Can Karate Help You Lose Weight?


Martial arts seems like it would be a good workout. But most people do martial arts for self-defense, and many look like they’re already fit. This might leave you wondering: can karate help you lose weight?

Here’s what I know from years of practice:

Karate, like most types of martial arts, will naturally help to lose weight, build coordination, flexibility, and core strength. However, the best results will be obtained when combined with other fitness and dietary changes.

In this article, I’ll share some key info that you can use to your advantage when it comes to learning karate and losing weight.

I’ve been involved in martial arts my whole life and seriously in the last eight years. I’ve also struggled with my weight most of my life, so I can very specific about how to use Karate for maximum benefit.

Let the fun begin!

Is Karate a good workout?

Yes, Karate is a good workout. The curriculum will include katas and poses designed to engage the arm and leg muscles, and horse-stance, in particular, is an excellent leg workout.

Of course, it also depends on the style of Karate and the instructor.

After all, Karate, like many other martial arts, has many different styles and variations all under the umbrella term of Karate.

Karate training helps provide exercises for different aspects of your body. Naturally, you’re expected to repeat them over and over again, and a couple of days each week. In time you’ll start noticing a significant improvement in your body.

One of the things you’ll notice is how nimble and quick your movements will become.

This is because you’ll be taught to practice some drills several times and are expected to repeat them until you’ve mastered them. These drills will equip you with the ability to turn fast and in different directions with effortless ease.

Another aspect you’ll notice is that you’re now more flexible.

This is because most Karate classes incorporate about 15 to 20 minutes of stretching and warming up exercises. These are light, but done over time, you’ll realize you’re no longer stiff and slow. You’re lighter on your feet.

Karate is also great for improving your endurance and stamina. It involves blocking, body-weight exercises, striking, and others seem light on the surface, but they become demanding when they’re done over and over again.

They also require tons of energy. You may feel breathless at the beginning.

But, if you’re devoted to Karate, it will consequently help you burn fat, lower your heart rate and blood pressure. (source)

Karate helps tone your muscles, improve your coordination and reflexes, and your strength too. It’s a great workout!

How often should you practice Karate to lose weight?

To boost your body’s fat-burning capabilities, start by attending 3 one-hour Karate sessions each week. As time permits though, adding 1-2 more days each week, or an alternate fitness routine, can accelerate that.

There are no hard and fast rules, and there is no one size fits all.

Let’s leave cliches alone. Essentially, you have to find out what works for you. Begin with slow experimentation. If you haven’t been doing any strenuous exercises for a long time, don’t suddenly start doing so daily and at a fast pace.

Ease into it.

Gauge how you’re feeling. Remember too that really burning your muscles will require some recovery time. So more is not always more.

Find a routine, get in the groove, then, over time, begin to build on it. I’ll also advise you to consult your doctor before you get started engaging in any activity, not just Karate, that might involve strenuous exercises.

But ideally, find some activity every day to help kick in your body’s natural systems. 

If you attend Karate Mon-Wed-Fri, then go for long walks on Tues & Thurs. Then maybe do weight training or cardio on Saturdays. Take Sundays off as a reward for a great week.

Don’t want to train at a dojo or can’t find one?

Guess what? That doesn’t have to stop you from learning Karate! There are plenty of people who learn Karate at home. In a recent article, I detail all the best ways to do that. I get into the plusses and minuses including the 1 dealbreaker for about 30% of people.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Can a fat person do Karate?

Yes, an overweight person can do Karate. Most martial arts movements, like Yoga, can be done deeper and more intensely, the more skilled and practiced the practitioner is. So overweight individuals should challenge themselves, but not try and do too much too quickly.

Given time and practice, the weight will come off and the stances will improve and go deeper.

A lot of folks who are “heavy,” even those who are overweight, do Karate. In fact, are you ready for this? Some Karate masters are overweight!

While his black belt is in Aikido and not Karate, take a look at Steven Segal who is far from his ideal weight these days, but still highly skilled.

And, as I shared before, Karate will help you become fit (if you’re devoted to it).

It’s a great workout and self-defense system. You don’t have to become fit before you get started exploring it. Of course, like most things in life, we get what we put in. So, you may have to train more than a person who’s fit, if you like to see results in time.

A good instructor will help “design” a program that suits you. This might simply entail postponing some of the more demanding moves till later, or helping you proceed at a slower, less demanding pace.

You’ll find folks at all dojos that are super-fit, moderately fit, and some 20 or more pounds overweight.

And there’s no body shaming, seeing as the mastery of the techniques is what they’re all there for, and being physically fit doesn’t predict success in the art.

Now that we’ve established that being fat is no hindrance, it’s interesting to consider what could be the best martial art for teenage girls.

I did just that in a recent article of mine. I have 2 teenage daughters and let me tell you, overweight or not, body-image issues are huge issues in that age range. And some martial arts are terrible for girls at that age. But some are great.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How many calories do you burn in karate?

If you weigh about 200 pounds, Karate will help you burn about 900 calories for a 1-hour class. But of course, the number of calories burned depends not only on the exact curriculum but also your weight, as the more you weigh, the greater the calories burned.

At the top, I mentioned it was ideal to do Karate in combination with other fitness workouts if your number one goal was weight-loss. In fact, I would go so far as to say, don’t start Karate if weight-loss is your primary goal. There are better ways to do it.

But if self-defense, flexibility, self-3esteem, and the camaraderie that comes from being part of a team, are part of your goals, then Karate is a great place to start.

Here’s an idea of the calories burned doing a 1-hour Karate class at different starting weights:

Weight (lbs) Calories Burned Doing Karate
130 590
155 703
180 817
205 931
230 1044

Source: https://dxsports.com

Kung Fu often comes to mind when Karate is being discussed.

Specifically, many people wonder which one is better?  Kung Fu or Karate? Well, I took the time to answer the question in a recent article of mine.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

What are the best martial arts for weight loss?

MMA or Muay Thai are the martial arts with the best weight loss benefits. In an hour of doing MMA or Muay Thai, you will burn about 1000 calories. 

MMA, as you know, is a combo of several styles and techniques.

Muay Thai, on the other hand, is the national sport of Thailand. It’s enhanced kickboxing, as it were, and on its own, it’s regarded as the deadliest martial art there is.

If you do either one on a regular basis, it’s easy to see that it won’t take a long time to have that alluring and deadly figure of a serious athlete.

You might be wondering why either martial art is so effective at helping with weight loss. The answer is obvious if you’ve watched an MMA or an MT fight.

Both are hyper fast-paced, lethal, intense, “no-holds-barred,” “winner takes all” encounters, where the fighters are employing virtually every facet of their bodies in the battle to crush each other.

Naturally, a lot of energy is being expended, and a lot of calories are being sacrificed.

I’d like to sound a note of caution, again. What’s best for one person might be deadly for another. So, before you decide on a highly demanding martial art, please consult your doctor. In times past, a couple of folks have died while doing MT!

Conclusion

In the preceding paragraphs, I have shared some essential info about Karate.

You got to learn that it is a great workout, which you can explore even if you’re a little on the heavy side. I shared the ideal way to practice it each week and the average number of calories you could expect to burn.

But even beyond that, we looked at some of the other physical benefits of Karate too. After all, in kids under age 18, Karate has even been shown to help make them taller!

Lastly, I shared with you the best martial arts for weight loss.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell was Academy Director for a large martial arts school for over 7 years, and has trained extensively in a variety of martial arts including Brazilian Jiujitsu, different styles of Karate, the Russian Martial Art of Systema, Aikido, and much more.

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