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Group Conditioning Circuits

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Guest Post

Barry Gibson

It’s something of an honor to be asked to do a guest post for Smitty and Jedd, especially as I’ve been a big fan for some time. For people that don’t know, my name is Barry Gibson and I own and operate Grapplefit Training in Sunderland, England. I have been the regular strength contributor to Fighters Only Magazine for almost four years now, and have had the concept of Grapplefit for at least seven years. Only now is it becoming a reality and I have my own unit where I train combat athletes full time. I also run fat loss boot camps for ladies and gents not involved in the fight game. One of my more recognizable clients is Ross Pearson – TUF season 9 lightweight winner and now UFC fighter. At the time of writing, Ross has just defeated Aaron Riley at UFC 105.


When I was asked to write the post I’ve scratched my head and paced back and forth in my new unit thinking about a suitable topic that would fire up and motivate the discerning readers at the Diesel Crew!! Then it hit me, back to basics – the very basis of all great training, strip away the B.S. (bollocks for the English readers!!) This is the very cornerstone of training. The days of great strength have gone because people tend to make things that much more complex. They really don’t need to be – trust me… The combat sports arena is exactly the same, people over complicate programmes with macro cycles, meso cycles, conjugate, concurrent, linear periodised models etc. These are all great principles, but how does your average combat athlete decipher this and negotiate the field of training. No wonder paralysis by analysis is so prevalent…


So, this is what I came up with: two little circuits that will fry your athletes or team mates. Seeing that I hail from God’s Green Acres, (England), these circuits can be done indoors and outdoors too. Just in case you don’t have the balmy climates we enjoy in the U.K… The attached video shows a version inside the Kodokwai judo club.

I’ve put this together so you don’t need equipment at all, so you can get into your workout kit and go for it.

Set a track 50m marked with your favorite hoody or T-shirt or you could use cones (ok I know I said no kit but there you go).


You can work in pairs for this but you all work at the same time, there’s no need for a “you go, I go” approach.

Circuit 1:

  1. Burpees – 10
  2. Partner Carry – 50m
  3. Over/unders – 10
  4. Pummelling – 60s
  5. Fireman’s carry (right) – 50m
  6. Fireman’s carry (left) – 50m
  7. Forward rolls – 10 (out and back)
  8. Partner Pick-ups – 10 (shoot in and lift explosively)
  9. Sprint – 100m
  10. Piggy back – 50m

Perform this straight through with no rest. Rest 60-90 sec between circuits and strive for 3-5 rounds.

This gives you a massive hit on the heart and lungs and you get a little lactic tolerance thrown in too. Some fighters commented that this was harder than getting in the cage – then it hit me that this is exactly how to train for fight fitness. Not this exact circuit, although you could do worse, but that feeling of near nausea, metabolically challenging complexes, sand bag sprints, uphill bear crawls, anything that taxes your muscular and cardiovascular system simultaneously will develop what Dr. Len Schwartz called “Long Strength”. He was the founder of “Heavy Hands” which was based on some sound research, but it goes beyond the scope of this article. Suffice to say it fell into “Fad-dom” and was lost on the masses. But the concept of Long Strength still stands. The ability to be explosive over a period of time is a much sought after quality in combat sports. These circuits and others like them using assorted equipment will get you there.

Circuit 2:

  1. Lunge walks – 50m (this is nice)
  2. Sprint – 150m
  3. Rear partner drag – 50m (stand behind your partner and reach under the arms then walk/jog backwards)
  4. Forward partner drag – 50m (your partner stands behind you and reaches around your chest then you walk/jog forwards)
  5. Tuck jumps – 10
  6. Handstand walking – as far as possible (this is more for fun but may surprise you)
  7. Forward bear crawl – 50m
  8. Reverse bear crawl – 50m
  9. Pummelling – 60s

This takes the same format as before, go straight through with no rest. Rest 60-90sec between circuits and go for 3-5 rounds.

So there you have it, two crippling circuits using nothing but your own body weight and that of a partner. You’ll get really strong and super-conditioned with this lot. Afterwards, you’ll need no convincing that you can get fit and strong using your own weight as resistance. Think of it this way, if you can handle your own bodyweight and that of another it’ll make you much more able to cope with the stress and strain of a fight. Barbells are great tools but as I’ve said many times they provide a balanced resistance, a human body doesn’t, and it shifts in a unique way when lifted from the floor. So get a partner and get lifting. It’ll make a nice change from getting under the iron and a great transference of specific strength too.

About the Author

Check out the videos below for more ideas of how to implement these into your schedule. If you have any queries please contact mail me, [email protected]


The Premier MMA Training Bible – Blunt Force Trauma


How to Build Muscle | Muscle Building Workouts | How to Lose Fat | Six Pack Abs | Build Muscle, Muscle Gaining Workouts | Build Muscle Membership Site

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4 Responses to “Group Conditioning Circuits”

  1. Stephen Says:

    These all are very similar to the conditioning/strength circuits we use as wrestling coaches.
    The concept is excellent but I’ve got to admit to you the performance of the exercises by many of your athletes lacks intensity and quality.
    Why is it that we have so many wannabe athletes that can’t even perform a simple forward roll, or any basic tumbling movement for that matter (backward roll, cartwheel, roundoff, etc.).
    The pummelling is done standing still. A basic skill is motion in martial arts. I incorporate three phases of pummelling in my drilling: Slow (warm up), Speed, Power. All with emphasis on position (Position is everything!) &
    motion & intensity. Let your partner know you’re there!
    In most of the exercises lack of performance was evident.
    I have all the respect for your success, but as I mentioned previously the concept is great but get them to do it correctly and with intensity.
    I really enjoyed the post and the Circuits provided. It’s all great stuff.
    Thank you.

  2. Barry Gibson Says:

    Thanks for that Stephen I appreciate the feedback. The boys had been performing that for some time. That was their final round to be fair to them. I don’t believe in showing perfect form only videos – as you know – combat sports don’t happen to be perfect. The video above demonstrates the heart and effort that the fighters were putting forth at the final stages of a very gruelling circuit. That was my point mate, but as I said I appreciate the kind words. All the best!!

  3. Jerry Shreck Says:

    Awesome post Smitty, These are very similar to some circuits I have done with my wrestlers. These are very effective conditioning circuits!

  4. rees Says:

    I remember doing this kinda of stuff back in the day. Our wrestling room probably would’ve had at least one fight going on in the background at some point though. We were nails. Us Iowa guys get after man.

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