First Quarter New Year Training: The Break-In

New Year fitness goals are extremely popular especially because it allows us to start fresh no matter where we are in our fitness journey. Regardless if you have been training for years or you are just getting started, something has lead you to this specific section in Jiu-Jitsu Magazine and I am extremely hopeful that after you are done reading this, you will at least be inspired to start or continue your fitness journey.


If you have experienced the physical and mental challenges of jiu-jitsu, you are likely to understand the beauty of the art and you might even understand how it can be an extremely useful tool to burn calories, increase cardiovascular endurance and even develop and or tone your muscles. Popular training classes such as “CrossFit” seem to be very effective due its large variety of training principles encompassed in a training session. Although Jiu-Jitsu does NOT use weight load resistance, you are more than likely to use many training principles in a 5-6-minute sparring session than any other fitness routine. If you are not aware of what goes on in the “physical chess match” of jiu-jitsu, you can expect in one typical sparring session you might use flexibility, static strength, explosive strength all with a high heart rate and not to mention someone attacking your limbs and your throat or the other way around.

We as jiu-jitsu practitioners are very fortunate to have jiu-jitsu as a training tool not only for a hobby, carrier and or self-defense training but also a tool for us to stay fit and healthy.

Supplemental Training

Although jiu-jitsu is a beautiful sport and can gratefully contribute to a healthier “you”, supplemental fitness training can both further your health and better your jiu-jitsu. In my opinion, I feel jiu-jitsu flows beautifully with functional training. However, “functional training” to a jiu-jitsu practitioner can be very different to a person attempting to “develop better shoulders”. Although there is a ton of fitness overlap no matter what your goals are, training for jiu-jitsu can pose its own unique movement patterns.


I created this full body functional exercise routine, to not only work your full body but also to help maintain an elevated heart and especially help you become more functional on the mat.

The first thing I want to mention that should be your goal is the “transferring connection” to switch from one exercise to the next. The goal is to switch from one exercise to the next in a nice fluid rolling motion. Within this exercise routine, we will be switching from standing, laying on our back (supine) laying on our stomach/chest (prone) in addition to pushing, pulling, crunching, squatting etc.


The transition from one position/exercise to the next is an exercise in itself. Switching from the supine position (laying on back) to a standing position can be more difficult from some than others especially depending on how you attempt to execute it. The goal is to eventually bring your knees to your chest then throw your body forward in a fluid motion and roll to a standing position without the assistance of your hands touching the ground. Switching from the prone position (laying on stomach/chest) to a standing position is also challenging, we are pretty much using a burpee as a method to switch from one position to the next. I truly would to stress that the transition from one exercise to the next should be an important focus and should be treated just as serious and any other exercise you perform. Just for clarity, I want you to imagine that are performing an obstacle course. The first obstacle is a push exercise, the second obstacle is a pull. In order to perform the second obstacle, you must travel to that second exercise. The method of travel in our case will be standing from either a supine or prone position.


For this routine, I recommend you use a pair of dumbbells that you are able to use that is not difficult but also not to easy. If you have access to more than one pair of dumbbells that would be great because it will allow you to modify the weight load throughout the routine if you need to reduce or even increase the weight depending on the exercise. I myself prefer to use 15-25lbs dumbbells and I get challenged. Of course, I am not the standard, so I encourage you to playfully experiment with this program and which weight loads are best for you.


Take a breath and let’s have a great time going through this and learning how our body is going to respond. Moving mindlessly is something I usually need to adjust in those that I first work with. Meaning, although this article is providing you instructions, I want you to make this YOURS!! Even if you prefer to modify the routine towards something better for you. The concept is the priority and that is to move in a way can help us on the mat and help us become healthier. All that being said, I would encourage you to go through the first set with a learning mindset, not an “I’m going to kill it mindset”.  Once again, I will use an obstacle course as an example. Imagine you are about to go through an obstacle course that you have never physically experienced. Granted you have seen a map so you have an idea where the hill would be for example. Regardless, I would encourage you to go through the course first to experience it and learn how it feels on your body instead of trying to blast through it. Now, don’t get me wrong, there will be a time to blast through this, but when starting things for the first time it’s likely best to know what you’re going to go through therefor setting your goals to become more realistic.


