Will Karate Give You Abs? [Yes, but there’s a catch]

Let’s be clear about this – everybody has abs. Everyone. And in fact, no matter what you may think – you already have a “6-pack”, the problem for many of us is that despite this, we can’t see that 6-pack because it’s covered with a layer of you-know-what. And so it looks like we have a keg instead.

So will karate give you abs?

You already have abs! Karate can help bring them to the surface as a frequent core workout will melt away the fat. As part of regiment of diet, core training, cardio, warming up, cooling down, bag work and sparring, Karate can indeed give you abs.

Let’s see how Karate can help bring your abs to the forefront!

Will karate give you abs? - CraftofCombat.com
Will karate give you abs? – CraftofCombat.com

The 7 Ingredients Of Great Abs And How Karate Can Help With Them

Let’s take a look at how you can get perfect abs and what you ought to be doing to turn your core into one that a ninja-warrior might be proud of. OK, first, let’s acknowledge that your “core” is more than just your abs.

It contains most of the muscles that run through your torso (that is pretty much all your muscles except the ones in your head, arms and legs).

The purpose of a strong core is to keep your spine and pelvis together to connect the lower and upper bits of your body together efficiently.

If you have a weak core – you’re going to find that your posture is poor and that your movement is off. Karate practitioners are going to work out their core so that it can efficiently shift energy from one muscle to another when they punch and kick.

So, in order to strengthen that core – you need to look into seven different areas of your life to make your abs rock solid and visible to everyone:

Diet: The Foundation Of Everything

It doesn’t matter how much you work out if you drink 10 liters of full fat soda a day and think a pizza is a healthy snack. You might have the best developed abs in history, but nobody will know if they’re buried behind a pillow of fat.

Now, we are not “body shaming” here, you are wonderful just the way you are but if you want a “6-pack” to share with the world, you have to eat right.

That means a balanced diet (consisting of proteins, fruit, vegetables, whole grains and dairy) and it also means one where you keep an eye on the calories you consume.

A normal healthy adult male needs 2,000 calories to maintain their weight and a normal healthy adult female needs just 1,500 calories.

If you want to lose the weight over your abs, you need to eat fewer calories than those outlined here. For every 4,000 calories fewer you eat, you will lose approximately 1lb of body fat.

In the video below, MG Prasad outlines the important of eating the right diet for karate practitioners:

Core Exercises: Karate’s Special Helper

While karate will help with building up your core, it’s also a good idea – if you’re seeking those perfect abs – to work out your core as part of your overall training regime.

Sit ups and push-ups are very good ways to work out your core. We must point out, however, that men and women must approach sit ups in different ways due to differences in internal biology.

So, we’ve got a great training video for men to use here with a qualified physiologist walking you through training your core:

For the women, we’ve also got a very different ab workout that won’t put you in danger of hurting yourself in anyway:

We’d recommend doing some core work 2-3 times a week if you want to get the most benefit out of it and are looking to develop that 6-pack as fast as possible.

Warm Up And Cool Down Effectively: Staying Safe At All Times

Want to hurt yourself? Start practicing martial arts with effectively warming up. Or forget to cool down after a session.

Your muscles aren’t designed to operate at full function all of the time. Warmups and cool downs offer a transition between resting and working that ensures your muscles stay healthy.

They are an integral part of karate, but we know that it can be tempting to skip them if you’re trying to get straight down to your abs workout. However, not only should you never skip them for your health’s sake – your abs will still get a workout as you perform them.

We’ve got some great example warm up exercises here from Richard Amos at Howcast:

And eHowFitness shares some super cool downs from Okinawan Karate here:

We’d also recommend a simple jump rope routine which can really help with both weight loss and core strength:

Regular Repetitions Of Your Techniques: Honing Muscle Memory

There is a big benefit of doing repetitions of the same movement over and over in a single training session. That is that it builds muscle memory and ensures that, heaven forbid, you are required to call upon your training in a real fight – you don’t have to think about it, you just do it.

However, there’s an even bigger benefit when it comes to your core workout which is that the more we exercise a muscle in the same way over and over again, the stronger it becomes. You shouldn’t repeat the same exercise every day (because it will have less value than being done once or twice a week) but you should do it regularly.

Here we have Mr. Dan, who is a 5th Degree in American Kenpo Karate, explaining the importance of repetitions in karate in great depth:

We also have an interesting reflection on why you need to practice with someone rather than by yourself to get the most from repetitions in martial arts here:

Get Into Running: The Endurance Builder

If you want to be an amazing fighter, you don’t just need strength. You also need to build up your “cardiovascular endurance” or in layman’s terms, your stamina.

One of the easiest ways to develop this kind of stamina is to learn to run. Your average professional boxer will end up putting in 5 km on the road each day either before they begin their fight training or after training has finished. It’s not optional.

Also, by helping strengthen the muscles in your calves, running can also make your footwork in karate easier and improve your overall level of balance.

Here we have Jake Mace of the Kung Fu & Tai Chi Center – show you a few different exercises that can help you in your martial arts that all involve running:

Doing Some Bag Work: Unleashing Your Full Fury

Beating on a bag rather than another person means you don’t have to worry too much about your opponent’s feelings. You can unload everything that you have.

Ideally, each time that you make contact with that bag – you’re going to tense up your muscles and this will help activate your core.

Bag training is a very common practice in many karate dojos around the world.  For an example, see the video below from Karate Kyokushin:

Sparring: Putting It All Together

Sparring brings together all the elements of your karate and pits them against an opponent. Here, you’re not focusing on your abs but they’re definitely getting a thorough and complete workout.

Now, don’t forget that in most sparring sessions, your objective is not to hurt your opponent but rather to try out techniques and see if they could have been used if things were more serious.

The best sparring sessions, in Karate, tend to be light on contact between participants but heavy on the use of new techniques and with the spirit of those involved in the dojo.

The folks at Kanzen Karate Do made a video to demonstrate how this works in practice and as you can see the levels of commitment involved are very high, indeed.


So, as we said you already have abs. Karate can help you show them off as practicing the art is a thorough workout in itself. Developing Karate skills is a fantastic way of getting abs, as long as it is accompanied with diet, core training, running, warming up, cooling down, bag work and sparring.

Good luck!

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