“SAID Principle”

Training in Accordance to the “SAID Principle”

Serious climbers would be wise to train and climb in accordance to the cornerstone principles of the field of Exercise Science. For example, knowledge of the “SAID Principle” (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands) can be leveraged to maximize the effectiveness of your training for a specific climbing goal or dream climb. The SAID principle explains that a certain exercise or type of training produces adaptations specific to the activity performed and only in the muscles (and energy systems) that are stressed by the activity. For example, running produces favorable adaptations in the leg muscles and the cardio-vascular system. However, the muscles and systems not stressed show no adaptation; so even heroic amounts of running will produce no favorable changes in, say, the arms. Of course, the adaptations that result from running do transfer somewhat to other sports that depend on the same body parts and systems (e.g. mountain biking). Bottom line: the SAID Principle demands that effective training for climbing must target your body in ways very similar to climbing (e.g. in body position, muscles used, energy systems trained, etc).

Similarly, your body adapts in a specific fashion to the specific demands you place on it while climbing. If you boulder a lot, you will adapt to the specific skill and strength demands of bouldering. If you climb mostly one-pitch sport routes, you adapt to the unique demands of zipping up, say, 30 meters of rock before muscular failure. If you primarily climb multi-pitch routes or big walls, your body will adapt in accordance to the demands of these longer climbs. Or, if your outings are alpine in nature, your physiological response will be specific to the very unique demands of climbing in the mountains.

The vitally important distinction here is that while all these activities fall under the headline of “climbing,” they each have unique demands that produce very specific physical adaptations. Therefore, the training effect from regular bouldering will do nothing to enhance your physical ability for alpine climbing. As shown in the table below, the specific demands of sport climbing are much closer to those of bouldering. Consequently, the adaptations incurred from frequent bouldering will carry over well to sport climbing (especially short sport climbs) and vice versa.

Continuum of Climbing “Sub-Sports”
Bouldering Sport
Big Wall

Due to the SAID principle, your practice and training on the rocks should be spent mostly on the type of climbing in which you desire to excel. It is no mistake that the best boulderers in the world rarely tie into a rope. Likewise, the best alpine climbers spend little or no time working on 30-meter sport routes. Targeting your training on the specific demands of your preferred form of climbing is the essence of the SAID Principle.

In the end, you must make a philosophical choice whether you want to specialize–and, therefore, excel–in one of the climbing “sub-sports,” or become a moderately successful all-around climber. Certainly, there is equal merit and reward in both approaches.

(Andrea Pesca bouldering at Morrison, CO. Courtesy of StewartGreen.com)


7 Conditioning Secrets

The 7 Conditioning Secrets
…of Successful Combat Athletes


Fighter or Runner?

It never ceases to amaze me that there are still combat athletes out there using outdated conditioning methods that have long been proven ineffective and useless. The methods I speak of include hours and hours of long distance running and other unproductive forms of aerobic activity.

Folks, please understand this: neither wrestling nor any form of mixed martial arts are aerobic sports. Therefore, aerobic training of any kind is a complete waste of your time.

Yet every single high school or college wrestler I’ve ever come across is still running each and every day like they’re training for a marathon instead of a six or seven minute bout of high intensity grappling. How is thirty to sixty minutes of low intensity jogging going to prepare you for six to seven minutes of absolute hellacious combat?

It isn’t. It makes about as much sense as trying to become a world champion skateboarder by practicing your golf swing for eight hours a day.

Well then, if that’s not the approach to take, then what is? To answer that question let’s briefly take a look at what occurs in a wrestling match. At the high school level, there are three periods consisting of two minutes each. At the collegiate level, there are three periods as well, the first consisting of three minutes and the final two consisting of two minutes each. At the Olympic level, there’s one five-minute period and a three minute overtime period, if needed.

During these two to five minute bouts you’ll find yourself squatting, pressing, pulling, lunging, twisting, and bridging. You’ll make explosive movements, slow grinding strength-based movements, and you’ll hold isometric contractions a lot longer than you can comfortably stand.

For your off-the-mat training to have any carryover whatsoever, you need to be sure you’re doing all of these things in your conditioning program. The exact same holds true for any kind of martial art or no-holds-barred fighting. While some of the time periods and rounds may be different from one organization or sport to the next, the same general principle applies.

So, let’s get right into my best conditioning methods for these athletes.

The Top 7 Conditioning Methods for Combat Athletes

1. Strongman Training

Strongman training incorporates the use of odd objects such as stones, logs, tractor tires, sandbags, kegs, sledgehammers, anvils and just about anything else you can think of. The basics of strongman training are to lift and carry or drag heavy shit; that’s the gist of it.

