Martial artists do not need to be a Tour de France Champion like Lance Armstrong or a world-class trickster like BMX guru Mat Hoffman in order to obtain the fitness benefits from riding a bike.
Truth be told, cycling is a great cross-training activity that could further advance a martial artist’s skill level, all while building upon a person’s genetic gifts.
In addition to burning some calories and saving the environment from car pollution, martial artists can also get on a bike, cycle for an hour, and see the payoff at the dojo in a matter of days.
Here are five health benefits that will appeal to the modern-day martial artist.
#1 It Strengthens Your Leg Muscles
In cycling, the legs are quite obviously doing the bulk of the work. From the quadriceps down to the hamstrings, calves, and even the feet, your legs will be almost fully engaged. That vigorous extension and contraction will stress all the muscles in the lower body, and will result in stronger and more defined legs.
With those strong legs, a martial artist would generate more power when throwing their kicks, in addition to feeling quicker when moving forward or evading attacks.
#2 It Enhances The Upper Body
Obviously, the lower body greatly benefits from putting the pedal to the metal, but the upper body gets some a workout too, too. Being consistent with proper posture will tone your core; gripping the handlebars and leaning forward will work out the entire arm including the biceps, triceps and shoulders; and maintaining a steady balance will make the lower back stay sharp.
The upper body is important for all martial artists. Not only can a strong and durable upper body absorb blows better, but it can lead to being able to unload more strikes, throw with greater speed, and pack more power for punches.
#3 It Improves Your Balance & Coordination
Maintaining perfect control and a solid state of equilibrium on a two-wheeled vehicle is crucial. Admittedly, it could be a bit tricky with the numerous twists, turns, and bumps on the path one is taking. But practice, along with a conditioned core and lower back, will improve balance and coordination.
Not only is balance important to cycling, but it is just as important to martial artists. After all, when in competition, a martial artist will need to maintain his or her balance and coordination in order to effectively engage an opponent, and not be caught out of position.
#4 Your Stamina Gets A Boost
Many exercises will build stamina, but taking an hour-long bike ride at a lower speed will help increase endurance rather quickly. It will get the blood flowing, the oxygen pumping, and allow the heart to handle more distance without tiring.
Though enhanced stamina will carry over into other facets of life, it is vital for martial artists. Whether it is a sparring session, rolling on the mats, fighting in the cage, challenging for a belt or even just getting through an intensive class, stamina is an essential part of the lifestyle.
Solid stamina will only keep a martial artist sharper and less exhausted, allowing for longer, more effective training sessions. After all, you definitely learn more when your body and mind are fresh.
#5 It Builds Mental Toughness
Cycling could be extremely tiring, especially if performed for long periods of time. But challenge yourself. Once you feel comfortable cycling a certain route, challenge yourself to bike longer distances and trek uphill. It may seem daunting, but being able to ride up that metaphorical mini-mountain will provide a sense of achievement.
For martial artists, it is important to go the extra mile. Maintaining a positive mindset and being in a great mental place is just as important, if not more, than possessing the physical skills of combat. After all, they say this game is 90% mental. Being able to tell yourself to persevere and keep going will train you to never give up.
Images: Mark Teo