I apologize in advance for my english if it may sometimes seem a little unintelligible (it is not my first language).

I am experiencing difficulty improving my endurance for a kicking routine that is part of the belt testing. The kicking routine consists of 3000 kicks (a variety of kicks, 100 kicks per leg. For example, 100 side kicks per leg, etc.) in at most an hour. Kicks are either to pads or a bag.

The best I have done is 2000 kicks in 1:11 and 2700 in around 1:50. I had been training consistently for about 15 months and saw virtually no improvement with my time (for example, the time for the 2000 kicks fluctuates between around 1:21 and 1:15 on average, best time is 1:11). I used to run to help my endurance (best times are 6 miles in 52:04, and 3 miles in 22:46) when I was training more seriously.

Before I started on martial arts I trained as a (sort of) powerlifter for about 7 years, so I suppose my current strength is ok (around 240 bench, 275 squat, 385 deadlift, 135+Bw pull up). I want to get back to training, but most of all I want to improve and stop spinning my wheels. Hopefully half the information here helps provide some background. I can give more details if they are required, thank you for your time.

  • Welcome to the site! This is a nice question. Jun 26, 2018 at 6:21
  • Is that a Karate belt test? Jun 26, 2018 at 8:06
  • 8
    thats just under 1 kick a second for an hour - I wouldn't expect anyone to be delivering kicks with any power, and very quickly I'd expect the technique to be pretty terrible. That is a very intense and strange belt test
    – Collett89
    Jun 26, 2018 at 10:29
  • 3
    Questionable requirement by your instructor. Requiring that many kicks over a small-ish period of time encourages sloppy and weak kicks. Speed is important. But so is precision, form, and power. This makes me wonder if you're doing a point-based martial art like Taekwondo. Your powerlifting stats suggest you are not overly bulky in terms of muscle size, so I don't think that's a real problem. I think it's more likely what you're required to do almost guarantees that you can't use that much power. The most noodly looking legs in the class wins. Pity. Jun 26, 2018 at 15:32
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    As for how to improve, you're going to have to relax your major muscles (quad, hamstring, glutes) while you kick. You'll need to practice fast twitch kicking, which involves utilizing non-major muscle groups more than you might be used to. This way, you'll reduce antagonistic muscle reflex, thereby improving speed. And you'll stop burning your major muscle so much, which means your endurance will improve. Slap it out. This is going to emphasize your hip flexors / abductors / adductors. It's going to actually kick your ass, because you probably haven't been developing those muscles. Jun 26, 2018 at 15:43

2 Answers 2


It is commonly touted on my circuits that being too muscular is bad for kicking martial arts.

Think of it this way - if your leg has an extra 1kg of muscle on it - thats 1kg you have to lift and propel with every kick - that is going to be much more effort even thinking of that weight just as being strapped to your ankle. Extra muscle can be even worse though - if not built in the right way the muscle can actually inhibit your joints ability to move.

If this is the problem - what do you do?

  • Practice kicking (in a kicking martial art that is basically always the answer)
  • Run/Cycle/Swim - build some leg endurance with an endurance sport, double benefit here 1) you will build fitness/endurance 2) your legs will slim down to suit the exercise - making them lighter for kicking with. Make sure you stretch LOTS after endurance training

Small tip - As you are aiming to hit a target in an hour - try to keep your endurance training to around that length and aim to be fairly tired out at the end maintaining consistent effort throughout.

Unfortunately your powerlifting past is probably battling against you right now - it is a different kind of fitness to the one you are trying to achieve.


Thank you all for giving me some of your time and answering my question. I saw questions, maybe some ("doubts"?), so I'll try to clear them up a bit.

Its not really a karate belt test, however, I suppose it guards some relation, since the teacher used to teach kenpo karate. But for kenpo karate the tests were at least longer (more kicks, not sure if time requirement was the same). That was decades ago, as well.

Kicks shouldn't be sloppy. For the first few belt tests the instructors or the teacher might cut you some slack, but from brown belt onwards kicks have to be good or they don't count. From the brown belt onwards, i've never heard of kicking tests being done on bags, everything is on pads. I suppose its to see if you are slacking at any point during the test.

On sparring its kind of point based. The fight doesn't stop after someone gets hit, but those hits add up to a score. Some count more than others, say you managed to intercept a strike and counter-attack, that would count more than a "simple" strike.

Good point on being too muscular (not that I am, though). But I remember going down from 190 something lbs to ~175 lbs (currently here) a few years ago and saw some improvement. Maybe losing some more weight would help.

Thanks again for all the responses, cheers.

  • Please take the tour. As this post does not answer your question (I assume this is a separate unregistered account from the same person who asked this question), it should be edited into the question.
    – mattm
    Jun 28, 2018 at 2:46

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