1. Capoeira builds a powerful lower body
No surprise here. Capoeira builds a powerful lower body through a wide array of kicks, explosive movements, and low squats. If you’re someone looking to build large and toned muscles in the legs, then Capoeira is second to none.
Dynamic kicks build explosively and athleticism
Low esquivas (squats) build hypertrophy and endurance
Dynamic movements build raw strength in the legs
One of the greatest benefits is the variety of angles Capoeira will challenge your legs. Training your legs at different angles means your legs will be stronger and more durable in a wide range of angles.
Capoeira trains the body out of alignment
If you’re unsure about the benefits of training out of alignment, here are is a video explaining the benefits of putting your knees over your toes. Movements like Passo a Frente stress the knees. When we train this movement, the key is to find the regression that stresses the knee enough to promote adaptation, and not so much that it causes injury.
This is partially why training Capoeira will give you the power and agility to do some pretty amazing things. Check out how much power these guys are able to generate even when going knees over toes on a single leg!
2. Upper body pushing strength
Seeing all the high kicks might mislead you into thinking that there are no upper body benefits to Capoeira. In fact, the upper body benefits greatly from Capoeira. This includes muscles like the back, deltoids, shoulders, and others that deal with pushing. Pulling muscles are in general less activated by training Capoeira.
Capoeira builds lean muscle and less hypertrophy
Because these movements do not involve weights, these exercises are not so good for hypertrophy, but are excellent for creating lean muscle and a great strength to weight ratio.
Some of the movements that train the upper body are “negativa de bimba” and “Volta de lado“. If you’re a fan of doing dips, then you’ll see the resemblance in the former. These movements are great because they build strength in your posterior chain in a full range of motion.
3. Challenge the mind – Proprioception
Proprioception is the reason you can touch your nose with you finger without seeing where it is. Proprioception is awareness of you body in space. Many people who believe they are not well coordinated suffer from poor proprioception. They may misjudge the distance of their arm or the width of their shoulders, etc.
Movement complexity builds proprioception
The more complexity you add to your movement, the more your proprioception improves. Learning new movements builds your proprioception like a muscle. Dancers for example, can learn hundreds of new movement patterns every week! Capoeira is a martial art where improvisation of movements is necessary. Not only do you learn on a wide variety of movement patterns, but you will be improvising those movements as you train. This will challenge your mind, as much as it does your muscles.
here is a video of the 10 most basic movements in Capoeira. You can read more about how to do them in the link below the video
4. Balance on our feet and our hands
Challenge time! Something for you to try as a break from reading.
Stand up, get on one leg, now close your eyes. As you hold this, you’ll feel all the tiny muscles in your calf firing up, trying to keep you upright. These smaller muscles often get ignored… unless we train Capoeira.
In Capoeira, we NEED these muscles. We use them every time we throw our kicks and move around the room. Kicking requires strong intrinsic muscles that help balance you. Without strong intrinsic muscles, we would simply fall over after throwing a kick.
Handstands to build balance while on our hands
Handstands are a good example of this. The major muscles working during the handstands are along the shoulders girdle. However, there are plenty of smaller muscles in the hands and forearm that help prevent you from falling over. The more your can feed these muscles movement is within their capacity, the more resilient your balance will become.
5. Capoeira builds rhythm
Fighting and martial arts might not seem clear to someone who doesn’t do martial arts. Looking at a Karate stance, you see someone who is clearly anchored to the ground. However rhythm is fundamental to martial arts.
In boxing , the rhythm of an opponent shifting their weight from front leg to back leg is the rhythm you dance to and fight around. Timing attacks and feints depend on the rhythm of your opponent.
In Capoeira rhythm works front to back as well as side to side. Unlike other martial arts, the Capoeira stance (the ginga) is in constant motion and takes up a lot of space. This might not be the best in a “real world” scenario, but it teaches a lot about rhythm, and how to use it in your favor.
