Over the last several weeks we've watched as most of the world has shut down, leaving us unable to train at our Jiu Jitsu gyms and unable to train at our weight lifting gyms. This leaves all of us addicts in a position where we're unable to get our fix, so what can we do to stay healthy and sane?
Thankfully, social media is filled with accounts like 10th Planet Austin (Instagram) and Renzo Gracie black belt Karl Pravec of Silver Fox BJJ (Facebook) sharing techniques, so if you're quarantined with a friend and you have some mats, you have something to do during this down time. Even if you have nobody to train with during quarantine, studying techniques via video is a great way to at least mentally cement basic ideas.
Outlets like Onnit are sharing daily workouts on all of their social media platforms by directing you to their affiliated trainers like Eric (Primal Swoledier Instagram) and Juan Leija. Onnit’s affiliate yoga studio, Black Swan Yoga, are doing up to 10 classes on the daily, live and at various times set for you at this link.
Of course, with any workout posted by a fitness influencer, there may be tools they have access to that you don't, so with that in mind. What can we do if we have access to nothing?
As I wrote in the white to blue belt article a few weeks ago, there are various domains of off the mat training that we need to take part in to stay healthy when we are on the mat. Shortly after writing that article, I had to pull out of a super fight and take a month off the mats as my herniated disks in my neck flared up and created burning and tingling down my left side and into my hand.
An important lesson that I've taken out of this injury is that, throughout my life, every sport I have played had an offseason. Even when I was a kid playing football, basketball, and baseball, at least I was transitioning between sports. In high school, basketball became my offseason, which was the time to lift. In college, it was only football, so I had the rest of the year to prepare for battle.
Just look at this like it's a novel experience for your training, turn the negative into a positive, give your body some rest from the hard grind we put ourselves through and consider this the offseason that you can finally live with. A forced offseason off the mats, which is something we all probably need considering our addiction.
And here's the thing, after a month off, I felt super flowy and terrific in my first few days back. Was I missing out on training? Sure. But I've had experiences with taking 7-10 days off in the past where when I get back I'm feeling fresh physically and mentally, you're still typically in a similar place to where you were days before. In fact, there's a part of me that believes some time off has given your brain time to process it, but that's some bro science.
So with that, if you can't get after it like you normally get after it, give yourself a break, and let's work our way through some of those Black Swan Yoga classes, take long walks and runs while you can, and focus on body weight movements. I saw one friend in health and fitness say, your body is already stressed out by what we are going through, so don't worry about doing HIIT workouts and going hard. I think that's sound advice. I know that I'm in great shape, but I also know the stress of dealing with this has an impact on my nervous system.
Let's be real, everyone's iPhone is telling them their phone usage is up 20-40% over the last week with this Coronavirus news. We're on high alert. Trying to figure out if Coronavirus is the threat, if the panic is the threat, or, if you're 10th Planet, you're wondering if it's a Q Anon white hat operation to take down the Deep State as a part of the overall Q Plan. Who knows. It feels like anything is possible considering how crazy this situation we find ourselves in is.
Maybe what we should learn from this is the idea that we should build in a bit of an offseason and create some sort of long-term active recovery program during that time. I know it served me well to take the foot off the gas when I was injured, so I'm sure we can all take a lesson from that during this time. If you train, I know you, you've got a few injuries that could use some time off, so a decreased workload right now will serve you well.
But we still must stay on some aspect of our grind. That's why we are the way we are. We need it. The grind is who we are.
So, if you don't have access to equipment right now, the first thing to focus on is increasing your jogging or running. Keep your cardio up during this time, so that when you're back on the mat, you haven't lost as much as you would have otherwise. During my time off in February, I ran quite a bit and my cardio on the mat is still strong. It's not where it would be if I was rolling, but I feel great.
First, a very simple and basic workout would be to do pushups, sit ups, body weight squats, and lunges in sets of whatever suits you. That could be 10 push ups, 20 sit ups, 15 squats, and 10 lunges each. It could be 5, 10, 8, and 5 each. Consider this, what is going to give you the maximum output? What is least likely to bring you to the brink of failure? In my lifts, when I am going heavier, I like to keep reps low to do more sets and get more volume. Consider the same with your exercises this week. We've got nothing but time, so take your time to maximize your volume.
If you just stuck to those four exercises, you'll find yourself stayin in good full body shape throughout this shut down.
A great place of focus during this time for all martial artists from an upper body perspective and from a skill development standpoint is to watch YouTube videos of top boxers and strikers if you're not adept in the striking aspects of the sport, then use this time to shadow box.
Build your workouts around this principle. Here is a list of various body weight exercises that you can mix together to create a workout. They will be broken down by category.
- Push ups
- Closed Grip Push ups (hit triceps)
- Tricep dips on a chair
- Clapping push ups
- Shoulder taps from plank
- Pull Ups, Chin Ups, Closed Grip Pull Ups (if you have access to a bar)
- Set up a pole between two chairs, use it as a body weight row
- Push up and rotate
- Sit Ups
- Planks from hands or elbows (also good for shoulder stability; something good to be focusing on during this time)
- Side Planks
- Bicycle Crunches
- Cross body crunches
- Reverse Crunches
- Flutter kicks
- Russian Twist
- Alternate opposite arm/leg raises from table top position in yoga
- Leg raises
- Windshield wipers - straight legs and bent legs
- Boat pose from yoga
- Superman pose
- Body Weight Squats
- Squat Jumps
- Forward/Backwards Lunges
- Walking Lunges
- Side Lunges or Cossack Squats
- Bulgarian Split Squat (Back leg on chair)
- Jump Lunges
- Single Leg Deadlifts
- Mountain climbers
- Burpees (Squat jump, then drop to push up, then back up to squat jump)
- Jumping Jacks
- Sit throughs
- Sit through to bridge
Get creative, be intuitive, mix things together, and find what works for you on each specific day. Mix it up to keep yourself sane. Just flow with whatever you're doing. Don't get bogged down in thinking of traditional workout splits, a traditional focus on "first comes this exercise, then this." Be willing to just flow through whatever 5-6 exercises you're focused on that day for however much time you feel like you should be moving. Shoot for a half hour, 45 minutes, an hour. Whatever you feel like doing.
And, I can't stress this enough, take the time to walk and do yoga to give your body some active, relaxing recovery during this time. We grind hard, so take care of yourselves during what will be a stressful time for all of us. Don’t be hard on yourself if you feel like there’s not enough output, but also use exercise as a time to get your mind off all of this other nonsense.
I'll be sure to add more training tips and tricks if I think of them. Wishing you and your family the best during this difficult time.
Zack Moore is a blue belt at 10th Planet Austin at Onnit Gym MMA under Curtis Hembroff. He is a certified NFL Agent, a writer for OverTheCap.com and the author of the book “Caponomics: Building Super Bowl Champions” (available on Amazon).
A second book will be released this fall with Triumph Books titled “Caponomics: How NFL Champions Are Built and Dynasties are Destroyed” coming Fall 2020.
Join his e-mail list Caponomics@gmail.com to stay up to date on his work.