I have recently started training martial arts (mostly striking, some wrestling).
I have trainings twice a week (monday/wednesday). Trainings are pretty demanding, even after 3 months. I don't train anything else.

What kind of exercises can I do at home that complement my martial art training?


8 Answers 8


Back bridges (where you go into a bridge, lower yourself to about 20 cm above the ground, then raise yourself back into a full bridge – think an upsidedown pushup) are excellent for strengthening your back, which will improve your mobility on the ground; very useful for a grappling-based martial art.

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Developing your hand strength with grip trainers (e.g. http://www.heavygrips.com/) is also very useful for grappling.

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Body weight squats will help with leg strength and balance. Bicycle crunches and situps for oblique and core. Pushups or elevated pushups for triceps. I would avoid excessive bicep curls as big biceps will decrease your punching speed.

  • Awesome workout! Do u recommend anything else for triceps? Mar 11, 2011 at 12:55
  • @Anonymous Type - Dips would work the triceps real well too. Mar 11, 2011 at 13:41

I strongly recommend adding yoga to your home exercise routine. It seems to help me recovery from muscle soreness faster. Additionally, it really helps me keep still in between kata moves (not sure which style you do). Personally, I haven't seen much flexibility improvements from it, but I know of others who have seen a difference.


All depends on where your weak points are....are you out of energy? focus on Tabata type of training. If you're not explosive enough then plyometric. If it's strength (and you have no weights/equipment at home) - pullups, pushups, dips, squats and situps......

My real recommendation - ask your teacher/trainer what areas you need to focus on (and he might be telling/hinting that during class)

  • Good group of exercises here. Heavy barbell squats (and deadlifts) are considered by some the best overall full body strength gain exercise.
    – JDelage
    Mar 11, 2011 at 9:07

The most effective way to train for martial arts is to do it daily. I assume you have forms of some sort? By practicing those forms daily, you will increase your ability to do them correctly as well as to do it longer. This will help you with the type of cardio you need to do SAMBO.

In addition, strength training does help. It's supplementary so it's OK to increase slowly, but stick with compound lifts like squats, bench press, overhead press, rows, and deadlifts. Your forearms/grip will improve as the weight goes up if you use barbells. Done correctly, you will also increase your flexibility. All the lifts I mentioned will increase your core strength, which will help with whatever martial art you do.


This question is too vague. How often do you train? Do you do any other sports? How is your recovery going? How intense are the workouts?

If you find that you can put some extra work in there, really any part of the workout you are already doing for that martial art will be good. Work on technique, cardio, body strength etc. Just make sure that you are allowing your body enough "off" time to recover.

  • I have edited my question, to clarify it a little.
    – gruszczy
    Mar 1, 2011 at 20:20
  • 1
    So I'll take it that you don't do any other type of exercise right now other than these workouts? I would suggest working on improving your weakest point. So let's say your cardio is giving you trouble, work on that. If you find that mobility is an issue, do some stretching or yoga. If all is good, but you're struggling with your technique, work that out. All of these you can do at home, even the cardio workout (get a jumprope). Mar 1, 2011 at 20:43
  • Yeah vague but range of good answers also Mar 11, 2011 at 12:57

If your in martial art for competition then I think you should practice something that resembles a match. Your body has to be accustomed to be explosive even when you are doing cardio. If you only do cardio you will become slow. Medium cardio and then explosive give your max with heavy weights and then back to slow cardio and heavy weightlifting like Olympic Weightlifting-Clean & Jerk. Do not use any machines. IMHO can sometimes crossfit exercises neglect explosive exercises they do so many reps which will not improve your speed.

So I suggest (check youtube for Burpees and Clean and Jerk examples):

  • [10 Burpees][1]. (To get some pulse)
  • 5 [Clean and Jerk][2] . ( For overall explosivness)
  • Skip roop for 1 minute. (Low cardio - you being tactic in the ring:-)
  • 5-10 kipping pullups explosiveness
  • 5 knee box jump explosiveness

Then rest for 30-60 s and repeat 3-5 times.

If you are training for self defense then just go for explosive exercises. (Since your fights only will last 4 sec.) Take longer rest then and do not do any cardio in between.

  • I wouldn't consider clean&jerk a home exercise unless you have an olympic barbell (most people don't). And not everyone has a bar at home suitable for pull ups.
    – Baarn
    Dec 30, 2012 at 21:48
  • @Informaficker Someone who's serious about martial training should get an Olympic weightlifting set and a pull-up bar. Dec 30, 2012 at 23:29
  • If Clean and Jerk is to complicated try thrusters (youtube.com/watch?v=AqSuHN5ecc8) you can use dumbells (youtube.com/watch?v=BNTW7B09VJg) instead if you for some reason do not have access to a barebell. But you must put up a bar. I you want to be better with the Sambo GI hang it over your bar and and do some set with pullups holding on to the GI. This will improve your grip. Dec 31, 2012 at 11:42
  • @PatrikLindström do you have the other links missin in your asnwer? I think your reputation might be high enough now to edit them into the question, if that isn't the case, post them here and I can do it for you.
    – Baarn
    Dec 31, 2012 at 12:44
  • Check out this video on the normal, kipping and butterfly pullup, the one you posted lacks explanation for people who don't really know what the kip is about.
    – Baarn
    Dec 31, 2012 at 12:46

For SAMBO you are going to want to focus on core strength as much as possible. Do not isolate your training...SAMBO is a sport which utilizes compound movements such as throws and take-downs which all require muscle and tendon strength and stability. If you are a strong male, buy yourself a pair of 16KG or 20KG Kettle Bells, the best athletes in the world use them for a reason, Fedor Emelianenko. IMO Kettle Bells are the only way to go for a incredible home workout.Kettle Bells will also greatly improve your grip strength and your overall balance. The idea of isolation training is a western one...very rarely will you see this with training in eastern countries.

Also, do all your basic stretches. I do not believe you need to become involved with yoga for a sport like SAMBO, although it won't hurt, I believe there are better ways to train more effectively. Maintain your cardio by cycling and running.

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