Strongman training can be used as a conditioning day all on its own or at the end of a regular resistance training workout. There are endless amounts of exercises and events to choose from when putting together a strongman workout.

Those who are new to strongman training will have extreme difficulty with many of the exercises and will be winded quite quickly. Eventually, after getting used to this type of training, the goal will be to lower your rest periods and do more work in a given time period.

If you opt to have an entire training day dedicated to strongman training, I recommend that you pick five or six exercises that offer as much variety as possible. Below is an example of a good sequence of exercises for a strongman workout:

A) Car push

B) Tire flip

C) Keg clean & press

D) Sledgehammer swing

E) Farmers walk

F) Hand-over-hand row with thick diameter rope

You can do the exercises for straight sets or in a circuit fashion. When your conditioning improves and you continue to try to get more “sport specific” with your training, you should aim for two to three straight minutes of work (or whatever length of time the rounds or periods last in your chosen combat sport) followed by a brief rest period.

For example, you could do one exercise for that long or you could do each exercise for 20-30 seconds and then move immediately to the next. While most matches don’t last nearly this long, the strongman workouts should take anywhere from 30-90 minutes.

If you choose to use strongman training as a finisher to your normal weight training workouts, you’d be best served to pick one or two exercises and perform them for ten to fifteen minutes straight with a brief rest period every 30-120 seconds.

2. Bodyweight Circuits

Using your own bodyweight in a way that will resemble what you do in a wrestling match or no-holds-barred fight is an outstanding way of improving your conditioning. I usually like to go outside in the fresh air to a park and perform these.

Grouping together four to six bodyweight exercises such as wheelbarrow walks, push-ups, single (or double) leg squats, squat thrusts, crab walks, inchworms, and mountain climbers and doing them in a circuit will get you in great shape in no time. Again, try to eventually work your way down to using work to rest ratios similar to that which you’ll face in competition.

The squat thrust, shown here with dumbbells, but very effective with just bodyweight!

3. Sled Combos

A dragging sled is one of the most valuable tools any hard training combat athlete could have in his arsenal. The possibilities are limitless with the sled.

To choose an effective sled combo, try to pick movements that will work the body from as many different angles and in as many different ways as possible. Here’s an example of a highly effective sled combo:

A) Forward sled drag: 30 seconds

B) Face pull: 30 seconds

C) Backward sled drag: 30 seconds

D) Chest press: 30 seconds

Repeat for two to three minutes straight followed by a brief rest period similar to what you’ll face in competition.

4. Sprints

While jogging is completely worthless, sprinting is tremendous for combat athletes looking to get in kick-ass shape. I like to use a variety of sprint workouts with combat athletes including hill sprints, stadium stair sprints, shuttle runs, sled sprints, and agility circuits.

Before commencing your sprint workouts, be sure to complete a full dynamic warm-up in order to reduce the possibility of injury. To further reduce the risk of injury and basically eliminate any concern of pulled hamstrings, stick with hill sprints or do most of your sprint work with an empty sled dragging behind you. Just the weight of the empty sled is enough to slow you down slightly which greatly decreases the risk of injury.

5. Medicine Ball Throw and Retrieve

This is a great way for the combat athlete to mix explosive movements in with his conditioning. You’ll need a medicine ball which is not so light that you can throw it fifty yards, but not so heavy that it only goes two feet when you release it. Find something in the middle. Most athletes will use a ball somewhere between twelve and twenty pounds for this drill.

I like to mix up the direction and kinds of throws when using this method. For example, we’ll start with a backward overhead scoop throw, sprint to the ball, do an overhead forward throw, sprint to the ball, side rotation throw, sprint, chest pass, sprint, forward scoop throw, side rotation throw in the opposite direction, sprint, etc.

This can be done for two to three minutes straight followed by a brief rest period and/or puking.

6. Barbell Complexes

For those of you who’ve never done complexes, get ready for a whole new in-the-gym experience. Barbell complexes consist of doing several exercises in a row without ever putting the bar down. This usually consists of six to ten exercises; each exercise is usually done for six reps.

The reps are performed as explosively as possible and you move from one exercise to the next without ever taking a break or letting go of the bar. Most athletes will begin with just a 45 pound Olympic bar.

Below is an example of a barbell complex:

Over time the goal is to be able to complete the entire complex faster than the previous workout. As I mentioned above, you should start with just the bar the first time you do complexes, but quickly work up to a more challenging weight in subsequent weeks. Ninety-five pounds will be absolute hell for even the strongest and most well conditioned of warriors!