This exercise routine will work all of your major muscle groups, including your heart rate. We will start working the lower body) and work our way up to your upper body and then back down. The following exercises will be performed in order.





1. Starting from the supine position we will begin with Hip Thrusts










2. Roll to standing position










3. Squats






4. Lay on chest/stomach






5. Lower Back Extensions






6. Burpee to standing position, then lay on back










7. Crunches (or desired ab exercise)






8. Dumbbell Floor Press










9. Roll to standing position










10. Dumbbell Rows










11. Lay on back






12. Tricep Extensions










13. Roll to standing position










14. Bicep Curls






15. Standing Shoulder Press










Once performing this you will instantly notice that you are transition your body from the standing, prone and supine position in order to perform the next exercise. Just like in a jiu-jitsu spar session, we move are bodies in pretty much all positions all while using one or more muscle groups.


Before we get into how many sets, I want to make clear that once we complete one full set (full body, bottom to top), we will continue by moving in reverse (full body top to bottom)

Here’s an example:

Set 1 Set 2
•Hip Thrusts

-roll to standing position


-lay on chest/stomach

•Lower back Extensions

-burpee to standing position, then lay on back

•Crunches (or desired ab exercise)

-roll to standing position

•Dumbbell Rows

-lay on back

•Dumbbell Floor Press

-roll to standing position

•Bicep Curls

-lay on back

•Tricep Extensions

-roll to a standing position

•Standing Shoulder Press

•Standing Shoulder Press

-lay on back

•Tricep Extensions

-roll to standing position

•Bicep Curls

-lay on back

•Dumbbell Floor Press

-roll to standing position

•Dumbbell Rows

-lay on back

•Crunches (or desired ab exercise)

-roll to standing position, then lay on stomach

•Lower Back Extensions

-burpee to standing position


-lay on back

•Hip Thrusts


Once you complete one full set you can take the desired break and continue by moving in the opposite direction.


If you are just beginning your fitness and you have little to no exercise experience, go through the motions, please do your best to approach this with zero expectations. I also recommend that you perform this routine with very little intensity in order to learn how you and your body feels while going through all the movements. Once you feel you can increase the intensity, please feel free to do so. The following chart below is my sets/rest periods/frequency (days per week) recommendations for people of different levels. Feel free to modify the sets and rep time to your ability settings.

*rest= after completed one full set.

Beginner Intermediate Advanced
Sets: 2

Rest: 3 min (or desired)

Frequency: 2 days per 5-day week.

Sets: 4

Rest: 2 min (or desired)

Frequency: 3 days per 7-day week.

Sets: 5-6

Rest: no rest/1min

(or desired)

Frequency: 3 days per day week.



When moving our bodies, we have different options on how to go about performing an exercise. Because you are going to perform at least 2 sets, I suggest that we mix up the tempo. Because we will be performing 30-second intervals, we can choose to move fast and explosive or slow and static. For example, suppose I decided to 3 sets. My first set would be performed at a regular tempo pace. My second set would be performed at a fast and explosive pace. My third set would be performed at a slow and static pace. Each of these tempos will challenge you in a different way and will also provide you with the opportunity to enhance your bodies performance when rolling on the mat.


For the warm-up, I would suggest that we practice the transitions (laying on back, roll to a standing position. Laying on chest/stomach popping up to a standing position.) Being performing the movements slowly and begin to speed it up or use more force when you’re ready.  This will not only warm up your body and elevate your heart rate, but it will also allow you to practice when performing the exercise routine.


The purpose behind this functional program is NOT to make you puke or break you. My hope is that you become aware of your mind and body’s potential. This routine should not exclude or replace any other exercise activity that you enjoy doing if anything it can be a beautiful addition to your fitness regimen. Remember longevity is the key, so do not feel rushed. There will be soreness, high heart rates, and burning muscles however those conditions will increase and develop your resilience to get you through your future fitness phases.



Is a Jiu-Jitsu black belt under Ryron and Rener Gracie as well as an IFBB and PNBA professional bodybuilder. He is also a strength and conditioning coach that has worked with some of the best athletes in the world such as former UFC champions Carla Esparza, Fabricio Werdum, and Anderson Silva Feel free to contact him on IG @mikesaffaie

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