There’s More Than lne tay to iift teights

Black Belt - - FIT TO FIGHT - by Ian iauer, CpCp

Q: In the last is­sue, you talked about lift­ing con­ven­tional weights for en­hanced mar­tial arts per­for­mance. What about other forms of weightlift­ing? A: There is an­other type of weight train­ing that de­serves dis­cus­sion. It en­tails at­tach­ing ex­tra weight to your body — specif­i­cally, your an­kles, wrists or torso — and then en­gag­ing in func­tional mar­tial arts train­ing.

Be­fore I begin, let me say this about “func­tional train­ing.” All too of­ten, peo­ple use the term to re­fer to a hodge­podge of move­ments that in no way trans­late to im­proved func­tion­al­ity in their ath­letic en­deavor. How­ever, that doesn’t mean the con­cept is with­out value. There are many sim­ple and ad­vanced ex­er­cises that re­ally can re­sult in im­proved mar­tial arts. Some look sim­i­lar to the move­ments they’re meant to im­prove, while oth­ers are ba­sic mo­tions that en­hance over­all body func­tion.

Now, on to the sub­ject of the day: The prob­lem with most ex­er­cises done to im­prove strength for any mar­tial arts tech­nique is it’s nearly im­pos­si­ble to move through the ac­tual range of mo­tion as­so­ci­ated with the tech­nique. For in­stance, a ply­o­met­ric push-up can boost ex­plo­sive power for a punch, but it doesn’t in­volve the same full­body re­cruit­ment as the punch. That’s be­cause the push-up doesn’t ac­count for what hap­pens through­out your body when you pro­pel your knuck­les into a tar­get. To get the full chain of events, you must ac­tu­ally punch. How can you do that while adding re­sis­tance? By strap­ping on weights, of course.

WEIGHT VEST: Con­sid­ered a safe method for in­cor­po­rat­ing ex­tra mass into a work­out, it loads your legs and con­se­quently taxes and strength­ens your lower body. Be­cause much of your strik­ing power de­rives from the ro­ta­tion of your mid­sec­tion, a weight vest benefits you by forc­ing your mus­cles to ro­tate the mass of the vest in ad­di­tion to the mass of your body.

It’s im­por­tant to note that de­cel­er­a­tion — that is, stop­ping that ro­ta­tion — is more chal­leng­ing while wear­ing a weight vest be­cause of the in­creased in­er­tia. That will put your mus­cu­la­ture un­der greater stress, es­pe­cially if you’re try­ing to re­verse a mo­tion rather than just stop it. This may sound bad, but it’s ac­tu­ally good. Much of the ben­e­fit of re­sis­tance train­ing re­sults from the body deal­ing with the ec­cen­tric por­tion of an ex­er­cise. In this ex­am­ple, the ec­cen­tric por­tion is the “brak­ing,” or the stop­ping of the ro­ta­tion. As long as you use an ap­pro­pri­ately weighted vest and don’t overdo it, you can in­crease your power out­put while keep­ing your joints and mus­cles healthy.

So how do you in­cor­po­rate a weight vest into your train­ing? Sim­ply wear one while do­ing kata, drills, bag work and even spar­ring. The ex­tra re­sis­tance will pro­vide the nec­es­sary stim­u­lus to aug­ment your power out­put. To play it safe, limit the du­ra­tion of your vested work­outs to two or three ses­sions per week, with each one last­ing 20 to 30 min­utes. AN­KLE AND WRIST WEIGHTS: Although they’re popular in the mar­tial arts be­cause they can be

strapped on be­fore ex­e­cut­ing kicks and punches, cau­tion is ad­vised if you’re con­sid­er­ing giv­ing th­ese prod­ucts a try. Hy­per­ex­ten­sion of the el­bows and knees can oc­cur, es­pe­cially if you at­tempt whip­ping arm move­ments (back­fists, hand swords) or snap­ping or whip­ping leg move­ments (round­house kicks, front snap kicks).

Rather than re­gard an­kle and wrist weights as a way to in­crease power, think of them as a means to im­prove mus­cu­lar en­durance. You can ac­com­plish that by work­ing through tech­nique se­quences at a mod­er­ate and safe speed for an ex­tended time. The added weight will stress the in­volved mus­cu­la­ture, caus­ing it to be­come stronger and more re­sis­tant to fa­tigue.

It doesn’t take much ad­di­tional weight at the end of a long lever such as your arm or leg to dramatically in­crease the work that’s done by the mus­cles at the base of that lever. In other words, even though you use light weights and train well be­low your max­i­mum speed, you can con­di­tion your shoul­ders and hips us­ing an­kle and wrist weights. That will re­sult in im­proved mus­cu­lar en­durance for punch­ing and kick­ing. It’s worth men­tion­ing again: Don’t at­tach weights to your wrists and an­kles and try to move your limbs at high ve­loc­ity. It’s a recipe for dis­as­ter.

Ex­cep­tion: You can de­crease the risk of hy­per­ex­ten­sion by us­ing a heavy bag to stop your weighted kicks and punches. If you de­cide to use this method, you’ll find that soft weights are more com­fort­able. KEY POINTS FOR WEIGHT TRAIN­ING: First, use a weight that’s light enough. It should al­low you to work through your stan­dard range of mo­tion for a given tech­nique.

Sec­ond, pay at­ten­tion to the tech­nique. The en­tire chain of move­ment from the ground up should be done with pre­ci­sion.

Third, start slowly. In­crease your speed only af­ter you’ve be­come com­fort­able with the added re­sis­tance.

Fourth, at­tach the weight(s) firmly to your body. You don’t want the added mass to shift while you’re ex­er­cis­ing, and you re­ally don’t want any­thing to fly off and pos­si­bly in­jure some­one.

Fi­nal cau­tion: If you’re over­weight, adding weight dur­ing ex­er­cise can ex­ac­er­bate joint prob­lems and lead to other in­juries. In such cases, use of a weight vest, an­kle weights or wrist weights is not rec­om­mended.

Ragher ghaf re­gard afkle afd wrisg weighgs as a way gf ifcrease pfwer, ghifk ff ghem as a meafs gf im­prfve mus­cu­lar ef­du­rafce.

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