90% Of All Workouts End Up On The Ground.
By Tom Furman
According to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu pioneer, Rorion Gracie, “90% of fights end up on the ground.” This is a famous quote and used quite effectively to market the Gracie Jiu Jitsu method. In reality the actual amount is 31%. Here is the breakdown of the study and be forewarned, this web page is not well put together. Ground-Fights.
In weight training and fitness, there are adaptations unique to the resistance or movement being closer to the ground. Performance Coach Dan John says there are basically three things to do with weight. Pick it up off the ground, carry it or put it overhead. The closer to the ground the weight is, the more stable you are. A 500 pound overhead press is amazing. A 500 pound deadlift is not uncommon. This simple fact can really be exploited with the correct workout.
Another issue is the loss of ground “grace” or the ability to get up and down or even move on the ground. This can be with age, weight gain or just loss of fitness. While we like to look towards exotic biomarkers for measuring aging, the simple ability to get up and down from the ground is a rather vivid tool.
“A total of 2002 adults aged 51 to 80 years old participated in the study. The researchers timed how long it took them to sit up and then rise from the floor without any help. They told the participants to try and sit up with the least amount of support that they believe necessary, and not worry about their speed. They scored the participants’ ability to both sit and rise. For each time the participants used support from their hand, knee, or other part of their body the researchers would subtract a point. [A total composite score out of 10 was assigned to them.] Participants with scores below 8 had mortality rates 2 to 5 times higher than those with scores ranging from 8–10. The authors noted: a 1-point increment in the [sitting-rising] score was related to a 21% reduction in mortality.”
The following workout will address both components of, “Workouts Ending Up On The Ground.”
The primary tool will be kettlebells used in GS or Kettlebell Sport manner. The idea is to prolong the exertion to build work capacity for strength endurance. Of course there will be hypertrophy, but this is not hypertrophy specific.
- Conditioning style exercises are used.
- You will switch on the minute at each stage.
- The weight of the ‘bell increases the closer you get to the ground.
- The follow up exercises solidify control of your body closer to the ground.
- While counting steps or miles is common, counting the amount of time you spend on the ground is uncommon. Get ready.
There are two weight based and two aerobic workouts per week. Due to the nature of this program, there is overlap or a gray area where both are stimulated. As far as recovery and flexibility, you are on your own. Find a good program and stick with it.
Strength Workout A-
- One Handed Long Cycle Clean and Push Press. This drill has high impact with a lower skill needed. It’s manageable for those not perfectly build for GS style. The ‘bell should never be put down. Rest at the top, rack or bottom position. Switch to the other hand on the minute. Total volume is up to you. Build slowly. Volume, then repetitions, then bump the weight.
- One Handed Kettlebell Clean. Focus on being as efficient as possible. You should go to a larger ‘bell for this one. You are closer to the ground. Switch on the minute and be conservative with your estimates.
- Kettlebell High Swing. This is not the silly Crossfit mash up. This is swinging the ‘bell in a perfect girevoy sport fashion JUST prior to hand insertion. This is mid chest,…roughly. The weight of the ‘bell is the same as the cleans or higher if you have the gear. Switch on the minute and build slowly for overall volume.
- Kettlebell Low Swing. The heaviest ‘bell available is used here. It’s a time to smoke the grip and work on the “see-saw” effect of a proper GS swing. The legs and hips should get ample work, but the grip will fail first. Switch on the minute.
- Renegade Rows. I’d suggest dumbbells for this part of the workout. It’s a more stable base and being unstable after the first four exercises is normal. Keep the arms tighter to the sides and not 90 degrees from the torso. Feet should be set apart and the tailbone should be tucked under. Duration is the measure here, although you can record the reps too. This is a dynamic plank more than a heavy pull. Do one set and mark down the time.
- Wall Sit. Long duration isometrics are use for both therapy and performance. Get against the wall with your thighs parallel. Stare at a stop watch. Focus on 60 seconds the first time and build up. Speed Skating legend, Eric Heiden did 60 minutes, so you will have some work to do.
