Isometric Training for Martial Arts Speed

Imagine the effect of your blocks or strikes if you were faster than a speeding bullet

By Paul "Batman" O'Brien 

B.A., N.C.E.H.S., Dip. Acu., Cert Clin. IMed., Dip. Adv. OBB, Dip. CHM, Pn1, PN-SSR, PN-NCA, M.AFPA., M.C.Th.A.

Isometric Training for Martial Arts Speed probably won’t give you movement faster than a speeding bullet, but it can develop devastating speed, and with it power, not only in terms of your reaction time, but in the acceleration of impact. Before I explain the how and why of Isometric Training for Martial Arts Speed, let’s look at why as a Martial Artist you may want to increase speed – and it’s not for the reasons you think.

Most people want to increases the speed of movement in martial arts because they can “beat people to the punch”, they can block quicker, evade, escape or look flashy I’m here to tell you, that by in large those that move very very fast are compensating for a lack of skill. That may not make me very popular and some real fast guys are gonna get offended – what of the lightening speed of Bruce Lee, surely that wasn’t compensation for a lack of skill.

I’ll give you that, in Bruce Lee’s case his speed was due to skill rather than a lack of it, and that's why he used Isometric Training for Martial Arts Speed development. So let me explain my thinking here.

When I was a younger man I was very fast. I was young, could snap myself out any which way in seconds – and because I was able to act and react faster, I was able to get out of situations I should have had the “skill” to see coming or diffuse. When training for a lot of people over the years I’ve seen that a lot. So I figure it wasn’t just me. And that type of speed is always beaten by experience; it can be used against you. Try training really slowly and with targeted accuracy – then when you move fast you can do so with authority and precision – that’s the type of skill Bruce Lee had.

Anyway, rant over, and philosophy lesson nearly at an end, why should Isometric Training for Martial Arts Speed be something you are interested in? POWER.

It comes down to very simple math, like most things and with this understanding you’ll see how a smaller opponent can leverage speed and the strength to increase accuracy, performance and most importantly POWER.

Here it is –

Power = Energy (joules) ÷ Time (seconds)

That’s it. That’s why you want to be faster. That's why you want to use Isometric Training for Martial Arts Speed development. Because being faster means you can generate more power – you can hit harder, block firmer, move and put your entire bodyweight into a space of an inch and devastate any opposition; be it competition, the power in your performance or a fight for your life. And for a martial artist that’s important.

But how important is speed really for power – let’s take a practical example.

At the Physics of Sports course website at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. Professor Tom Steiger calculates a Karate punch to have about 150 Joules of energy. Now martial arts can move very quickly, in hundredeths of a second, but rather than get into complicated maths, let’s just make things easy.

Let's workout the power of that 150kj punch if it was thrown at a speed of 1 second. That’s simple – it would be 150 (150/1). Now let’s say this martial artist is twice as fast – now it’s a different ball game, the power works out with the same joule force at 300. (150/0.5). So you can clearly see how Isometric Training for Martial Arts Speed development can effect you’re overall power – and it makes sense that after we’ve improved our strength with martial arts (see my article Isometric Training for Martial Arts Strength for more), that increasing our speed will give us a lot more power.

So how does Isometric Training for Martial Arts Speed make you faster and thus increase power? Again this is pretty simple. Isometrics is based on stimulating your fast twitch fibres, I explain this in detail in my 7 Week course to toal body mastery - 7 Seconds to Build A Perfect Body, but to quickly brief you on that, the fast twitch fibres are the first engaged, those that fire and exhaust first – the very fibres that move your arm at its fastest rate possible. Not only this, but the nature of isometric training substantially increases the neurological strength and co-ordination. In other words, your brain and transmit the signal to contract your muscles faster, thus your muscles move faster and with a higher number of fast twitch fibres you’ve moving much faster.

Let’s take a more detailed look atIsometric Training for Martial Arts Speed development and examine the underlying principals of all muscular contractions. While there are many different fibre types and subsets there are three main ones.

These are:

  1. Slow twitch fibres - Mainly used for endurance of a muscle, your neck for instance would have more of these than fast twitch – it has to hold your head up all day.
  2. Intermediate twitch fibres - Possess qualities of both slow and fast twitch fibres.
  3. Fast twitch fibres - Responsible for the speed of muscular contraction.

It’s the third one I want you to pay attention to. Fast twitch fibres are not only thicker (think bigger muscles) but are the primary fibres used by the muscle for speed, agility, quickness, and power. In fact fast twitch fibres are 10 times faster in contracting than slow fibres.

Now hare are 2 reasons why Isometric Training for Martial Arts Speed works to achieve this effect better than any other form of training.

One, forcing the most out of your muscle(s) in a particular position for a specific length of time, you will begin to recruit and activate more and more motor units to help maintain this contraction. Motor units that are rarely exercised within a particular muscle are now brought into use with Isometric Training for Martial Arts Speed development, perhaps for the first time. (This is also why people dramatically improve their strength so quickly as well).

Two, the motor units that are recruited are forced to contract continuously, time after time, with no appreciable a progressive increase in force output. This forces muscular development and increased neurological efficiency while allowing you to achieve this state of maximum force very safely and effectively.

As a result of Isometric Training for Martial Arts Speed development you get rapid improvements in strength and speed. And it gets better.

The fast twitch muscle fibres are generally forgotten or overlooked because they are mostly ignored in conventional training routines where the muscle length is constantly changing, like in multiple repetition weight lifting. As far as your muscles are concerned this is endurance training, the job of slow twitch muscle fibres. Which means slow gaians and slow movement.

Take a look and compare a sprinter to a marathon runner and you’ll visibly see the difference between someone trained for speed vs some trained to endure.

My 7 Seconds to Build A Perfect Body program is designed to train your fast twitch fibres in the most effective manner possible.

This means, first, that the nerves and muscles develop the memory to accelerate instantly to the contraction point of the isometric exercise, and secondly, the fast twitch muscle fibres are conditioned to maximize the speed of the muscle contraction.

If you want true power in your martial arts training then you need to start applying isometrics to your training. It’s that simple.

In the next article I’ll be looking at why Power is of built and used by martial artists and how you can quickly enhance your power and precision. In the meantime if you’d like to improve your speed, and dramatically improve your performance as a martial artist, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of my 7 Week System called 7 Seconds to Build A Perfect Body, The Scientifically Proven Method for Transforming Your Body in Just Seconds! With over 250 pages and filled with more than 130 photos it was a launched to huge success and endorsed and praised by martial arts publications such as Irish Fighter Magazine. You can read more about the program and see my incredible transformation, even watch videos of my strength feats here.

You've been reading about Isometric Training for Martial Arts Speed development, check out the next isometric article, Isometric Training for Martial Arts power - here. 

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