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Best Martial Arts Drills to Increase Your Strength

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You may have read many articles about the ability of using your own body to increase physical strength. Here, I want to focus on 5 specific methods of training that will increase your strength for your martial arts training – using equipment or not.

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“Weight Lifting and Training”

If you have access to a gym with a decent set of “free weights” – not “Universal Machines” –  you will immediately have a routine easy to access and easy to follow. Most such gyms even offer specific charts and routines. Lifting weights properly can quickly increase your strength and cardio in martial arts training. The key to weight lifting is the time in between reps. You can gain beautiful muscle tone and tissue through weight lifting, but if you are in the gym doing bench-presses for an hour… well, you get the idea. Like any drill, drill your reps, with little time for rest.

“Push Ups”

One of the greatest ways to increase your over all body strength, and has been for thousands of years, is the old fashioned push up. But to truly increase your strength – which includes your cardio – drill ‘em! Try doing 5 reps of 50 push ups, with only 20 seconds of rest in between each rep. You will feel the incredible burn of your body’s upper muscle tissues, and at the end, you may need an oxygen mask!

“Holding Positions”

Commonly taught in Yoga classes, a holding position is placing the body in a specific and normally uncomfortable position, and simply holding it in that position for a certain amount of time. If you take a Yoga class, you may think it slow and even boring, but when practiced correctly, you will know why each Yoga Student and Instructor, is just as soaking wet after practice as the student and instructor in a boxing class. Am example for incredible core strength increase, is to place the body in a push-up position, but moving the arms to where you rest on your elbows. Keep your body completely parallel to the ground and simply hold that position for a 60 seconds. Rest for 30, then repeat 4 or 5, or even 6 times with advancement. See what happens to your abs. To increase your core strength using this position, try lifting one of your legs off the ground through out the duration of the rep. Talk about pain and power! And there are just as many for the upper body, the legs, the hips, the back, etc.

“Up Hill Running, etc.”

Anyone can find some hills somewhere – even if those hills are your own stairs in your house, or the local high school stadium seats. Run up and down those hills, whether stairs, or actual hills in a hilly area, or the natural hills going down to a local pond or stream. If you are lucky enough to live in a mountainous range – you have even a greater advantage. This, along with squats, will dramatically increase your strength in your legs, hips, and back muscles – not to mention an incredible cardio workout. And if you have access to equipment – dead lifts. Dead Lifts are an exceptional way of increasing leg and back muscles.


As one of my favorite instructors during my lifetime of martial arts, Professor Frank Romero, said, “There is just something about grappling.” In the MMA arena, to win a match, you simply have to know what to do on the ground because many times the strike is not going to knock out your opponent, and when being swept or thrown, the game is going to the ground. Even if you have the cardio to last through the match, if you have no body strength, chances are you will lose to an arm bar or other submission technique. Consistent time on the mat grappling will change your overall strength because your body will adapt to feeling the weight and the movement of your opponent who tries to submit you and “tap” you out. There truly is something about grappling, or “rolling.”

The key to all these methods of training is indeed the drill. And a drill consists of something entirely different than just an exercise. A true drill allows only for a small time of resting. Your rest and recovery come later, after class. The benefits? Just wait and see when you wake up the next morning and head to practice!

About Dean Nielsen

Dean Nielsen has written 4 post in this blog.

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2 Comments For This Post

  1. Sit Num Noi Says:

    I agree with your Ptofessor, there really is something about grappling, i tried jui-jitsu before going full time with Muay Thai, and there really is something about grappling, there is an intense feeling, an adrenaline rush, although it really is hard, to think im already used to physical activities, but man, the moment the duel starts, its really something,

  2. Tony Hackerott Says:

    Great comment and insight thanks for posting!

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