T Nation

Road Work and Grappling


I am certain this has been discussed before but I am curious on the more experience combat athletes view on this. In grappling, mainly wrestling, it is an intense 7 minute war. This would make you think that you should focus on a sort of training that mimics this. So mainly train anaerobically sprints and similar activities would be best.

I have a buddy who graduated with a degree in exercise science and has his cscs and training is his passion. He also recently began wrestling which really impressed me because seriously who picks up such a hard sport in their early twenties. Anyways he suggested I do roadwork because even in wrestling my aerobic system is contributing to my energy output. He stated that for the most part a persons anaerobic potential is genetically limited yet someones arobic capacity is less hindered by genetic limitations and can be improved immensely.

I figured I would incorporate two roadwork sessions in addition to my normal training at five miles in 60 minutes.

I would like some opinion in regards to whether my efforts would be better spent training in some other manner or if my friend is right and that I should also train my aerobic systems as well instead of focusing mainly on anaerobic training.

Thanks for those who read and respond.


If you have to choose between rolling 2 extra hours per week, or running? Roll.

If rolling more isn't an option? Road work is better than nothing.


5 miles in an hour is almost walking. Not to insult you or your friend but he is new to wrestling and thinks he knows what's best based on something he learned in a classroom? Just look up Dan Gable to see how wrestlers workout.


My advice for roadwork would be to incorporate interval sprints and maybe only run 3 miles. Im not a doctor or a pro fighter nor do I have any science to back it up other than my own experience. I don't gas out in a fight, that is embarrassing. As suggested above I would wrestle or roll as much as possible and as intensely as possible and in your off time when you do run , sprint for 20 seconds then come back to your pace for a minute and sprint again.

This is more like what fighting looks like to the body. You need stamina but you also need to be explosive, especially in wrestling.


Do you have any idea how many wrestlers do road work?


No. I know that some do it and Gable did it. I'm saying ask wrestlers about wrestling.



You ever have someone in your guard and get the feeling they are leaving that arm there to bait you into going for an armbar?

You are responding to a sardines12 post. Might could draw a parallel between those two.


Robert A



Jim and Ranzo have both given good, practical, advice.

I will add that if you lack a sort of "baseline" of "cardio" than long, slow, distance running or similar pursuits can be a real performance enhancer. Of course, most would consider someone who does to be seriously "out of shape". Basically, I am saying if your resting heart rate is 85bpm than jogging might be a game changer, but if it's 60bpm it is more of a "recovery"/something extra.

If you search for some of kmcnyc's posts you will find a lot of info about what he did for wrestling/grappling, and he was competitive on the national level. If I remember correctly he said the lighter guys did a hell of a lot more running than the heavies, both for weight class and may be ortho reasons. I think he was to a point were 5 miles every morning was just to get a little extra work and "learn how to breath".

I will also pimp kmcnyc's hierarchy of training/Unified Theory

is more important than
which is more important than
Pure Strength Work

Work all of them until you get to a point one starts to interfere with another. Than reduce the lower priority work. So if Fighter A is unskilled, gasses easy, AND is weak as fuck he trains all 3. But if he finds that 3 visits to the weight room a week are leaving him too sore to roll, he should knock back the lifting. Jim's point about rolling vs running is gold because it is both technique and activity specific conditioning.


Robert A


I do have to ask, is this thread about grappling (as in grappling in general) or wrestling? You have no gi grappling matches that can be 20-40 minutes. The Metamoris BJJ matches were 20 minutes. That's different than a wrestling match.


Road work is a very, very common practice for wrestlers (and to be honest the vast majority of Combat Athletes), so if you have time to do it, then do. But I would suggest starting out with a shorter distance or time frame in mind and then either build the distance or time as you become better conditioned. A slow paced jog for an hour probably won't hurt you, but there are more efficient uses of your time.

Your friend is absolutely incorrect about Anaerobic threshold being untrainable. Anyone who has done any extensive Lactic Acid Threshold (LAT) training will know that this can absolutely be considerably improved. That said, some steady state low intensity cardio will also be beneficial in that:
-it will improve the efficiency and strength of your cardiopulmonary/cardiorespiratory system
-improve your recovery between bouts of high intensity exercise
-improve circulation
-make you mentally tougher (raining, snowing, really early, really late, you're tired, still running)

IMO be careful of who you take training advice from. Your friend may be very well meaning and even pretty knowledgeable, but just because he has a CSCS does not make him an expert on sport specific training.


I didn't even think about that.


I agree with Sento.

Hell for wrestlers/BJJ/Judo/Tactical Personal we do all sorts of waited carries for at least 2 minutes that helps immensely in the amount of power they can produce at extreme high intensity (grappling) for long periods of time.


