A kung fu-style workout is a great way to work your whole body. Like any workout, you need to start by warming up. With kung fu, you need to start with exercises that will warm up all your muscles and get your blood pumping. Then, you can move on to working both your upper and lower body. You can actually alternate between upper and lower body exercises, and it doesn’t hurt to throw in some jumping jacks or other exercises between movements in your workout.
- Do some jumping jacks. One effective warm-up is the standard jumping jacks that you did in elementary school. Stand with your arms at your side and your legs together. Simultaneously jump your legs out to shoulder-width apart as you bring your arms straight out from your shoulders and then straight up above your head.
- Do a set amount, such as 20 jumping jacks or 20 seconds of jumping jacks. Work up to more as you can.
- Add squat jumps. Begin with a squat, where you act like you’re sitting in a chair but there’s no chair behind you. You’ll need your feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly lower yourself down like you’re sitting. You should reach a point where your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Now, simultaneously raise your arms above your head as you jump into the air from the squat position. Land in a standing position, and do it all again.
- Try starting with 5 reps and moving up to 10 gradually.
- Jump rope. Jumping rope is another good warm-up that may take you back to your grade-school days. Get a sturdy jump rope, and try jumping continuously for a set period. It gets your heart pumping and warms up muscles throughout your body.
- Do what you can at first, and work up to jumping for 5 minutes.
- Make quick position changes. One way to really prepare you for your workout ahead is to try some quick position changes that you’d normally need to do to move around in kung fu. For example, with your left forward, spring lightly forward and back a few times, then switch quickly to the right foot forward.
- Punch the air. Since you’ll use punch-like movements in your workout, do some punches while warming up. Start by punching with one arm only, ten times in a row. After you’ve completed that move, switch to the other arm.
- Start with your left foot a bit forward. Spring forward a bit on both feet, then punch forward with your left arm. It’s similar to a boxing move.
- Do a series of jumping oblique twists. This movement warms and stretches your whole body. Start with your feet together. Your arms should be in front of your chest, with your elbows out and palms towards the ground. Start by jumping in the air and twisting your feet and knees to the right, then jumping again and twisting to the left in quick succession. Your chest should stay forward. Keep going back and forth quickly.
- Try 30 seconds of this move at a time.
- Keep moving. If you need a break between your warm-up exercises, that’s fine. However, you should still keep moving. When you’re taking a break, you need to jog in place to keep the momentum going. Once you’ve recovered a bit, try another warm-up exercise.
- Make sure you’re rotating through exercises. That is, you can do jumping jacks once, then go back to them after doing a couple of other exercises.
- Try the “world greatest stretch.” This yoga stretch works to stretch out your whole body, which is essential when doing a kung fu workout. Start with a forward lunge. Step far forward with one foot. As you do, lower yourself towards the ground. The front knee should reach a 90-degree angle and the back knee should almost touch the ground. Hold this move for about 10 seconds.
- Using the arm that’s on the same side as your forward leg, bend it at the elbow and lean as far forward as you can on the inside of your leg. You can try to the touch the ground with the elbow. If you can’t touch the ground, just get as far as you can. Your other hand should be flat on the ground to help you stay upright. Hold for about 10 seconds.
- Next, place your hands on both sides of your foot. You may need to support yourself on your fingers. Straighten your front leg up, moving the back leg as needed, and lift up your front foot’s toes. Hold for 10 seconds. Move to put the other leg forward, and repeat.
EditWorking the Upper Body
- Do an upward block. Make a fist out of your hand. Your arm should be bent. Bring that arm out in front of you with your forearm facing out. Your arm should be about waist level and parallel to the ground. Now, raise the arm up, bringing it in front of your face and then up above your head. Your arm should now be just above your forehead with the forearm still out. Bring your arm back to the start.
- Alternate arms for 20 reps. Start out slow, and work up to a faster pace over time. You can add more blocks as you get stronger.
- Move to downward blocks. Begin in horse stance. Make fists with both hands, and bend your arms at the elbow. The inner arm should be facing upwards. Move one arm out in front, flattening out to an open hand, facing downward. Your arm should be at about waist-height.
- Move your arm down, pressing a bit harder with the outside of the wrist as you hit the “bottom” of the movement. Move back to starting position.
- Alternate between hands for about 20 reps. You can move up to doing more and doing them faster as you get stronger.
- For horse stance, place your feet a bit wider than your hips. Your toes should be pointed outwards. Keeping your back straight, bend at the knees until they are just over your toes.
- Alternate punches. Start in a high horse stance, meaning don’t go as deep as you did in the downward blocks. You arms should be bent at the elbow and by your side, with the underarms facing upwards and fists clenched. Start by punching one arm forward.
- As you punch forward, rotate the wrist so your inner arm is facing down by the time your arm is extended. As you come back, rotate it back upwards. Punch straight out from the center of your body, rotating your torso back and forth to punch.
- Move back and forth between arms for about 30 seconds.
- To make it a bit more difficult, get lower in the horse stance.
- Try push-ups with extra stretches. Begin in a push-up position. Lay face down on the ground with your toes holding your lower end up (you can also use your knees instead). Place your palms on the ground (or knuckles, which is harder). Lower yourself to the ground, then bring yourself back up, keeping your body straight throughout.
- Try ten reps, then stop. Using one arm to balance you in the center, stretch the other arm out straight up from your shoulder. Hold for ten seconds.
- Next, jump your legs out, and turn your body towards the arm you have out, including turning your feet. Stretch that arm up into the air. Your face should be looking upward. Hold for ten seconds. Repeat the whole movement on the other side.
- Do another five pushups.
EditWorking the Lower Body
- Perform straight kicks. Start in bow stance by having one leg in front and one in back. You’ll be kicking with the one in back. Place your hands on your hips in preparation for the move. Rock forward on to you front leg a bit to begin the move.
- As you move your weight to your front leg, your back leg should begin to lift off the ground. Keep it straight. Use the muscles in that leg to kick it forward, while pushing up with the other leg, keeping that knee slightly bent, not locked. Kick as high as you can and still keep your balance. Use your muscles to pull the leg back down to the starting position.
- Try 20 kicks on one side, aiming for waist-high, then move to the other leg and repeat.
- Do round kicks. Begin in a defensive bow stance, with one leg in front of the other. You can bring your arms up in front of you like you’re getting ready to punch. Make fists and have your underarms facing your body with your elbows bent.
- Shift your weight to your front leg, lifting the back leg off the ground. Instead of going straight forward, lift it to the outside and bring it forward. As you bring it forward, move it from outside to inside.
- Basically, you are lifting it and swiveling your foot so it comes up with the toe pointing to the other side of your body as the foot moves in front of you. Your knee should be bent until your leg gets in front of you, then you should kick out.
- Your foot on the ground will turn, and your body will lean slightly way from the kick.
- Do ten to fifteen reps and move to the other side.
- Work on crescent kicks. Start out in the bow position again. Bring your back leg forward, moving it a bit in front of your other leg as you bring it into the air. Now, your foot should go in an arch in front of your body. As you bring your leg in front of you back towards the other side, the knee should be facing your body and the sole of your foot should be pointing upwards. Bring it down the other side and back behind your body.
- Try ten reps, and then move to the other leg.
- Try leg raises. Lay on your back. Your hands can be palms together on your chest, or you can use them under you to support your back/buttocks. Raise both legs into the air together, keeping the knees slightly bent. Lower them back towards the ground, but don’t touch the ground.
- Do ten reps with your legs together, then try scissoring your legs back and forth.