5 Cardio Tips To Stop Gassing Out During BJJ

Do you want to increase your gas tank on the mats? Are the sparing rounds gassing you big time?

Maybe so much, that you have to take rounds off, as your friends roll, round after round.

You know that means, they are getting better and you are not.

I have 5 cardio tips to stop gassing out during BJJ rounds.

Cardio for BJJ

Read on to build your gas tank for BJJ and have better cardio

#1 The art of timing and tension

One of my coaches said,” BJJ is a lot of timing and knowing when to apply tension(strength).”

Timing is huge as well as knowing when and where to relax also when to apply your strength.

This can mean the difference between gassing out constantly and being one of the guys who seems to have an endless gas tank at your BJJ gym.

Think of a new white belt, they have 100% tension all the time, and in every situation.

BJJ Cardio

Sometimes, it is not that guys have huge gas tanks, but they are better at BJJ, and they know when to apply force and when to not.

If you’re always tense, you are going gas and gas out fast.

I never want these posts, to seem like I’m exiting my lane of strength and conditioning and giving BJJ technique tips. I’m no expert at BJJ. But, I do know, that no amount of strength and conditioning will help if you are 100% on tension the whole round.

If you gas out, it may help to relax using so much strength, get your fundamental BJJ skills down, and learn when to apply tension, as well as when not to.

These are more topics to ask your BJJ coach.

#2 Build the aerobic engine

You need to build your aerobic base and fitness.

A quick assessment to do is to take your heart rate, first thing in the morning for a few days and see where it is at.

high 60s+, you’re in rough shape and need to build your aerobic fitness.

If it’s in low 60s-, you are probably in a good place.

If you don’t know your aerobic system, is the one energy system we use most in life, it will give us better endurance, recovery and even keep us living longer.

Let’s talk about how aerobic fitness impacts your recovery, it will improve your body’s ability to recover in between training sessions and rounds.

If you can do a hard round and 60s later you are recovered, you are going to get better rolling sessions.

Versus the guy, who can’t recover well in the 60s and sits out too many rounds.

Better aerobic training = better recovery and stamina, which is why this is a great tool to build your gas tank for BJJ.

Here is how to build it.

To build the aerobic system we need to operate in a moderate intensity and keep overall blood pressure down.

This means keeping our heart rate in the 60-70% max HR range and using an exercise that is more cyclical in nature, jogging, biking, elliptical, rower, walking etc(also use joint-friendly exercise as well)

Another way to think about this intensity is you should be able to talk normally while doing this.

For most people, your HR should be in the 120-140ish range.

You want to also practice, what is called dynamic energy control, which is your ability to relax, focus on breathing and pace, to control your heart rate.

If you feel like you are getting winded on the air bike, can you mentally relax, and control your breath and your pace, to bring your HR down?

If you can do this in training/sparing, you’re going to be good to go.

Remember the higher our HR is in sparing, the more we will slow down, make dumb mistakes and our ability to think will go down.

How to program?

You want to do this style of training for 30-60 minutes 1-3 x a week.

You can certainly could pick 1 exercise and do that for 30 minutes.

I like to make it less boring by doing circuits like

  • 2 min bike
  • 2 min jog
  • 2 min sled drag
  • 60s farmers walk
  • 0 rest repeat for 30 minutes, staying in the right zones
Aerobic Training

Another idea is to jump on a machine and watch TV shows or movies, just pay attention to heart rate.

What ever you choose to do, make sure you just get it in

#3 Train More BJJ

You have to pay the price.

You have to do more BJJ to get better endurance at it, if you are new and worried your conditioning is not where it should be for BJJ.

Fall River Personal Trainer

Of course, it is not. This takes time, you have to put in the work and time to build the technical skills and fitness qualities, specific to the sport of jui jitsu.

Show up and make your classes consistently.

Don’t take rounds off, if you want better endurance, you can’t take a round off every time you are gassed out. Push through and focus on slowing things down, when you’re exhausted.

Pushing, and doing rounds when you are exhausted can be a great learning opportunity.

Building the skill of keeping good fundamentals, when you are exhausted is going to help from BJJ and fitness stand point.

Don’t skip sessions.

Don’t sit out of rolling sessions, unless you have to.

#4 Get Strong

Being weak is a liability in a lot of ways.

One of them is if you are weak and everything you do, you have to exert a high percentage of your max strength.

This is going spike your heart rate, get you gassed real quick, and make it harder to recover in between rounds.

You don’t have to become a bodybuilder, 1-2 days per week working on building strength with the fundamental moment pattern like

  • squat
  • single leg exercise
  • hip hinge
  • upper push
  • upper pull

Is going to pay off, in a variety of ways. Muscle takes some time to build but you may be surprised how much strength you can build with a little work.

