There's been a lot of excitement recently about the latest research on High Intensity Training and how effective it is in losing weight, helping to balance sugar levels and increase fitness levels. But what does this mean for the martial artist, and should we change how we train on a daily basis?
Assuming you have a good fitness level already and you're not a total beginner then the first thing you have to decide is what your goal is. Most of us practice our chosen martial art because it's not a sport or another form of exercise but a path which challenges us, offering mind body wellness, giving us a deeper understanding about life, and, as is the case with Shaolin, a pathway to Zen.
If our goal was simply to lose weight or increase aerobic endurance then our workout should mainly be High Intensity but as martial artists, we need different types of stamina. My philosophy is to train like a fighter.
This means we begin our training with a run, minimum 5k. Once we're back in our training space, our body is warmed up and we start our martial art's training.
I believe it's best to do High Intensity Training after the run. The workouts in my circuit training DVDs are the workouts I do on a daily basis, rotate them with Bootcamp or Shaolin Burn, and this will challenge your body. This coupled with bag training and Qigong is what sculpts my body and keeps me fighting fit. The number of reps you do will increase as you get fitter, at first you won't be able to keep up with my DVDs but as your fitness progresses - and it progresses quickly with High Intensity Training - then you'll increase your reps.
Research is showing that we don't need weights or lots of equipment in order to get fit, high intensity training is very effective with body weight, and challenging the large muscles in the upper and lower body order is one of the keys.
Alongside High Intensity Training, martial artists also need a longer stamina for the forms that we practice. When my muscles were tested by scientists for Shaolin Steel Jacket, they were also tested for these different levels of activity, and interestingly my muscles rated highly in high intensity and long endurance, this is because martial artists need both of these.
The important thing to take from this research is if you aren't training in High Intensity then you need to do this to up your fitness levels and if you're already training in High Intensity then don't forget what your goal is as a martial artist.
Training like a skilled fighter means we are always at the peak of our fitness and flexibility. Ask yourself, if I had to fight next week and the only contest was stamina and not skill? Would I win or lose on stamina alone? Stamina is one of the hardest things to train alone because it's always about being uncomfortable and out of your comfort zone but it's the best way to train.