7. The Whole Kit ‘N Caboodle

This method basically involves combining any two or all of the above methods into one conditioning session. These types of workouts can be grueling and are only for those with the heart of champion.

For example, you may start your workout inside with a few rounds of barbell complexes. After that you may proceed outside and pick up the medicine ball for a few rounds of throw and retrieve. When you’ve completed the throws, you might grab the sled and perform a few combos followed immediately by a car push, a sprint, and a farmers walk until you drop.

There really are no rules as to how you structure this. You can intermix whatever method you like and do straight sets or circuits. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

Addition Info

There you have it: the best ways to get in ass-kicking shape and outlast any opponent you’ll ever face. As far as the work to rest ratios go, you’ll notice that for most methods I’ve suggested that over time you try to work toward matching these up with what you’ll actually face in competition. This is an eventual goal but isn’t of the utmost importance.

Believe me, flipping a 600 pound tire for two minutes straight is a lot different and more exhausting than wrestling for two minutes straight, in most cases. Do the best you can and keep that goal in mind, but don’t be overly concerned if you can’t achieve those numbers. Even if you can only flip the tire for 30 seconds straight, that’s completely fine. That’s more than most people can take, and it’ll do wonders for your conditioning levels.

One final note is that you must be careful not to overdo any of these methods. While most combat athletes have the attitude that more is better, that isn’t always the case. Too much of a good thing is actually a bad thing. Too much conditioning will lead to losses in strength, size, and speed — all of which will lead to a decrease in your overall performance.

A Bad Analogy (Sorry)

Remember in high school when you knew your parents were out of town and you had a really hot girl coming over? What did you do that afternoon? You cleared the pipes, of course… several times. If you didn’t, you knew that the mere brush of the young vixen’s thigh against yours would make for an early and unhappy ending. But what about the time you did your preparatory ritual a few too many times?
At 16, three times was fine; it was what you needed to feel “prepared for battle.” If it was an extremely smoking hot chick, you might have even opted for four just to be extra safe. But by senior year of college when your Testosterone levels started coming down just the tiniest bit and you had significantly more experience, four times was beyond overkill. But you went for it anyway because you still lived by the mantra that more is better and because the young female en route to your apartment bore a striking resemblance to Carmen Electra, from head to toe.

Finally, she showed up at your place and for some reason there wasn’t even a twitch when she hugged you hello. And when it came time for bumping uglies, you, my friend, were left with a limp noodle (come on, I’m not the only one). And as we all know, nobody likes a limp noodle.

The culprit? Too much “conditioning.” It happens to the best of us, but hopefully we can learn from our mistakes and find the cutoff point. The last thing you want to do is end up a limp noodle in the hands of your opponent. I mean, uh… wow, what a disturbingly bad analogy. But hopefully you get the point.

The key is to find the optimal level, the amount that gets you in the best condition possible, and do exactly that amount and no more. How much is that? No one can know for sure but you. My recommendation is four 30-60 minute sessions per week. On top of your classes, practices, and strength training workouts, this is usually more than enough to get most combat athletes in championship shape in no time.

Be sure to utilize all of the methods listed in this article. Bust your ass and make constant improvements. Victory will be yours.

About the Author

Jason Ferruggia is one of the most highly sought after professional fitness coaches in the industry. For over a decade he has provided hundreds of clients with cutting edge training programs that never fail to produce outstanding results in record time. Jason has trained over 500 athletes from nearly 20 different sports and is renowned for his ability to rapidly increase speed, strength, and overall performance. He has also mastered the art of physique enhancement and has helped countless clients ranging from business men to fashion models lose fat and build muscle at astounding rates. For more information on training for combat athletes, please visit www.CombatConditioningSecrets.com.

© 1998 — 2006 Testosterone, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Go Animal

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GoAnimal: the panorama

When we consider the state of the modern human body, we see a public health catastrophe in progress. Not only are we overweight, we’re suffering from a host of highly-preventable disorders, many of which can be traced directly to inactivity and sedentary living. Clearly, our current approach to physical fitness just isn’t working. We need a new orientation.

GoAnimal is an innovative approach to health and physical conditioning. The idea is that physical training needs to meet a few simple conditions: it’s got to have some relevance to human origins, it’s got to speak to the functional performance of the human body and it’s got to be fun. In other words, we need a paradigm for exercise and fitness that’s primal, practical and playful.

