack the bag full force. On your first day of heavy bag training. time yourself to see what your current stamina level is. Each day, add 30 seconds to your time. A good goal is to be able to spar nonstop for 10-15 minutes easily.
Martial Arts Endurance Exercise #4 – Keep your Hands Up
One of the worst things to do in a fight is to drop your hands. If you hands are down, you will be unable to protect your body from punches and kicks that your opponent throws at you. Build your arm endurance by standing with your feet shoulder width apart with your arms lifted straight out to the side. Hold your arms in this position as long as you can. If your arms get tired, drop your arms, rest for 30 seconds, and repeat. Continue this for 20 minutes. Each day, repeat the exercise. Your goal should be to reduce the number of breaks that you need to take until you are able to do the full 20 minutes without stopping.
Tip – For an added challenge, add weight to your arms by holding small weights in your hands. If you don’t have weights, try holding a bottle of water in each hand.
Martial Arts Endurance Exercise #5 – Bouncing Stance
The way you move during a fight can greatly affect the outcome. Quick footwork can help you move forward to strike your opponent quickly or dodge an incoming attack. For this reason, it is very important to work on the endurance of your sparring footwork. Stand in your normal fighting stance – hands up. Raise yourself onto the balls of your feet and bounce repeatedly 6 inches forward and then backward. Start with your right leg forward. Once you have done this for 10 minutes, switch legs so that your left leg is forward.
Tip – Ankle weights can add an extra challenge to this exercise.