Demetrious Johnson

Whomever can punch, kick or move fastest can bypass the defense and have a great offensive attack. Resistance bands are great for martial arts training because they boost your strength, speed, and power precisely for martial arts movements.

The bands increase the force specifically by using the same angles, movements, and leverage as kicks, punches, and grappling. These exact lines of movement and force are very hard to replicate with other exercises. Also, you can adjust the tension and force more by simply moving your body forward or back without stopping to change the weight. It is the reason why resistance bands produce significantly higher increases in strength, speed, and enhanced neurological adaptation with sport specific movements and techniques.


For instance, using a dumbbell to punch has no comparison when using a resistance band. Using a dumbbell to punch does not make your body react or move the same way when training, using a resistance band. You have to put your weight behind the resistance band the same way you would throw a punch. The bands pull you back and down making all your muscles react to use the floor, your core, all the way through the extension of your arm. They are also great to help beginners feel all the muscles activate to punch correctly, and, discover and strengthen the weak links in your movements or techniques. A dumbbell does not mimic exact technique, force, or resistance in a punch and will actually lead to alter your technique to be sloppy and decrease accuracy.

In the video below, Igor Leite who is a Blackbelt 4th Dan in karate here in Brazil, uses resistance bands to strengthen specific muscles to develop strength and speed for his punching. Weights cannot offer you this exact trade-off. The bands that you choose should be challenging enough to add resistance but light enough so that you can still have perfect form.

Resistance Bands Enhance Speed and Strength

Using the resistance bands around the hips to perform punches and kicks or for jujitsu athletes and wrestlers to grapple and do takedowns etc., produces a significant increase in their explosiveness and power by recruiting a greater number of fast-twitch muscle fibers. This fast-twitch muscle fiber recruitment happens during the eccentric motion. The eccentric motion is the loading phase where muscles absorb force to enhance the concentric explosive phase and speed of your punch.

For example, when you punch, you have to use the same muscles to return the resistance. When the band retracts you have to control the retraction that makes you stronger eccentrically. It is during the control of the eccentric phase where force is absorbed and activates the fast-twitch muscle fibers, instead of the force being dissipated, to have a faster more explosive punch. If force is dissipated, fast-twitch muscles are not activated. Therefore, you will not deliver explosiveness nor speed to their maximal potential.

Many athletes and people neglect training the eccentric phase, and is the most important of all phases to develop speed and explosiveness, as well as, prevent injury. My book, Instant Strength, explains the process of eccentric training more in-depth.

Another great aspect about the bands are, they make you control and stabilize the movement from beginning to end and from the end to the beginning. This stability produced is important. In order to move fast, muscles need to have stability. Without stability, the nervous system will slow your movements down. Think of it like jumping into the water from a canoe or a dock. Jumping out of the canoe is wobbly. There is no stability to create force. But, jumping from the dock has stability. You can use the ground to generate force to jump. The nervous system acts this way to protect you from injury.

Functional Training for Martial Arts Using Bands

You should never use a resistance band that will alter the way you kick or punch, or grapple. Use heavier ones to develop strength and lighter ones for speed. There are methods you can incorporate strength and speed, so, stay tuned!

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Photo Courtesy: Dawson Holt via Instagram

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