Can Weight Training Help Martial Artists?

Martial arts novices are often confused whether weight training or lifting is helpful or harmful to their training. The uncertainties are largely based on the belief that weight training bulks up the body and muscles, which can affect the flexibility and speed required to master the common martial art disciplines.

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In reality, weight training is actually beneficial – only if the appropriate method is chosen. There are different types of weight training, namely:

  • bodybuilding, which is done for aesthetic purposes and not primarily to produce functional muscles required in athletics;
  • powerlifting, which has a goal of developing pure strength and mass through slow, heavy lifts;
  • fitness lifting, which is chosen by those who just want to stay healthy with no other purpose for weight training;
  • Olympic lifting, which builds power, strength, and muscle control and good technique; and
  • HIIT (high intensity interval training), which focuses on small bursts of exercise periods to build endurance, conditioning, and stamina, instead of strength.

Among these five, the most conducive technique for martial arts are Olympic lifting, HIIT, or a combination of both. They help develop a strong base for strength, fundamental martial arts movements, and endurance – without sacrificing speed.

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Peter Spennato, DDS is a martial arts specialist and defense instructor, having been trained in the different disciplines, such as judo and Korean Tang Soo Do. He is also a weight lifting enthusiast. Click this link for more articles about martial arts.


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