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The Cross-Training Advantage

Cross-training has many benefits and is an ideal fitness program for jiu jitsu athletes. It will strengthen and tone, promote fat-burning and build cardio endurance. It also doesn’t require a monthly gym membership or commitment and it does not require a great investment in weights or machines. In fact, all you need to shred your body and decimate your muscles is 15 minutes (20 if you count the warm up!) and a set of dumbbells. These minimal requirements for the incredible results cross-training can produce is just another benefit of cross-training routines.

The program below is designed to strengthen your core, hit your quads, tone your shoulders and arms while working your chest and back. As you can tell (and a defining trait of any good cross-training program), this routine is an entire body workout.  I personally prefer cross-training programs and appreciate the ability to maintain my physical condition in addition to my muscular symmetry with little hassle. At my age, convenience counts!

Cross-Training Demands Warming Up

Before you jump in and get started, allow yourself an extra 5 to 10 minutes for warming up. This is standard for any workout but that is perhaps why so many of us take it for granted and half-ass it or just skip it altogether. With routines like the following cross-training program, it is extremely important to warm up. Unlike iso programs, the exertion level, strain and numerous muscle groups being worked demand a respectable warm up session.

Once you warm up and get loose, it’s time to get to work…

The 15 Minute Full Body Cross-Training Routine

Always begin any new exercise with the motto “less is more” in mind. That means choosing a set of dumbbells that you are absolutely certain  you can handle easily. Remember as the spirit of jiu jitsu reminds us, this is about the best you, there is no room and no reward for vanity and pride. So whatever the best poundage is for you is the right one.

The beginning movement is the most vital to the first exercise of the routine and it is where you will be most prone to injury as you become more tired. Remember to use your legs and get a deep squat, both on the downward and upward motions.

Exercise #1

Dumbbell Walkout with Pushup

1. Begin in a standing position, feet shoulder width apart holding a dumbbell in each hand.

2. Using a squat, lower the dumbbells to the floor placing them in front of you.

3. Walk the dumbbells in alternating steps outward to the pushup position.

(I suggest the 3 step walkout, while 2 and 4 step walkouts will also suffice)

4. Do one pushup

5. Reverse walk the dumbbells until returning to the squat position.

6. Finish the squat by extending legs to locked position with dumbbells in hand.

– Movement Complete

Exercise #2

Dumbbell Plank-Position Row with Two Foggers

1. Holding dumbbells, get into pushup position with dumbbells no higher than shoulders.

2. Using a rowing motion, pull dumbbell to chest once alternating dumbbells.

3. Once you have returned to push up position, perform one frog jump.

– Movement Complete

Exercise #3

Burpee with Curl and Press

1. Begin in a standing position, feet shoulder width apart holding a dumbbell in each hand.

2. Using a squat, lower the dumbbells to the floor placing them in front of you and perform burpee.

(Optional for advanced users: perform a pushup after the burpee movement)

3. Return to standing position.

4. Perform upward curl movement – proceed to perform shoulder press.

5. Perform downward curl movement.

– Movement Complete

Completing these three exercise movements would constitute one round. Each movement is to be performed for 60 seconds. Begin with 3 rounds and find the right weight for your routine. Like any program, your dietary considerations will have a considerable impact on your performance, recovery and results.

Dietary Considerations for Cross Training Programs

While this isn’t likely going to be the most ideal program for muscle gain and growth, both can be accomplished. Adding an extra dose of protein an hour to 30 minutes before your workout can help promote muscle growth.

Cross-training is an ideal program for those looking to maintain or lean out (I can speak to that personally as well). Burning calories is obviously an advantage as this cross-cardio high intensity workout will do just that and in the process burn fat. Choosing to wait until after your workout to eat can force your body to burn fat for energy – in both cases, recovery is key.

This program will task your whole body and make you sweat but It is only 15 minutes in duration, so while we want to replenish our system we don’t want to overdo it either. A high carb snack like a granola would be a good option or a protein shake would also fit the bill.

The Jiu Jitsu Benefit

If you have never been a competitor, it might be hard to imagine or explain the amount of exertion given during those few minutes on the mat against a worthy opponent. When skill meets skill sometimes it becomes a matter of strength and endurance. Not only will your body become stronger and leaner, cross-training has endurance at its core.

The ability to focus when you are tired becomes compromised and cross-training will help keep your mind (the most important weapon in your arsenal) sharper when fatigue begins to set in. Is this the best cross-training program out there? The truth is, what we give to our program is what we get out of it and that really depends on you doesn’t it?

Not bad for two dumbbells and 15 minutes – right!