They say that self-defense is like having a perpetual invisible sword and shield in handy whenever you need them.
Because even if you’re a pacifist, being able to defend yourself when the occasion calls for it is a very important survival skill.
Another benefit of self-defense is that each day you train to learn and master new skills. Also, you’re burning a considerable amount of fat in your body, which in turn will get you into shape.
A good martial art discipline should not only work the entire body but also strengthen coordination and build up muscle memory. Speaking of which, one of the best martial arts today is Krav Maga and it is second to none.
Krav Maga originated in Israel and is the primary martial arts used by the IDF or Israeli Defense Force. If you’ve seen the Taken movie series which starred Liam Neeson, then you’ll know what Krav Maga self-defense is as it was his fighting style in the films.
I’ve even written this entire post on Krav Maga in the movies because it’s such a popular method of training for American actors.
Krav Maga founder, Imi Lichtenfeld, designed this self-defense technique based on anticipating the opponent’s move with lightning speed reaction and quickly employs defensive and offensive maneuvers simultaneously in order to overpower the opponent.
The style emphasizes speed and uses the entire body to provide amazing cardio and strength training.
It is a well-known fact that training in martial arts will bring you plenty of benefits – including physical and mental fitness.
Discipline is clearly defined in martial arts from the very beginning and this is why it can help you develop physical fitness by enhancing your strength, flexibility, capacity to perform aerobic movements, provide a well-rounded cardio and strength routine, better your balance, and more.
Basically, if you train in any martial arts, you will eventually get fit; however, when deciding which style to try, it comes down to what areas of your fitness you wish to address.
For example, there may be areas in your physical body that you want to improve such as your stamina, strength, and flexibility – training in martial arts like Krav Maga can help you improve and excel in utilizing your physical abilities.
Krav Maga Can Help You Improve and Build Muscle Tone
Krav Maga could be considered as an extreme sport and borderline illegal street fighting skill as it cannot be applied to any standardized sporting event.
However, while it may not be suitable for MMA (mixed martial arts, read about the suitability in my post here) or any combat sports competition, it is an excellent survival skill that can help you get out of sticky situations.
Having said that, one does not need to wonder whether this self-defense technique will help build your muscles or not, because it definitely will with the intense training associated with the arts.
Now let’s look at the details on how this martial arts style will help you build your muscle tone.
What is Muscle Tone?
Muscle tone means building your muscle size and strength in such a way that there is a noticeable increase in overall muscle size and strength yet it doesn’t look too bulky or huge.
The best way to understand what muscle tone is, is by looking at what sports athletes and marathoners’ bodies look like. They are sculpted, shredded with almost zero body fat yet are stronger than the average person.
Toned muscles are nimble, flexible and have a good supply of oxygen, so they do not cramp easily and can be used for extended periods of time without fatigue or burnout.
Toning your muscles boosts your muscle strength and endurance, while simultaneously burning body fat, which reveals all your muscle groups through your skin yet doesn’t make you bulky like a bodybuilder.
Training in Krav Maga can help you achieve the same results.
How Martial Arts Training Helps Tone and Strengthen Muscles
You will experience several distinct types of exercises when you enroll and train in a Krav Maga school near you.
Some Krav Maga schools also employ fatigue drills aside from basic exercises and plyometric workouts in order to make you fit, be in great shape and build your muscle tone.
The classes are set in progressions where you begin with brief warm-ups, which is designed to bring your heart rate to a higher state and increase your breathing.
After the warm-ups, then you should be able to go through the other classes where it gets a little bit more difficult as you progress.
The most challenging part of the classes is the combative training. Combatives are ballistic attacks used to neutralize a threat.
Combative training means that you’re going to simulate real combat and hit things like the punching bag and other KM gear. The combative training in Krav Maga are:
- Elbow strikes
- Palm heel strikes
- Knee Strikes
Initially, you will practice all your combative with an imaginary opponent (the air around you up to where your arms and legs can reach) – this is to help you develop the proper posture for each move.
The next step is to practice your combative on Krav Maga-specific punching and kicking bags or what I’d like to call “aggression bags.” By pushing your limits one step at a time when you perform multiple sets of strikes on a bag, you challenge your muscles.
This type of training helps you familiarize the utilization of power and aggression that your physical body can achieve and deploy it at will.
By continually training and improving on your self-defense skills every day you essentially build your muscle strength and tone.
Technically, these exercise types were not meant to bulk up your muscles, but instead build your muscle strength; however, you will notice an increase of your muscle size at a modest percentage.
Every time you exert your muscles you burn body fat, therefore increasing muscle tone simultaneously decreases the fat in your body.
How Drills in the Martial Arts Helps Develop Muscle Tone and Strength
Another way to increase your muscle tone is through fatigue drills. When you practice fatigue drills it attempts to simulate in approximation how your body is depleted of its energy when you engage in a real fight.
The way fatigue drills are performed is by combining the combative with some basic exercise and keep you moving for 1 minute non-stop.
Even though the workout/training is done in short 60-second bursts it is an efficient way to increase your cardio.
This plus the basic exercises which include pushups and sit-ups will help you push your limits. Improved cardio helps you do more sets of training exercises and will result in increased muscle mass, albeit slightly when compared to that of bodybuilders.
