Weight training for martial arts was once frowned upon by traditional martial art trainers. Some denouncing weight training, because they thought it would make the martial artist either slow or muscle-bound. Little did they know that a few years later, some of the best martial artists were including weights in their regime. Now lifting weights is not just accepted, but commonplace for most athletes, including martial artists!
You may wonder why so many combat arts now use weight training in their program? Firstly, because the martial arts require those athletes to be strong, weight training accomplishes this certainly. A good strength-training program will include fewer sets for each muscle group, low reps, and quick movement as opposed to training to gain muscle mass. A strength-training program will also involve cycling the intensity in the workouts.
Secondly, because martial artists need a different amount of strength in order to perform the kicking, punching and grappling strength needed for their own sport, different muscle groups will be used as opposed to power lifters. Power lifters may concentrate on, for example, their triceps or pecs for bench pressing. But, since you are involved in a full-body sport, you will need to condition yourself involving full-body weight-training sessions.
If you desire to be really powerful and not just strong, a martial artist needs to integrate various types of speed training as well into a weight-training program. Lighter and heavier weight training should also be factored into the program.
Remember that what you are trying to do is increase your functional strength, not just weight lifting strength, thus use free weights rather than rely on the machines. Machines are good as well, but free weights work more core supporting muscles, generally speaking.
Muscle tears and cramping are often the result of not being hydrated enough and overtraining. You will need to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water and maybe some sports drink, prior and during the workout. You should also eat a carb-containing and protein snack or drink to help the muscle replenish from the workout. This helps substantially for your recovery process.
You will be much less prone to injury if you perform a couple of lighter warm up sets and some stretching before pumping the iron. During the workout, high intensity training will yield the best results, however, do not ever over train your muscles and keep your workouts brief. As in any program, build up gradually. This will help you recover better for your martial arts workouts.
Perform weight training around twice a week. If you can recover fast you might consider 3 times a week, however, don’t overdo it, as it will affect your martial arts training and your enthusiasm for the gym. Short brief weight training workouts combined with good nutrition and plenty of sleep will help your martial arts ability. Whether it’s kickboxing, judo, karate, kung fu or mixed martial arts, adding a couple of gym sessions can give you a good overall workout and help you become a better martial artist!