It’s a question that gets asked a lot in martial arts and something that quite a few martial artists struggle with. How can I improve my kicking power? The answer to this question is not a simple one. It’s not just lifting weights, it’s not just about being more flexible. So today let’s go through the three pillars that you’ll need to answer the question, how to improve your kicking power.
- Flexibility: I list this first because I truly feel it’s the most important. If your muscles are tight and restricted, you are fighting yourself in order to create your kicks. The easier you can move your body into correct form the more fluid your movements will be. Unrestricted movement creates more power in your kicks and any other technique.
- Form: correct form takes a close second to flexibility in my book because without form your body is out of alignment, and thus fighting yourself and gravity. Ensure that you are using proper form throughout your entire kick by using a mirror, or have your instructor/classmate check you. Another great option would be to prop your cell phone up somewhere and record yourself. Be sure to get at least two angles of your full body during the kick.
- Conditioning: In throwing a kick you’re using mostly fast twitch muscle fibers. In order to train these up you can’t spend all your time in the squat rack. You need to incorporate explosive movements found in plyometric exercises. The faster you can throw a kick that is unrestricted and in form, the more power it will have. Once you have the flexibility and correct form, go train on a heavy bag. There’s no substitute for throwing a full force strike into a bag!
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Now let’s breakdown the three pillars
These are the muscles/joints you’ll need to loosen in order to increase the range of motion in your legs.
- Calfs (back of your leg below the knee)
- Hamstrings (back of your leg above the knee connecting into your glute)
- Glutes (your rear end)
- Quadriceps ( front of your leg above the knee)
- Hip Flexors (front of your leg just above the Quadriceps)
- Hips (side of your leg between your front and back jeans pocket)
- Adductors (inside of your leg from pubic area down to the knee)
- Lower back
- Obliques (sides of your upper body from the bottom rib to your hip)
Ok so we’ve got all our muscles covered and can move on to form. In order to achieve a powerful kick the way it’s designed in your system, it needs to be done in correct form. Most kicks can be broken down into four parts;
- Execution (throwing the kick) & Chamber
- Return (coming back to ready stance for the kick)
In training proper form each stage of your kicks must be analyzed and addressed. First begin in the ready stance for the kick you want to practice. Second bring the leg into it’s chambered position and balance there. Third throw the kick and return to the chamber (do not plant back into your stance) balance there for a moment. Fourth plant back to your ready stance.
Each phase of your kick should be done with intention and control. You should be balanced and able to decide, “I want to put my foot down now” instead of “I have to put my foot down or I’ll fall”. Once you can move through your desired kick like this your form is in top condition. This four step process is just an example, you may have to delete a step if your kick has a follow through or a retreat. Still break it down and balance with it as much as you can, I guarantee using this practice method will improve your kicking technique!
Ok so now we’re on to pillar three, conditioning. These are some exercise you can incorporate to increase leg strength for both power and fast twitch muscle fibers. I’m a big proponent of sets when it comes to working out. The body likes things done in multiples of three, so for starters do three sets of each. Once you’re more advanced you can either add repetitions or sets.
- Box Jump: First find a box that is 18-24 inches off the ground. Stand behind it, squat down slightly and jump with both feet landing on top of the box. Step down and repeat 10-15 jumps
- Rear Lunges: Stand up straight with your feet almost together. Next step back with your right foot so you can comfortably squat down to where your left leg is parallel to the ground. Stand back up and return your right foot to its starting position. Repeat with the left leg. Do 10-15 squats with each leg. As you progress hold some dumbbells to add weight.
- Squat Jump: Squat down with both legs and jump straight up as high as you can. Get 10-15 jumps
- Sideways shuffle: Spread your feet slightly wider than shoulder width and move laterally to the right by pushing off with your left foot and stepping with the right. Go for 10-15 steps to the right then back to the left.
- Static leg raises: Bring your right knee up to your chest and grab the ball of your right foot with your right hand. Next extend your right leg out in front of you and hold it there for 10-15 seconds or as long as you can. Repeat with your left leg. Once you get stronger try it without holding on to your foot!
Work on all three pillars and you will notice a significant improvement in your kicking power. Here’s to you and your future “take their head off” kicks!
Train Hard, Stay Safe