I'm putting together some MMA-specific conditioning routines, and I thought I might share some of the grappling drills with my buddies on the grappling forum. I got these from the Grappling Drills DVD, Bas Rutten's Big DVDs of Combat, and also just from training in MMA. These exercises focus on CONDITIONING, so they're not so much about technique as they are cardio and muscular endurance (however, they do develop some technique and require technique). Rolling is also great for that, but these will help you develop your technique to some degree, and they'll also just help you develop your stamina and fitness in certain tricky areas of grappling. It beats the knee torture we call running, and it requires you to use your whole body. NOTE: Next to each drill I have either made them into a LINK, or I describe it in parenthesis ALSO: It goes without saying that because these are for conditioning, the idea is to do each drill as fast as you can while still maintaining proper form. Get as many correct reps as you can in the given time period, and you will be sucking wind and burning from lactic acid. PARTNER WORKOUT After a warm up and stretch... -Monkey tree -Chest spin -"Trigger sprawling;" partner kneels in front of you, you stand. He reaches and slaps the mat. If he slaps forward with both hands, you do a double-leg sprawl. If he reaches to YOUR right (his left), you sprawl to your right hip and leave your left leg in the air. Vice versa for left leg. -Guard sit ups; partner stands, you wrap your legs in a guard around his waist. Do sit ups while he tries to stay balanced. -Leap Frog -Sit up kimuras; start in your guard, both of his hands on the mat. Sit up and do a kimura on one side, but don't crank it; just lock the kimura and fall back a little bit. Do it on the other side. Focus on going as fast as you can while maintaining technique. -Swinging Armbars -Stand up in guard; partner has his guard on you, you put your hands behind your head. Step one leg up PROPERLY, then the other. Then kneel one leg at a time back down. -Escapes; drill escapes from side mount or mount, doing as many as you can correctly in a given amount of time. Little to no resistance. -Tricep Pull Up (great for developing grip on someone's wrists) -Partner Leg Press; your partner stands, you're on your back. Put your feet on his hips and hold his wrists. Let him lean against your legs. Bend your legs at a 90 degree angle, bringing him down. Press him back up. Good for developing leg strength, but better for endurance and also to get a feel for controlling an opponent's weight in your open guard -Guard Jump Ups; same as standing up in guard, but this time, hop up to both feet simultaneously. Very explosive. SOLO EXERCISES -"Box Shrimping;" start at one corner of the mat. Shimp backwards all the way to the edge of the mat. When you get there, shrimp sideways to the other corner of the mat. When you get to that corner, shrimp forwards (like you're escaping sidemount) all the way to the bottom of the mat. When you get there, shrimp sideways, facing the same direction that you were the last time you sideways shrimped. You end up touching all 4 corners, and you shrimp in 4 different directions. -Wall Spin, Sit Out You can also do this without the sit out, and the sit out itself is just a good exercise. -"Full Wall Spins," see the last exercise, but this time, instead of having your head face the wall, start with your feet touching the wall. Throw your body to one side, and perform a 360 spin so that you end up with your feet touching the wall again. This will kill your abs. -"Matador Guard Passes" on a bag or dummy. I prefer these on a bag or dummy so that you don't have to worry about hurting your partner. Stand in front of a bag, so that the end of the bag is pointing to you. Whip your right leg around to the RIGHT side of the bag, so that your foot is right next to it. Whip your other leg around while kneeling on your right knee. You're in knee mount. Now, in ONLY 2 STEPS (no more, no less), reverse the action so that you end up in the exact same position you started from. Go to the left side. Repeat. I LOVE this drill; it kills your legs and it will make you awesome at this pass. -"Cartwheel Guard Passes" on a bag or dummy. Again, I think it's just safer to do this on a bag or dummy. Practice your cartwheel guard passes. -"Knee ride drill" on a dummy. Why do this with a partner? Just do it on a dummy, or bag, or even just put something relatively flat and raised on the floor and do it on that. Don't bang up your partner. -"Solo One Legged Bridging" Lay flat on your back, and triangle your legs so that only one leg is touching the