Combat sports promote exceptional cardio and strength while teaching real-world self-defense skills. This means you can shed those pounds, tone up that gut, and learn how to flatten a would-be attacker.
Boxing has enjoyed a return into the mainstream, with fan favorites such as Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury, and Andy Ruiz. And MMA is ever solidifying its place among top-tier sports, with superstars such as Conor McGregor and Jorge Masvidal.
Usually shredded, and always “fit as a fiddle,” professional fighters boast functional fitness through a balance of strength and cardio. Here’s how to implement combat sports into your workout:
Either Do or Don’t — There Is No “Try”
If you want to take combat sports seriously, then you need to join a reputable dojo. There, you’ll learn the basics, get used to hitting pads and bags, and drill with peers. Eventually, when you’re ready, you can dive into full-contact sparring. You might even want to compete! It doesn’t have to be a career move, but a charity event or one-off blue-collar match could be a tick off the bucket list.
Take It Easy
If you want the benefits of a combat sports workout routine with little injury risk, then a boxercise or kickboxercise class could be perfect. These classes combine boxing or kickboxing techniques with the friendly and social aspects of an exercise class — but with no contact. You’ll drill combinations on the pads and bags, and perform exercise routines designed to give you that snap in your punch while being light on your feet.
Try at Home
You’ll always learn best being coached by a professional or even a seasoned amateur. We always recommend attending classes and using the following workouts as supplementary training to aid your in-class technique. But if you can’t afford classes, or if you really want to dip your toes in the water before diving into a full-blown class, here are some exercises you can try at home:
#1. Skip Rope
Skipping rope will improve one of the fundamentals in any striking discipline: footwork. Good footwork not only allows you to swiftly evade your opponent’s strikes, but also helps you position yourself properly to effectively counter with your own. By skipping rope, you’ll increase the speed at which you can move your feet and keep on your toes.
1. Skip the rope but begin to hop with one foot at a time, while the other foot is raised.
2. As you get into a rhythm, begin hopping twice on each foot, while the other foot is raised.
3. Attempt sprint phases and go “all out” for short bursts; then return to a normal pace.
#2. Ladder Drills
Ladder drills are another technique to improve the speed of your footwork. Place a rope ladder across the court or path, and follow a variety of repetitions as you run down the ladder:
1. If it’s your first time, just walk through the ladder. Get a feel for the movement of stepping both feet one by one into each square.
2. Next, begin to jog through the ladder using the same technique.
3. Now you can add side steps. Begin slightly to the right of the ladder and step in with your left foot, then in with your right, then out with your left, then out with your right, and so forth. Continue this sequence as you move up the ladder.
4. Now that you have two basic techniques to play with, begin increasing your speed.
#3. Shadow Boxing
Shadowboxing is one of the most underrated exercises when it comes to combat sports. Which is too bad, because it’s a great way to practice punches, kicks, elbows, knees, and even very basic elements of grappling by utilizing sprawls within your workout. Check out YouTube for tutorials on striking and sprawling techniques before you begin.
1. Practice a relaxed stance with your lead foot forward, your hands near your chin, and your elbows not too wide so as to protect your body.
2. Throw punches, elbows, front kicks, and roundhouse kicks. For something a little more fancy, try a spinning back kick.
3. Every time you’ve thrown a few combos of punches and kicks, perform a sprawl with speed and pop back up and throw another combo.
4. Add 5-20 burpees between each shadow boxing round to increase your explosive strength.
Or, if attempting a longer, continuous shadowboxing session, perform 50-100 burpees with as little break between as possible.
Combat the Laziness
So there you have it. While nothing beats learning in the dojo, now you have some useful exercises to supplement your classes, or get rid of those first-time nerves.
Combat sports are great for weight loss. So get motivated, get up off of that couch, and get fit!
Disclaimer: This information isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should never rely upon this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.