Build Crazy Grappling Specific Conditioning with Bodyweight Exercises

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Photo by Evolve MMA

Grappling is a very unique sport. It is one of the only sports where you are in a myriad of positions throughout the match. From lying, to sitting, to crawling, walking on your hands and even posting on your head! As such, traditional conditioning methods such as running might not be the most effective nor efficient way to become well conditioned in this art due to the lack of specificity.

One of the best ways to develop better conditioning for your sport would be to practice your sport more and with intent. Marcelo Garcia, one of the greatest grapplers of all time mentions this here. However, in some situations (such as our current one in lockdown), this might not be possible. So how can we still continue to improve on our grappling specific conditioning then?


Here, I have 15 different bodyweight exercises for you to help you improve your movement quality, power, endurance and overall build some great grappling related conditioning. Check it out and we will discuss later on how we can structure this into a workout where you can build crazy conditioning!

Try these out for size!


After knowing what exercises can translate well to grappling performance, we then need to know how to structure the exercises to make the most out of your time and effort. Firstly, here are some ways you can perform them:

  • Slowly and with control to build better movement quality, coordination & endurance
  • Sharp and explosively to build more speed and power
  • Mix it up and change your pace throughout the circuit

We will be picking a few exercises and putting them into a timed circuit. The choice of exercise depends on yourself. You can try them all out or pick movements that resembles moves that you regularly perform during live matches. Feel free to add in other movements should you have other ideas, such as sprawls or shots. I personally listed out this 15 as they were simple enough to perform with a small space at home.

The amount of time for each set should be dependent on the length of your competition matches. There will be a few rounds in a set with each round being a total of one minute. The number of rounds in each set would then be dependent on the total amount of time for each set.

E.g You have a match time of 10 minutes. Thus, your total set would be 10 minutes with 10 rounds (of 1 minute) within the set.

You can vary the work and rest ratio within each round to suit your level of conditioning. If you’re just starting out, you might want to begin with the Beginner level Work to Rest Ratio and build up from there.

Beginner30 seconds30 seconds
Intermediate45 seconds15 seconds
Advanced55 seconds5 seconds
Work:Rest Ratio -Start slow and improve with training!

How many sets you should be doing is ideally be dependent on how many matches would you be expecting to fight in your competition. However, it is understandable that these things might be hard to predict so you can pick the number of sets at your own discretion and experience. I’ll suggest erring on the side of caution and doing more rather than less. Of course, if you’re not planning to compete and would just like to get more conditioned, you can choose however many amount of rounds you’d like and which suits your goals and schedule.

Photo by Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports


A Nogi competitor who is competing at the ADCC trials where match times are 6 minutes long and he has 5 matches to fight.

He should be doing 5-6 sets of 6 rounds each. Further out from his competition (~ 3 months), he might be starting at the Beginner level circuit three times a week. However, closer to his competition (~ 1 week), he will have already built up his level of conditioning to the Advanced level. He would also be performing this only once or twice a week, with more emphasis on actual live sparring/drilling. Instead of performing one exercise at a time, he might have also stated chaining different movements together to have a more dynamic circuit.


Try out these simple and convenient to do exercises and start planning your own circuits. You will build much more grappling specific conditioning as opposed to running or cycling! Share with me know how you feel after. Take care and let’s get stronger tomorrow! Oss!

Author: Leon Tan, CSCS

I'm a certified Fitness Coach with a degree in Sports Science. I am passionate in Health, Fitness and helping people become a better version of ourselves.

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