strength training for self-defense

Taking self-defense classes at a Krav Maga Worldwide® certified training center will get you into amazing shape. Self-defense classes push your overall conditioning levels and consistently make your body adapt to new challenges. In order to become the most effective and efficient in your self-defense training however your program should include strength training for self-defense and martial arts specifically.

Krav Maga Worldwide’s® mission is to empower every person with real skills to make them safer and stronger so they can walk in peace. Krav Maga Worldwide® self-defense training will teach you real, effective, self-defense skills that are easy to learn and easy to recall under stress so you can fight back and win if you are assaulted. Our Fitness and Strength and Conditioning programs work in synergy with our self-defense training. Check out the video below. 

Stronger and safer.

We want our members to learn self-defense techniques and be able to execute them with maximum efficiency and effectiveness. That means building bodies that are capable of delivering explosive power and maintaining a level of conditioning sufficient to continue to work and perform without failure over a given period of time. An assault on the streets may last seconds, or it may last minutes, either way our Fitness and Strength and Conditioning programs help students to become better prepared for these situations.

Interests vary

For members who’s interest is less about self-defense and more about the overall fitness aspect of strength training for self-defense and martial arts, the benefits to overall athletic ability and performance are the same. Krav Maga Worldwide® certified training centers offer these synergistic programs as a way of making sure our members are able to be both safer and stronger.

Results also vary

Everyone’s body is going to get different results from strength training for self-defense and martial arts. However in order to do maximize the benefits and effectiveness of strength training for self-defense and martial arts there are some elements and principles that are the same for everyone. 

Resistance training.

Weightlifting. Yes. Not just weightlifting, though. Resistance training, at its core, is about overloading a muscle or group of muscles and basically breaking down the fibers in those muscles so, when they rebuild, they are stronger. Resistance training helps your body build and and strengthen muscles. Your muscles give you the ability to do work and be active, so building and strengthening muscles is essential for any activity, especially self-defense training.

weight training and resistance training at Krav Maga Worldwide

Lifting weights isn’t the only way to make that happen. Resistance training can be done with bodyweight exercises, isometrics, and plyometrics. All of these aspects of resistance training are part of strength training for self-defense and martial arts at Krav Maga Worldwide certified training centers. 

Overload and development

If you make the muscles in your body stronger they will perform difficult tasks and activities more effectively. In terms of strength training for self-defense and martial arts, if you have a stronger body you will, for example, be able to throw stronger punches and kicks.

There is a stigma about resistance training and weight training in general involving becoming overly big or bulky. Not everyone who lifts weights or is regularly involved with resistance training becomes a “freak of nature” in terms of their size. The application of resistance training and other factors like diet and genetics will dictate how “big” someone gets.

strength training for self-defense and martial arts with kettlebells

Getting "big" is a goal for some not a result for all

Realistically, in order to “get big” you really do have to consistently be lifting heavy weights, eating a specific way, and recovering a specific way. Just getting “big” isn’t necessarily a good thing in terms of strength training for self-defense and martial arts and being more effective and efficient in your practice.

What is important, and what our Fitness and Strength and Conditioning programs are designed for, is making your body stronger and there has to be some resistance training involved in order to do that. 

Resistance training will build muscle. Again, those muscles don’t have to necessarily be huge, body-builder type muscle, but you will build muscle and become leaner overall. Lean mass in your body burns more calories than fat.

So, your body will burn more calories over the course of the day. Lean mass is also heavier than fat…so it is possible that you gain weight but become leaner with resistance training. This is a positive result that will make you look better, feel better, and build a body that is better prepared for self-defense training. 

strength training with pull ups

Your body

Your body is your tool, or if you think of it another way, it is your weapon in terms of self-defense. Krav Maga Worldwide certified instructors have extensive knowledge pertaining to resistance training. They have dedicated themselves to becoming safer stronger in order to pass that knowledge on to you. Our instructors can help you build a stronger, leaner, body that will be a more effective weapon for fighting back, winning, and going home safe if you are assaulted. 

Dynamic Flexibility.

dynamic flexibility

Krav Maga Worldwide® Fitness Director Tina Angelotti says, “A stiff muscle is a weak muscle”. If your body can’t move dynamically, you aren’t going to be very strong in any movement that you do.

Dynamic flexibility is about your body being able to move muscles and joints through their full range of motion. This, again, is going to be different for each person. There are very few people who have full range of motion in all of their joints, like Gumby, or an action figure. 

For some people it’s just not in the realm of possibility that they will be able to do a full split, or even send a kick to an opponent’s head. Keep in mind however that dynamic flexibility is an important part of strength training for self-defense and martial arts so you should always be training to make small improvements in your overall dynamic flexibility.

