08 July, 2011
What Are the Benefits of Fencing?
Fencing is a competitive sport enjoyed by people around the world. Using replica swords--the foil, epee and saber--fencers try to score points by hitting one another while moving back and forth on an area called a piste. Fencing is a relatively safe combat sport because participants wear face masks, gloves and protective jackets. Fencing offers regular participants a number of benefits.
Fencing is a sport of lunging. The deeper you can lunge and the farther you can stretch, the more able you will be to hit your opponent but stay out of his reach. Deep lunges will improve the flexibility in your thighs, hips and glutes as well as your upper back, lower back and shoulders as you reach forward to try and tag your opponent. Because you will tend to lead with the same arm and leg, it is important to perform extra stretches for your nondominant limbs to maintain balance between your left and right sides.
Leg Strength and Endurance
A fencing match consists of many lunges and recoveries and forward and backward movement in the on guard position. Your legs remain active at all times, even if you're not moving. This state of constant readiness builds strength and endurance in the lower body. As with the flexibility benefits of fencing, you will tend to lead with one leg more than the other so it is important to also perform some strengthening exercises for your nondominant leg.
Fencing is an explosive start/stop sport where periods of high intensity activity are interspersed by periods of recovery. Fencing develops your anaerobic capacity to sustain periods of activity with limited oxygen consumption. As your anaerobic fitness improves, you will find that you can work harder and longer before lactic acid builds up in your muscles and forces you to slow down or stop. Lactic acid causes the burning sensation you experience in your muscles when working anaerobically. With training, your body produces less lactic acid and also is better able to clear the lactic acid out upon cessation of activity.
Although fencing is predominately an anaerobic sport, it also requires an elements of aerobic conditioning. Your muscles and your endurance rely on your cardiovascular system to sustain you through multiple bouts of anaerobic activity. The repeated anaerobic activity translates into an effective, cumulative aerobic workout.
Unlike cyclic sports such as running and rowing, fencing requires you to move your body in a multitude of ways. Arms and legs have to work together in a harmonious fashion as you attack, defend and counter attack. Although there are common positions that you will adopt during a fencing match, many of the other movements you will perform during a fight will be purely reactive. Having good coordination will make your movements smoother and less clumsy.
- "The Ultimate Guide to Weight Training for Fencing"; Robert G. Price; 2009
- "ACSM's Resources for the Personal Trainer"; American College of Sports Medicine; 2006
- "High-Performance Sports Conditioning"; Bill Faran; 2001
- Xavier Callhol/Hemera/Getty Images