Saturday, November 7, 2009

16 minutes of conditioning using Tabata sequence

I can wholeheartedly recommend the Tabata protocol for fitness gains if you are already training two to three times a week in regular BJJ or MMA classes and are in need of some extra supplementary training. The reason for this is that the demands of sparring and rolling are between 3 to 5 minutes per round, the effort of one cycle in the Tabata protocol is four minutes of intensive interval training. This translates better than say a regular gym programme of 20 minutes of cardio followed by body building type strength work consisting of a certain amount of sets and reps per exercise.

Credit for this simple and powerful training method belongs to its namesake, Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan. Their groundbreaking 1996 study, published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise provided documented evidence concerning the dramatic physiological benefits of high-intensity intermittent training. After just 6 weeks of testing, Dr. Tabata noted a 28% increase in anaerobic capacity in his subjects, along with a 14% increase in their ability to consume oxygen (V02Max). These results were witnessed in already physically fit athletes. The conclusion was that just four minutes of Tabata interval training could do more to boost aerobic and anaerobic capacity than an hour of endurance exercise. The sequence is 20 seconds of high intensity effort followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeat for 8 sets.

Starting off
I recommend an adaptive period to allow your body to condition itself for the demands to be placed on it later. I have chosen four exercises that will target the major muscles of the body, if whilst doing the exercises and your body starts fatiguing (and it will!), don’t stop – hold the posture and continue slowly. You can use a wall clock or you can purchase the GYMBOSS interval stop watch at You want to build up to 32 cycles nonstop which will only take 16 minutes, truly a case of less is more!

First week - one cycle of 8 exercises / two to three times per week
• 2 sets of push ups
• 2 sets of ab/core exercises
• 2 sets of burpees
• 2 sets of pull ups
Second week – two cycles of 16 exercises / two to three times per week
• 3 sets of push ups
• 5 sets of ab/core exercise
• 5 sets of burpees
• 3 sets of pull ups
Third week – three cycles of 24 exercises / two to three times per week
• 4 sets of push ups
• 8 sets of ab/core exercise
• 8 sets of burpees
• 4 sets of pull ups
Forth week – 4 cycles of 32 exercises / two to three times per week
• 8 sets of push ups
• 8 sets of ab/core exercise
• 8 sets of burpees
• 8 sets of pull ups

Getting bored? … Using the same adaptive conditioning method as set out above. Bring in Olympic clean, press and snatch movements, invest time and money in learning about kettlebells, TRX suspension trainers and sand bags.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Stability ball workouts

The stability or physio ball is a great add on to many BJJ practitioners' workouts and training. Here are some ideas you can incorporate into your routine.
Stability ball Top
Regular floating top game movements, consisting of:
knee rides
cart wheel spins
body rotation front to back and vice versa
ball balancing
turtle position spins

For bottom game movement training, obviously the ball is too light. So I slowly trickle water into the ball. A 65cm ball with 1/4 filled with water weighs about 22kg, so fill according to your needs and strength. I inflate the ball afterwards so its water and air filled. The dynamics are quite awesome - as you lift the ball, the water moves its centre and you have to adjust your sensitivity and base accordingly.

Stability Ball Bottom
Bottom game movements, consisting of:
Hug ball on belly, bridge from side to side
Mount escapes - hydraulic lifts
Place ball on belly, shrimp to side, re-gather guard, lift with legs back to ball on belly, repeat on other side
Butterfly hook with single leg sweeps
Closed guard climbing
Tons of other movements you can obviously work out for your self.

Combat conditioning warm ups

Stand up Active Warm up
Modified burpees – no jump at end
Standing squats
Jumping jacks
Rope skipping
Shadow boxing – no full extension of joints / maintain good form

Combat Gymnastics
Double Leg Bridge
Single Leg Bridge
Superman – 4 point post to 2 point post
Gorilla crawls
Lateral chimp shuffles
Spider crawls
Plank side crawls
Flat prone – forward body pulls
Bridge to shrimps – left and right
Bridge to shrimp to turtle position to forward roll – repeat on other side
Backward roll to safety stand up to sprawl to butterfly guard – repeat on other side
Combat gymnastics - freestyle
Scorpion – prone, foot arcs to opposite hand
Iron cross – supine, leg to opposite hand
Rollover to v-sit/ butterfly/inside hurdler stretch

Tabata protocol
Non-stop: 20-second intervals, followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeat for a total of 8 cycles.

Suggested exercises:
Burpees with end jump
Sumo push ups
Squat thrusts
Modified jackknives – hands to heel
Push ups
Pull ups
Safety stand up to knee strikes
Kettlebell swings
Olympic bar Clean and Press

Monday, September 28, 2009

Functional training
Functional training helps with the specific ranges of motion pertinent to the individual's sport or lifestyle, it also earns it name because it develops proprioception – the body’s ability to sense where it is in space – by drawing on exercises that mimic the dynamic movements specific to sport and general movements where balance is required. This mimicking of the dynamic and fluid movement allows exercises to expand beyond the limited range of motion exercise inherent in weight machines. With functional exercises the aim is to maintain your centre of gravity over its own base. This will involve a neuromuscular and a stability requirement in an integrated training programme.

If one has an injury it is obviously advisable to commence the rehabilitation process with isolated resistance training machines and stationary bicycles. Once the injury has cleared it is important to move from isolation to integration as soon as possible. This lies in the fact that this is how we move – we don’t in real life bend over and pick something up and move in isolation. There is a constant integration and synergy of the neuromuscular system. The other integrative aspect of functional training is the dimension of athletic activity or training in a sport like manner. Sport is a microcosm of real life; so functional training allows you to maximize your abilities. Training with free weights, your own body weight, bands, balls and balance beams will enhance your outdoor sports and/or other every day activities.

This fits in with goal setting in exercise programmes; our goals and aims differ from person to person. Functional Training sharpens the system to better cope with our individual challenges. This include the entire spectrum of society: from the rugby player in training for the forthcoming rugby season, the martial artists who uses the stability ball to improve his grappling skills in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, the weekend hiker who has improved her balance in walking with a heavy back pack to the elderly gentleman who no longer has problems with his daily home activities of stepping up, sitting down, reaching forward, etc.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

why exercise

Why exercise?
Exercise ….
· decreases muscle soreness, tension and spasms.
· enhances general venous and arterial tone for improved circulation.
· increases efficiency of the cardiovascular system, with resulting resistance to fatigue
· maintains / improves strength of bone, ligament, and joint structures.
· improves muscular strength, flexibility and efficiency.
· improves balance and postural control.
· improves the body’s neurochemical system, which relieves pain and reduces stress.
· decreases / controls body fat percentage.
· helps with normal bowel regularity and function.
· helps protect and stabilize injured body areas.
· maintains normal breathing mechanics.
· maintains healthy, pliable skin.
· increases efficiency of the body’s thermoregulation system.