I have been attending krav-maga lessons (twice a week) for two years and always had low endurance. After every lesson I feel exhausted a little more. My stamina improved since I started but I still have big problems during warm-ups (30-40 min). Will adding any additional regular activity (for example swimming) help or make things worse?

Answering answerers questions:

  • I don't have any special diet but I eat a lot of sugar due to intellectual work (i'm programmer)
  • I did not used to be doing any sports when I was teenager (now I'm, 27)
  • I sleep 5-9 hours but I wake up tired no matter how long I sleep
  • I tend to not have any medical problems (I had seamen medical certificate), I have normal TSH level, should I make additional Thyroid tests?
  • Last two years I've put on weight 5kg (now my BMI is 21.9)

Thing I call warmup contains almost everything starting from aerobic through anaerobic ending with flexibility exercises. IMHO it is nothing extraordinary.

I really enjoy this course but I really can't stand being sleepy before every lesson.

  • 1
    This is tricky. Many factors come into play. Jump rope, for instance, can help you develop further stamina / aerobic potential. Do you sleep enough? Do you sleep well? What do you eat? Do you recover well after a workout, or not? If you don't recover well, adding more activities will just damage you more.
    – Anon
    Oct 28, 2012 at 22:13
  • 2
    There are not enough details here - what is the warm up? Is it mainly aerobic or anaerobic? What is your eating like before the the workout? Do you have any underlying medical problems? Please add more relevant details!
    – slugster
    Oct 29, 2012 at 0:35
  • @slugster I've edited question and added anything that might be related.
    – teodozjan
    Oct 29, 2012 at 19:10
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    How bad do you get tired during these "warm-ups"? Are you just tired, do you get totally gassed, can you finish? Is the problem that you're tired at the end, or that you're getting worse over time, or that you're REALLY tired at the end? Oct 29, 2012 at 19:51
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    "I eat a lot of sugar due to intellectual work "...I'm a programmer also, it hasn't caused me to eat a lot of sugar. I don't see how that would help you do intellectual work at all.
    – kekekela
    Nov 2, 2012 at 15:38

4 Answers 4


Get more fit

It sounds like one problem could be that you're simply not fit. You're doing some sort of bodyweight-resistance strength/endurance/metabolic-conditioning/stretching routine twice a week, but if it was helping, it has stopped. I recommend starting a strength and conditioning program outside of class.

Don't worry about BMI, as it's a flawed metric. Instead, focus on cleaning up your diet (particularly removing sugary snacks and drinks), squatting/deadlifting/pressing a barbell, running, and sprinting. Measure your progress over time.

Maybe it's a bad warm-up

Consider the possibility that the Krav Maga warm-ups are poorly designed. It's common. Many martial arts instructors aren't proficient in proper workout design. Perhaps the "warm-up" is too intense, or too long, or uses the wrong exercises, or in the wrong order. For instance, 30-40 minutes is a lot for "warm-ups". That's more like a full conditioning workout.

I've heard of many martial artists claim that such workouts are useful for training one's ability to perform technique while tired. This view is contradicted by several exercise science experiments involving skill acquisition.

If this is the case, don't feel too bad about being tired during these workouts--they may be more of an exhausting conditioning routine than a warm-up.

  • 4
    Agree about the BMI - it's the crappiest metric one can use because it doesn't account for muscle mass.
    – slugster
    Oct 29, 2012 at 21:35
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    I've read the article and you proved me that warm ups are bad designed. I will do second attempt to remove sweets from my diet (I've already tried once) and also add some activities outside class.
    – teodozjan
    Oct 31, 2012 at 9:27
  • @teodozjan That sounds like an excellent approach. Good luck. Oct 31, 2012 at 13:29
  • @teodozjan Specific questions about removing sugar from the diet in order to improve your endurance/fitness would be a good fit for Physical Fitness Oct 31, 2012 at 16:04

Based on your added details, I'll offer an opinion.

I'm a programmer too. I would suggest that your problem is sugar. This can be complicated by caffeine and other additives if you are drinking the energy type drinks rather than just the straight Coke/soda.

The drinks you have are absolutely loaded with sugar, this causes your insulin levels to go haywire, and your blood sugar levels spike rapidly and then drop rapidly. This would explain the "sleepy" feeling you are getting - so it's not your fitness at fault* but what you are doing to your body in the lead up to the fitness session.

This is going to be tough, but try and do a sugar detox for a week. Eat your normal things, but go cold turkey on the soda and energy drinks, if you have coffee then don't have sugar in it**. Drink filtered water instead. By the end of the week you will be feeling a whole lot better and will notice your body performing differently during your workout. Once you have completed this detox, only drink your sodas in extreme moderation, make a can last several hours. Swap to a reasonably pure fruit juice instead - these still have sugar but it is a simpler sugar that is more easily digested and assimilated by the body.

*fitness is often misunderstood - it isn't a measure of how long you can perform at a certain capacity, it's how long it takes to recover from that workload. You should still feel fatigued after a fitness session, if you don't then you haven't worked at an intensity level that has pushed your limits (this effectively spends energy but you won't improve your fitness). You may require zero recovery time after working at 60% for an hour, and you may need three hours recovery after working at 90% for 30 mins - this is the fitness definition you should be using.

**good coffee should never need sugar in it anyway

  • 1
    i agree 100% with this answer. get more fit is all fine and dandy, but judging by the "i wake up tired" and i eat a lot of sugar. it's likely not a fitness problem. Fix your diet and it's amazing how much more "fit" a person will seem.
    – Patricia
    Nov 1, 2012 at 17:45

A standard way to increase endurance, for martial arts as well as most other sports, is to add a running schedule to your training.

Running itself is an art, and an appropriate schedule will heavily depend on how well you recover from class, how heavy your training is, your body type, how much time you have available, etc...

A general, all purpose, good way to start, is to add a short (20 minute) "hills" type exercise to your day. For example, if you have access to a treadmill or elliptical runner, set it to "hills", and run for 20 minutes at that setting, every day. Use a higher than 0 resistance setting (usually a good starting setting is 30% resistance, or equivalent), and try to increase it over time (for example, you might try a 35% every 2nd or 3rd day, until you're comfortable, then push more).

Without a treadmill, or elliptical machine, look for a nearby high incline hill (say, 45% or higher), that is at least 40m (120 ft) in length. Go to it at least once a day, and run as fast as you can to the top, then walk down. Repeat for as many times as you can, trying to increase the number every day.


I'm also a programmer, so this is not a medical opinion.

Apart from seconding @slugster's comments about sugar (try more low GI foods instead of sugar), this sounds like it could be low iron, which could also be fixed by diet.

Here's a link to some info on iron deficiency http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Iron_deficiency_adults

This can be tested for by a Dr, but cheaper and easier to play with your diet for a few weeks and see if it helps.

Make sure you get enough red meat and leafy green vegetables. Many beans are high in iron and low GI. But a high fiber diet can present it's own problems in martial arts (flatulance).

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