Student’s frequently ask: what is the best extra training exercises they can do for building their fight stamina. It is a great question.

While jogging and cycling are great for your cardio, the problem (as side from being boring) is that they are rhythmic exercises where there is a relatively constant pace. This is not how fighting works. Fighting is not a marathon, it is a series of short sprints; there are bursts of extremely high energy where you need to be as fast and as powerful as you possibly can, interspersed with breaks where you are disengaged from your opponent.

Your fitness program should replicate this sprint, break, sprint, break, interval nature of fighting. By the way, I have sparred with people who are runners and were far fitter than me but they have tired out much faster than me during sparring because in sparring they could not control the pace and rhythm of the demands on their cardio.

If you haven’t guessed already the best exercise is interval training, or HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) where you do short bursts of intense exercise then break, usually doing a different exercise each burst. Each burst is usually 20 seconds to a minute depending on your program.

The good news is you don’t need a gym or a coach or an expensive machine, the only thing that is essential is a smartphone that will time your intervals. There are plenty of apps for this most of which are free.

There are also loads of videos about interval training on Youtube, just search Hiit or interval training. There are stacks of “train along” videos and lot of other demonstration videos to give you ideas for different exercises you can do.

Three other great things about interval training:

  • It is very time effective. You don’t need to go for a 45-minute run you can get a lot done in short space of time. Even a 12-18 minute workout will do wonders for your fitness.
  • The other great thing is that you can build up your fitness levels at your own pace. Don’t watch youtube and try to do a 30 minute “brutal” workout the first time. If you are not already very fit you will be ruined afterwards and therefore less likely to want to do it again the next day. Start with 4-10 minutes and if that is easy keep on extending your program.
  • Lastly, you can really vary your program. There are 1000s of exercises you can do from demanding anaerobic strength exercises to highly intensity cardio exercises. You can experiment with different exercise to keep make your program work for you. And you can keep changing them up to keep things from getting boring.


Pointers for hiit training.

Remember to warm up and warm down with some stretching.


Start and finish with less intense warm up warm down exercises like shadow boxing or shuffling forwards and backwards throwing light punches.


I prefer a 30-second exercise, 30 seconds break ratio but there are loads of different ratios you can work with. Obviously to increase the intensity of your workout lengthen the exercise burst and shorten the break.


To get the best results in the exercise portion go as fast and as hard as you can. It is not a burst of gentle, paced, low intensity, exercise. The whole point is that is high intensity; doing as many repetitions in the interval period as possible.


In most interval training demonstrations when they have a break/rest/recovery interval they rest completely, but that is not what a fighter should do. In your breaks in a fight, when you are disengaged from your opponent, you are not inactive you still have to move about and stay focused. Therefore in you training breaks interval training you should simulate this by moving around in guard stance. If you want to challenge yourself you can also throw a couple of counter attacks and some evasive head movement or side stepping.


What exercises you choose is up to you. The classic exercises like push-ups and sit-ups are great, but as a fighter, you should generally do at least some exercises that work on explosive movements, like burpees. Doing set attacking combinations is a great dynamic/explosive movement exercise, however, be careful that you do quality as well as quantity. Don’t compromise your technique for speed. Here are some other example exercises in this video.