Fencing is a sport requiring hand-eye coordination, explosiveness, and pinpoint accuracy. Whatever type of blade you use, you must be faster and more accurate than your opponent. This requires strength, speed and timing, as well as skill. To improve on many of these aspects, a routine based around explosive training can help you lunge faster and give you the extra inch needed to score the winning point. Consult your physician before beginning any diet or exercise program.
Lower Body Strength
Much of the explosiveness of your technique comes from the lower body, and strong legs are critical to drive you down the strip. The barbell squat and the lunge should be considered foundational exercises, and be the focus of many workouts. Squat deeply with good technique, and when you perform the lunge, ensure that you go through a full range of motion, as you are often in an extremely extended position when lunging in competition. If you spend all of your time with the same leg forward, you may wish to do extra work on lunge-type exercises for the other leg to avoid a muscular imbalance.
Upper Body Strength
Much of the upper body control of your weapon comes from the shoulders, and the military press is the best exercise to strengthen them. Work for the latissimus dorsi, the widest muscles of the back, is crucial as much of your power will come from your back. Chin-ups and rowing movements are essential, but note that if you spend much of your time training with only a single arm, you may need to do extra shoulder work on the opposite arm for balanced development. Rotator cuff exercises, such as external rotations, will help improve shoulder stability and lower your risk for injury. External rotations can be performed by standing next to a cable stack with your arm across your body and pulling your arm away against the resistance of the weight.
After you have developed good technique, learn to squat in a dynamic manner. Do not free fall; lower yourself quickly and, using the stretch reflex, explode upward to full extension. This is how Olympic-style weightlifters squat, and weightlifters generate more power on lifts than any other category of athlete. Plyometric work, such as depth jumps and explosive pushups, develops power. You push off from your toes when lunging, so jumping rope can help, and provides the added bonus of excellent aerobic conditioning.
Train your entire body three times a week, on nonconsecutive days. This will give you plenty of time to recover and should not interfere with your fencing practice. If you need extra conditioning, schedule it for your off days, but your primary conditioning should always be practicing your sport. When adding extra cardiovascular work, be careful to ensure that it does not drain your recovery ability and make you fatigued for training. On the strip, no one cares how fast you can run a mile, so never lose focus that your training should help you achieve your goals, not limit your ability to pursue them.
- "Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise"; Biomechanics of the Knee During Closed Kinetic Chain and Open Kinetic Chain Exercises; Rafael F. Escamilla et al.; April 1998
- "Electromyography and Clinical Neurophysiology"; Electromyographic Validation of the Muscles Deltoid Pectoralis Major Military Press Exercises with Open Grip; Bull et al., July-August 2010.