4 great strength and endurance exercises

Fatigue makes cowards of us all

– variously attributed to George Patton and Vince Lombardi

The 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” is considered one of the greatest sporting events of the 20th century. An aging Muhammed Ali came into the fight a 4-1 underdog against the undefeated George Foreman, widely considered to be faster and stronger. Yet Ali was able to knock Foreman out in the eighth round largely utilizing a single strategy: he simply let the younger fighter tire himself out.

If your energy goes, then so do your chances. It’s a lesson that applies to all of us, far outside of the boxing ring.

Foreman should have destroyed Ali, but he let himself get angry with Ali’s continual taunting; after a ferocious fifth round, he’d punched himself out and it was just a matter of time till Ali came out on top.

Similarly, look at the early days of the UFC: the stand-up guys who were taken to the ground had no clue what to do once down there, and (ii) no idea how to breathe on the deck (small shallow breaths). This lack of knowledge often led to inevitable and early defeat.

In order to keep fatigue at bay, consider exercises that works the following: cardio, explosive power, isometric strength, physical endurance, and mental endurance.

Personally, I hate straight cardio exercise. I work the rowing machine and some hill sprints but never look forward to either. As you get older, the strength sticks around but the cardio escapes you much more quickly so you can’t neglect it. I also try to do power exercises that also make you puff a little.

Try these four techniques to work on your strength and endurance:


I love this exercise. Get a good-sized slam ball and just hammer it down aggressively to the ground after lifting over the top of your head; try to catch it on the bounce and lift it straight back up.

Do this for one minute, taking breaks if you need to. Rest for one minute then repeat three more times.


In front of a punching bag, squat and stomp kick the bag, rise and squat again, and stomp kick the bag with the other foot. Do this for one minute, take a one minute break and repeat three more times.

This exercise is great for leg strength, general cardio, and working your stomp-kicking technique when under pressure.


Place a bag on the ground and move around it while continually striking. From a technical point of view, when grappling you never relinquish the pressure of your body when you’re on top so it’s good to work that principle as well. And it helps to work your cardio when you have something pressing on your chest as well, this is often what you have to do when wrestling and it can be very tough.

Do this for 2 minutes while moving continually and never stop striking nor relinquish downward pressure on the bag. Rest for one minute and repeat one more time.


Isometric exercise or isometrics are a type of strength training in which the joint angle and muscle length do not change during contraction compared to concentric or eccentric contractions, called dynamic/isotonic movements. So basically, strength when not moving.

I see very few people working such exercises anywhere. Maybe because, as you’ll discover, they’re a bit tough and can be a little dull compared to the explosive stuff: however, they are very important, particularly for grappling.

Start by holding the kettle bell in front of your body with arms outstretched for one minute, take one minute break then repeat three more times. Think about your whole body holding the bell in place, not just your arms. And put on some nice music to take your mind off the pain.


At MaArtial, we agree with Stewart that the aspects of Strength and Endurance are extremely important in our training, from beginning to advanced levels.

It is also true that Isometric exercises are often neglected in most fitness programs, and a key aspect of endurance training that helps ward off fatigue.

We strongly recommend conditioning , aerobic and anaerobic training for MaArtial Arts as well as general health and fitness.

Fitness is subjective in terms of exercises and a lifestyle created for a specific need, i.e. sport, health, self defense, etc.

Prioritizing a goal is absolutely vital before choosing strategies.

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Photo: A.Abbas/Magnum Photos/Profimedia.CZ

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