It is not uncommon to find people lifting weights as supplemental training for martial arts, the same that they would do in bodybuilding. However, there is a general perception that while martial arts require you to be fleet footed and as Mohamed Ali would say “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee”, body building and muscle gain through vigorous workouts would make you big, cumbersome and inflexible. Nothing can be further from the truth as certain body building techniques have to be incorporated into training in martial arts.
Here are some common notions or rather misconceptions about whether it is advisable to train simultaneously for martial art and body building.
- Body Building makes you big and cumbersome – To a certain extent it is true. If you train hard in weight lifting with bumper weights and barbell sets and eat lots of protein rich muscle enhancing foods, you might develop muscles that can effectively slow you down and affect your flexibility. But staying light on your feet and on the mats is also determined by the type of training you take up along with weight and body building methods. Yes, you will need more energy to move around the bigger you are but then with fitness training you can overcome this and be light on your feet as required by martial arts.
- Body building and lifting weights reduces flexibility – This again is a common myth because flexibility is determined by stretching. There is no bone structure to take into account and since it is all about the size and strength of the muscle the question of inflexibility does not arise. If you do not stretch your muscles, the stretch receptors will get short leading to stiffness. Therefore inflexibility is due to inadequate stretching of muscles and definitely not due to bodybuilding exercises and weight training. A long muscle developed due to stretching and weight lifting is a strong muscle that is ideal for martial arts.
- Body building makes you slow – Another misplaced notion in the mind of the common person is that body building makes you slow and unfit for martial arts. Actually, it all depends on how you go about weight lifting and body building. Do it slowly and your muscles will learn to move slowly, lift weights as fast as you can on the concentric phase and even if your movement is slow, your muscles would have learnt to respond quickly.
Hence to the question of whether martial art and body building training can be done together, the answer is a definitive YES. Look around you and you will surely find bodybuilders who can easily carry out full splits and martial artists with incredible muscular physiques who can put any bodybuilder to shame!