As you’ll discover, these three principles fit together in a complementary fashion. Each reinforces the other to form a complete, integrated approach to physical fitness and living. By studying these perspectives, you’ll be able to create a personal fitness program that is both satisfying and sustainable. In the process, you’ll gain a fresh enthusiasm for movement and your body.

The core principles of the GoAnimal philosophy are described in the section ideas. You’ll find essays on our physical predicament, the philosophy of exercise, evolutionary perspectives, movement education and integration. You can also find functional exercises and fitness games that you can try out on your own.


About your coach


Play as if Your Life Depends on It

Home > Panorama

DIY Chaos Training with a Couple Balls and Some Rope

Chaos Training

by Rocannon


My training partner Tara joined me this morning nice and early. I decided we would do what I call Chaos Training. By using many different types of training in one brief (50 min.) Primal Playout I get my body raging with fresh energy from the bones outward. Today’s play included Power Ropes, medicine balls, kettlebells, Woody sandbags and stretch bands.

We kept moving between play stations with no more than a 10 second break between any individual move. After each complete circuit of the equipment I would ramp it up a bit by selecting a more challenging set of moves for the next circuit. In a matter of minutes the sweat was pouring, the smiles were exploding, and we both were laughing out loud as we swung the KBs, waved the ropes, slammed the bags, kicked the balls, and pulled the bands. It was non-stop fun from minute one.

With all the variation (chaos) my nervous, myofascial, and proprioceptive systems never had a chance of knowing what was coming next. The difference in how I feel now when I do Primal Moves compared to 20 years ago when I worked out in a gym is the difference between dreaming of having a girlfriend when I was 12 and having a life-companion at 57. There really is no comparison.

As we re-packed all the gear we were discussing how much more alive and vital we feel after these kinds of movement times. It really takes no discipline to do them everyday. They are so much fun, so creative, and so completely engaging that it would be harder not to do them than do them.

Be sure that your daily movement practice draws you in the same way. Don’t waste time trying to do something because it is good for you, but you hate it. Find some kind of movement that you WANT TO Do and do that every day. Celebrate it. Explore it. Expand it. Integrate it into your life.

To loosen up this afternoon we took a movement snack doing horizontal pullups with our feet on a Swiss ball. After a couple of rounds we shifted to one-leg medicine ball throws with a 15 lb ball. I finished the snack with High Swings with a kettlebell. Yummy. I feel refreshed. I feel satisfied. I feel good. Remember that movement snack doesn’t have to take long. Ten or fifteen minutes is plenty of time for a re-charge. Play in the chaos whenever you can.

Juggle Your Way To Improved Performance

Juggle Your Way
To Improved Performance

By Ross Enamait – Published in 2007

In a past article, I discussed how an inexpensive jump rope could be used to enhance athletic qualities such as coordination, agility, quickness, and endurance. Contrary to what many Internet Gurus may suggest, these skills can be enhanced with nothing more than a $5 rope. Within this article, I will discuss another low-tech, inexpensive drill that will enhance qualities such as hand-eye coordination, ambidexterity, peripheral vision, depth perception, visual reaction time, and neuromuscular balance.

It may sound too good to be true, but you can perform this drill anywhere, with nothing more than a few tennis balls. You can practice this drill as long as you want without risk of overtraining or soreness.

So, what’s the secret drill that has been hidden to the masses?


That’s right… juggling three or four tennis balls is an ideal addition to any athlete’s weekly plan. At first glance, you may think I am joking. Teaching a group of athletes to juggle may seem ridiculous, but it is actually something that I highly recommend. So many athletes search high and low for training advice, but often overlook the obvious. Everyone wants to become stronger, faster, and more powerful, but what good are these qualities if you lack the coordination to use them?

Take a moment to review your weekly training plan. How much time do you spend working to improve qualities such as hand-eye coordination, peripheral vision, and visual reaction time?

Many athletes will answer this question with a big goose egg…

They don’t spend any time working to improve these attributes. They are either working to become stronger or working to improve endurance. Clearly, strength and endurance are important, but nothing can replace the need for coordination.

And in addition to the athletic benefits, juggling will also improve your brain. In a recent experiment (2004), University of Regensburg neurologist Arne May and colleagues found that juggling can increase grey matter within the brain.

As quoted within the report:

“The juggler group demonstrated a significant transient bilateral expansion in grey matter in the mid-temporal area and in the left posterior intraparietal sulcus…”

Researches went on to conclude the following:

“This discovery of a stimulus-dependent alteration in the brain’s macroscopic structure contradicts the traditionally held view that cortical plasticity is associated with functional rather than anatomical changes.”