Dynamic flexibility is really about the application of your body in your practice of self-defense. Krav Maga Worldwide training takes this into account and our classes are designed to help you improve dynamic flexibility.

dynamic flexibility in Krav Maga class warmup

Be a better "mover"

Outside of the training center, improvements in dynamic flexibility that come front strength training for self-defense, will help you in your everyday life. Tina has another great saying, “We want people to be better movers”.

What that means is you will be more efficient at doing things in your daily life. Lifting, walking, cleaning, gardening, shopping…whatever, if your body is making improvements in dynamic flexibility through strength training for self-defense and martial arts, the benefits will be wholistic.

Krav Maga Worldwide® certified instructors, and strength coaches, know how to help you build dynamic flexibility and it is a part of every class, not just in classes specifically for strength training.


The ability to create maximum force in minimal time.

Think about that for a second and think about how important that concept is in terms of self-defense. Krav Maga Worldwide® self-defense is a system that stresses explosive, aggressive, counterattacking in the case of an assault.

In addition to just knowing the proper way to perform a self-defense technique have to have the ability to go from 0 to 100 as quick as possible in order to execute that technique at the highest level of effectiveness.

training for explosiveness

How to build explosiveness

Training to be explosive when you are strength training for self-defense and martial arts can involve things like box jumps, olympic lifts, kettlebell movements, sprints, etc.

Working specific techniques on a heavy bag or Muay Thai pads with a focus on explosiveness (maximum force in minimal time) is also a regular part of training at Krav Maga Worldwide certified training centers. 

Training for explosiveness is exhausting because of the amount of work you are doing in a short period of time.

The benefits and results you get from it however will help you be a better Krav Maga practitioner and make you more effective at fighting back and winning in the case of an assault. 

Cardiovascular endurance.

Training your heart, lungs, blood vessels and cardiovascular system as a whole. This is achieved through aerobic exercise, which is basically about making your body work by using oxygen for energy through aerobic metabolism instead of stored energy already in the body (anaerobic metabolism). 

cardiovascular endurance training

Long distance running, swimming, cycling, etc. are all considered aerobic exercise….but training in self-defense and martial arts will also bring your body out of the anaerobic energy process and into the aerobic energy process.

Cardiovascular endurance is a part of strength training for self-defense and martial arts at Krav Maga Worldwide certified training centers because our classes will push your body to work in this way. As a result your heart, lungs, and blood vessels will become stronger, and more efficient. 

High Intensity Interval Training.

H.I.I.T classes at Krav Maga

One way to get a little bit of every major important element in strength training for self-defense and martial arts is to get involved with High Intensity Interval Training. These types of classes are the foundation of the Strength and Conditioning Program at Krav Maga Worldwide® HQ Training Centers in Los Angeles. 

H.I.I.T classes can be described as “constantly varied functional movements done at a high intensity” or a workout that involves intense bursts of activity and less intense, but short, periods of rest. In terms of strength training for self-defense and martial arts, this is exactly the sort of training that you want.

Often times the classes involve pushing yourself to a point of failure which, based on the same principle as resistance training, will cause your body to adapt to a new point of failure. The same overload principle is at work in your body here…but in an H.I.I.T. class it’s often your whole body working through the exercises, not just one muscle group. 

H.I.I.T. workouts


strength training near me

When you see combat sports athletes involved in strength training for self-defense and martial arts you are basically seeing those athletes train for one specific fight at a time.

The principles they use are the same ones we factor in to our training at Krav Maga Worldwide® but the science and methodology involved are vastly different. This is largely because the fighters are training to fight at a specific weight.

The goal being to build the strongest and most effective fighter in a way that keeps that fighter at a weight they can then further “cut” down to qualify for their event’s weight class.

Once the fighter as qualified for their event, usually 24 hours prior, the fighter then “refeeds” or regains the weight they “cut”. In reality a fighter who is fighting at a 155lb weight limit, might actually weigh somewhere around 175lbs a day or two before their fight. 

strength training for fighting

Sustainability and consistency

This isn’t a sustainable, or even really smart, practice for people who want to get involved with strength training for self-defense and martial arts because they want to be better prepared to defend themselves.

Your overall training should include strength training for self-defense and martial arts in order to become as effective as possible. Splitting training days, or alternating training days, between self-defense classes and fitness and strength and conditioning classes is a great way to do this.

Krav Maga Worldwide® certified training centers give you this option and will help you develop a program that is right for you and your lifestyle

The best training near me.