Cross-Training At Home: Small Equipment Exercises For Strength and Conditioning

0 Posted by - May 14, 2020 - Training
medicine ball martial arts

Whether you’re a martial artists who cross-trains, or a general fitness buff, it’s always a wise idea to have a good at-home workout. If your gym is closed for whatever reason, you’re traveling, or you simply don’t have the time or energy to go outside on a rough day, having a familiar and effective exercise plan that you can complete at home instead will help you keep your fitness and your routine in good shape. At-home workout ideas are beneficial for people who don’t feel comfortable exercising in a gym setting. They’re also a great choice for martial artists who would prefer to put their budget toward more martial arts training, martial arts gear, and competition fees instead of a gym membership. 

While there are many benefits to cross-training and working out at home, there are also some challenges. It’s not always easy to come up with a solid set of exercises that target all of your major muscles groups — and be in line with your training goals — when you don’t have access to the same type of equipment that you’d find in your average gym. Bodyweight exercises are great, but they’re not always enough. 

With some small equipment and a little creativity, though, you can come up with a solid martial arts cross-training program that you can do alone. We recently talked about cardio drills that require little or no workout equipment, now let’s focus on strength and conditioning. Here are some of our favorite cross-training ideas and hacks that you can do with small and affordable fitness and martial arts gear that you might already have at home — or that you can order from

Training Ideas for Resistance Tubing or Toning Bands

Resistance tubing and toning bands are inexpensive, take up almost no space at all, and they’re well suited to a martial artist’s training goals. Doing strength training with tubing or bands doesn’t just challenge the muscles you’re targeting, it also requires stability, core strength, and solid mind/body awareness, all of which are necessary for good martial arts practice. 

If you’re new to this kind of resistance training, start slowly. Do one push and one pull exercise for you upper body, and one each for your lower body. As you improve, you can begin to add other exercises that are in line with your goals as a martial artist. 

Here’s an example of a good start workout:

This push exercise for the upper body is a fun way to add difficulty and a greater demand for shoulder stability to your push-ups:

This upper body pull exercise is a great way to target the lats, rhomboids, and core when you don’t have access to a lat pulldown machine :

This lower body push exercise adds extra resistance to your squats and encourages better core and shoulder girdle stability:

This lower body pull exercise works the hamstrings and the glutes while challenging stability through your core, shoulder girdle, and the small stabilizers of your spine: 

Training Ideas for Medicine Balls

Martial arts and medicine balls go way back. In fact, many martial arts gyms have at least a few lying around and martial arts instructors will sometimes use them in their lessons. A number of you are probably already familiar with medicine balls from your own training. 

In addition to anything you might have already learned at the dojo, there are a number of core and stability exercises for the medicine ball that you can add to your home routine to improve your strength, balance, and agility. 

Here’s an example of a core routine that’s been designed for grapplers:

You can also add a medicine ball to familiar exercises to add an additional stability and body awareness challenge. Do a set of push-ups with one hand on the floor and one on the ball, then switch and do another set on the other side. Try squats and hip raises with one foot on the ball. As long as you keep your form and your body awareness solid, you can get creative.

Here’s an example of some of the ways you can experiment with a medicine ball:

Training Ideas for Towels 

Yes, really. Ordinary hand towels or gym towels can also be amazing pieces of fitness equipment! As long as you have a hard floor, you can put together a whole series of creative exercises that will sharpen your mind and body for martial arts. If you don’t have towels that you can use for this purpose, you can also use an old martial arts uniform

This is another type of workout where it’s best to start slowly. Towel-based gliding workouts recruit a lot of small stabilizing muscles that you probably haven’t worked in this way before. So begin with a small number of exercises that target the major muscle groups evenly, and perform them with great care and great awareness. As you become stronger and more comfortable with this type of training, you can start to add other drills and workouts to complement your martial arts training and goals.

Here’s a good back exercise to start with:

And here’s a very challenging but very rewarding move for your chest. There’s no shame in starting from your knees!

Lateral lunges with a towel will work your quads, glutes, and adductors:

In addition the muscle group in their name, towel hamstring curls will challenge your glutes and your core:

Jump Rope Stretching

Every workout should end with a comprehensive stretching routine. If you’re bored of your regular stretches or looking to increase their intensity, you can use a jump rope for assisted stretching. If you don’t have a jump rope, you can also use a martial arts belt.

Here’s an example of a lower body stretching routine that uses a jump rope:

Looking for more at home training ideas? Check out our blog posts: