If you are looking for new ways to boost your strength and fitness, martial arts could be the perfect answer. Martial arts pose brand new physical and mental challenges whilst giving you a chance to learn valuable, usable skills and improve your physical fitness.

In this article we’re going to discuss how you can boost your strength and fitness with martial arts. We’ll also give you guidance on how to make the right choice of martial art for you.

Pick a martial art

The first task is to pick a martial art. You have a wide number of combat sports available, so do some research and pick one that interests you the most.

There are grappling types such as Judo, Jiu Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and, striking types such as kickboxing and Muay Thai. You could also try your hand at traditional boxing, you can try kick-dominant martial arts such as Tae Kwon Do or if you prefer a mix of all, you could try MMA, which combines multiple different disciplines.

Ultimately you have to pick one that suits your lifestyle and needs. Some people relish the fast pace nature of boxing – but if you’d prefer not to get take shots to the head, you could opt for a grappling martial art like Judo.

If you spend a little time researching, you’ll pick the one that works for you, your abilities and your goals.

Join a gym

The next thing to do is to join a gym. Speak to anyone you may know who practices martial arts – they’re likely to know the local gyms and schools. If that draws a blank, you’ve always got Google and Facebook. You’ll be able to look at the school, see their social media output and member reviews.

Once you contact them, explain what level you are at and what you’re interested in learning. They’ll put you in at an appropriate level so you can learn at the right pace. There’s no point in joining in advanced classes when you’re a novice.

Many gyms will offer you free trial sessions before you sign up into a long-term commitment, so take advantage of them and try a few.

Set a routine

When you want to increase strength and fitness, it’s important that you attend classes regularly. This not only improves your ability, but it helps improve you build lean muscle and boost cardio. The demands placed on your body in say, Jiu Jitsu are a lot different to a standard gym workout, and will push you a lot harder

You’ll need to set a weekly routine and write down targets to help yourself stay on track and keep progressing.

Push yourself

As with any form of training, whether it’s strength, cardio, flexibility or learning a new skill, you have to work hard and listen to your coaches. If you want to seriously boost your strength and fitness with martial arts, you absolutely have to be willing to put the effort in.

It’s vitally important that you listen to the coaches who are trying to help you get better – a good coach will speed up your ability to learn a skill dramatically. Once you learn the skills, you can repeat them again and again to get better.

This constant repetition of work gets you better at executing skills, and the fact that you are repeating movement patterns means you’re also improving your martial arts specific fitness.

Work outside the gym

There is a lot you can do to benefit your fitness outside of the gym. There may be conditioning and flexibility workouts that you can do at home, such as HIIT workouts or strength sessions. You’ll also be able to copy some of the exercises that you do in the gym – this extra work builds fitness, strength and in lots of cases improves martial arts technique.

Being fit helps your martial arts practice beyond measure, so doing extra work outside the gym will speed your development. Just be careful to not overdo it – you don’t want to turn up to training already tired before you start!

Darren Mitchell is a Muay Thai enthusiast and writer for the BestMuayThai blog. Darren has trained Muay Thai for several years at gyms all over the world alongside some world-renowned fighters and coaches.