11 Short MMA Conditioning Workouts by Chuck Liddell’s Coach John Hackleman

John Hackleman on MMA workouts

John Hackleman is a friend of Grapplearts and a very successful MMA coach.  He runs The Pit Gym and guided Chuck Liddell to UFC Lightweight Champion status and has coached many other MMA fighters.

As an MMA trainer he is keenly aware of the importance of conditioning for fighters, but also for ‘regular’ people training martial arts for self defense.

Hackleman is also a very direct individual.  You get a sense of this when he says, “The most frequently used bullshit excuse I hear from people that don’t work out is, ‘I don’t have the time.’  Nobody doesn’t have the time…”

Don’t tell him that you’re ‘too busy’ to do conditioning, because here are 11 workouts that average 11 minutes in length.  

These are the very same workouts he gets his pro fighters to do, so now you can train like an elite fighter and still have time left over for all the things you need to do in a day.

You can watch Hackleman break down these 11 workouts in the video below, and then scroll down to the bottom of the page to see each workout written down and explained further.

Here are the workouts in more detail…

Short Workout 1 – Tabatas x 4 minutes

A Tabata session is a 4 minute blitz workout in which you do 8 x 20 second sprint intervals interspersed with 10 second breaks.

So you’ll be doing the following eight times…

  • 20 seconds of going all out
  • 10 seconds of rest

You can use almost any taxing exercise for a Tabata workout.  Hackleman suggests trying the following:

  1. Jumping rope doing double unders for 20 seconds followed by regular rope jumps for 10 seconds
  2. Doing sprints on a treadmill set at 10 mph and a 10% incline (almost impossible except for elite athletes, so start at a lower speed and incline)
  3. Running on a track all out for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest

Here’s a video of what Tabata sprints might look like on the treadmill.  The only difference is that you’d be doing this for 8 sets or 4 minutes in total…

Short Workout 2 – Man Makers x 5 minutes

This exercise is done for 5 minutes and is a whole body challenge.  It’ll condition your muscles, your heart and your lungs.

At the Pit they do Manmakers with 45 lb dumbbells – you may need to start with lighter weight if you’re not used to these exercises.

  • Start standing, then place both dumbbells on the floor and jump you feet back
  • Do a pushup and when you come back up do a plank dumbell row on one side
  • Do another pushup followed by a plank dumbell row on the other side
  • Do one more pushup and then jump back up to your feet, ending up in a low squat with both dumbbells cleaned up to your shoulders
  • Thruster (double shoulder press using your legs to generate momentum)
  • Repeat for 5 minutes

Short Workout 3 – Burpees x 7 minutes

Hackleman calls this “One of the toughest workouts he’s ever done,” and it’s very, very simple, because it relies on just one bodyweight exercise – the Burpee.

A burpee consists of a sprawl, a pushup, and a jump into the air.  Simple right?

Well just do Burpees back to back for 7 minutes straight, trying to do more burpees this time than the last time, and you should get a killer workout.

Short Workout 4 – Black Jack (12 – 15 minute workout)

Hackleman calls this combination workout ‘Blackjack’ because you’re always doing 21 reps of squats and pushups put together.

  • Start with 20 pushups and 1 squat…
  • Then go to 19 pushups and 2 squats…
  • One less pushup each set and one more squat until you get to…
  • 1 pushup and 20 squats.

This is a full body workout in which you do 210 pushups and 210 squats. There is also a strong aerobic/anaerobic workout component too if you keep the pace up.

Short Workout 5 – 20 minutes of 10 pull ups, 21 pushups, 21 squats, 21 situps

See how many sets of the following circuit you can do in 20 minutes:

  • 10 pullups
  • 21 pushups
  • 21 squats
  • 21 situps

Keep track of how many circuits you can do and then try to do more circuits the next time.

Short Workout 6 – 3 mile (or 5 km) jog

This is the longest workout of the bunch: just go out and run three miles.  This workout is great for the lungs and the legs.

Short Workout 7 – Annie (5 to 6 minutes)

This is a benchmark Crossfit workout named ‘Annie.’

It consists of 5 sets of decreasing numbers of these two exercises

  1. Double unders on the jump rope
  2. Situps

You do 50, then 40, then 30, then 20, then 10 reps of both exercises back to back, as fast as you can.

Short Workout 8 – One mile run for time

This is a very simple workout: go out and see how fast you can run 1 mile.  This is 4 laps around the typical running track.

Keep a record of how long it takes you to run that one mile, and then try to improve on that that time the next time you do this workout!

Short Workout 9 – Fran

This is another classic Crossfit workout named after a girl, but don’t let that fool you – this one is deadly!

Hackleman describes doing the thruster exercise with 45 lb Dumbells in each hand.  This is different form most Crossfit devotees who typically use a single 95 lb barbell. Try it both ways and see which works better for you.

It consists of the following

  • 21 thrusters
  • 21 pullups
  • 15 thrusters
  • 15 pullups
  • 9 thrusters
  • 9 pullups

Short Workout 10 – 4 Punches & Sprawl x 100 sets

Try doing 100 sets of a four punch combination followed by a sprawl.  Hackleman likes to use straight punches (jab, cross, jab cross) and wants at least one knee to touch the ground during the sprawl.

Do this as fast as possible and then try to do it in even less time the next time.  Or change it to be 4 punches and a pushup, or 4 punches and a burpee if you’re feeling masochistic.

Try to do this in under 5 minutes, but it will probably take you 10 minutes the first time you try it. It’ll get you in shape but also hone your punching and sprawling skills.

Short Workout 11 – 1000 Punches & 100 Kicks

Do a workout in which you do 1000 punches and 100 kicks.

Hackleman suggests that you break it up so that you do 100 punches followed by 10 kicks, and then repeat that 10 times.

For more information about John Hackleman check out The Pit’s Youtube Channel or visit The Pit Online Dojo.

Download Stephan Kesting’s free guide to learning BJJ as fast as possible by clicking here.


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