With COVID numbers on the uptick and closures beginning again it’s a good time to revisit jiu jitsu conditioning when you can’t get on the mat.
I spent a few months of the pandemic working the StrongLifts program, which yielded some nice results. I was able to increase my strength in all of the major lifts, most noticeably on my deadlifts.
This program did equate to improvements in jiu jitsu. When I was able to train again my muscles didn’t fatigue quite as fast as they had in the past. This was a major win as I hadn’t trained jiu jitsu in many months during the initial pandemic shut down.
I still wasn’t happy with the results though. My cardio was still awful. I gassed out quickly on my first rolls, my heart rate skyrocketed, and I wanted to tap out from simply not being able to breath.
This really concerned me. If I couldn’t maintain some semblance of “fighting shape”, even when I couldn’t train jiu jitsu, then what use would jiu jitsu be if I were to get into a real self defense situation?
This led me to look for a workout program that mimicked the intensity of a grappling match.
That’s when I stumbled across the Iron Wolf channel on YouTube. Iron Wolf is the moniker for Art Shvartsberg, a Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor Trainer. He started doing all bodyweight/callisthenic exercises when he was deployed and had no gym to train in.
I decided to give a few of his workouts a try, and I’m really glad I did. They are deceptively simple, but extremely brutal. They are the closest thing I’ve found that mimics the kind of conditioning that full-on rolling gives you.
I’m currently doing two of his workouts, and I A/B them. So one day I’ll do the A routine, and the next day I’ll do the B routine. I’m currently doing these 4 days a week.
I can’t keep up with his pace or his full rep ranges, but I’m doing what I can. I finish up the workouts with some core work, and hit the heavy bag for a while to round things out.
Here are my current A and B routines from Iron Wolf:
With winter approaching there’s a real chance that we’ll see not only jiu jitsu schools having temporary closures, but also regular gyms. Iron Wolf’s routines are an excellent way to stay in shape if you don’t have any way of working with training partners or weights.
Personally I have a home gym in my basement, so I do have access to weights, but the workouts that Iron Wolf demonstrates seem to be more suited to the type of endurance and cardio that I’m trying to develop for grappling.
Here’s an interview with Iron Wolf that’s also worth a listen:
In addition to his YouTube channel he has a line of apparel that looks pretty cool: https://teespring.com/stores/ironwolf-3
Give these workouts a try, I think you’ll be surprised at how beneficial they can be.