BJJ strength training

I go over how to do this in detail here

Get strong and improve your cardio for BJJ

#5 Sleep/eating and stress

If you have competed and had to cut weight, you know how much a low-calorie diet, can affect your gas tank and cardio.

If you are doing all the right things, but your gas tanks still feels like garbage.

How is the duration and quality of your sleep?

Are you fueling yourself with the right stuff: Protein, fruits and veggies, water and healthy carbs

If you are dropping the ball on these things, you are leaving a ton of performance and cardio benefits for BJJ on the table.

This stuff can be the toughest to change, start with 1 health habit and develop it over time slowly, kind of like we do when we learn BJJ.

Over time you’ll get better cardio for BJJ and become one of those guys, who never takes rounds off.

If you have any questions I love to hear from you and if you’re looking for coaching, apply here to get started with me.

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How To Recover Better For BJJ & Other Combat Sports?

It is said it doesn’t matter what you do in the gym but what you can recover from.

If you are into BJJ, boxing, or MMA, these sports can beat you up.

Recovery combat sports

If you don’t take recovery seriously. You going to get fatigued, train like garbage, and get hurt.

You might think you are tough and can push through it. But, your brain and nervous system are the big controllers of your performance. When you tax them too much, they limit your output of power, speed and kill your stamina.

Although I wrote this with combat athletes in mind, these will help everyone recover better from life and their workouts, so they make better gains in the gym as well as have better health outcomes.

#1 Strength Training

Strength work might not seem like, it’s going to improve recovery but it will. This is more of a long-term strategy though.

If you can have a high level of force development aka more strength, when you train in boxing, MMA, or BJJ, you use a smaller percentage of your MAX strength, thus not beating your, muscles and nervous system to the same degree , if you were weak.

Getting strong will improve recovery,

When you think of more muscles around our most vulnerable joints, it limits how much we get beat up.

Muscle is protective.

If you would like to learn how to get started with strength training, check out this article

#2 Zone 2 work

Doing zone 2 work which is developing the aerobic system. Usually, this is keeping HR between 120-150 Beats per minute for 30-60 minutes

Most just think of doing cardio to burn calories, but a well-trained aerobic system, by utilizing zone 2 work will improve your body’s ability to recover.

So, you can have a faster and more complete recovery between rounds, sets, and training sessions.

If your aerobic fitness, is in rough shape, building an aerobic base can boost your recovery ability big time.

Aerobic work is easy work but time-consuming, do anything cyclical like jogging, bike, or machines keep your HR at a steady pace, you should be able to talk normally, without sounding like you are gasping for breath.

A good way to measure, if your cardio is improving. Check your heart rate in the morning, A healthy aerobic system, will give you a morning HR of low 60s to high 50s.

If yours is in the 70s, and if we can get you down to the low 60s, we are going to see some great changes to your recovery, endurance and performance.

Here is a sample aerobic training session, I had a client do this morning.

  • 2 minutes light jogging
  • 2 minutes air bike
  • Farmers walk with KBs for 60s
  • 30 minutes no rest, stay in the right zone

#3 Nutrition

What we put in our body, is going drive not only our perfomance in our training but how we recover as well.

It’s not always, how hard we train but what we can recover from, because without recovery there is no thriving. Here are a few tips to fuel your body for better performance/recovery on the mat and in the ring.

Nutrition Tip 1 Eating enough protein, Protein is the building block of all tissue in our body, and most people, don’t get enough. But as a BJJ guy or boxer, your body needs to break down and rebuild tissue fast. You can not skimp on the protein. A solid place to start for most guys and gals is 130-160 grams per day or 1 g per pound of body weight.

I recommend you eat or drink protein 4x a day getting 35-50g at each feeding.

The best protein options are lean beef, poultry, lean pork, seafood, green yogurt, eggs and protein supplements

Nutrition Tip 2 Hydration is huge, especially if you are training multiple sessions per day. Drink about 1/2 body in ounces and then I would drink 16 oz for every hour you train. Consider an electrolyte supplement if you train more than 1 hour a day and sweat a lot. I love LMNT.

Hydration for BJJ

Nutrition Tip 3 Carbs – Carbs are our bodies ‘ fuel for intense training without them, you are just making your body work harder.

Be sure to focus on qualities carbs you can handle without gut distress like

  • White rice
  • potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • pasta
  • oats
  • fruits
  • beans
  • juices and carb supplements (for pre, intra or post workout)

Note it is best to get most of your carbs around your training and at night.

