6 Simple Exercises to Boost Your Cardio for Martial Arts

We all know how important cardio is for your martial arts practice. Cardio increases the efficacy and capacity of your heart and lungs, which allows you to perform more consistently for longer periods of time. 

Martial arts training often involves intensive aerobic drills and exercises. This is why it is so important for every martial artist to include cardio workouts into their physical training outside of the dojo.

If you are not sure where to start or what to do, talk to your martial arts instructor and give these 6 simple exercises to boost your cardio for martial arts a try.

1) Hill Running

Running uphill adds a powerful strength building element to the standard aerobic exercises like jogging or running. As your leg muscles work against the force of gravity you are building up both your strength and stamina.

Pro Tip – start off small and gradually increase the height and slope of your hill runs as your strength and cardio develop.

2) Sprint Interval Training

Sprint interval training is a popular workout among martial artists as it simulates the intense bursts of activity in training and competition. Sprinting can help you burn fat, increase muscle strength, and expand lung capacity; all of which are important in building your overall endurance.

Pro Tip – start off with 10-second sprints for every 2 minutes of jogging. Then gradually build up to 30-second sprints. Make sure that you are working yourself at maximum effort during those sprints to get the best results.

3) Running the Stairs

This is another great exercise that you can do without any equipment, all you need are some stairs. Stair workouts help you build strength and power in your lower body and will really get your heart rate up. 

Pro Tip – Challenge yourself with intervals by alternating between a regular stair run and sprinting. Keep notes of how many stairs you can sprint up during a set time and try to beat it the next time you hit the stairs.

4) Jumping Rope

This exercise seems too obvious to include in this list, but it is often overlooked. Jumping rope for just a few minutes can really improve your overall cardiovascular performance. Plus it really is a full body workout that works your arms, legs and core. Don’t forget that jumping rope also increases hand-eye coordination, agility, speed, timing, and rhythm.

Pro Tip – Make sure to add in different jump patterns like side steps, crosses, high knees, and doubles. Work at increasing your speed to push your lungs to the limit.

5) Burpees

We know that burpees may be the most hated exercise of all time, but they do provide an amazing cardio workout quickly and with no equipment needed. To do a burpee, alternate between a plank position and jumping forward in the air. Make sure that your hands are flat on the ground and your back is straight. For a more advanced version, add in a push-up at the end of the cycle. Did you know that just 10 minutes of burpees can burn more than 100 calories?

Pro Tip – If you have never attempted a burpee before make sure that you have the motions down by doing a few reps carefully. Once you have the pattern down, work your way up to 10 minutes or more to avoid injury. 

6) Jumping Jacks

Jumping jacks are another often overlooked cardio workout that you can easily do at home. Since they require no equipment and a small amount of space, you can perform jumping jacks almost anywhere at any time. Plus, just like burpees, doing jumping jacks for 10 minutes straight can burn almost 100 calories. 

Pro Tip – Integrate jumping jacks into a circuit training that includes some of the other exercises listed above, such as burpees, jumping rope and stair runs for a killer cardio workout.

As with any exercise program be sure to listen to your body and build up your cardio gradually to avoid injury while still pushing yourself during your workouts. Doing this will help give you the strength you will need to push through the later minutes of in-class training or competition as well. Keep working hard outside of the dojo by adding these exercises to your martial arts training and you’re well on your way to becoming a better athlete and martial artist!

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