4 Ways That Karate Can Help You Lose Weight


Most of us are familiar with karate as one of the top forms of martial arts with regards to self-defense and body discipline, but few people really understand the extent to which karate and weight loss go hand in hand.

As karate is a high-aerobic activity that challenges almost every muscle group in your body, an average karate session includes a large and wide set of exercises that are excellent for overall body fitness. 

As a form of martial arts centered on power and strength, karate can not only aid you in weight loss but is also highly efficient in building strength and power. Your body endurance, agility, flexibility, muscle tone, and sense of balance is all bound to improve greatly through Karate. 

Simply put, practicing karate is a great way to achieve your fitness goals while learning to defend yourself at the same time. Not only will it help you gain the figure of your dreams, but researches also reveal that karate can help enhance your self-image and improve your overall health and body strength in every way. 

Karate training in a modern-style dojo

The Europe PMC Study

This study investigated the physiological responses of karate on trainees during five different types of karate training. Its purpose was to examine whether a single karate training session can achieve high-intensity aerobic thresholds, energy use-up, changes in body mass, and fat loss. You can find this study here.  

The results indicated that although the training intensity of the karate exercises examined was only moderate, the mean value of fat burn up and weight loss during the exercise was well above the threshold. This indicates that karate is indeed an effective way to lose weight, even with relatively low-intensity sessions. 

How Karate Helps You Lose Weight

Now that we have established that karate is a great way to burn calories and drop the extra pounds, only one question remains – how does karate really help us achieve this? Well, to answer this question, we have compiled the top four ways karate helps aid weight loss.

1. A Full Body Workout

A single karate training session is a great way to perform a complete full-body workout, helping you lose weight and improving overall health and fitness. As it targets improvements in cardiovascular capabilities, stamina, strength, and muscle toning, karate is one of the most well-rounded total body workouts you can perform.  

Not only is karate highly effective as a form of acute self-defense, but it also stands out for how rapidly it can transform your entire body. A powerful one-hour training session with non-stop jabbing, high-kicks, blocking, and dodging will raise your heart rate significantly, greatly increasing the number of calories you burn during the class. 

In an average high-intensity karate class or training session, you will be continuously moving on your feet. Combining cardio, muscle toning, and endurance training all in one, karate provides you with a complete body workout that greatly supersedes any number of hours you spend on the treadmill. 

2. Cardiovascular Training

Most expert weight loss training routines include cardiovascular training. (Source) Cardio is one of the biggest components in burning calories and it also increases your metabolic rate to a great extent, promoting higher levels of fat burning. 

One of the topmost benefits of Karate is the significant positive impact it has on your body’s cardiovascular system. It is a perfect weight loss method as it combines high-intensity cardiovascular exercise in a series of entertaining and challenging poses and methods, making it both a refreshing and effective way to drop the extra weight. 

Most Karate training sessions involve at least an hour of punching or kicking pads, shadow boxing, and sparring, which gets your blood pumping. It puts increased demand on your heart, resulting in improved heart health over time. If you engage in a high-intensity workout training session, you can even burn as much as 2,000 calories per session! 

Karate training also works on a variety of muscle groups in your body, improving your heart rate and increasing your body’s rate of oxygen uptake with time. Karate is undoubtedly a highly effective way to train your entire cardiovascular system in a way that no jog or gym exercise can. If that isn’t great enough already, consistent practice and regular training sessions can also substantially decrease the risk of heart diseases and strokes, boosting your body’s immunity and health. 

stretching for karate

3. Muscle Toning

Most non-martial arts training programs or sessions include some elements of martial arts training in their routines. Personal trainers, for example, usually involve karate equipment such as punching bags, kicking pads, and mitts in their training sessions. These are some common examples of how karate equipment and procedures are used in cardio workouts for fitness and weight loss. 

Fitness aside, Karate can also help you tone your body completely and increase your muscle mass while simultaneously lowering stubborn fat deposits. Abdominal exercises and training positions like horse stance and front stance develop your muscle mass, while also increasing agility, flexibility, and body strength. 

As karate training is usually high intensity, lasting for over an hour most times, it is a great method to burn the maximum number of calories per workout, while also working on toning and strengthening your body muscles at the same time. 

4. Strength Training

Regular Karate training not only helps in developing a healthy, powerful, and fit body but also builds functional strength and muscular endurance to an extent that very few training methods and exercises can. Strength training is a large part of any karate practice session, with athletes and martial arts enthusiasts putting in hours of bodyweight exercises to enjoy the full benefits of karate training. 

Positions and movements like horse stance and extended punches lead to substantial increases in overall body strength, as they work the glutes, core, quads, and shoulders simultaneously. If you are looking to get the lean and toned body of your dreams, alongside burning fat and increasing body strength, karate is the best way to go. 

Some Additional Pointers for Weight Loss with Karate

If you are planning on trying out karate for weight loss, here are a few things to keep in mind: 

  • Keep your diet in check along with establishing a training routine. Eat clean, consume plenty of water, fresh fruits, and protein, and avoid loaded sugar and saturated fats.
  • However, do not starve yourself. Your body will need ample energy to get through rigorous karate training sessions, and strict dieting can be counterproductive and negatively impact your health. Just ensure that you are eating healthy and providing your body with the nutrients it needs for training, and this will ultimately lead to you burning fat faster.
  • Even if you are currently overweight or unfit, that is no excuse for shying away from karate! Beginner classes are for everybody, and you’ll be surprised at how much stronger and healthier you become over time with proper karate training. 
  • Do not overwork and exhaust yourself by diving headfirst into a harsh routine. Instead of following a restrictive diet and establishing an unrealistic karate routine, remember to be kind to your body and pace yourself on your weight loss journey. 
  • Approach Karate with the right mindset. Do not think of this as a thing you are forcing upon yourself. Instead, look at martial arts as a realistic, fun, and healthy way to lose weight and become the best version of yourself.

The Bottom Line

So many people push their body’s health and tolerance limits by trying extensive (and sometimes harmful) diets and over-exhausting workout routines. Not only can these harm your health, but the weight lost through such drastic measures is also gained back very easily, having little or no impact on your body’s overall fitness and health.

The bottom line is that martial arts such as karate are the ideal way to lose weight (and keep it off) in a healthy, easy, and fun way. Not only can you burn a greater number of calories than other exercise forms but karate also benefits your body physically, mentally, and even spiritually. Incorporating weight loss and self-defense in one, karate provides a refreshing break from the same old boring gym routine, while helping you achieve your body goals faster than ever.

Jay Speakman

Jay has been a lover and player of many sports all his life, particularly hockey, lacrosse and racket sports. He works as a personal trainer, and writes for many sites about fitness and health. He uses his expertise in writing for us about lacrosse, fitness and conditioning, and squash.

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