Why It Can Be Hard to Prioritize Stetching
I maintain a very active physical training regimen between my martial arts and stunt-oriented training. I train in martial arts and parkour 3-4 times a week. I do high intensity interval cardio training twice a week. I do strength training once a week. I practice fight choreography 2-3 times a week. I do weapons training 3 times a week. I can’t even think of everything I do off-hand. I do a lot. I keep track of all my training using an app called Habit List, which lets me know how well I’m keeping up with my training goals. For the most part, my physical goals are all well maintained. So why is it that my goal of doing daily stretching is in the red every week when I’m generally pretty good at sticking to my goals? (more…)
Thoughts on Fitness Trackers in Martial Arts Classes
The first time I saw a Fitbit on a student’s wrist in class, I reminded the student that jewelry was not allowed on the mats. He apologized, but also pointed out that it wasn’t simply a bracelet, that it was a fitness tracker that helped him monitor all their physical activities. I thought it was an interesting device, but ultimately asked him to take it off, as that was the rule. Since then, a couple of other students have stepped onto the mats wearing one, saying that they just forgot about it because they’re so used to having it on, as they hurriedly removed it and returned to their training. (more…)
An Easy & Effective Way to Do a HIIT Cardio Workout
The weather here in Vancouver this May has been amazing. It’s made me want to train outside more, rather than in my dark basement gym. So instead of doing my typical HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout going back and forth between stationary biking and burpees, I decided to take it outside.
For this particular workout, all you need is a hill. I happen to live right next to a park situated on a hill, surrounded by natural forest. The forest cover offers the perfect amount of shade to keep things cooler too. To use the hill for my workout, I simply run uphill during my high intervals and walk downhill during my low intervals. Hill running is really intense, working out all the muscles in your legs. I still use my typical timing for my workout, 4 minutes warm-up, 8 cycles of 90 second low intervals and 30 second high intervals, followed by a 2-minute cool-down. (more…)
Don’t Let Ideals Keep You from Taking the First Step
I have a lot of friends who have children. Every one of them loves their children and what being a parent has brought to their lives. At the same time, not one of them said they felt 100% perfectly ready to have their child when they first got pregnant. They all pretty much said that there would never be a perfect moment of readiness, particularly for their first child because they couldn’t know everything they needed to know about all the challenges their particular child would bring. This is also true when it comes to taking up a martial art.
While there are some challenges that are obvious and controllable, like finances and scheduling, fitness level should never be the thing that holds a person back, unless it’s related to injury recovery or care. Most people want to take up martial arts training because they want an interesting activity that will help them stay fit. There is absolutely no need to hold off starting one’s training to get in better shape first. Training WILL get you in better shape, especially if it’s something you enjoy. A former student of mine named Rick started training with us as an out-of-shape 63-year-old. He struggled through his first few months but made so much progress in that time that he lost 70 lbs. Read his story here. Pride can be a factor for some, but in the right school, you’ll have all the support and encourage you need to work on your fitness as you train. (more…)
Why Martial Artists Should Do Strength Training
Many years ago, I came to believe that strength training was detrimental to being a good martial artist, or at least for the type of self-defense oriented training I do, that relies on technique in order to overcome bigger, stronger attackers. The reasoning I had in my mind was that putting too much emphasis on improving strength meant that you would be more inclined to rely on that strength to perform techniques. Honestly speaking, that was really just an excuse, as I didn’t particularly enjoy strength training. I still don’t, but I now realize it’s an important form of exercise that should be a part of every martial artist’s training regimen.
There are many benefits to strength training for martial artists, a few of which might surprise you. (more…)
High Intensity Interval Cardio Training for Martial Artists
I’ve recently started exploring H.I.I.T (High Intensity Interval Training) as a way of doing my cardio workouts. I had heard about their benefits and that because the workouts are shorter and more intense, you can get your cardio in more efficiently. Sometimes I just don’t have time to go for a 45-minute run, so it was worth a try.
The Benefits of H.I.I.T.
There are a number of reported benefits to high intensity interval training over conventional cardio, making it a favoured style of workout nowadays. The two main ones are as follows:
- Better for Weight Loss. While longer, less intense cardio sessions may burn more calories, a number of studies have demonstrated that H.I.I.T. burns more fat. One particular study performed by the University of Western Ontario, found that after 6 weeks of training, 3 workouts per week, subjects doing 4-6 30-second sprints with 4-6 minutes rest between lost more fat than those who did than 60 minutes of incline treadmill walking. While the reasons have not been fully explored, scientists have pinpointed a few factors, including increased resting metabolic rate for upwards of 24 hours after exercise, improved insulin sensitivity in the muscles, higher levels of fat oxidation in the muscles, and post-exercise appetite suppression, to name a few.
- Superior Muscle Preservation. It is generally believed that cardio can have a negative impact on strength gains by reducing your caloric surplus too much, and by causing you to overtrain. That being said, the shorter your cardio sessions are the less they impair strength and hypertrophy. As a result, H.I.I.T. allows you to maximize your strength gains, preserve your muscles, while still getting the benefits of the exercise. (more…)
How to Maximize Training Energy & Minimize Recovery
I recently reached a bit of a plateau in my strength training regimen. I had made some decent progress in my strength over the past few months but a few weeks ago I was finding myself sore for several days after working out, with no improvements in my performance. I decided to seek out professional advice from a friend who is a personal trainer. He gave me two pieces of advice that made a huge difference:
1) Make sure you eat 0.3-0.6 grams of carbs per pound of body weight immediately after working out.
2) Don’t do your cardio training and strength training on the same day. (more…)
Home Strength Training Workouts for Martial Artists
As a complement to my martial arts training, I like to do cardio and strength training workouts at home to break up the writing work I do at my desk during the day. I run 3x a week, sometimes with sprint intervals, sometimes wihtout, but usually I do one 5k, one 8k and one 10k each week. As for strength training, I have two full-body workouts, one with a stronger emphasis on upper body and one with a stronger emphasis on lower body. These are workouts that only require a kettlebell (I use a 20lb one), some hand weights, a bench or small table, and a mat or carpeted area. Here is my home workout area in my basement:
5 Fascial Fitness Practices that Improve Physical Performance in Martial Arts (or Anything!)
Over the past few years, fascia fitness has become an important topic of discussion in sports and physical development. Previously, fitness was seen as being a combination of muscular strength, cardiovascular conditioning, and neuromuscular coordination. But now, more modern research suggests that our body’s fascial network, a structure of connective tissue that surrounds muscles, blood vessels, and nerves, binding some structures together, while permitting others to slide smoothly over each other, play an important role on movement efficiency, injury prevention and overall body performance. For a more detailed explanation of the fascial network and their role in the body, read AnatomyTrain.com’s article on Fascial Fitness. Below is a video showing what the fascial network is with some explanation on how it affects our bodies. (more…)
3 Ways to Make Stationary Biking More Interesting
A week or so ago I tweaked my knee a bit. It wasn’t too serious, but enough that I replaced my running workouts with stationary biking workouts to help my knee recover. Obviously my knee doesn’t need the extra shock of running while healing, but cycling also has the added benefit of increasing the blood flow to the knee, helping to speed up recovery times, or so I was told by a doctor. As a result, I biked every day last week.
Stationary biking can be kind of boring on its own, so I’ve added different elements to it to help make it more interesting. (more…)