ground. Bridge as high as you can on that leg, and hold it for a couple of seconds. Repeat. This will give you strong bridges. -"Ground Movement." I made this one up, sort of. In this drill, lay on your back, and "run" on the mat. In other words, at a fast pace, use all acceptable forms of ground movement. Shrimp forwards, backwards, skip your hips, stand up to base, bridge, follow an imaginary guard passer, slide backwards, shoulder sprint... the idea is to make your movement on the ground as efficient as possible while putting you in great shape. One of grappling's biggest challenges is our inefficiency of ground movement. By conditioning your heart, lungs, and muscle memory to move on the ground, you will have a lot more stamina in a match. If you're near a wall or a cage, do wall spins when you get close to it. I do this in the cage at my gym, and I'm dying by the end. -"Compression." Get your wind going, through drills or rope jumping or whatever, so that you are out of breath and your heart rate is accelerated. Then, lie on your back and stack your legs over your head. Or, you can "sprawl" on a heavy bag so that all of your weight is on your chest, laying on the heavy bag. Hold these positions. This will teach you to relax, and to regain your breath while in the awkward and uncomfortable positions of grappling. If you can relax and regain your breath, you stand a better chance of defending submissions while going for your own. There are way more drills out there, and I wouldn't want to tell you everything that I've learned from Bas and Stephan Kesting, because I want them to make money off of their exceptional DVDs. The ones I have given you are awesome for conditoning, and I always think it's a good idea if you can find an alternative to running and spend more time on your fighting skills. These kill two bird with one stone as they will both condition your body to be in good shape, but they'll also carry over directly into your strength, stamina, speed, and explosiveness in grappling. This doesn't mean ditch your other exercises, as exercises like strength training, plyometrics, stretching, etc. are all important. Also, throw in some shadow wrestling (shots, sprawls), pummeling drills, burpees, and body weight exercises. Those are all great exercises and will really condition you. I think there are several times when these exercises are optimal to use. First and foremost, for beginners. I'm going to be teaching beginner's MMA classes, and I am going to base a lot of the class around conditioning. Beginner grapplers waste so much energy in rolling, that they gas themselves out. The worst thing I've seen is that this causes some people to get frustrated and not want to roll as much! Rolling is so important to development as a grappler, so if you get your stamina up, you'll be able to fit in so much more training, and as a result, you'll get better faster. These are also great to use in a periodization plan before a grappling tournament. Say you start training 2 months in advance for a tournament. You start off with a running routine and a weight routine in the beginning, but as you get closer, you want to eventually eliminate all forms of cross training and focus specifically on grappling. These will replace your conditioning routines, and will also be good for when you need to avoid rolling to prevent injury. Finally, they're great if you just want to be in shape. No, they won't give you a huge bench press, or increase your sex drive (I'm not Matt Furey), but they'll give you a hell of a total body workout, that will leave you both sore and sucking wind. You can change up how you use these drills. For example, you can go for a 4 minute round with a 1 minute rest period, performing a drill at a pace that will leave you tired at the end of the round. Or, if you really want a burner, do them HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) style; perform the drill at a steady pace for a period (say 60 seconds), and then go all out for a period (say 30 seconds). Use the worst of all drills, the spin drill, for an example: -Spin at a steady pace 60 seconds -Spin as fast as you can for 30 seconds Repeat Don't go for a really long HIIT workout. Just work for maximum effort during the work periods, and keeping a solid pace during the rest periods. HIIT has proven itself time and time again to be the most efficient fat burner and cardio-inducer. Make sure to do HIIT a maximum of 4 times a week; this is not an every day thing. Have fun, and good luck (you're gonna need it)! Some of these exercises (i.e., SPIN DRILLS) are an absolute and total bitch. You will feel the burn on these, I promise you.