On a Treadmill to Hell

A variation of interval training is performing a workout that simulates a match. For example, I know that the matches in the upcoming jiu jitsu tournament in two weeks will be 5 minutes. I like to simulate these matches on the treadmill. A lot of people suggest more functional exercises than running. After all, sprinting is hardly a simulation of a grappling match. But I buy into the idea that Forrest Griffin describes in his Got Fight? book, that the treadmill is the ultimate tool to develop not only your conditioning but your mind through exactly this type of simulation of a match.

Basically, for most any exercise you do to simulate a match, when you get tired to the point where all you want to do physically and mentally is quit, you can’t help but slow down just a tiny bit, easing the load on your body and mind. With a treadmill, you can’t slow down. It’s set at whatever speed and incline you set it to, and it just goes. It’s up to you to keep up.

It works for me. No training session (including wrestling in high school) has taken me to a place of wanting to quit like a treadmill (partially because I hate running, but mostly because of the reason described above). I do a 7 minute match:

  • Minute 1: 10mph
  • Minute 2: 6mph
  • Minute 3: 11mph
  • Minute 4: 6mph
  • Minute 5: 12mph
  • Minute 6: 6mph
  • Minute 7: 12mph

That’s one match. I then walk at a snail’s 2mph pace for 3 minutes, and repeat for a second, third, fourth, and fifth match.

Sometimes I only do 2 or 3 matches (like yesterday). However, the rule is to NEVER quit. Even if I get a cramp, or shins/ankles hurt, or even a friend sees me and starts talking to me, I must finish that match. I’ve done this workout only about ten times in my life, and always plan on doing it twice a week, but it’s such hell, that I end up finding excuses to avoid it after a week and instead do a jiu jitsu or judo class.

I believe that success in competition requires that I get a few months of such training (twice a week) in before the tournament. I learn a lot about myself in these sessions and like in any type of hard training, I gain confidence in my cardio and “heart” for actual matches in tournaments.

0 thoughts on “On a Treadmill to Hell

  1. Joe Cianfarra

    Gee thanks Les, I always wondered how Forest got such lousy technique! But, at least good for us he can take a good beating. One interesting thing that always frustrated me was that most of us train at night often until rather late, and then we get up early drive for two hours and ask our bodies to perform the same way in the mid-morning or early afternoon. I could often tell that it just wasn’t working the same way, and knew that part of the problem was the late workout was not a competition simulation.

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  2. Eric

    Sounds like a fantastic workout. A lot of people are looking down on running these days. You hear things like “that doesn’t translate well to grappling”, or “that is not functional”, or “running does not simulate a match”. I hear those comments and think “thanks for repeating what you read in a blog or magazine somewhere but those just sound like excuses for not getting your road work in”. Boxers, Judokas, Wrestlers Tia Boxers and various Olympic athletes have been running for 100s of years. They are doing it for a reason. Keep doing what you’re doing at let the other guy convince himself he has a good scientifically based reason to sit on his butt in front of the TV instead of running.

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