Every martial arts style requires a level of fitness from its practitioners. Core strength exercises, or those that target the stomach, back, and pelvis, are particularly important to success in all athletic activities, including martial arts. A strong core is likely to help ward off injury, improve striking power, and aid in ground fighting techniques, especially those that emanate from the hips-important Brazilian Ju Jitsu guard.
Along with this, here are five core strength exercises to consider in your martial arts training that require no exercise equipment whatsoever.
- Abdominal Crunch
- Lie on a padded floor with your knees bent in front of you. Your feet should be flat on the floor.
- Cross your hands on your chest and keep your chin pointing upward. Chin placement is the key to a good crunch; if your chin touches your chest or neck than you are doing this exercise wrong.
- Curl your body straight upward so that your head comes up without lunging. This is a controlled motion. Only your head, neck, and shoulder blades should lift off the floor.
- Pause there, squeezing your abdominals.
- Then slowly lower back to your original position.
- Bicycle Crunch
- Lie on your back on a padded floor.
- Bring your knees up to a 45-degree angle, then begin to move them in a pedalling motion as if you were riding a bicycle.
- As you pedal, your head lifts off the floor and your elbow touches the opposite (bent knee).
- Continue to breathe evenly throughout this exercise.
According to an article, a study done by the American Council on Exercise indicated that the Bicycle Crunch targets the rectus abdominis (six pack) and the obliques better than any other core exercise.
- Lie face down resting on your elbows with your palms down.
- Lift off the floor so that your back becomes flat and your elbows are directly under you while on your toes.
- Contract your abdominals and hold that position with your back flat for approximately 20 seconds or more.
- Lower back to the floor slowly.
- Lie on a side and raise yourself onto your forearm (left) and the side of your foot (left). Your left shoulder should be directly above your left elbow.
- Contract your abdominals so as to keep yourself in a straight alignment and hold.
- There are several variations of the side plank that can be more or less complex than this standard.
- Lower to all fours with your hands directly below your shoulders.
- Raise your arm and reach straight ahead, while doing the same with the same side leg in the other direction.
- Hold for a count and then lower. Repeat on the other side.