Fighting Fit – Martial Arts and Weight loss

If your goal is to improve your fitness or lose weight but you need to do something more exciting than jogging on a treadmill to keep you motivated, perhaps you should consider doing a martial art like boxing, kickboxing, karate, or judo.

In this article we list the top 10 reasons to consider doing a martial art for fitness and weight loss to help you decide if doing one is right for you.

1. Doing martial arts for weight loss

It’s no coincidence that gyms, personal trainers and producers of exercise videos and DVD’s are now heavily incorporating training techniques and exercises from a wide variety of martial arts in their workouts.

Boxercise, Tae Bo, Cardio-Kickboxing, Kung Fu Aerobics, and personal trainers using punching bags, focus mitts and kicking pads in their sessions are just a couple of examples of how martial arts training is being used in cardio workouts for fitness and weight loss.

Because martial art training is typically high intensity and usually lasts for at least an hour in most cases, it burns a maximum number of kilojoules or calories per workout and is therefore great for anyone who wants to lose weight and lose it fast.

2. Doing martial arts for fitness

Most martial arts incorporate exercises and drills that improve cardiovascular fitness and endurance, help build muscle strength and improve muscle flexibility so they are perfect for anyone wanting to improve their overall fitness.

Cardiovascular fitness improvements require us to regularly elevate our heart rate for extended periods and most martial arts training can help us do that.

Improving the strength, size and shape of our muscles requires us to regularly subject them to some form of resistance training. Martial arts training helps provide this training by requiring us to perform exercises like push-ups and squats using our own body weight for resistance.

Improved flexibility is a natural byproduct of martial arts training because most, if not all styles of martial art incorporate stretching exercises in their workouts.

As a result of providing all of these fitness benefits, martial artists like boxers and kickboxers are widely regarded as being among the fittest athletes in the world and practitioners of karate, judo, etc are considered among the strongest pound-for-pound and most flexible athletes in the world.

3. Doing martial arts and self-defense

One of the most obvious benefits of doing a martial art is that it provides us with the fitness, strength, skill and techniques necessary to protect ourselves from being attacked by others who are out to harm us if the need should ever arise.

Like an insurance policy, we hope you’re never in a position to have to use your martial arts training to defend yourself, but it’s great to know this ability is there just in case.

Because they are primarily concerned with elevating our heart rates to burn energy and improve our fitness, many of the workouts listed above like Tae Bo, Boxercise, etc don’t really provide this benefit to the same extent as doing martial arts training with a dedicated teacher in a martial arts school that only provides one service – to teach you a specific martial art.

Many people mistakenly believe that because they punch a focus mitt 50 times during a session with their personal trainer that they know how to punch properly and can therefore defend themselves if they need to. This is a big mistake and we hope these people never find themselves in a situation where this belief is tested.

Unless they’ve had many years of martial arts training themselves, most personal trainers and gym instructors will not be able to offer advice about your punching and kicking technique, they are only really qualified to hold the focus mitts or kick-pad for you while you punch or kick them.

Remember, while probably great at what they do, these trainers are more like aerobics instructors than specifically qualified martial arts instructors.

4. Doing martial arts and self-confidence

In addition to providing us with the ability to defend ourselves, one of the greatest personal benefits that martial art training provides is a high degree of self-confidence.

This self-confidence partly results from the knowledge that we are much better equipped to defend ourselves given that we have done some martial arts training, but it also comes from a sense of achievement once we begin to master the techniques taught to us and the new confidence that results from feeling fitter and stronger and looking fitter and stronger.

Given that one of the first things to suffer, and one of the hardest things to reestablish afterwards, when we become overweight is our self-confidence this benefit is of particular value to those of us who have a weight problem.

5. Doing martial arts to improve body balance and coordination

As well as helping us to become fitter and stronger, martial art training typically involves the mastery of a range of techniques that requires us to be well-balanced and have superior body coordination.

In learning to master these techniques we naturally improve our balance and our coordination which helps us with other aspects of our daily life.

6. Doing martial arts for variety

Martial art training provides great variety in two ways.

Firstly, martial arts training sessions themselves have great variety built into them by including warm-ups and cool-downs, stretching exercises, strength building exercises, cardio exercises and exercises designed to improve and teach us a wide variety of techniques.

This variety is great for our mind as well as our body.

Secondly, there are such a wide variety of martial arts to study that we should be able to easily find one that suits our particular goals and interests.

Whether we prefer to do a martial art that primarily revolves around striking or grappling techniques or a perfect mix of both, or we want to study a highly technical or very simple style, the choice is great.

7. Doing martial arts teaches discipline and provides motivation

Everybody knows that studying a martial art requires and teaches discipline.

Because it is also goal orientated, training in one of the many martial arts also provides a great deal of motivation.

Lack of discipline and motivation are the most often quoted reasons for weight loss failures and for this reason, doing a martial art for weight loss and fitness may help many of us who lack the required discipline and motivation to achieve our weight loss goals to overcome these common barriers to success.

8. Doing martial arts for spirituality

One definition of spirituality is “Activities which renew, lift up, comfort, heal and inspire both ourselves and those with whom we interact.”

Martial art training has been practiced by millions of people over many centuries because among other things, it has a great ability to spiritually uplift us.

As well as forging a better connection between our mind and body, it also has the ability to forge a better connection between us and our world and us and others.

9. Doing martial arts training is relatively inexpensive

Compared to joining some gyms and hiring some personal trainers, training at a martial arts school or dojo is relatively inexpensive.

Many martial arts schools charge a very modest monthly fee for training and the beauty of this is you can train when and as often as it suits you.

