We have a culture of fitness! We know that being a martial artist means we are healthy and part of our overall health is physical fitness. A little bit of exercise every day goes a long way. I love my kettlebells and sandbags but sometimes the day is busy and the opportunity to have my gear with me is not plausible. On those days, its not about giving up but using the fitness system I always have with me – bodyweight exercises!

This is a simple routine that you can do in 10, 20 or 30 minutes. It works the entire body and is a good series of daily exercises for Durham Modern Martial Art students, parents and family members.

Getting the Kinks Out.

I take three to five minutes to get ready for my workout. I think of it as getting the kinks out. I start off with some wake-up stretches – forward and back bends, side to side bends and the knee pointer to get some of the stiffness out. Sometimes I will do the Yoga Sun Salutation. Again…I just want to get some of the stiffness out of my muscles. I then do some slow neck turns, shoulder shrugs, waist turns and leg raises. Nothing is fast and everything has continious and flowing movement. I also include a partial “dislocation” using a staff or towel. I won’t time this. I just do it until I am ready. Sometimes I close my eyes and try to focus on the outdoor noise or the general silence – a little workout meditation.

Working Muscle-response

This is the focal point of my workout. I have very low [or no] rest between each exercise and no longer than 60-seconds between sets. I do a minimum of 3-sets and often a total of 5. These exercises can be done anywhere – increasing the opportunity for consistency.

Burpees. I start everything off with burpees. I do 10 at a time and use it to kick-off the muscle response portion of my workout. The burpee gets everything moving and some simple variations help break out the monotony. Starting from a standing position you drop to the floor into a plank position, moving into a push-up, hop up into a squat and then jump as high as you can. I like jumping up and landing into a basic freestyle combination – such as a straight, hook and uppercut or straight, hook and roundhouse kick. The push-up portion allows for a lot of variation as does the jump.

Every other week a burpee challenge is a good weekend starter. How many burpees can you do in 5 minutes?

Hindu Push-ups. I’m not the biggest fan of push-ups but I love the Hindu version also known as Judo push-ups. When done correctly they work the core, triceps, pectorals, deltoids, hamstrings and glutes – giving a stretch as well as a strength building workout. Start with your feet spread apart, slightly wider than your shoulders and your hands shoulder width apart. Unlike a normal push-up where you are flat, in this one your butt is up in the air so your body shape is an upside-down V. Bend the elbows, lowering the upper body downwards, arcing your body as you near the ground pushing your chest up in an arc. Hold for a moment and return to your starting position. I love this exercise. I do ten to twenty of these with each set.

Hindu Squats. Squats are a staple of the day-to-day routine and I do between twenty and twenty-five per set. In the basic squat you drop into a sitting position until your thighs are parallel to the ground and then rise back to a standing position. The Hindu is a  variation in which you raise the heel of the foot off the ground as you lower and place it back to the ground as you rise. A great exercise that requires a bit more balance than the basic squat.

Plank. While I would like to do a 13-minute plank like my student Jayden, I focus on 60-seconds each set.  The plank works all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominus, and the external oblique. In addition it supports a healthy lifestyle by strengthening the lower back, improving metabolic functioning, improve posture, and improve your balance. Start your plank on your forearms and toes with your body straight and rigid, stomach pulled in. Your head should be relaxed but not slumped. I find having music running in the background I can sing towards makes the planks move quickly – rather than trying to count off 60 seconds.

Every week try and do at least one plank for 90 to 120 seconds!

The Closing

It’s not a cool-down; I’m not stopping. I’m just closing off my exercise series. I like finishing everything off with a few dynamic stretches – the old school shoulder swings, the Tai Chi Waist Turner and stiff-leg raises to the front and side. That’s it – ready to take on the universe!