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Karate and weight training?


Okay, I've been talking to a buddy of mine who's heavy into Karate. He's been showing me some pretty cool stuff he can do with some of the weapons he trains with. So I'm wondering if I can weight train for strength and hypertrophy, while learning Karate. Does anyone do this? I realize that any time put into Karate will take away from my gym time, but I will NOT stop weight training. What are your opinions?

In faith,



I recently got back into martial arts so I can relate. A few things I've learned:

1) If doing MA and weights on the same day, try to separate the sessions by a few hours. This may depend too on the intensity of your MA training. I train in private one-on-one sessions so there's no downtime. I walk out wringing wet with sweat and barely able to move. If possible, don't do both on the same day. I currently have a mix: sometimes I train at noon with weights and at 6 go to MA. Ideally, I don't do both on the same day but it happens.

2) Adopt some Chad Waterbury style weight training - don't train to failure, don't waste too much time on direct arm and shoulder training, stick to big movements, short workouts, explosive concentrics, don't seek fatigue and soreness, etc etc. You may be surprised that when you put weight training "on the back burner", you actually begin to grow.

3) Consider a post-workout drink after weight training AND MA training. Take advantage of other recovery tricks as well.

4) I cut out most gym GPP/cardio work after starting back in MA. The MA takes care of it. I do one session per week of pure GPP now instead of 2-3.

5) Adjust diet as needed. Again, depends on the MA training. Are you just farting around with a friend or are you really getting your ass kicked for an hour or more?

6) Don't give up weights, but focus on MA for a while if you're serious about it. If a man chases two rabbits, both will escape.


One more thing, read the book "The Science of Martial Arts Training" by Charles Staley.

Generally speaking, MA guys don't know shit about weight training and tend to perpetuate many myths. Coach Staley and Coach Scott Sonnon are exceptions.


Doing explosive lifts and activities (including plyometrics) will help increase in hitting power. Focus on power in this case.


What Chris said is true; especially about Charles Staley's book. We have it and it's a must read for any practitioner of MMA or MA.

Let me add my experience. When I began as a karateka, I focused on karate. I was training in karate 5-times a week. You have to if you wish to improve your technique. I then added boxing and kickboxing to the mix. Boxing once a week and kickboxing twice a week. I cut down my weight training to twice a week only. I had my kickboxing sessions on Tuesday/Thursday evenings and my weight training on the same days, but earlier (usually in the A.M.). (Note: it worked for me, too. I gained LBM and lost BF in the process. I became a lean [8%] and mean [from 119 to 128lbs] fighting machine).

Weight training can only enhance your karate. But to be really good in karate (or any other form of MA/MMA), you need to work on karate. You know, sports specificity training.

And again, Chris is correct. Misconceptions are still abundant among karate and other MA practitioners. Sad, but true. Especially the oldie, "you'll get all musclebound and slow" if you weight train.

Ignore 'em. :-))


I practice karate and lift. I do karate only 2 days/week, but I also do grappling upwards of 3-5 days/week, depending on my and my master's schedule. I try to separate the karate days from the weight training days, but that isn't always the case with grappling. I tend to lift before grappling, so then I know what it's like to fight tired.

I work on explosion/speed mainly, as this should increase strength.


I'm going to agree with Patricia in that when STARTING your martial arts training you should focus on karate if you want to be good at it. After a while (a couple years) you start to reach a plateau in your learning curve. At this point many martial arts instructors state that you require more training. However, this will only lead to small increases in your ability. This is the point when you'll need to prioritize other things to advance your MA ability.


Take you time. Since Karate is a new stress to the system, there is a high potential for over load. When I was doing Kung Fu and Weights, I only hit the gym 2x week for the first month. I then added days to my weight training based on my recovery and progression. Your body will tell you what yuo need. Since martial arts is mainly an internal art (balancing your mind/body/ spirit to be ONE) the more you listen to you body the better you will be.

By all means get Mr Staley's book on martial arts training (killer stuff). Also look into Pavel Tsatsouline's book "The Kettlebell Challange" There are great exercises there have will creat alot of Shoulder, Hip, and torso strength. Also, never underestimate the power of Yoga. The more balanced you are the better.