Wow I am in awe of the amount of responses in such a short period of time. Thanks guys. I roll five times a week for sometimes a no bs intense 1:15 and sometimes two hours.

The five mile run in an hour is easy for me. My goal was to maintain a heartbeat between 120-150 bpm because specifically I was looking to train the aerobic system. They wrestler who beat Dan Gable in his final college match Larry Owings I believe ran three miles everyday granted I dont think it took him 40 minutes to do those three miles but point is I would consider three miles roadwork.

My friend is a huge follower of Jael Jamieson who I believe is where my friend is getting many of his training principles from.

Also Sentoguy I did not specifically say that my friend said anaerobic system is untrainable he that of the two systems this one is the most determined by genetics. So some people will just naturally have shitty anaerobic systems they can train it but it will still never be on par with someone who has great anaerobic system. But regardless that person can train his arobic system with less limitations based on genetics. I agree I should be careful who I take my advice from but my friend has a thirst for knowledge I have never seen from someone before and he thoroughly researches his stuff. But also that is why I came here to get multiple second opinions.

I mean wrestling. BJJ is foreplay for before you fuck. Haha just kidding just kidding.


A little wrestling saying I forget who said it that kinda reminds me of what you are trying to say here

The first period is won by the better technician.
The second period by the better conditioned wrestler.
The third by the wrestler with the most heart.


What I like to do for my "run day", is jog about 1m to a big hill, do some hill sprints (sprint up, walk down), then jog the 1m back.


My crooked ears are ringing..

havent been in here in a while.

Yes we ran alot.
Ok we ran every day - 5-6 days a week
first few weeks of training in college we ran 3,5,8,3 and kept it varied
by mid season I was running much much more
follow that up with HIlls- and or some sprints
weights then practice.

all three of the schools I went too where blessed with miserable ass

I ran more then the other kids- cause I cut allot of weight.
more to the tune of 10-13 miles 6 or 7 days a week.

to be honest - it really is only just under ( for ten ) or just over for 13 miles.

this was kinda par for the course for most coaches and most teams
particularly Dan Gable.

Gable was about 50 maybe 52 when I competed against his kids-
and you can bet your ass he was still putting in some serious road work.
and rolling every night at practice.

He is a very hard man to work for.

our first day of 'official practice' at my first D1 school- we got driven ten miles out
and were told come back or dont and the Van drove off.

I also ran the 1991 marathon and wrestled in a Match that wednesday and on Saturday.
but that is cause I basically ran a half 6 days a week.

these anecodtes - are really just to shed some light on - how folks in the early to mid 90's trained.

Ive spoke on running many many times.
really its something you can do by your self
ok one of the few things you can do aside from jump rope
by yourself with minimal gear - any time of day or night.
Its only an hour- just keep pushing that pace to add milage in the same hour.
and its allot about cutting weight- and getting your air and managing your breathing.

Yes I was a smaller athlete - the heavies and even guys closing in on 200lbs really didn't do this much road work.
but I hardly lifted by comparison.

this being dropped out of a van - was a Gable inspired creation


I was hoping you'd chime into this thread.

Curious, how much roadwork do you remember the heavies doing?


It's way better when he tells it himself instead of me just trying to remember.


Robert A


at the D3 school the coach was a Heavy himself and he ran with us- to the tune of 3 - 3.5 miles pretty much daily.
we didn't have much choice there. To be honest while being one of the smallest I was certainly not the fastest

Of the other two D1 programs- there was like 190 and then like 275
I think only the 275's where really doing other stuff and certainly not doing what I was doing
I was competing at 118 and 125.

I know they ran 3 miles as well as timed miles and hills as well as 400's lots and lots of hills
one dude had some jacked up feet/ankles so he used the rowing machine allot.

I also know they did some pretty grueling S&C crap like 3 or 4 move complexes
loaded up like RDL x Row x Power Snatch 3 reps x many many rounds with like 3 45 or 55 bumpers

one place we trained- we dragged bars and bumpers out to the track and squatted and ran sprints.
like Dan Johns written about.

this was at a decent D1 midwest and D1 school in Upstate NY.
Im going to gurantee that Gable had his kids all running.



Great insight. Thanks for sharing.

I love the van story. I guess there is no room on the lineup or even in the room for someone who doesn't truly want to be there.

I was trying to figure out where road work fit in since wrestling is so explosive and you have a total of 9 minutes if you end up going all the way through triple overtime. Otherwise its 7 minutes. Boxing which is what everyone thinks about when you mention roadwork is a 36 minute fight. But if the D1 guys are doing it then I would assume it has its place. Unless the roadwork was strictly for cutting weight.

BTW I am kinda shocked that no one created a thread covering last nights fights.