We know the body needs strong and functional capabilities to perform well in karate. Yet, you may be wondering what are good exercises to achieve that level of aptitude? We know that the heart is vital to the activity of everything in our body, so we can consider looking at exercises like running to get the most out of this crucial muscle.

Running is good exercise for karate. It encourages increased benefit in the body, during training, and in performance. With the ability to be aerobic or anaerobic in nature, running exercises can get the heart working in various conditions. You will want to consider having a variety of exercises to ensure all-around fitness for your karate.

To make this exercise beneficial to your karate skills, you will need to consider what methods to focus on. In this article, we’ll go over why you should do cardio exercises, how to determine the difference between aerobic and anaerobic running, and what types will be most advantageous.

Why Implement Running Exercises for Karate?

Running will be noticeably beneficial to your performance. You will feel the training increase your ability within your body, as well as becoming a noticeable challenge to competitors within the dojo.

Improve Cardiovascular Endurance

When competing in various types of karate matches, your body needs to be able to keep up with the constant stop and go over a period of time. Skillfully training to strengthen both aerobic and anaerobic abilities allows for the fast-paced energy output, with efficient recovery time in between lasting for all your matches.

Challenge the Body

Unlike workouts structured for building body mass where you focus on one body part at a time, varied running exercises keep the entire body at work. Having routines to mix how different parts of the body can work together is beneficial to the endurance you will need when performing.

Discipline the Mind

Martial arts such as karate are practices requiring a focused and clear mind to effectively funnel your energy into the motions. Running is an exercise that causes the brain to release endorphins and serotonin, chemicals that promote a good mood. This translates to increased productivity, memory, and focus.

Keep Up In the Dojo

The dojo is where you predominantly practice your martial arts moves. Outside dojo time is when you want to focus on skills and techniques to strengthen your body to sustain your karate training. To keep up in class and during matches without tiring will require stable abilities. Don’t be caught exhausted and unprepared by slacking on appropriate exercises.

Aerobic or Anaerobic?

It’s important to know the difference between aerobic and anaerobic to determine which training would be the better fit for your goals. Aerobic means ‘with oxygen’ and would relate to activity where the body uses lots of oxygen to handle the duration. Anaerobic, meaning ‘without oxygen,’ refers to using your body for a short burst task that does not allow for much replenishment of oxygen. A jog or long-distance run would be an example of aerobic exercise, whereas a sprint would be anaerobic.

So, which one should you focus on?

There’s no debate whether aerobic or anaerobic exercise would be more valuable. The answer is both. As mentioned, you want to train to be able to give it your all during a match and be able to go again shortly after. Crossing between aerobic and anaerobic running exercises would adequately prepare your body for this task.

Beneficial Running Exercises for Karate

The idea doesn’t just stop at running. You’re going to want diversity with your exercises to make sure you have a well-rounded practice focusing on the different capabilities of your cardiovascular endurance. Some exercises will be beneficial to maximizing your output or, alternatively, how long you can make that energy last. Both are beneficial to your karate practice.

Long Distance Running

Long-distance running is an excellent option to improve your lungs’ long-term capabilities while still increasing heart rate. This is considered an aerobic exercise and will prepare you for long days of practice and sparring rounds.


For an exercise that adds a bit more of a challenge and requires no equipment, try running up and downstairs. This will get you moving quickly and really working your leg muscles to raise your heart rate. Adding more dynamic movements will be favorable to conditioning your body for performing in matches.

Jump Rope

Coordinate your speed and timing with a jump rope. Minimal equipment and space are needed to try this in your cardio routine. Make sure you have supportive ground to work on and a rope suitable to your height.

Sprinting Drills

Focusing on maximizing capabilities to have little recovery time in-between bursts of energy output can be done with sprinting drills. This can be practiced by starting with a warmup of a light jog, and when you’re ready, pushing into a half effort sprint for roughly 30 seconds, to which you then return to a light jog for 120 seconds before your next sprint. Repeat this for about 20 minutes.


To really challenge yourself, try incorporating HIIT with your running. High-Intensity Interval Training, known as HIIT, is much like sprinting drills in the manner that you have a burst followed by rest. However, with High-Intensity Interval Training you are putting in 100% effort for x amount of time, followed by the same or 2x the amount of complete rest.

Choose your running or cardio style of choice and the amount of time you wish to work out for. Since this is such a demanding way to exercise, workouts don’t need to be as long and can usually be half the time of a regular workout.

Final Thoughts

To keep strong and lasting energy in the dojo, whether it be in practicing karate or a match, running exercises will be beneficial to your performance. Outside the dojo, participate in various activities that get your heart rate up, training at a pace tailored to condition your body to your desired results.