Martial Arts Fundamentals

Mix it up with this martial arts-inspired upper body workout

Maeghen Cotterill
Photo: Graham McKerrell

These exercises will help tone your arms, back, abs and legs. They are core fundamentals I’ve used while in full training and are an effective and efficient way to get in a workout, even when pressed for time.


  • Light skipping for 10-15 min
  • Alternating 3 sets of:
    25 jumping jacks
    25 crunches 
    20 squats
    25 calf raises. 
  • A small arm, leg and hip stretch to loosen up before starting the workout. 


Weighted Shadow Boxing Jab/Cross

3-5 Sets / 30 reps (15 per arm)

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart while holding 2-5 pound weights in each hand. Bend your knees and begin to alternate punches one arm at a time.
  • Pivot your feet so your hips turn forward with each straight punch.
  • Stay on the balls of the feet, and engage both the core and gluteal (butt) muscles to stay balanced.
  • Maintain even weight distribution from one leg to another as you punch. Fully extend arms and breathe out with each punch. As one hand punches, retract the opposite hand to your body.
Maeghen Cotterill
Photo: Graham McKerrell

Weighted Alternate Shoulder Press Punch

3-5 Sets / 30 Reps (15 per arm)

  • With feet shoulder-width apart and 2-8 pound weights in each hand, bend your knees and position the weights with fingers facing outward just above your shoulders.
  • Alternate punching the weights towards the sky.
  • With every punch engage your core and glutes, and breathe out.
Maeghen Cotterill
Photo: Graham McKerrell

Tricep Push Ups

3-5 Sets / 8-15 Reps

  • Lay on your stomach with hands underneath armpits, back straight with glutes and core activated.
  • Keep arms close to the body while pushing up from bent arm to straight, either to your knees or your toes. Keep your back straight and shoulders back.
  • Return back to the ground slowly and with control.
Maeghen Cotterill
Photo: Graham McKerrell

Reverse Bicep Curl

3-5 Sets / 30 Reps (15 per arm)

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, back straight and 2-8 pound weights in each hand.
  • Keep arms completely straight, shoulders pulled back, and biceps beside the rib cage.
  • Hold the weights with fingers facing back.
  • By just bending at the elbows, keeping arms close to the body, pull the weights to the front of the shoulders. This can be done one arm at a time or together.
  • Squeeze your fists tightly to support the wrists and flex the core to maintain proper posture.
Maeghen Cotterill
Photo: Graham McKerrell

Oblique/Core Punches

3-5 Sets / 30 Reps (15 per arm)

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, feet firmly planted on the ground.
  • With 2-5 pound weights in each hand, punch and twist with the right hand to the left side, and the left hand punching to the right side.
  • Engage and twist the core, while feet are still planted. Keep back straight, head forward and glutes tight. Breathe out on every punch.
Maeghen Cotterill
Photo: Graham McKerrell

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