- 1/4 Turkish Get Up. This is a ground base, super abdominal exercise. Use a weight heavier than your standard Turkish Get Up. Here is a video. https://youtu.be/WEVO_JL_qPI
Strength Workout B -
- Kettlebell Snatch. Using the GS form is more efficient for long duration bouts. Switch on the minute and progress slowly. There is little comfort in resting at the top, so be conservative.
- Kettlebell Half Snatch. The weight can be increased if you have a good assortment of ‘bells. After the initial snatch, the ‘bell is lowered to the rack which spares the grip. The weight is then dropped and re-snatched. There is time to breathe in the rack. Switch on the minute.
- Kettlebell High Swing. Same as the “A” workout.
- Kettlebell Low Swing. Use the heaviest bell.
- Sit Thru’s. This is part of a grappling drill that has been refined to be a ground based conditioning tool. Duration and reps are the key here. Record both. Focus on sets of even numbers like 20/20, 40/40 and so forth with short breaks. Watch this video for form. https://youtu.be/jHD_BT3V_8A
- Isometric Lunge. Start with the front foot and rear knee on the ground. You must stress perfect alignment. Head up, tight core, tailbone tucked under. Raise the knee off the ground an inch or so and hold this position for as long as you can. Repeat on the other side. Best results come from 5 minute holds.
- Kneeling Windmill. A great exercise for this hips and lumbar region. You will also be forced to be stable on the ground. Low reps, 3–5 are indicated. Build slowly to 8 sets each side before raising the weight. Here is the form. https://youtu.be/ps3UukjUWSg Touch your palm first until you mature in the movement, then gradually work your elbow to the ground.
Aerobic/Anaerobic Workout -
Choose the mode of exercise. Either rucking or running. If your knees are compromised use the bicycle. Pick a distance and don’t make it a race. Focus on finishing and maintaining a “conversational” pace. At the end of your journey, catch your breath and rest 5 minutes. Then do walking lunges. One money set. Record the steps. Rest 5 more minutes. Do a bear crawl. I’d recommend doing it on grass and using gloves. Again. One set for distance. Noted fitness celebrity, Da Rulk, can do a 5K and once, did a 10K. (Once, LOL)
Record Your Ground Time -
During stretching, watching TV, reading a book or recreation, there is time on the ground. This is often dictated by age. Go to a kindergarten class and watch how much time the kids get up and get down laughing all the way. Go to an elite grappling school at note the time getting up and down from the ground. Now do the same at a Boca Raton Charity Auction. Finally do it at a nursing home. We don’t stop playing because we get old. We get old because we stop playing. Set a stopwatch on ground time. Sit in the shin box position. Sit cross legged. Stretch, recline and roll to your side or stomach. Keep this in your training journal. It’s the opposite of recording steps. Sleeping doesn’t count for ground time.
These workouts can be done 3 to 6 times per week. I’d highly recommend starting slow. With an increase of intensity or duration there has to be recognition of proper recovery. Try for a bit more aerobics than resistance. Take a day off when needed and just walk and stretch. Use a foam roller or lacrosse ball if you like. Get 8 hours of sleep. Realize that other than food or anabolics, sleep is the most powerful recovery tool when 90% of the workouts go to the ground.
If you need more personalized fitness coaching, contact me at email@example.com
Tom Furman has been involved in martial arts and conditioning since 1972. With an early background in wrestling and a student of the methods of the York Barbell Club, Tom immediately separated fact from fiction growing up outside Pittsburgh. Eleven members of his family were combat veterans, the most famous one being “Uncle Charlie” (Charles Bronson) His down to earth training methods are derived from his decades long practice of martial arts and his study of exercise science. The application of force, improvement of movement and durability rank high on his list of priorities when training. He gives credit to hundreds of hours of seminars, training sessions, and ‘backyard’ workouts, including training time with many martial arts legends. He also credits his incredibly gifted training partners who came from varied backgrounds such as Exercise Physiologists, Airborne Rangers, Bounty Hunters, Boxing Trainers and Coast Guard Rescue Divers. His best selling ebook, “Seasons of Temper”, is available at tomfurman.com.