AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos
Snow is falling outside, and you've just fought winter rush hour traffic in Chicago to make it to your martial arts class. Fifteen minutes into the class and you are already feeling winded.
Like many Chicagoans this time of year, the shorter days and bad weather have conspired to deprive you of your daily run, bike ride, or walk. Your cardiovascular fitness has receded, and you are beginning to feel the difference.
As a martial artist, you know that one of the pillars of your on-the-mat performance is cardiovascular fitness. At this point, you may be considering taking a spin class, or using the treadmill or elliptical trainer at your local health club. However, these options require two things that you may have in short supply - time and special equipment.
Noted fitness trainer and Team Beachbody Coach Danielle Enriquez-Fowler suggests that these activities may not be the best use of your time and resources:
My recommendation for a good cardio workout when you're short on time isn't actually spinning, it's plyometrics!
Plyometrics can be done anywhere without special equipment, and a high intensity workout can be done in approximately 30 minutes. Plyometrics include common exercises such as:
- Jumping jacks
- Jump rope
- Jump squats
- Jump lunges
- Ski leaps
- Toe taps on a bench or box
- Tire run
- Football run
- Running stairs.
Danielle indicates that these exercises are best executed in short intervals, and suggests the following routine:
- Start with a 3 to 5 minute warm up by jogging or marching in place.
- Perform any of the high intensity plyometric exercises listed above for 1 to 2 minutes and alternate with a 2 to 3 minute recovery period by marching/jogging in place or holding a boxer shuffle.
- Continuing alternating your high intensity plyometric and recovery for 20 minutes.
- Close by cooling down for 2 to 5 minutes again by jogging then marching in place.
Finish your workout with stretches to take full advantage of your warm muscles and joints.
With high-intensity exercises like plyometrics, it is very important that you never stop moving during your recovery periods. Keep your feet moving as blood can pool in the extremities and cause you to be lightheaded if you stop suddenly.
Most martial artists can safely supplement their mat time by incorporating a plyometric workout 3 to 4 times a week. Even when the weather improves, plyometrics can be a great substitute for your usual cardio workout, especially when time is limited.