Grappling Conditioning

I get asked quite often about the best type of conditioning routine for grappling. The fact is, there is no magical routine. There is no certain series of exercises that will ensure you never get tired. In any hard-fought match against a tough opponent you will be exhausted. What matters is that you are able to postpone complete exhaustion until you win and that you are able to continue to function during high levels of fatigue.

There are three key factors in this equation – skill, will, and fitness. Skill in grappling will allow you to conserve your energy as much as you can. You can use technique to get superior position, avoid using too much muscle during your movements, and control the tempo of the match. Will has to do with psychology – it is your will or motivation to continue. As soon as you give up mentally it no longer matters how fit or skilled you are. Finally, fitness is vital for optimal performance. The fitter grappler will be able to push the pace harder for longer and possibly overcome any skill advantage his opponent might have.

Numerous methods for conditioning are covered in my book, The Complete Conditioning Handbook. My book is published by Ironmind and is available through their website or through I put this book out as a guide for developing conditioning routines that went beyond simple running or other aerobic type activities. The following two workout routine is taken from the book and is great for grapplers. It emphasizes total body conditioning and core work.

Perform this circuit with no (or minimal) rest between exercises. Complete the circuit 3-5 times with 0-60 seconds between circuits. Alternatively you could complete as many rounds as possible in for 5 minutes, rest for 1 minute, then repeat for 3-5 rounds.


Jumping Jacks                   x25

Single Leg V-Ups               x20

Lateral Cone Hops            x20

Hip Rolls                             x40

Mountain Climbers           x40

Back Extension                  x15

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Brian Jones, PhD

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