Work In Progress

*This post edited after originally published to modify the workout slightly.

My workouts keep me sane–well, as sane as possible anyway. I’ve worked out regularly since I was about 14 or 15 years old, though there were a couple of gaps of a year or two over the last 27 years when life got especially crazy.  Part of the wisdom that came with all those years included an understanding that regular physical exercise and sunshine keep me out of the doldrums. I’ve done a lot of different things for workouts during that time, but around 2001 my hunny introduced me to kettlebells, and they have been a part of my life since. Somewhere around 2006 I did the Russian Kettlebell Challenge (RKC) and had one of the greatest weekends of my life, coming away with a certification to teach the use of kettlebells that I would maintain for the next 6 years or so. That RKC was back when Pavel Tsatsouline was teaching every cert, and I wouldn’t take anything for that experience. I’ve taken maybe a dozen other fitness classes involving the use of kettlebells, the leverage of bodyweight, proper lifting technique, nutrition, and more. My Facebook page has way more members in the fitness and nutrition community than in my chosen profession or any other, and I am privileged to have met and shared meals and deep conversation with some of the greats in both fields. But…I am not a trainer.

Until the last six months, I have either bought premade programs from trainers or hired trainers to design programs specifically for me. About 6 months ago I decided to start attempting my own programming (no jokes about people who act as their own attorneys here) in order to design something more specific to BJJ. I really floundered initially, but then attended a workshop called Mental Meat Heads  With Dan John  and Chip Conrad and got a little more direction about how to set up my workouts for more specific purposes.

For the last month, I’ve been doing the following workouts and like what I’ve been seeing so far. My stamina and strength on the mat have improved, or at least I feel like they have, and I haven’t even been able to be as consistent with the program as I would have liked. Feel free to take what you want from it. Keep in mind, though, this one was designed for me and my weaknesses, and I am not a trainer.

In addition to two classes and one open mat per week unless work or travel got in the way:


WARM UP–2 Rounds, resting 30 seconds between rounds.

Roll to hip thrust x 6–alternating sides (This starts with you lying on your back with your knees up almost as if you’ve just finished a forward roll. Roll slightly backward to gain momentum, then forward and up onto one knee, thrusting the hips forward like the finish of a deadlift. Fall backward and repeat on the opposite side.)

Hip Bridge to 90 degree roll x 6–alternating sides.

Technical Stand Up 3 left/3 right. (Or vice versa. I encourage you to do your least strong side first on all unilateral exercises for a while. Then shake things up by starting on different sides on different days.)

Hang loose as long as possible (ALAP). (Grab a pull up bar or something similar and carefully hang from the bar with your shoulders loose, NOT packed as you would usually have them. Do this without wagging wildly around. Simply hang without moving. Some research indicates that this hanging is restorative to the shoulder joint.)

PVC Shoulder Rolls x 6

Divebomber Push Ups x 3  Be sure to get a good, deep hip stretch in the bottom position and use the return to get another scoop in reverse; don’t just circle back over the top.


5 rounds, with 1 minute between rounds: (These are meant to be very taxing weight wise, but always, always, ALWAYS limit the weight used to what you can use perfectly.)

Overhead Squats x 5 (I use the olympic bar, but if you’re not accustomed to this motion, use a piece of PVC and up the reps. The motion is to open up the thorax and teach core stability. Neurologically it is incredibly taxing, and the weight should be light.)

Suitcase Deadlift 5 left/5 right (I use a 24kg KB here and really focus on making sure that I don’t rotate my trunk or let my opposite hip collapse outward. Stay strong throughout. Remember QUALITY OVER QUANTITY ALWAYS.)

Push Up or Dumbbell Bench Press x 5 ( I do perfect push ups here because they are my arch nemesis, but if that’s not adequate for you, do dumbbell bench presses.)


I call this “Phase 12.”

Do 20″ of work, then 10″ of rest, going down the list until you hit the last. Then rest 1 minute. Start with 2 rounds and increase the number of rounds when you’re able.

Takedown practice. (Just go through the motions of a take down with a heavy bag or do technical stand ups if you don’t have a bag.)

Bear Crawl (Be sure to use multiple different directions to shake things up.)

Total Body Extensions (This looks like a partial squat with the arms swung backward into a jump straight up with the arms overhead. Quickly repeat.)

TRX inverted rows or Inverted Rows from a bar. (This was originally a jump rope set, but after I thought about it, I need more pull to match my overall push heavy week, so let’s put some here.)

Push Press Left

Push Press Right

Stability Ball Knee Tuck

Stability Ball Leg Curl




30″ of Each:

Technical Stand Up Left

Technical Stand Up Right

Roll to Hip Thrust Left

Roll to Hip Thrust Right

Bridge to Hip Escape–alternating sides

Stability Ball Base Drill

Hip Switches (Lie on back with hips and shoulders lifted off mat. Alternately lift and rotate each hip to add mobility to the pelvis and increase speed of motion in the hips.)


Rest 1 minute then start the next round.


 At the top of each minute for 10 minutes:

2 Burpees (Not to the ground but to a perfect high plank. The point is to be quick on the return and the jump. )

Snatches 5 left/5 right. (I use a 16kg KB until the last 3 rounds at which point I curse loudly and go down to the 12kg bell.)




Bodyweight turkish get up (TGU) with a windmill at the top x 4, alternating sides

Now, for real:
TGU + windmill 1 left/1 right for a total of 4-5 rounds.  (Start with a light weight, doing a few with a moderately heavy weight, then finishing off with a challenging bell only if you’re a pro at the get-up, otherwise stick to moderately heavy at the heaviest.  The get up is probably my favorite movement for a bazillion reasons that I just might go into for a post soon. I modify it for what I call a jiu jitsu get-up.)

Now it’s time to clean up. Do five rounds of the following.:

30″ Each:

Sandbag Cleans (Get some grip work here to help you get a good hold on those gis.)


One Arm Swing Medium weight, alternating every couple of reps or so.

One Arm Swing Heavy weight, alternating every couple of reps or so.

Two Hand Swing with a really heavy mamajama. (But not TOO heavy. Remember QUALITY OVER QUANTITY ALWAYS.)

Jiu Jitsu Sit Throughs

Bear Crawls (Today make sure you keep those hips low, low, low such that you could keep a plate on them if necessary. That’ll shake things up a bit.)

Take Down the Heavy Bag or Do Technical Get Ups

Plank (High or Low–you choose. I do high.)

Rest 1 minute.


YOGA CLASS. I’ve started doing a yoga class once a week either at a local gym or using a DVD at home. Between that and adding KB’s back to my workout more regularly, my back pain is virtually eliminated and my core strength endurance has really improved. I’m really digging the addition of the yoga class regularly and feel like this is going to be something I keep in the rotation from here on out regardless. This, too, will be a topic for a future blog post all its own.

Drop me a message if you have any questions. If you try it out, let me know what kind of results you get.


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