Still, your muscle tone will be clearly defined and an increased muscle mass means less fat and stronger muscles.
As you can see, Krav Maga allows us to practice exercises that increase our muscle tone and strength. Krav Maga also teaches you a good self-defense technique and helps you develop a warrior mindset aside from building a great muscle tone.
Having a warrior mindset is important because a warrior is different from a soldier.
A warrior is like a knight – an elite band of skilled and intelligent soldiers that are considered to have an equal rank to a general – and therefore can take command or become a one-man army if needed.
In order to achieve the best results, you have to ensure that you will train with consistency. Building a great muscle tone is developed and improved over a long period of time (i.e. 6 months to 1 year) through constant and consistent practice and training.
What Training in Krav Maga Does to Your Body
Having been the primary self-defense system of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), it’s obvious why this is the perfect martial arts technique to choose if you want to achieve your fitness goals of building strength and working on things like stamina and endurance.
This hand-to-hand fighting style is meant to teach you to neutralize enemies as fast as possible. So, when you train in Krav Maga, you’re training your entire body to become the weapon.
The art of Krav Maga incorporates a variety of fighting moves to effectively take down an aggressor, most of which are borrowed from different
Asian martial arts styles.
Among the fighting movements that you will learn are kicks, elbows, punches, knees, takedowns, blocks, etc. and they will be progressive as you move through each class where each workout/training session will increase in terms of intensity to enable you to last through any fight and win through skill and endurance.
Most Krav Maga classes utilize training bags and focus mitts which helps develop your agility and fighting technique.
It is estimated that a person burns 500 – 800 calories per hour when training in Krav Maga. This is already an excellent workout benefit in and of itself, but you also lose weight (with the fats being burned through your exercise routine) and gain muscle mass.
You need to develop good muscle memory if you want to train for endurance. This will also help you to perform quick maneuvers which are essential in developing your unique fighting technique.
To be able to efficiently deploy both strength and speed in order to subdue an opponent (the main goal of Krav Maga) requires you to have a well-developed muscle mass and defined muscle tone.
Krav Maga: New Exercise Moves
Krav Maga employs fighting techniques borrowed from other martial arts styles including jujitsu, judo, and boxing, but it also incorporates weapons in its fighting styles such as knives, guns and other objects that can be used as a weapon.
Students in Krav Maga gyms are taught to defend themselves against one or multiple opponents with their bare hands and/or with wielding weapons (including knives and guns).
KM instructors will also teach you how to use your body’s reflexes for self-defense, and how to identify, target and attack your opponent’s vulnerable and weak points on their physical bodies.
Many Krav Maga classes also offer sparring sessions, under close supervision.
Although it’s purpose is to refine your self-defense skills, it can still help you achieve some of the fitness goals you’ve set in place because the Retzev alone will keep your body burning those fats all the time during your training.
Custom Krav Maga classes that have been converted into fitness routines instead of self-defense focused training that highlights cardiovascular conditioning, elements of yoga, and sports circuit-style training.
Unfortunately, some of these custom classes are created for women only.
Krav Maga: Exercise and Fitness Benefits
Krav Maga is a high-intensity form of martial arts that burns calories and builds muscle tone. Just like any other exercise/workout classes, Krav Maga sessions start with warm-up drills and ends with cool down drills (this refers to the shifting of your heartbeat in order to prepare you for training sessions in between).
Punches, kicks, and other rapid body movements are what’s practiced in Krav Maga classes and they also help to tone your muscles.
It is a great way to lose weight with high-intensity training and boost your stamina and also build your strength. Training in Krav Maga will sharpen both your body and mind making you an efficient fighter under any condition.
Strength and Conditioning Training
You’ll need to learn and understand the 3 most important components of reality-based self-defense and these are:
- Simplified Fighting Technique (i.e. the possible things that you can do in a real-life altercation)
- Aggressive Mindset (the will to survive)
- Physical Fitness
The fact of the matter is your fitness level is detrimental to your survival whether it is in a fight or roughing it out in the wild outdoors.
Unfortunately, it is the one truth that few want to hear. In almost all disasters and threats to a person’s existence etc. it is the fit who survives.
Having trained in Krav Maga for years now, I discovered something very important – knowing is half the battle because it doesn’t matter how good you are in performing everything you know in a controlled environment, it won’t hold in a real street fight unless you can duplicate those moves right in the heat of battle.
And know this: whatever can go wrong will go wrong and all that you’re really doing out there is avoiding the things that have already gone wrong and try to turn the tide to your favor, so if you don’t have a plan, then you’re screwed!
In combat sports, the promoters require each team to have their fighters be on almost or equal weights in order to make the fight as fair as possible.
But on the streets, there are no rules and there’s no such thing as fair. In a 1 on 1 fight, you’d be at a disadvantage if your opponent is bigger and heavier than you.
It is the same in a group fight (i.e. rival gangs) and the bigger guy will go after the smaller opponents.
It is a sad fact that every advantage a person has is an unfairness to the other.
But in a straight-up fight, size doesn’t always guarantee victory, no, strength, speed and skills guarantee victory – and that’s exactly what you learn in Krav Maga – outsmarting your opponent in every fight.
Want to get started in Krav Maga training? I’ve prepared the ultimate guide to get all of the information you need online here.