Grappling/MMA Circuit Training Videos


When people think of conditioning they often imagine people doing cardio and strength training separately. In this paradigm you might run in the morning and then lift weights in the afternoon, or go lift weights for 45 minutes and then finish up with 15 minutes on the stairmaster. In today’s newsletter I want to point you in the direction of some interesting conditioning videos to give you some ideas you can use to spice up your workouts.

This separation of cardio and strength training IS a valid approach, and many grapplers have benefitted from it. The trend in recent years, however, has been to combine the two areas into a single workout, especially as one is getting closer to peaking for a specific event.

Periodization means not doing the same training all the time, and most high level athletes periodize their training. Periodization also means having a plan, and this has to be tailored to the athlete’s strengths, weaknesses and goals, as well as the availability of time, energy and equipment.

A very simple periodization routine might be as follows (assuming that you’re already in half-decent shape)

  1. Spend one month powerlifting for hypertrophy and overall strength development using basic lifts (e.g. squats, bench, weighted pullups, etc.) done for fairly low repetitions (e.g. 4 to 8) with perhaps 2 to 3 minutes of rest between sets. During this phase you might also be doing a couple of longer runs for cardio each week.
  2. Spend one month concentrating on the more explosive lifts (cleans, jerks, snatches), plyometric movements (box jumps, clapping pushups, etc.) and sprint workouts.
  3. The final stage would be a month of whole-body endurance training using a lot of supersetting and circuit training.
  4. Now you would taper your training over about a week and prepare for your competition.

Most of the routines below would fall into the final category (whole body endurance training). Longtime readers of this newsletter will recall that I value endurance over strength when it comes to grappling, so it is perhaps predictable that I would find these types of circuits fascinating. I hope you enjoy them too:

Wanderlei Silva’s Routine
Yes, it’s done with the nose taped shut and the infamous snorkel

Fight Gone Bad by Crossfit
This is the circuit that BJ Penn compared to “a fight gone bad”, hence the name. I found the video a little confusing, so I went to the Crossfit site to find out what exactly they were doing

Alan Belcher’s S&C Routine
A nice example of ‘complex’ training (immediately following a low rep, high weight strength exercise with an explosive/plyometric exercise)

Randy Couture’s Circuit Weight Training Routine
Randy is THE man, need I say more?

Rich Franklin’s Workout
It’s interesting how Rich’s circuit, unlike many other pro MMA fighters, incorporates a lot of machine work.

Mirko Cro Cop Training
I particularly like the exercise which combines sprawls, lateral jumps and strikes, forcing Mirko to produce explosive power while fatigued, just like in a real fight.

Jeff Monson Pre-UFC Circuit Training Video 1
Jeff Monson Pre-UFC Circuit Training Video 2
It’s obvious from Jeff’s physique that he has put in a lot of time under heavy iron, but this is how he develops the endurance to stay strong even when tired.

Shawn Sherk Caveman Training
Shawn is one of the best conditioned MMA fighters out there, and this video helps explain how he got to be that way.

Brock Lesnar’s UFC Preparations
This guy is an animal. When is the last time you saw someone this big and strong with this much endurance?

Pablo Popovitch Preparing for Competition
A field and some minimalist equipment and a great workout…

And Now Some More Conditioning Videos

The next 6 videos I’m listing aren’t exactly circuits, but they are too cool to be left out of discussion of grappling conditioning. There are many useful grappling-specific exercises and variations in these videos.

Karl Gotch Conditioning for Combat Sports
Karl Gotch, may he now rest in peace, trained many of the pioneers of Pancrase, Shooto and Shootwrestling in Japan. His influence can be seen both on the techniques used in Japanese combative grappling and in the conditioning methods used in many Japanese dojos.

Sambo Conditioning
This is just a class warmup, but the exercises they do are significantly harder than would be done at the average recreational club.

Frank Shamrock Conditioning
This video shows Frank doing some isolated exercises and some very nice solo flowing on the ground

Damian Maia in the Gym
The BJJ star shows off some of the unique exercises he does in the gym

Combative Conditioning
This is a highlight video from a commercial DVD which I haven’t seen but looks good.

OK, now this guy became very strong and very fast without a lot of expensive equipment.

Ginastica Natural
I have to include this video: It’s not really conventional conditioning, but it is applicable to grappling. Ginastica Natural is a movement and exercise system developed in Brazil, resembling a combination of yoga, gymnastics, contact improvisation dance and animal kung-fu. It has influenced many top Brazilian grapplers.

Grips and Hips
The guys on the video are from the Ralph Gracie competition team. They took home Gold, Silver, and Bronze at the 2007 Pan-Ams.

Randy Couture Preparing for Tim Sylvia, UFC 68
Randy sparring, doing plyometrics, resistance band training, etc.

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