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"Hurricane" Endurance Training


Over the last few years, I have changed what I thought about “endurance” or energy system training. Years ago, I didn’t really put much stock in this style of training at all. I felt that just by performing your sport or your martial discipline, you would be getting the specific energy system work you needed. Because of this belief, my training focused mostly on speed, strength and power work. When I started to work with a number of high level fighters, and started training in jiu jitsu and judo myself, I saw that specific endurance work was not only important, it was essential.

At first, I followed some of the archaic endurance training methods that have persisted over the years from road work to stair climbing to hill runs. Granted, these were all tough at first, but my instincts told me that this was not enough. It was then that I started to “experiment” on myself with circuit style training.

To me, when I use the terms “circuit style,” I am describing a series of like or unlike exercises all combined one after the other with minimal or no rest for a certain period of time. Choosing the time for the circuits is easy. I take the maximal length of time a fight or match could last and then either add time to it or rest in between and do multiple sets of that time. This way, athletes are able to give maximal performances for the same period of time they would be expected to compete.

When you start getting into this style of training or start to surround yourself with people who enjoy this style of training, you see nothing but gluttons for punishment. Hard anaerobic work for five to 10 minute bursts is nothing short of a form of self torture. However, as my athletes will say, once you get used to this type of work, it really becomes a sense of enlightenment. Training this way will teach you more about yourself than lifting or sprinting. You will learn who you are, what is important to you and how skilled you are at pushing yourself to the limit.

The circuits started with combinations of ladder drills, hurdle drills, box jumps and med ball work. We had stations set up and performed the prescribed number of reps at each station until the set time had elapsed. If we were doing multiple sets, we then would attempt to beat the original volume of work in the same amount of time. After this, we started working on high speed treadmills and started interspersing exercises in between the sets. From here, we started incorporating in sparring with the sprints as well. It was around that time that things started to get crazy. Enter the strongman circuits.

When I write “strongman,” I am talking about exercises like the giant tire, farmer’s walk, sandbag carry, thick rope pull drags, heavy sled or car pulls and the like. We had used a number of these pieces on a separate training day than the endurance work, but the group was ready for a new challenge. That is how we created the Category 5 hurricane. We started performing these sessions every Tuesday at our facility, and it was the one day of the week I looked forward to and dreaded at the same time. After one particularly tough session, World Champion Grappler Roger Gracie stated that he felt like he "had just been hit by a Category 5 hurricane!” Right then, we all understood and started to classify the level we took a session to by the scale on which they base a hurricane's intensity (i.e., Category 1 through 5).

The 5 Categories of Hurricane Endurance Training

I have broken down this style of strongman training into five categories that can be completed over 12 weeks. The progression is as follows:

CATEGORY 1

CATEGORY 2

CATEGORY 3

CATEGORY 4

CATEGORY 5

This training is like a hurricane: when it passes through your area, things are never the same. The effects of hurricane training are long lasting and something you will not forget. After 12 weeks of training, you will be physically and mentally stronger than ever before.