Multi-Purpose Training

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In 3 Tools to Improve Your Training Program, I covered the concept of “anchoring” your training to your primary focus area (i.e., BJJ) and making your program puzzle pieces fit together to help you achieve your most important goals.  One concept I didn’t discuss was the actual exercise selection for your workouts.

One thing I make an effort to do is select an exercise that has a multi-purpose/multi-function benefit.  Not unlike the trusty Swiss Army knife, the exercises you select for the job are versatile and can accomplish various tasks depending on your goals.  Let’s walk through it.

My primary objectives for my MetCon workouts are pretty straight-forward, and I think most of you would agree are fairly common for athletes:

  • Improve overall athleticism by practicing athletic attributes like jumping, throwing, sprinting, punching, etc.
  • Improve motor-unit recruitment to help in maximal strength training workouts (i.e., train fast to be fast and explosive and to move the weights fast).
  • Improve anaerobic work capacity.
  • Improve lactate threshold and VO2 MAX (fancy way of saying improve capacity to deal with “the burn” and body’s ability to use oxygen).

For your reference:

If I can accomplish one (1) of these objectives with my MetCon workouts, I’m happy. Luckily it’s easier to meet more than one of these objectives with your workout than you would think.  Something as simple as a 100m sprint can check off many if not all of these objectives.  Now, the next important step that adds the icing to the cake, is that I try to select exercises that will also help me improve on my specific focus areas for the year, which are BJJ, Strength Training (i.e., the Deadlift), Mobility, Core, Grip work, and Flexibility.

There are many options for conducting MetCon workouts (e.g., As Many Rounds/Reps as Possible or AMRAP, Reps for time, timed intervals, total # of reps, total distance covered, timed circuits, compound exercises, etc.).  Here is how my last workout looked. I’ve also included a brief video below to demonstrate the exercises.

MetCon Workout: Jump / Slam / Punch 

Exercise & How Performed

My Focus Areas


Strength Training



Mobility & Flexibility


1. Balance Board (Grappling Drill)

2. Side Bends

3. Plate Circles

4. Plate Twists

5. Sprawl + Jump

6. Tire Slams

7. Heavybag combos

If I can check-mark two or more of my target focus areas with one exercise…..SCORE! All I am doing is making a small modification to certain exercises to link them closer to the demands and specificity of BJJ.  An example is the Sprawl + Jump.  I could have easily selected burpees for that exercise, which as a brutal conditioner and athletic movement.  However, adding in the Sprawl will force me to practice the move that so often comes up on the mat to defend a takedown attempt.  Any chance you have to practice, you should.


Another example is that I could have performed all of my core exercises by hanging from a bar.  I chose to do them standing while bearing weight. Moving the weight away from your body creates a similar engagement of the core as you would encounter during grappling a standing opponent and perhaps fighting for underhooks. Are there better options? Sure. You have to make modifications to the tools you have at your disposal.

Tire slams are a great way to generate power and transfer energy from your feet through your body through the object. Anything that starts with the feet as the catalyst and ends with the hands releasing the energy (essentially most combat sports and other sports) is a great exercise.  Standing up in the guard and removing grips often requires the coordination of these muscles and athletics attributes similar to this.

Heavybag combos helping my BJJ? How often do you need to close the distance on your opponent to clinch and takedown? Plus, it’s just fun hitting things and generating that expression of power output.

I hope this helps put a perspective into making minor modifications before your next workout to help you reap even greater benefits and accomplish more of your goals.  Overall, remember that doing anything over nothing is best, so keep it simple and avoid analysis paralysis.

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