I've been regularly going to the gym around 3 - 5 times a week. I do not do crazy workout like some other people. I only do resistance training enough to may be build some muscle in a few months. I just joined Kung Fu class and the instructor told me that it was a bad idea to do both Kung Fu and go to the Gym as it will make by body be disproportionate and cause back pain. Is that true? If it is under what circumstances? i.e. how much work is too much?

As for myself, I am 32 years old and 6'3" weight around 200 pounds. I am already a bit muscular, i.e. I am able to incline press 200 pounds for 16 reps.

Edit 1: I plan on doing 1 - 2 Kung Fu sessions a week. Each sessions is about an hour.


3 Answers 3


I've been in the martial arts for 25+ years (Isshinryu Karate and Aikido) and can tell you first hand, that if you do the standard weight training (bench, squat, dead lift, etc.) and go for the full range of motion and stretch, you WILL NOT have any problems with Kung Fu. Sounds like your Kung Fu instructor is old school, where weight training was considered detrimental to speed and flexibility. If you look at the top MMA fighters, they ALL do some level of weight training and if you look at some top power lifters, they're very flexible.

My recommendation: focus on power (Olympic lifts) and make sure your form is good and that you go full range of motion.

  • 1
    I don't think this answer tells the whole story. I had some problems with the exact same scenario. My problems were due to over training. While lifting, running, and doing martial arts, I would get sick often, I was tired often, and I wasn't able to maintain my peak in any of the three activities. Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 20:00
  • highly knowledgeable answer!
    – Fattie
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 15:43

Whole body strength is helpful in martial arts; however, many people don't focus on whole body strength. They focus on what they like, as you can see by bird legged people with massive chests and arms. This is not balanced.

The best way to build whole body strength is to focus on full range of motion compound lifts like squats, standing press, deadlifts, and bench press. Technically speaking, you can do quite well without the bench press, and not including it in a program that supports martial arts isn't going to hurt you.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Do not neglect mobility--this will help you prevent injuries
  • Do not neglect conditioning--this really becomes the biggest determiner of your stamina
  • Do not focus on being big or huge. A little size is inevitable when you go heavy, but a program heavy in high rep ranges will get in your way.
  • Do not neglect technique

If you do go down the path of martial arts and weight training, it might be good to focus on strength 2x a week, and conditioning/mobility/skill work at least 3x a week--and that's not including your classes.


I noticed that all the people that are saying that is wrong don't practice Kung fu. They practice other martial arts. When I was doing Taekwondo, it didn't matter if I also lifted weights and did the gym stuff. But Shaolin Kung fu is based of Tai chi chuan and natural strength, it isn't based off of the artificial strength you create by lifting weights. My strength level since I started doing Shaolin Kung fu is much higher, because it isn't based off of strain.

  • I think this is a fascinating insight and should not have been downvoted.
    – Fattie
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 15:44
  • Agree. Upvoted! Chinese martial art is different than things like Taekwondo. Kung fu has more than just different kicks or workout-like moves and routines. Kung fu has richer cultural background and is actually more physical demanding if you are serious in learning it. Kung fu is not just a straight forward "If you increase the strength in your legs then you can reach the goal" thing. It's a good training for coordination, strength, and mind. Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 16:38

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