As far as full-body workouts go, martial arts offer a huge amount of variety. Martial arts workouts are popular among those who are fascinated by the mentality and allure of the fighting arts, as well as those who just want a workout that is more interesting and varied than lifting weights and running on a treadmill.
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Matching Your Workout to Your Goals
The best workout for you depends on what your goals are. If your priority is weight loss, then a high-intensity cardio workout that burns lots of calories may be best, but if you are looking to build strength or gain more flexibility, then other avenues are better. It also depends on what you find most interesting. In reality, the question of which is the best full-body workout for you is highly subjective.
Full-Body Martial-Arts Workout
Most martial arts work your entire body. While boxing places an emphasis on strong legs, most martial arts aim to generate power through the entire body. This is true of traditional styles such as karate or kung fu, as well as grappling sports such as wrestling or judo. However, each achieves this through a different methodology, so what you choose depends on what you find most interesting, whether it is punching and kicking or wrestling and throwing an opponent.
Most martial arts offer intense workouts. A 130 lb. person boxing for an hour can burn 531 calories. Fencing will burn 354 calories, while karate, judo, kickboxing and tae kwon do all burn around 590 calories. Compare these with 413 calories for an hour of moderate work on the rowing machine or on the stationary bike, or 236 calories for a session of yoga. In addition to burning calories, most martial arts training helps develop functional strength and endurance, getting you used to moving your own body.
Martial arts fall under different categories. Traditional martial arts are the kind of styles in which ritual and discipline are emphasized, such as karate and kung fu. These can help build physical strength and endurance, as well as mental toughness. Styles such as kickboxing or boxing are geared toward competition, focusing on explosive movements and speed, as well as endurance and physical toughness. These tend to be far more informal, with more emphasis on sparring and technique. Other arts include grappling arts such as judo or jiu jitsu, which teach you to wrestle, throw and control others. This develops more raw strength and power, as well as physical control and coordination.