Even if you're not ready to sign up for your local martial arts studio, martial arts-inspired moves can result in some pretty powerful body benefits.
Not only do you lose fat, but you also improve your body awareness, coordination and flexibility. You also get a mental advantage. Since the movements require a lot of focus and concentration, your mind cannot be distracted from your to-do list. If so, you might get an elbow in the face! Martial artists practice self-control and self-defense exercises, both of which can also lead to increased confidence and self-esteem.
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And the benefits of burning calories and burning fat? Not only is it likely that you will burn as many (if not more) calories during an intense 30-minute martial arts workout as you would on a treadmill in the same amount of time, but you also get the added bonus of being metabolically active at the same time as lean muscle mass . It's a three-in-one workout that offers strength, flexibility, and cardio challenges to sharpen your mind and body!
The exact definition of "mixed martial arts" can vary depending on the questioner. In general, however, it refers to a fusion of various martial arts techniques such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo, wrestling and muay thai. It is often referred to as "martial arts" which has become synonymous with unrestricted fighting.
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So why martial arts inspired moves if you don't plan on getting in the ring? "Martial arts works on the efficiency, balance and stability that are necessary for everything – whether you pick up bags at the supermarket or work out in the gym," explains Sensei Guillermo Gomez, a fourth degree black belt and inventor of Martial Fusion. A fitness program that combines multiple martial arts styles for non-martial artists. "Martial arts can teach you how to keep your body in harmony to prevent injury and perform at your best."
The good news? You don't even have to fight an opponent to experience this style of training. Practice these techniques yourself for your own explosive full body workout.
"Kick It Up" workout
"This training introduces you to martial arts-style training, which offers a new type of body work that results from the integration of body and mind as one unit," explains Sensei Guillermo Gomez, creator of this exclusive training.
How to: Do each exercise with the recommended number of repetitions, then quickly move on to the next exercise without pausing in between. Do a total of three rounds with a 30 to 60 second break between rounds. When you're feeling comfortable, try this workout without shoes to keep developing the muscles in your ankles and feet.
Do this workout two to three times a week on non-consecutive days, alternating with traditional strength training or your favorite cardio routine.
Martial Fusion Power Push-Up
This exercise helps build strength, flexibility, and total body strength – all important elements that martial artists use in their training. And while this is a push-up, there are some surprising benefits for the lower body. "This movement provides a convenient way to develop flexibility and strength in the lower body, especially in the hips and inner thighs," says Gomez.
Configuration: Start with feet that are wider than shoulder width, and your knees and toes are about 45 degrees (A) out. Drop into a deep squat and let your chest come forward until your elbows lightly touch the tops of the thighs (B).
Action: Put your hands on the floor, bracing your abs, and jumping your legs back into the full plank position (C). Bend your arms, keep your elbows tight by your sides, and lower your body to a few inches off the floor (D). Push back, then jump your legs back and return to a crouch. Work your way up to 10 repetitions in a row.
Make it easier: Instead of jumping, put your feet back into a plank position and push your knees up.
The movement, inspired by jiu-jitsu and wrestling, targets the abdomen, back, legs and buttocks while improving your flexibility, strength and freedom of movement for more traditional exercises like crunches and bridges.
Configuration: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat, and only wider than hip-width apart. Contract your abs, lift your head and shoulders off the floor, and bend your arms at your sides with your palms open and inward as shown (A).
Action: Push through your heels and lift your hips up. Roll onto your right shoulder (right arm extends along your side on the floor, palm down) as you reach your left arm up and over your right shoulder (B). Return to the starting position and quickly repeat on the other side. Perform a total of 10 setbacks, switching sides with each repetition.
Make it easier: Instead of rolling onto your shoulders, practice grasping with your arms first and only slightly lifting your hips until you feel more ready.
Tip: Try to maintain some fluidity as you curl up in your back and keep your core muscles moving by firmly supporting your abs.
Horse position for side kick
This side kick is primarily a kickboxing move and is great for targeting your lower body, says Gomez. "With this pressure and balancing movement, you train all the muscles in your lower body. This is one of the most effective exercises you can do for your glutes, especially if you proceed slowly and in a controlled manner."
Configuration: Start with feet that are wider than shoulder width and your knees and toes that are sticking out 45 degrees. Lower yourself into a deep squat while keeping your back straight. Bend your elbows to bring your fists into line with your chin. Rotate your torso and shift your focus to the right (A).
Action: Slide your left heel to the right, keeping your toes out, and shifting your weight onto your left leg. Lift your right knee and bend your foot. Next, straighten your right leg fully to one side, make a fist with your right arm and straighten it parallel to your leg (B). Bend your right knee, quickly put your right foot down, and then slide your left foot back out to return to start. Do 10 repetitions in a row on each side.
Make it easier: Practice balancing with the leg up before moving on to the full side kick. When you're ready for more, try kicking deep.
Tip: Never let your leg stretch out without control. Remember to push through the entire surface of your sole and try to forcibly move an opponent away from you.
This exercise relies on elements such as wrestling, aikido, jiu-jitsu, and kickboxing. It strengthens the core, strengthens the upper body and improves coordination and flexibility. "It develops the overall firmness and elasticity evenly throughout your body and improves your general reaction time while moving," says Gomez.
Configuration: Start on all fours with your hands under your shoulders. Lift your hips and get on your feet. Keep your knees bent and your body weight evenly distributed.
Action: Step forward with your right hand and foot and repeat with your left. Take four steps forward (alternating sides) and repeat four steps backward. Repeat a total of four times from above.
Make it easier: Keep your shins in contact with the floor (use an exercise mat if necessary) and crawl on your hands and knees. Don't let your back sag or protrude, and constantly support your abs to maximize core work.
Ginga front leg extension
This dance-like move that combines capoeira and kickboxing may look carefree, but don't let that fool you. “The ginga movement (from Capoeira) is a means of protection against an attacker and develops agility and speed. The rotation helps to improve the flexibility of your spine and intervenes in your inclines, ”explains Gomez.
Configuration: Stand on your chin with feet hip-width apart, elbows bent, and fists (A).
Action: Step out with your left foot and toes pointing slightly outward and brush your right leg in front of your body as high as possible, pressing your pelvis forward (B). Next, swing your right leg behind you, take a quick step back, and put your foot on the floor (C). As you step back, bend your right knee and shift your weight on your right foot to sweep your left foot further behind your right. At the same time, swing your left elbow in front of your chin (D).
Make it easier: Keeping front leg extension low and stepping backward until you feel ready.