Watch any two fencers, in practice or in competition, and it’s easy to see how much physical effort goes into what they are doing. In order to become a strong fencer, one must focus on conditioning. There is a lot of muscular conditioning necessary to maintain great footwork, but cardiovascular conditioning will give you the long-term endurance for fencing you need to survive your bouts. You may find the conditioning at your club is enough for your current level of participation. If not, there are some things you can do to improve your cardiovascular endurance on your own.
Low Intensity, Long Duration Training
Everyone should incorporate some low intensity, long duration cardiovascular training into their training schedules. This is a great type of cardiovascular exercise no matter what your level of expertise. Ideally, long duration cardio should last for 30-40 minutes or longer. Activities like walking or cycling fit into this category. The key is that you are only using about 40-50% of your maximum heart rate. In other words, you should be able to conduct a conversation in a comfortable, non-breathy manner while doing this type of training. This type of training is great for beginners, especially those who have fat loss as a training goal.
Medium Intensity, Medium Duration Training
Medium intensity cardiovascular training means you are using about 70% of your maximum heart rate. This type of training should last anywhere from 20-40 minutes, at a maximum. It’s not only great for fat loss but begins to help you to improve your aerobic capacity – or your body’s ability to use and process oxygen. This type of exercise can be done by jogging, running, cycling at a fast pace, etc. You should find yourself breathing heavily, but you should not be so out of breath that you have to stop working out. This type of training will help you to build the stamina you need for aerobic endurance during fencing bouts.
High Intensity, Short Duration Training
High intensity, short duration cardio training is the style of training you’ll need to incorporate into your training to support the short, very intense bursts of energy you’ll exert when attacking or defending yourself during a fencing match. You’ll be using up to 85% of your maximum heart rate and should only maintain this level of intensity for 5-20 minutes at a time. Even shorter periods of work, ranging from 30 seconds to two minutes, can be done to take your training from the aerobic level to the anaerobic phase. Sprinting, tabata drills, and other very intense body-weight exercises can be used to achieve this level of endurance.
Many people find that interval training is more effective when it comes to incorporating this type of training into routine. You would vary your routine to include a minute or two of high intensity work, a few minutes of moderate work, and then several minutes of easy work, rotating through the routine several times.
Not sure how to get started? Talk to your coach here at Silver Sword and we’ll help you to assess your goals so that you can create a cardiovascular routine that will support your current needs of endurance for fencing and propel you towards success in your fencing career!