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New to Combat Training, Help w/ Strength/Conditioning Workout


I am new to combat training and come from a strongman/powerlifting background. Took quite a few years off due to an injury but finally back into the swing of things now.

I need some help putting together a workout program as my previous experience is strictly with strongman/power lifting which is very niche.

My current goals are increased conditioning and strength gains. I am not worried about size since that’s mostly related to diet, and if i want to pack on some lbs i know what i need to do diet wise. I am also not looking to compete so i dont need to worry about weight classes.

I just started doing BJJ classes, in another month or two i will hopefully be able to get more involved with other types of combat training like boxing and other martial arts. Just trying to get a foundation with something to start, and my cardio sucks compared to the guys that have been doing this for years so it was a major wake up call.

My main concern right now is taxing my CNS by doing too much and not letting myself recover, all this cardio/conditioning stuff is new to me so i don’t have much of a reference for putting a workout together, and how much of a beating my body takes in comparison to a weight lifting workout.

Right now i am hitting the gym roughly 3x a week doing a push/pull/legs&abs powerlifting workout since its what i know. If i miss some days i just do whatever workout was coming up next. I reallllly hate long distance cardio, so i am trying to do some high intensity stuff for my cardio/conditioning days. I have a tire sled that i run with a harness attached to, or loop a towel through it and do curls/rows/etc for X distance down a field. Also have some 5-600lb tires from strongman days which i will flip for reps or against a time limit.

BJJ classes are twice a week if i am lucky, sometimes i just cant make it due to my schedule. I consider these conditioning workouts in my overall workout program.

Any suggestions for how i can incorporate all these hobbies together without burning myself out?

What are signs i can watch out for that i am pushing too hard and need more recovery time built into my workout plan?



It will take some time to adjust the way you think about training but generalized GPP would be best. I worked with several highschool wrestlers and we did a tremendous amount of sled work. You can get so creative with them. Pull them from the hips, from overhead positing, from a push-up, position even had wrestlers drag them from their ankles while wearing a neck harness. You can incorporate other tools with the sled like drag a sled with a safety squat bar on your back or while carrying heavy med balls, kettlebells, and or stability barbells like a rumble bar.

The belt squats are amazing as well, hook at band low in a power rack then get a dip belt and hook it around the band so the tension is applied directly to your glutes and hips. Just march like this, do step ups, grapple, front rack KB so many possibilities

Lastly I’d say work the grip tremendously. Put fat grips on everything


Thanks for the advice. I have been trying to build grip work into everything i do now, it was an important part of strongman so i did not neglect it in the past, but with combat sports its a very important thing to have.

I just looked up GPP and that’s pretty much exactly what i am trying to achieve right now. The combat stuff is just a hobby for me so i’m not really trying to narrow my training in to be specific to that, just help complement it.

If anyone is looking to get a full sled setup for practically free here is how i built mine:

  • 16" used tire (any tire place will give you this for free, they have to pay to dispose)
  • Seat belts from old car (junk yard will let you cut them out for next to nothing, maybe 5$ or free if you take a old tire off their hands)
  • threaded eye bolt, nut, washer
  • carabiner or similar clip

Drill a hole in middle of tire, screw the eye bolt in. Take one of the seat belts and tie it off to the eye bolt, you want about 4-6ft so your not hitting your heels on the tire when you run with it. This is what you will connect to via harness, rope attachement, etc depending on exercise.

A size 16" tire will hold 45 plates on top without falling through. You can make a great body harness by just taking 2 of the seat belts, tie them together so they are each in loops, then criss cross them across your body and clip them into the carabiner in the back to the sled. Or you can just use 1 at a time. The seatbelts are great because they are nice and wide and spread the pressure against a wider area and no chance you are breaking them, very strong material.

Any other advice would be appreciated.


I don’t think anything you’re talking about it a bad idea per-se, and it never hurts to be stronger, faster and better-conditioned for any sport. That said, it is my opinion that your “cardio problem” is probably rooted in the fact that you just don’t know jiu jitsu yet.

You’ll probably hear people at your school talk about “staying calm” during rolls. This doesn’t come naturally to many people, and the 100% normal and expected response from most new guys (i.e. you) is to spaz out and waste energy on movement that is not effective. Trying to bench press someone off of mount is a classic example of this. Driving your body into someone who’s totally fine with pressure is another. I’ve had a new guy just try to bulldoze me in my guard, so of course I let him do it until he was gasping for air without accomplishing anything at all. Again, that’s normal new guy behavior and what I did as I was doing my best to survive as a new guy.

You could very well be in better overall shape than a lot of these jiu jitsu guys. Unless you’re at some high-level competition or MMA oriented gym, not many guys are going to be doing the sort of strength and conditioning work you’re talking about. These BJJ bums just know how to relax, endure pressure/discomfort and move with a purpose while you’re going balls-out trying to play a game you’ve never played before.

To remedy this problem, continue jiu jitsu classes. Practice jiu jitsu movement on your own time if you want to supplement. Hip-out movements, rolls, technical stand-up, around-the-world drills on a dummy or bosu ball, rolling up to a stacked position from your back, and plenty of other stuff you can find online.


I’ll add my $0.02 on this as well. Recovery from jiu jitsu is not as predictable as strength training, at least not at first. Some days you might be incredibly sore, depending on what you work on. You might be covered in bruises. You might have gotten your ass whooped by a female or an old guy or some little stick man who couldn’t bench 185 if you had a gun to his head. You might be sick of all that shit and just decide that a rest day is needed.

Like lifting, listen to your body. Don’t get injured. Tap out early, tap out often, and realize that nobody cares if you do. Take a day off if you need it. Learn to love losing and find the lesson in every roll. Don’t duck anyone in rolls unless they are unsafe. Take your ass-whoopings, sincerely thank the person who gave it to you and get used to pressure. You’ll be on the bottom a lot, so this is going to happen if you continue with classes.

It gets better when you do.


Thank you for your feedback, i agree with everything you said and appreciate the advice.

I know i still have a problem with controlling my breathing and staying calm. I usually come into class all hyped up with energy because its my fun time and i go too hard/fast.
I always try to be conscious of relaxing and only putting forth enough effort to keep someone trapped when grappling instead of maximum power the whole time, but i still always catch myself doing it. I also train with a good group of people, the higher belts will challenge you but are not assholes trying to hurt people.

I also always try to get paired up with the biggest or most experienced person even though i always end up losing, its better experience and should hopefully make me learn quicker. When i get a little guy that i can toss around like a rag doll it does nothing for me to get better, so i try and make it a challenge for them to get better and just play defense or ask them what they want to work on.


It sounds like you’re in a good gym and you seem to have a good attitude. Just stick with it and you’ll find that your gas tank seems to keep getting bigger and bigger as you get better at playing the game.

Keep showing up and you’ll be fine.