A set of recommended exercises for a Beginner in Martial Arts in order to improve their kicking power
The kinematic characteristics that one should take upon consideration and focus upon, when they engage with martial arts in general, are speed and power. These two factors can determine the effectiveness of striking and kicking. In this article, we are going to examine a set of exercises intended to make your kick as powerful as possible.
List of indicative exercises and drills that can strengthen your kick
- Stretch responsibly. In order to prepare your muscles for the kicks and prevent possible strains or other injuries, do not neglect your stretching habit. Additionally, incorporate a few sets of hip swings in your stretching session, to promote flexibility and warm up properly. Repeat after each training session to minimize the risk of muscle soreness. Supervision by a qualified trainer is strongly recommended if you are unsure of the proper technique that should be used.
- Practice your balance. Make sure that your correct posture and balance is maintained so that you can pivot and kick effectively. Start by doing simple balance exercises: Stand on one foot and try to hold the position for 30 seconds and alternate between the two legs. Use your hand as support for a start, if you cannot find your balance and gradually remove it.
- Regulate your breathing. Not breathing properly can cause tension to your body and minimize the force of the kick. Remember to breathe when executing any type of kick not only to release any unnecessary stress but also because when you exhale, you activate your core muscles which can result in more efficient muscle contractions. Yoga is recommended since it promotes a workout that benefits articulated breathing.
- Use several means to help your practice. Kicking bags, kicking shields or kicking paddles are some of the objects that can facilitate your training.
Practice with a heavy bag in order to improve speed and power, eye and hand coordination to simulate the idea of a possible opponent.
Example: Stand in front of the bag and focus on the middle of it. Raise your knee so that it aims on that spot and kick right through. Make sure you keep your body up.
b) Resistance bands
Use these in order to build core balance and stability, endurance and flexibility. We recommend these bands
Example: with the band applied on your foot as instructed, keep your leg extended a bit forward and kick your leg backwards. Alternate between the two legs. Remember to keep your glutes squeezed to avoid any sudden injuries and to secure a stronger result.
Strengthen your lower body. In order to secure strength and speed. Exercises like leg curls, leg extensions, adductor and abductor muscle lifts and squats are some examples of lower body muscle strengthening. More analytically, a beginner should:
a)Focus on doing a strong warm up before any type of exercise. Among the sets of each exercise, do not forget to stretch up your muscles to avoid possible strains.
b)Organize the flow of your exercise plan smartly: do the hardest exercises first.
c) Aim for 4 sets of at least 15 repetitions for each exercise. As a beginner, limit your exercises in three or four muscles groups to avoid muscle fatigue.
- Strengthen your upper body. Core workouts will help your rotational or twisting power which will result in a stronger kick. Strengthening your core muscles will also make it easier for the hits to be absorbed. Recommended exercises for this purpose are:
Squats: If you are a beginner, you should start more gradually, executing a manageable total number of repetitions. A recommended number for a beginner is 50-100 repetitions per exercise. It is important that you rest a day between the workouts so that you can allow your muscles to recover. You should always maintain a correct position during the sets: do not let the knees wobble and make sure to keep a parallel relation between your legs.
a) Start in high plank with your feet hip-distance apart. Lower your left arm down so that your forearm touches the floor.
b) Apply the same thing on the other hand. Place your left hand back on the floor to extend your arm, and follow with the other arm so that you end back in high plank.
c) Throughout your movement, keep your hips as still as you can so that you are in position.
d) Repeat 20 times.
To this point, there still lies the question:
Does weightlifting help you kick harder?
Weighted squats are one of the most important parts of training, since they promote a good warm-up for the muscles as well as endurance and overall strength. It is recommended that you incorporate them in your training routine as its benefits are given.
Although, if you want to push your power levels further, add weightlifting in your program. In terms of strength, weightlifting does not equal the difficulty level of free squats or machine squats.
Weightlifting will be a good chance to push your discipline capacity harder, add strength to your muscles and develop even more endurance. However, make sure that you are warmed up properly before any session since the risk of injury is heightened.
Combined training is the key here; squats and weightlifting are interconnected. The one prepares you for the intensity of the other.
Let’s go on with our list:
- Jumping Rope. This is one of the best types of exercises in terms of building endurance as well as strengthening your legs. It can also improve your coordination skills which are necessary in developing a powerful kick.
- Running. If you are not the type of person that enjoys practicing inside a gym, you can always get up and go for an outdoor run. Long-distance running can efficiently train your lower body in terms of warm-up, strengthening, endurance and speed. If you are not a frequent runner, start your routine by mild speed running and raise the intensity as the days proceed. This type of exercise can also benefit your psychology in terms of discipline but also stress management. Obstacle running can also benefit your overall speed ability.
- Riding a bicycle. This activity can also help you build endurance and muscle power.
But you can always try team work as well:
- Circle Sparring. This form of drill encourages your alertness regarding your environment. A group of few people (e.g. 5 people) surround you and start attacking one at a time. This way, you can test your reaction time and develop speed through repetition.
But, how much force can a powerful kick generate?
What if we compared different martial arts depending on the power of the kick?
Generally, it is noted that the force that a kick can generate, is bigger compared to the force of a punch. In addition to this, since we use our hands more frequently than our legs in everyday life, training our lower body is thought to be harder.
But let’s see what the facts say regarding the force of a kick
In a fight science kick test that National Geographic conducted, the following outcomes occurred:
- A Capoeira kick travelled 99 miles per hour and could deliver 1800 pounds of force, a force that is enough to cause major internal injuries in a single blow.
- On the other hand, Karate kick’s force ran 71 miles an hour and 429 pounds of force. This force is enough to cause bruising and pain but the analogy to the capoeira kick force, does not reach even the one third of the power produced.
- In Muay Thai, a kick travelled 130 miles per hour and produced 1400 pounds of force.
In Muay Thai, the body kick is the most powerful technique used. This technique distinguishes Muay Thai from other striking arts. Breaking down the technique, the power from the kick is produced by:
a)the rotation of the hip
b) the swing of the arm
c) the speed of the kick.
In addition to this combination, Muay Thai practitioners use their shin bone in order to generate the body kick, instead of the common choice of the foot that is encountered in other martial arts. A kick with the shin enables the fighter to break through their target. Due to this fact, shin conditioning is very important in this field to strengthen the shin bone as well as prevent possible injuries.
This “recipe” gives a Muay Tai fighter a very powerful kick. The force that is generated by this type of kick can even cause bone fractures if it is not handled properly by the receptor of the kick.
In Tae Kwon Do though, the results of the kick test were even more impressive in these terms of comparative observation. The kick reached a speed of 136 miles per hour and generated 2300 pounds of sheer force.
The usual kicking technique involves the following types of kicks: