T Nation


Anyone know any good sport-specific excercises for fencers? I’m really getting into this fencing class, but I’d like to improve my speed, reflexes, and lunge distance. I’m planning on adding some jump-rope training, as well as more shoulder specific work (holding the foil for three or four matches in a row does a number on the shoulders). I’m also planning on starting something similar to John Berardi’s Winning Formula plan, so my cardio will be going up significantly. Any recommendations?

Wow, I thought I was the only one into fencing…okay, here’s what I got.

A lot of grip work; forearm/wrist extensions and flexions work pretty well, but an old teacher of mine gave me a tip that fencers have supposedly been using for hundreds of years: squeeze rocks. Just grab a fist sized stone and squeeze for as long and as hard as you can. I like doing a full-intensity squeeze for 10 seconds, in 4 sets of 5 reps. My old teacher was freaky looking: his forearms were as large if not larger than his upper arms. Seriously, the guy looked like Popeye.

I did this for a while and noticed my grip strength improve greatly, and, resultantly, my swordsmanship was better. However, I should not that I did this primarily before I began deadlifting, which has improved my grip even moreso. If you deadlift frequently, this may be a pointless thing for you to do.

Additionally, you can practice with a sword that is heavier than the one you normally use.

I have also found that lunges (not walking) have helped me become much quick on my feet, insomuchas I can recover from thrusts and (obviously) lunges much greater.

Hope this helps; good luck!

p.s. Are you training foil, rapier, or epee?

Amazing sport isn’t it - Very explosive in nature so I use a great deal of Olympic style lifts and plyo’s. With for fencers, I find dumbell or kbell movements a more effective medium (for Olifts) with eye-hand / proprioreceptive needs and using a split style. Hand speed is extremely important so certainly rope work you should be included plus others hand drills. There’s quite bit more but good luck. In faith, Coach Davies

Since this is an anaerobic exercise. You will need explosion and acceleration. 1 arm DB snatch will help syncronize your upper and lower body for better efficiency. Lower your weighs to maybe 75% a bit and focus on speed of the lifts.

Thanks for the info, everyone!

Coach Davies - Do you think that sprint work will help with overall lunge speed?

Trev - I’m training foil at the moment, although at some later point I’d like to try epee and sabre. How long have you been fencing?

Sprint work will assist but your need to focus more on acceleration, explosion and of course reaction speed. I appreciate fencing tremendously as there are many extremely unique athletic qualities to it. However, I will see if a collegue of mine whose is quite accomplished in fencing will join in and might be able to offer some assistance with technical skills. In faith, Coach Davies

I don’t think squeezing a rock would help wrist/forearm strength at all. I say do lever lifts with a sledgehamemr or an axe, or weaver stick & plate curls. Plate curls are by far the best wrist strengtheners.

Nephorm, I’ve been fencing about 6 years, took lessons from when I was 14-17, and since then I haven’t been in any classes since then, though I do occasionally spar with other fencing friends. I did foil at first too, then did a little epee, which was just too much fun to describe.