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"How Can Strength Training Improve Fencing Performance?"

Strength training is crucial for elite fencers with Olympic aspirations. Since fencing was introduced in the modern Olympics in 1896, the approach to strength and conditioning for athletes has evolved significantly. Modern research highlights the benefits of a targeted strength training approach, emphasizing the specificity of the training program to the sport's demands, such as anaerobic capacity and lunge explosiveness​​.

" Strength training it’s a must in a fencer workout schedule. All of the explosiveness, change of direction, agility and reaction speed come from a solid base of strength training." ~ Tania Lutea, Romanian Fencer

A comprehensive strength training regimen for fencers should focus on developing anaerobic capacity, strength, power, and plyometrics. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is particularly beneficial, as it mimics the energy demands of fencing—intense, short bursts of activity followed by rest. For strength work, compound lifts like deadlifts, bench presses, and squats are recommended because they work multiple muscle groups and joints, providing a solid foundation for developing power. Additional emphasis on shoulder and back muscles, as well as unilateral leg work, is crucial for the explosiveness and endurance needed with the weapon. Targeted hamstring training is also essential to reduce injury risks and maintain strength​​.

For an Olympic-level fencer, such strength training not only complements their skill practice but is integral for peak performance and resilience in the highly competitive environment.


We asked Romanian Fencer, Tania Lutea, about how strength training supports her performance

" Strength training it’s a must in a fencer workout schedule. All of the explosiveness, change of direction, agility and reaction speed come from a solid base of strength training.

Pre-season, mid-season, or competitional season, I never skip my strength workout in a week. In the summer, my pre-season trainings, consist in mostly strength training, conditioning and lifting weights, and lots of cardio. I can even go 3-4 times per week, strength training.

Mid season, my strength training comes down to one session per week.

Once in a while, going heavy on weights, helps me feel the fencing piste better under my feet, and my sabre becomes light as a feather, this is what I am aiming for all year around. I like to incorporate in my strength training unilateral moves, and as much fencing moves as possible, like lunges and step ups.

Strength training sessions for me actually made the difference, and took me from junior level to senior level fencing. They made me more explosive, fast, and confident on the piste!!"


An eight-week strength program for elite fencers could be structured using periodized training blocks, each focusing on different aspects of physical conditioning to optimize performance. Here's a base program outline using periodization:

Block 1: General Physical Preparedness (Weeks 1-3)

  • Moderate rep ranges of barbell lifts for strength and hypertrophy.

  • Assistance lifts for shoulder, back, glutes, and hamstrings.

  • A session of plyometrics for explosiveness.

  • HIIT sessions tailored to the individual athlete's needs.

Block 2: Strength Development (Weeks 4-6)

  • Lower rep ranges with higher weights for barbell lifts.

  • Decreased rep ranges for assistance lifts, focusing on hypertrophy.

  • Increased frequency of HIIT sessions.

  • Plyometrics are kept constant to manage training volume.

Block 3: Power and Explosiveness (Weeks 7-8)

  • Incorporation of power cleans or similar movements.

  • An additional plyometric session to develop agility and reactive strength.

It's important to adjust the training blocks according to the season and the individual needs of the athlete. The training should focus on building anaerobic capacity, strength, and plyometrics, without steady-state cardio, to mirror the energy systems used during fencing​​.

For specific workouts, exercises, and rep schemes, it would be beneficial to consult with a strength and conditioning coach who can tailor a program to your specific needs as an elite, Olympic-potential fencing athlete.



  1. TrainHeroic. (n.d.). Strength Training for Fencers. Retrieved from

Turner, A., James, N., Dimitriou, L., Greenhalgh, A., Moody, J., Fulcher, D., Mias, E., & Kilduff, L. (2014). Determinants of Olympic fencing performance and implications for strength and conditioning training. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 28(10), 3001-3011. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000000478​

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