7 weeks out – in defense of steady state cardio – kinda

*This post is part of the 8 weeks out series – tracking Ross’ training while leading up the the NAGA Chicago Grappling Tournament on November 3.

This early is the process, everything is still exhilarating to me.  I find energy from having a sense of purpose in everything I do.  When setting a goals for myself such as this, everything takes greater meaning.  I find myself appreciating quality sleep, a healthy meal, and a happy mind.

This is why you’ll find many more people preparing for a tournament 7 weeks out and far fewer when a tournament is only 2 or 3 weeks away.  By that point, the reality that you haven’t done enough settles in and rather than risk failure, you opt out to allow your ego to assume it COULD have won.

A great way to build a life full of regret.  It’s this knowledge that drives me even when I’m sore and tired to get back on the mats and try to get better every day.


For Jiu-Jitsu, it’s business as usual.  Everyone is honing their skills, trying to sharpen their strengths, and improve their weaknesses.  We won’t begin ramping up the intensity of practice until we’re much closer to the tournament.  To do so this early would lead to overtraining and a higher risk of injuries.

Training will enter a new phase after this week.  Up until now, it’s been the fun stuff: Lifting heavy stuff and getting strong.  My routines have consisted of Power lifts like Deadlifts and Front squats while also incorporating Olympic lifts to add power.  After the major lifts, I’ll do a variety of bodyweight, core stability, balance, and single limb training.  I’ll post a sample workout later this week.


In addition to lifting for Power, I’ve also done a fair share of steady state cardio to build my aerobic base – GASP! But how? Why? Doesn’t slow running build a slow athlete?  Kinda-sorta.

Hold your horses for a moment.  I like steady state cardio – when used early on in a conditioning program for a combat sports athlete.  In other applications, it does have different uses as well.  So why so much hate for steady state cardio?  Because it gets way too much love from the general gym-goer.  Steady-state or long-slow-distance (LSD) cardio has been the go-to format for people both pursuing weight-loss and sport conditioning.  In most cases, that’s the worst possible option.  We have a big article coming up giving plenty of hate to steady-state or LSD cardio, so here, I’ll give one of its actually useful applications:

In Jiu-Jitsu, our movements are explosive, but also very repetitive.  We don’t have the opportunity to fully recover after scrambling to get out of a bad position.  The match continues, and so must we.  There is a constant aerobic demand from the first or second engagement to the end of the match.  If you haven’t put in some miles of base aerobic conditioning, your skeletal muscles could be up to the task, but your heart and lungs may not.

This base conditioning sets the groundwork so that I can really push it during my interval training during the next 6 weeks leading up to the tournament.  I have an efficient and low-impact foot strike that allows me to log miles with minimal stress on my body and joints.  If you’re not a ‘smooth’ runner, I suggest you use one of the methods below for your steady state aerobic base training:



Rowing Machine

Medicine Ball Throws

KettleBell circuits

If none of these options are available, message me and I’ll help you figure out something that you can do!

Here are some guidelines for your cardio session:

session should last 40-80 min.

Heart Rate should stay between 130-150 for the duration of the session

Cardio should be done on separate days from lifting


If you’re within 4 weeks of your tournament or closer, hold of on all cardio of this type.  The loss in speed and explosiveness isn’t worth it.  Frankly, there’s nothing you can do at that point if you don’t yet have a good aerobic base.  Hope for a bunch of quick submissions, I guess.  Big gamble though if you ask me.

Next week, we’ll cover the start of my cutting diet and what it takes to safely lose 20+ pounds while maintaining as much strength as possible.  For now, I’m  gonna go bust out some heavy deadlifts and throw some medicine balls all over the place.

Until next time.  See you on the mats.


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