In laymen’s terms, plasticity is simply the brain’s ability to remodel itself (ie. to reorganize neural pathways based on new experiences).It was not long ago that scientists were convinced that the brain was hardwired early in life. Deterioration of the brain was seen as inevitable over time. The ability to rebuild and/or improve the brain was considered impossible. Fortunately, modern research suggests otherwise.

As quoted within a past edition of The Journal of Active Aging:

“Scientists now know that the brain remains plastic (or malleable) throughout life. At any age, the brain has the ability to revise its processing machinery – for better or for worse – in response to stimuli and activities. Just as the brain can deteriorate, it can also grow. Gray matter can thicken, trunks can remyelinate, and neural connections can be forged and refined, reinvigorating cognitive abilities.”

Juggling is one of many ways to revitalize the brain. One reason for this phenomenon is that juggling takes you out of your comfort zone. Most of us are not juggling experts. The average person cannot juggle their daily workload, never mind three of four balls.

When you are challenged with a new task, you must concentrate and remain relaxed to successfully develop the skill. The concentration and effort required to develop the new skill is clearly beneficial for the brain.

Remain Consistent

There is nothing magical about juggling, but this simple activity will lead to considerable improvements if you remain consistent with your efforts. There are countless juggling variations, ranging from easy to extremely advanced. You don’t need to be a circus performer to benefit from juggling.

Start with the basics, and gradually strive to improve, as you challenge yourself with more advanced patterns and tricks. When first starting, limit your juggling practice to just a few minutes. It is important to be fresh and alert when mastering a new skill. With just 5 minutes of juggling per day, you’ll notch up over 30 hours of juggling in one year. A five or ten minute investment each day is not too much to ask.

Additional Benefits

Aside from the scientific data presented thus far, there are many commonsense benefits to juggling. Think about it…

To successfully juggle, you must remain relaxed, as you visually track objects in space, and then physically react to the constant (mobile) stimulus. If you are tense, you will never succeed at juggling. The ability to remain relaxed is vital to any athlete, particularly a combat athlete.

Think of yourself sparring for example. If you are tense, you will always struggle with defense. A tense fighter will be as elusive as a snail. Consider all-time defensive masters such as the great Willie Pep, or more recently Pernell Whitaker. These men could stand directly in front of their opponents and avoid incoming punches like a magician. One reason for their success was their ability to function in a relaxed state. These individuals also had tremendous reactions, hand-eye coordination, peripheral vision, etc. (attributes that can all be enhanced with juggling).

While juggling will not turn you into the next Willie Pep, it will improve many of the physical and mental qualities that are required to become an elusive fighter. You must remain relaxed as you react to objects that move up and down, and on each side of you.

Now, think of an opponent who is throwing kicks and punches in your direction. You must see these incoming blows, and then react accordingly. Any drill that enhances this ability is worthy of your time.

Summary and Further Reading

In summary, juggling offers both physical and mental benefits. Juggling is:

  • Inexpensive (any balls will work)
  • Convenient (you can juggle anywhere)
  • Relaxing
  • Effective (physical and mental benefits)
  • Not physically stressful (juggle as often as you wish)

If juggling is new to you, a quick search will offer more information than you can digest in one sitting. There are countless tutorials floating around the web. I recommend starting with a basic three-ball cascade (the most common form of juggling). Don’t limit yourself to this variation however. As with any type of training, you must progress to more difficult variations.

One of the better tutorials (that I could find) is linked to below. The site includes video demonstrations of several juggling techniques. You will never run out of ideas or challenges with the information contained within this link:

Wildcat Jugglers Tutorial

Happy juggling!

Works Cited

1.) Draganski, B., Gaser, C., Busch, V., Schuierer, G., Bogdahn, U. and May A. (2004). Neuroplasticity: changes in grey matter induced by training. Nature, 427:311-312.

2.) Merzenich, Michael. (2005). Change Minds For The Better. The Journal of Active Aging.

About the Author – Ross Enamait is an innovative athlete and trainer, whose training style is among the most intense that you will find. Ross is committed to excellence and advancements in high performance conditioning and functional strength development. He has a sincere interest in helping today’s athlete in their quest for greatness.

Ross has authored several training manuals, and is available for private training in the New England area. You may contact him directly at <!– var username = “ross”; var hostname = “rosstraining.com”; var linktext = username + “@” + hostname; document.write(“” + linktext + ““) //–> ross@rosstraining.com

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