Hi there fellow Wing Chun fanatic —
It’s Rob from WingChunLife.com.
Sparring is a class I need to get to more often! But realistically, if my life is threatened, sparring classes, or a lack of them, is not what I’ll depend on to survive. And neither should you.
I’ll explain a bit more later. First, we have a special guest author, Sandra Almonte, giving us a few pointed tips on improving endurance and stamina for sparring (and fighting competition).
Sandra is a personal trainer certified under three separate organizations, she’s also a martial artist and frequently writes for health, nutrition, and wellness companies.
Take it away Sandra —
So you want to build endurance but can’t seem to get it right? Maybe it’s because you’re only focusing on one component of fitness. Building endurance is not difficult but it does take work. It’s also a combination of exercise, nutrition, and well-being.
1. Aerobic/strength training
The first thing you want to look at is your exercise routine outside martial arts. Are you taking the time to do aerobic and strength exercises?
Aerobic exercise can be anything from fast walking, jogging/running, jumping rope, riding a bicycle, etc. The point of aerobic exercise is to build up your body’s cardiovascular system. You do that by performing the exercise of choice for a minimum of 20 minutes to a maximum of one hour. This helps build endurance by getting your body used to doing something repetitive, at your target heart rate, for a long period of time.
Strength training exercises can be done with machines, free weights, resistance bands, or body weight. You want to make sure you’re doing endurance exercise such as squats, lunges, push-ups, plank, etc. These exercises help you build muscle while building stamina. Strength training days can be alternated with aerobic days to ensure the muscles are getting the rest they need in between workouts.
The good part is that no fancy equipment or gym membership is needed. If you have access to a gym, great. If not, you can workout at home, at the park, even at your desk at work. Traveling? No problem! You can pack resistance bands and a jump rope in your suitcase without worrying about them taking up too much space.
Commitment and consistency is key. You can’t workout sporadically and expect to notice results. You need to set a schedule that you can stick to. And don’t forget to warm up before exercising and cool down after.
2. Proper breathing technique
Proper breathing, whether you’re working out or not, is very important. It allows oxygen to get to the blood so that nutrients can be carried to where they need to go. The term used for proper breathing is diaphragmatic breathing. This kind of breathing not only gives you energy, it also helps build endurance. The good news is that this kind of breathing can be learned. And here’s how to do it:
- Start by placing your hands on your abdomen just below your rib cage.
- As you breath in (inhale), the hands should come out slightly. Your chest should not rise beyond your abdomen. Envision your abdomen like a balloon. You’re filling it with air as you inhale.
- As you breath out (exhale), tighten your rectus abdominus (muscle that runs from the sternum down to the pubic bone). The hands should come in and the abdomen should flatten as far as they can. Now you’re letting the air out of the balloon.
You can do this exercise while you’re sitting, standing, or lying down. One word of caution, though. If you’ve never breathed this way, take some time to “recoup” before standing up or walking. Many people experience slight dizziness in the beginning.
Whenever you’re doing an exercise for a long period of time or sparring, remember to co-ordinate your breathing with your movement. In other words, don’t stop breathing. It takes practice and it can be done.
3. Eating Habits
Exercise and nutrition go hand in hand. You can’t expect to get great results from your workouts when you’re eating highly processed, junk food. You also can’t expect the endurance you need when working out.
How do you know if you’re on the right track? You may already stay away from fast foods and deep fried foods but that may not be enough. Every meal should consist of Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The key is balance.
You should aim for foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and quality oils (such as olive, canola, sesame). Try to eat meats where the animal has not been injected with antibiotics.
Eating healthy takes planning. All you need is 5-10 minutes to plan. You’ll find your energy level stays up longer during sparring.
4. Sleep Habits
According to The National Institute of Health (NIH), the average adult needs about 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Most people report getting 6 or less. Why is sleep so important?
Imagine sparring and not being able to beat your “opponent” because you’re tired and can’t focus.
Getting the amount of sleep you need helps keep your energy up and your brain sharp. It also improves memory. During sleep is also when the muscles repair from the day’s workout.
If you can’t seem to get a good sleep schedule down, try some of the following tips from the National Sleep Foundation:
- Establish consistent sleep and wake schedules, even on weekends
- Create a regular, relaxing bedtime routine such as soaking in a hot bath or listening to soothing music – begin an hour or more before the time you expect to fall asleep
- Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows
- Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex (keep “sleep stealers” out of the bedroom – avoid watching TV, using a computer or reading in bed)
Two other tips I’ll add are:
- Finish eating or exercising at least 2-3 hours before bedtime
- Avoid caffeine or energy drinks after 12 noon (unless you’re one of those people who can drink cappuccino, go to bed, and fall out instantly).
Some of these steps may take some time to implement. If you keep at it, you’ll notice that you’re not getting winded or tired as early as you used to during your sparring sessions.
Sandra Almonte has been in the fitness business for 10 years as a personal trainer and writer. She’s certified with the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA), the National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association (NESTA), and a certified Health and Wellness Coach through Wellcoaches (ACSM).
She has practiced Kung-Fu Wu-Su and Tae Kwon Do, as well as kickboxing and boxing for fitness. Due to a knee injury and surgery, Sandra is currently on a healing/recovery break.
As a copywriter, she shares her passion for the whole mind-body approach to fitness and writes content and marketing material for websites, brochures, and companies in the fitness, wellness, and nutrition industry. Reach her by email at email@example.com.
Thank you Sandra.
I know I always have room to improve my endurance, but not necessarily for self-defense. Here’s what I mean…
Do you realize that in a serious life and death street fight, endurance is NOT the determining factor for survival?
A fight with a criminal doesn’t last long.
It’s nothing like watching Manny Pacquiao or Anderson Silva dance in the ring or in the octagon.
A fight with a thug has no rules, is violent, brutal, chaotic, and decisive.
In less than 5 seconds one guy is left standing while the other is dead or near dead.
I want you to be the guy standing.
Please click the link below and grab the complimentary report and videos to see how to firm-up your Wing Chun no matter what level you are at today.
P.S. Your belt doesn’t matter, the number of trophies or medals you won don’t matter. But if you can handle a violent street thug, you can handle just about anything. Get the report and videos here.