Rhythm is not something you have or don’t have. Rhythm is a muscle, and one that aCapoeira does a fantastic job in developing.
6. Capoeira is great for joint health
Knee surgeries have increased by 150% in adolescents from 2008 to 2018! Everyone suffering from knee, shoulder, spine, etc. injuries at an alarming rate. Long stretches of inactivity and poor diet are definitely part of the problem. However another issue is the lack of movement that challenges our joints in a healthy way.
Contrary to popular belief, stressing joints is the primary way of strengthening them. The Kneesovertoesguy, who has transformed himself and many clients into athletes with a 40+ inch vertical. This is possible by progressively stressing the joints in the same way we would train our muscles.
One of the main benefits of Capoeira is that it will challenge your body in many different ways. For those who have existing injuries, there are many regressions that do not aggravate injuries. The massive variety of movements means all your joints will be fed the movements they require maintain healthy. Joints need movement, or else they deteriorate over time.
In order to be an athlete you need to be strong, however being athletic means more than just strength. Athleticism means producing strength from a wide range of positions.
Capoeira is very wide in its movement vocabulary. In Capoeira, you move side to side, up and down, bend backwards, and many other movement patterns that you do not do in your every day life. For someone who is looking to become more athletic, Capoeira is one of the best way to develop athleticism in as many ways as possible.
Here is an example of Capoeirsitas showing off some dynamic and explosive movement is a wide range of directions.
8. Musicality is at the core of Capoeira
Yes, music. Capoeira has its own genre of music that many Brazilian artists have used as inspiration for their own albums. Others have outright created Capoeira albums.
Capoeira comes from the musical tradition of Candomblé. Candomblé is a religion that many people practice in Brasil. Candomblé provided the foundation for many Capoeira music elements. Rhythms in Candomblé are used in Capoeira, as is the use of a call and response (a chorus responding to the singer).
The influence of Candomblé on Capoeira can be compared to how church music influenced rock and roll in the 1940’s and 50’s in America.
In addition to Candomblé, Capoeira pulled from other African and European traditions that used instruments such as the Berimbau, Pandeiro, Reco-reco, and agô-gô. Over time, this orchestra grew into the traditional Angola orchestra of Three Berimbaus, two pandeiros, one atabaque, a Reco-reco, and an Agô-gô.
Here is a Capoeira ochestra playing without the game of Capoeira.
9. Aerobic conditioning in every class
If you haven’t been paying attention, Capoeria is an excellent way to train aerobic conditioning. The constant movement keeps heart rate high, challenging you aerobic system throughout the class.
Capoeira movements challenge your cardio vascular muscular endurance. This is done through constant movement. If you’ve ever taken a Capoeira class before, you’ll know that it can easily burn hundreds of Calories.
10. Workout with a community
The hardest part about working out is keeping consistent. Capoeira helps solve this issue by placing you inside of a community of similarly minded people with a similar goal as you.
Everyone wants to learn new movements, music, or tactics in the roda. People who start around the same time as you will be your biggest sparring partners, as you play them in the roda and help each other improve. With this community, you’ll get the opportunity to test yourself, have fun (very important!), and travel to other schools where you will learn new things.
Capoeiristas are not shy about getting together outside of class for food, drinks, or any many other social events. Some of the best times and the best lessons are learned after class speaking with other students or teachers.
Capoeira is great for travel
If you enjoy traveling to different states or to different countries, then Capoeira is likely the best hobby to have. Since the 1970’s Capoeira has expanded all over the world. There is at least one Capoeira group in every major city in the world. This means that not only can you train while you are away, but you can also meet new people wherever you go.
Capoeira people tend to travel a lot, so you’ll always be in the good company of fellow travelers. Make sure to attend their classes, and after class, ask about local places to visit. Some of my favorite memories have been from places that Capoeira friends around the world have recommended.
Here is a video of a great Capoeira teacher vlogging his travels around Israel as he teaches, takes workshops, and hangs out with friends.