Conditioning

The Pros and Cons of Bridging Onto Your Head

Wrestler bridging onto head

Neck bridging is an exercise that supposedly strengthens the neck that is almost unique to the grappling arts. It is also controversial. Broadly speaking, there are two main ways of bridging: the backwards neck bridge (belly to the sky) or a forwards neck bridge (where you are belly-down to the mat). Most grapplers who bridge do both forward and backward bridging. First the pro of … [Read more...]

7 Reasons Martial Artists Should Do Cardio

Bruce Lee - the ultimate martial artist - doing cardio

Today I want to share 7 reasons that all martial artists should do some form of cardio. This article actually started on a great run up my favourite local mountain. During that run, while dodging roots, rocks and puddles, I also spent a lot of time thinking about the direct martial arts benefits people get after they start working on their cardio. After the run, while cooling down and … [Read more...]

A Storm in the Mountains and Risk in BJJ

risk and reward in the outdoors and bjj

Today we're going to talk about assessing risk and reward in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but first let me tell you a story about what happened up on a mountain recently... Risk vs Reward in the Outdoors I arrived at the Black Mountain trailhead in the Mount Cypress area a few hours before dark, intending to squeeze in a 90 minute trail run to Eagle Bluffs and back.  In my pack was a light fleece coat, … [Read more...]

Will Grappling Dummy Drills Really Help Your BJJ?

Will Grappling Dummy Drills Help Your BJJ?

I often get emails from people wanting to know whether drilling with a grappling dummy will help their jiu-jitsu. Dummies are expensive items, and people want to make sure the investment will be worth it. The short answer is no. In my experience grappling dummies are almost always a waste of time, money, effort and space.  So don't bother. Find another way to train. At first the idea … [Read more...]

Pre-Workout Supplements for BJJ

Pre-workout Supplements for BJJ Image

Pre-workout supplements used to be mostly for weightlifters and bodybuilders.  But now more and more jiu-jitsu practitioners are taking them before BJJ class in order to train longer and harder. Do they work?  Sorta, kinda... Are they safe?  Not at all. Is there a better alternative?  Definitely! Let's look into pre-workout supplements, especially with regards to students of BJJ. In … [Read more...]

Fitness On One Hour of Working Out Per Week…

Working out when time is limited

A reader recently asked an interesting question... Hi Stephan, I'm super-busy with my job and my kids.  In a good week I only get to go to BJJ class once, maybe twice, so I want to add some conditioning to the mix.  If I only have one additional hour per week to devote to physical fitness what would you suggest? Thanks, Jim  I feel his pain!  Everybody's busy these days, and … [Read more...]

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 … [Read more...]

10 Tips on Running for BJJ

Stephan Kesting Running

I blame Bruce Lee, for it was he who first brought the fact that martial artists should run to my attention. It was in the eighties and I came across a photo of Bruce Lee running down the road in the book Bruce Lee's Fighting Method Vol 2.  The text talked about how important he thought running was, and mentioned that, "Even when he was sent to India to find suitable locations for filming, he … [Read more...]

Bodybuilding, Jiu-Jitsu, and My Quest to Make 240 lbs with Abs…

Bodybuilder

In my late twenties I went through a phase that most young men go through - I wanted to get big.  Maybe not as big as Dorian Yates and the other professional bodybuilders active at the time, but certainly bigger than most other men in my peer group.  Yes, I admit that there was a certain element of vanity at work,  but I also told myself that it would be good for my jiu-jitsu. The trouble was … [Read more...]

Podcast EP28: How Bernardo Faria Won Double Gold at the BJJ Mundials

bernardo-faria-BJJ-Competition

In this in-depth interview I talk with Bernardo Faria, the 99kg BJJ fighter who recently took gold in not only his own weight class but also in the absolute division of the 2015 BJJ Mundials. Some of the highlights of my talk with Bernardo Faria included... His mindset going into big tournaments How he developed and refined his highly individual BJJ gameplan What he's learned training … [Read more...]

The Three Most Important Pull-Up Variations for BJJ (Plus 16 Additional Variations)

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There’s a ton of pulling in BJJ. Regardless of whether you’re finishing an X choke, pulling your arm out of an almost-applied armbar, or breaking someone’s posture from guard, it’s all made a lot easier if you have a decent grip and good pulling power Which makes pull-ups one of the most important exercises you can do for your jiu-jitsu. But there are a lot of variations of the pull-up, … [Read more...]

The Combat Challenge Sprint Workout

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Here’s a great workout for you: the Combat Challenge Sprint workout. This is the same sprint training protocol used by many of the best competitors in the Firefighter Combat Challenge, a sport that focuses on a viciously difficult obstacle course in which firefighters push themselves to their limits simulating foreground activities.  This worker was a key component of my friend Jamie McGarva's … [Read more...]

What’s the Best Conditioning for BJJ?

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I often get asked about the best kind of conditioning for BJJ and MMA. People want to know what’s better: running vs swimming, circuit training vs powerlifting, crossfit vs bodybuilding, sprints vs extended cardio, kettlebells vs dumbbells, bodyweight exercises vs barbells.. Having done quite a bit of strength and conditioning over the last 20 years I actually do have some definite opinions … [Read more...]

Should I Do Extra Conditioning for BJJ?

Stephan Running

To condition or not to condition, that is the question… Whether ’tis smarter for your body to strain under barbells and long distance runs, or ignore all that stuff and just focus on getting more mat time. This is NOT an article about general fitness, or about achieving a goal in another sport. If you want to run a half-marathon for the challenge, the endorphins, or the sense of achievement … [Read more...]

On Starting a Conditioning Program for BJJ & Submission Grappling

Conditioning for Grappling & BJJ

There are lots of reasons to start doing a conditioning program if you're training in BJJ or submission grappling. The most important (yet often overlooked) benefit is to injury proof your body and allow you to train longer, harder, and more often.  Other benefits can include increased strength, improved muscular endurance, elevated aerobic and anaerobic capacities, and more explosiveness, all of … [Read more...]

Home Drilling for BJJ Skill Development

Stephan Teaching a Group

I often get questions from BJJ and submission grappling practitioners about whether they can benefit from doing additional drills at home.  Often the people asking these questions are either extremely time-constrained and can't make it to the class as often as they would like.  Or they are just very serious students of the art and want to improve as fast as humanly possible. My answer is that … [Read more...]

My Digital Reading List, May 23, 2013

Matrix-book

I always say that this jiu-jitsu stuff is a marathon, not a sprint. Partially this is because it takes time to remodel your body so that it can do the things you want it to do. It's also because you need to find and incorporate hundreds of little tricks, tweaks and techniques that work with your body and your ever-evolving style on the mats. … [Read more...]

How to Improve Your Hip and Leg Flexibility

Yoga for Martial Arts

Hip and leg flexibility is a huge asset in grappling, especially when it comes to not letting your opponent pass your guard, for launching sneaky sweeps and submissions from the guard position, and for weaseling your way out of tight pins. Plus if you're training in MMA, Muay Thai, Karate, Kickboxing, or any other martial art that involves kicking then flexibility will obviously help you out … [Read more...]