In addition to low ongoing training costs, buying a uniform and any equipment you may need to train in most cases will be relatively inexpensive as well.

10. Doing martial arts has a social aspect

Many people who start doing martial arts training for weight loss, improved fitness or self-defense end up enjoying it most for its social aspects.

As well as training and learning with others with similar goals, many martial arts trainees help encourage and motivate each other and end up becoming very good friends.

Many martial arts instructors too have very friendly dispositions and foster a fun and friendly environment in which to train which endears them to their students who typically also become close friends.

Conclusion

If your goal is to improve your fitness or lose weight but you need to do something more exciting than jogging on a treadmill to keep you motivated, perhaps you should consider doing a martial art like boxing, kickboxing, karate, or judo.

In this article we listed the top 10 reasons to consider doing a martial art for fitness and weight loss to help you decide if doing one is right for you.

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How I Got Into Mountain Biking

It was a humid Saturday morning as I had one foot clipped into my mountain bike while there must have been thirty of us lined up onto the starting line of this 15 mile mountain bike race. As I stood there I glanced over at the other competitors, some of whom had what looked like a ball of fire in their eyes while others had ripped leg muscles. They all sat onto their bikes, some of witch were carbon fiber bikes, hard tail and full suspension bikes and even a few 29ers. Here I am with only a year of experience riding on single track trails with my Trek full suspension mountain bike as I tried to keep myself pumped up for what could potentially be a very grueling race. Before the gunshot was heard, I kept my hands relaxed on the handle bar grips, only letting go to make sure my gloves were on tight, my helmet was adjusted properly and I took a few sips from the Camelbak hydration system that was strapped to me. Once the gun went off and was heard all over the mountain bike park, we were all in a dash to leave the starting line while clipping in and jockeying for position like a herd of wild animals as we made our way from the open field and into the single track trails. As I kept changing gears, looking around at the riders in front of me and thinking about what I would encounter during the race, I had a thought in the back of my mind.

I thought about what led me to buy a mountain bike, how long would it take before I would become confident enough to ride through rugged terrain, switchback trails and steep hills. Could this new sport help me out in the other endurance sports that I compete in?

With the background of a distance runner, and a triathlete, mountain biking would definitely benefit me. A little more than a year and a half before this race, a friend convinced me to buy an inexpensive hard tail mountain bike to participate in group rides in the winter time where we would be doing a lot hill repeats on a twenty mile loop on pavement. These workouts would keep us in shape through the winter so we would all be better off for the upcoming triathlon season. Once springtime rolled around and I wanted to get into ridding on single track trails that offer switchbacks, rugged terrain and steep hills, I realized that the bike that I currently had was inadequate for this type of ridding. So then I found myself buying a Trek full suspension mountain bike. The more I rode my new bike at the local mountain bike parks, the more I appreciated having an intermediate level bike. He way the dual suspension was forgiving on the terrain of the trails along with how well the tires gave me enough traction through the different trail conditions were just a couple of key features that I began to appreciate about this bike. As I rode my mountain bike on the easy and intermediate trails, I not only realized that I was turning into a better mountain biker, I noticed something else along the way. When I was not making my way though the local mountain bike parks, I was out on the road on my triathlon bike. What I found out about mountain biking is that it forces you to become very good at being able to handle your bike in all different situations. It is that same requirement in mountain biking that made me more confident when riding on road, especially through a village where there are a lot of cars, traffic lights, potholes and other various problems that a cyclist has to be aware of. At the time, while I was still becoming acclimated to this bike that I had bought, I knew that sometime in the future I would like to try a mountain bike race. I also knew that I would have to become a much better mountain biker at this new discipline before I try to do it at a competitive level. I soon found myself waking up very early on a September morning to join a of friends on what was going to be a sixty mile ride on our bikes. We would ride the first thirty five miles on a flat trail and then stop for breakfast and then the fun would really begin. Then twenty five miles of singe track trails and see who could endure the most pain. As the leaves fell off the trees and the snow blanketed the ground, there was yet another opportunity for me. Mountain biking on the snow packed trails while breathing the dry air and trying not to let my tires lose their grip in the snow. Eventually in the middle of the summer, I found myself on vacation visiting a friend in Massachusetts near the New Hampshire border and we mountain biked at various parks in the area. My friend and I rode in parks that offered an endless amount of rocks, boulders, roots, logs, man made bridges over creeks and even a few mosquitoes! At this time I was confident enough in my bike handling that I had registered for my first mountain bike race.

Now here I was in the first of four laps in this grueling mountain bike race while I was thinking about how I got into the sport instead of thinking about the race itself. I was quickly getting exhausted while I tried to keep up with the more experienced athletes in this race. With beads of sweat already dripping down my face and realizing that my mental toughness was slowly fading away, this discipline was beginning to feel a lot harder than distance running and competing in triathlons. I found myself on trails that meandered through the park as well as steep climbs, a few rollers, roots, logs, some rocks and then an open field to have a chance to gain speed. Overall I didn’t finish as well as I wanted to, but I plan to compete in more mountain bike races in the future. With the various mountain bike parks around the country, this is a very rewarding sport for a beginner to get into as well as an experienced mountain biker. Both types of mountain bikers will still reap the benefits and enjoyment, while continuously trying to push themselves past their comfort zone.

This is how I got into the sport of mountain biking. This is a sport where I have not only learned a lot about the sport itself, but also about myself as an athlete. I’m sure after reading this you are ready to go out and buy a bike or if you already have a mountain bike, dust it off and take it out to the trails.

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