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Bodybuilding and Martial Arts

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How to combine bodybuilding and martial arts training

Bodybuilding and martial arts go hand in hand, and if you practice one it can be a great idea to supplement with the other as each will improve your performance in the other.

Firstly, bodybuilding will improve your performance in martial arts for obvious reasons. Martial arts are all about self defence, and there is really no better self defence than being made entirely from muscle. In a "wrestling and throws" style of martial art such as Judo this is particularly helpful and you may find that you can overpower more experienced exponents (and in Judo the grading system is based on just who you can overpower so you'll move right on up the ranks!). In contact sports like ultimate fighting or boxing no one will want to go near you, and even in point sparring people will be afraid to block your attacks and you'll be able to blast them out far quicker and faster. When punching pads you will knock the wind out of your training partners. To improve you punching power focus on building your pecs, shoulders, triceps and serratus muscles.

A lot of martial arts, particularly things like wushu or capoeira which are a bit flashier, are dependent on a good weight-to strength ratio to achieve the kind of agility you need to leap into the air and do handsprings and cartwheels. Again the best way to achieve this is by building your strength through calisthenics and in the gym.

This works both ways though, and training in martial arts will also help improve your physique and performance in the gym no end. Martial arts work firstly as a great session of CV and coupled with the warm up and stretches they can make a fantastic cardio workout. In my old capoeira lessons the warm up alone lasted half an hour and involved running round the hall and doing hand stand press ups. Even just practicing punches will burn fat and also requires great muscle control (in styles like Karate you are taught to tense on the end of a punch). This translates well for posing and for slow movements in the gym, and will help you to cut fat and expose that muscle you've worked so hard for. Just check out Bruce Lee's bodyfat percentage to see what martial arts can do for you.

Martial arts will teach you more than that though. They also improve your balance and your flexibility which will improve your technique and lessen your chance of injury in the gym. They also teach you to focus on your full body and mind. If you supplement both martial arts and bodybuilding together then you'll have a powerful combination that will make you nigh unstoppable in both arenas.


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