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Strength Training for Optimal Karate Performance

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Published on May 2, 2012

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http://timrosanelli.blogspot.com/2011...
I am regularly asked if I weight training and if I suggest karate athlete's weight train for better performance.

Two thing to consider before adding weight training to your karate training
First, research found that karate training is one of best sports for all around conditioning, second only to basketball. This research is fairly old. With the additional of more pad work and the heavy bag training to karate training in the last 15 years, I believe that karate may be first now.

Second, the best way to improve in karate is to train in karate.

So...
If you don't have extra time, stick with just the karate training. If you are getting regular karate workouts and can add more continue reading.

Everything you know about weight training is wrong
Well, at least, it's wrong if you want to improve your speed and strength for the Martial Arts.

The fitness and weight lifting industry is dominated by the bodybuilding. The bodybuilding industry is concerned with muscle size and tone while you as a karate athlete are concerned with speed, strength, and conditioning that can lead to better performance.

Bodybuilding workouts will get you toned and make you look fit but we are looking for functional muscle for karate. I have trained many bodybuilders in karate and was amazed how clumsy and slow they were doing karate since they looked so in shape.

Important Differences in Training Routines
When weight training in karate, it's important that your sessions don't create muscle soreness that will effect your karate workouts and still build the strength your muscles need for speed, power, and endurance.

If you train slow, you're becoming a slow Martial Artist. Excessive muscle soreness will slow you down in your training and interferes with speed and power development. Muscle soreness should be achieved during your regular karate workouts not during weight training.

Here's some rules for better athletic training
#1 Never lifting to failure -- A very common practice in body building type of workouts is to lift for failure, that means to lift until you need assistance for the last rep. This is effective in building muscle mass but poor at building functional muscle and will create muscle soreness that interferes with your karate workouts.

#2 Look for full body movements -- Full body movements like Deadlifts, Squats, Olympic lifts, Chest Presses train and require coordination of multiple muscle groups which transfer well to athletic movements.

#3 Avoid Slow Reps -- Slow Reps again are a bodybuilding technique that won't help and may slow your athletic performance. Remember, to become fast, you need to train fast.

#4 Short efficient workouts -- Few exercises, low rep volume, longer rest period, and heavy weights are the way to go.

Sample Deadlift Workout

Results
Here's an 8 week deadlift workout routine that I just completed. The results of this workout were pretty impressive considering that it took less than 10 minutes per week. In 8 weeks, I gain 4 lbs of muscle while losing 6 lbs of fat. My deadlift max increased by 60 lbs to 300lbs beating my personal best from 11 yrs ago.

The Workout
The workout is twice a week, one light day on Monday and a heavy day on Friday.

The light day never changes. It consists of 3 sets of 3 reps at 50% of the max you're trying to achieve with 3 minute rests between sets. The light day helps maintain your strength but it also works as a gauge to see if you are getting stronger. The light days should feel lighter as you get closer to your max attempts in week 8.

The heavy days start with the Max attempt in week eight and you subtract 10 lbs off every week until you get to the week 1. The 10 lb increase each week is between 2% (5lbs) to 5% (12.5lbs) of your max. The number of reps starts at two sets of 5 and reduces as you get closer to the 8th week with 5 minutes rests between sets.

Here's a breakdown of my previous deadlift workout cycle
Light Day 3 min Rest
150 X 3/3/3

Heavy Day 5min Rest
Week 1: 180 x 5/5
Week 2: 190 x 5/5
Week 3: 200 x 5/5
Week 4: 210 x 5/5
Week 5: 220 x 3/3
Week 6: 230 x 2/2
Week 7: 240 x 2/2
Week 8: 1st Attempt 250, 2nd Attempt 280, 3rd Attempt 300 lbs

Well, there you have it. What do you have to lose by trying it out?
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Music by Kevin MacLeod (http://www.incompetech.com)

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