Martial arts have always played an important role in my work as a trainer. The first competitive athlete I ever worked with in 2007 was 2.Bundesliga wrestler Nico Braun. The first competitive athlete to take advantage of four units of personal training per week at the YPSI was kickboxer Emre Oezusakiz at the end of 2010 in preparation for the European Championships. Over the years, martial artists such as the 2-time world champion in kickboxing from Switzerland Slavo Polugic, Ju Jutsu world champion Romy Korn, professional boxer Sergej Haan, first division judokas Marco Meier and Nick Haasmann, the 4-time world champion in kickboxing/K1 Ibrahim Karakoc and of course UFC fighter Peter Sobotta, his protege Mert Özyildirim and most recently UFC fighter Cristina Stanciu from Romania.
Training culture, the enthusiasm for progression and the complexity of the individual disciplines ultimately make martial arts so interesting for the spectator and the trainer.
My expertise is strength training, nutrition and supplementation. From this perspective, the squat is a central element in the strength training programs of every martial artist I've ever worked with.
Every martial artist, whether it's a boxer, judoka or MMA fighter, wants to become faster and more explosive while minimizing injuries and carrying around as little body fat as possible - sumo wrestlers excluded. All of these goals benefit from squats. Of course, it depends on the set-repetition scheme and movement speed, sleep and diet, whether and which desired effects occur.
Below are three points that can be fundamentally improved by the squat.
1. More Knee Stability - Deep squats over the entire range of motion, ie the backs of the thighs cover the entire calf at the lowest point, trains all knee-extending and hip-extending muscles and thus ensures more stability and mobility in the knee and hip joints. This reduces the risk of injury in these joints.
2. More power from the hips - It doesn't matter whether it's more precise, more explosive shots, harder kicks, faster takedowns and throws, the power for this comes primarily from the hips. More strength and mobility in the hips through squats means that you can generate more power and move faster.
3. Increased Size - Squats are an excellent exercise for building muscle mass when moving up a weight class or reducing body fat when moving down a weight class - depending on the set-rep scheme and the right diet, both goals can be achieved achieved with squats. No other exercise allows it to be used for such a wide range of repetition numbers and training goals as the squat in its various variants.
Other exercises such as leg curls, back extensions, deadlifts or split squats should of course also be trained at the right time. However, the squat, in its variants, is the single exercise that can massively improve strength, muscle mass, and mobility in the lower body alike.
Good luck with martial arts squats!
Picture: Cristina Stanciu training at the YPSI (Photo:Peter Sobotta).