In 1687, Sir Isaac Newton published his three Laws of Motion with little foreknowledge of the true “gravity” of his findings. For more than three centuries, the second (force equals mass times acceleration or, written as an equation, F = ma) law has governed human performance. For martial artists, understanding how force is created can critically improve kicking power.
Breaking down Newton’s equation as it applies to kicking, the “mass” part of F = ma is the weight of your lower leg, which doesn’t change much. That means that in order to increase force, the variable you must work on is acceleration. Increasing the speed at which your foot fires requires training for power.
Any program designed to improve power requires power moves, like the vertical jump and long jump. While doing this workout, focus on power and speed on every rep and explode through each set. The goal is not to lift heavy but to move moderate weight as fast as possible. Exercises should be performed explosively for four or five sets of six to eight reps, with rest periods of 90 seconds to ensure maximal power on the next set. Pay homage to Newton by following this quick routine twice a week for four weeks and bring physics to bear on your performance in the ring.
Standing Vertical Jumps 4/6
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Swing your arms back and quickly dip until your knees bend to about 120 degrees. Explode upward, extending your knees, hips, ankles and trunk while swinging your arms forward and upward as explosively as possible.
Long Jumps 4/6
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Similar to the vertical jump, you will dip and drive, but instead of jumping upward, you will jump forward as far as possible. Dip rapidly and swing your arms forward while you jump.
Medicine-Ball Twists 4/8 (to each side)
Stand with your knees slightly bent, feet just wider than shoulder width with your chest and head up. Holding a medicine ball, extend your arms fully out in front at chest height. Rotate your torso explosively side to side, building up speed as the reps continue.
Barbell Step-Ups 4/8 (with each leg)
Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, head up, chest out and shoulders back with a barbell across your shoulders like for a squat. Stand a foot behind a 12- to 18-inch-high box. Place one foot on top of the box, then powerfully extend the knee, hip and ankle of your foot on the box and bring your body to a standing position on top of the box. Step off the box, keeping all your weight on your working leg and, as soon as you feel the ground with your nonworking leg, stand back up.
Resisted Knee Drives 4/8 (with each leg)
Affix a tube or cable strap to one of your ankles. Step away from the weight stack or pull tightly on the tube when your entire leg is extended back. Plant your nonstrapped leg firmly and use something like a bench for support by holding on. Drive your strapped leg forward forcefully by contracting your hip flexors. Pull your knee upward and forward past your waist and return back down. Repeat quickly with the same leg for reps, then switch legs.