Nutrition Tip 4 Don’t be in a caloric deficit most of the time. when you consume fewer calories than you burn. You will always underrecover. This is a big issue if you’re a combat athlete who is training in boxing or bjj 1-2x a day as well as hitting strength and cardio maybe another 2-3x a week. You are asking for poor training session.

You can use a TDEE calculator to get a quick estimate of how many calories, you should eat and then adjust from there. You want to be eating at a caloric maintenance or surplus.

#4 Sleep

BJJ workouts

This has to be the most powerful and underrated habit in fitness.

Team no sleep is dumb, lack of sleep kills your recovery, performance, and drive to win. I don’t care how tough you think you are. Not to mention more frequent injuries.

It also makes you irritable, eat more, and makes it harder to feel satisfied with your meals.

The recommendation for most people is 7-9 hours per night and get as much of that sleep before 12am.

Sleeping 10pm-6am is better 12am -8am.

If you want to perform at a higher level and avoid getting hurt. Get your sleep in.

A few tips that tend to help people get better sleep

  • Get sunlight early in the day
  • Have some carbs with dinner, to release serotonin at night, driving better sleep.
  • Consider taking magnesium supplements before bed
  • Do things to wind down a few hours before bed like stretching and reading, instead of mindless watching TV/scrolling on your phone.
  • Sleep in a cool and dark room

#5 Active rest days

An active rest day, might seem like an oxi-moron. But..

Our bodies are meant to move, we will recover better most of the time moving more.

If we move lightly on rest days versus, just sitting on the couch watching Netflix all day. We will recover faster.

Something that you might consider doing on off days to improve recovery.

  • Going for a walk or trying to hit a step count. This is even better if you do this outside and/or nasal breathing.
  • Do some mobility work like foam rolling and stretching tight or problem areas
  • Doing zone 2 cardio keeping your HR around 110-140 BPM

The blood flow we get from participating in these activities will help promote greater recovery.

Those are my 5 tips, on how to recover better as a combat athlete. Which one do you need to work on the most?

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My Top 5 Exercise For More Muscle And Strength After 35!

Ever since I fell in love with lifting and getting strong at 17. I love going to the gym lifting heavy and grinding some hard sets.

As we get older, we have to be smarter and can’t always go hard in the same ways.

Even more than that we have to change our exercises, because going hard in certain exercises isn’t worth the risk.

But, I have found there are a handful of strength exercises where the risk/reward ratio is on our side. It is harder to get hurt.

Allowing us to push hard so

  • We make a gain in muscle, strength, and athletic performance
  • Don’t beat up our spine or joints
  • Make us feel young again

I’m going to share my favorite 5 . Read on and let’s get strong.

Trap Bar Deadlift

The first one is the trap bar deadlift. This is going to be better for building very strong legs, than packing on muscle.

It is safer than traditional or sumo deadlift, because the bar placement is right underneath your center of gravity.

There is a blast to do, load up some heavy weights and go to town.

A few tips

  • Keep slack out of arms
  • Drive your feet through the floor, and once the bar comes off the ground drive your hip forward.
  • Brace into your abs breathe in and push your abs out before you lift.
  • Keep your spine in a neutral position, not rounded
  • Lift with a bar with mats if you feel it in your lower back
Me pulling 515 off some mats

Slight Incline DB Press

The DB’s allow for a better shoulder position that won’t kill your shoulders, elbows, and wrist.

The slight incline helps avoid any shoulder impingement, which can cause pain.

Personally, I’ve always gotten way more pec activation with this than the typical bench press

Better shoulder stability for shoulder health.

But, not so much that you can push this really hard and build really strong push strength.

This to me is the ideal push exercise for guys who do BJJ and older dues who want to make gains without all the shoulder pain.

A few tips

  • As you lower the weight think like your rowing.
  • Focus on 2-4 sec negative with 1 sec pause at the bottom.
  • Keep your chest out shoulder blades back

Bench supported T-bar row or Seated Row

Horizontal rowing is my jam.

These two are my favorite. I love these because you can lock yourself in and go hard on your back, biceps, and shoulders. With little risk of injury and you’re able to load heavy enough to see some major gains.

A strong upper back is the foundation of healthy shoulders. As you might know for healthy shoulders we want to have a strong back and in general do more volume for our back than our pec and front shoulders.

With both of these, I prefer a neutral grip to make it more shoulder friendly.

A few tips

  • As you row pull your shoulder blades back and contract you’re back hard.
  • Focus on tension, squeeze the grip hard, row to your chest, big squeeze for 1-2 sec and 3-4 sec negative.
  • Avoid jerking motion and just using your arms

Rear Foot elevated split squat

This is a much-hated leg exercise, but it works all the big leg muscles without killing the lower back or compressing your joints.

It can improve your mobility and work on core strength at the same time.

They can be very hard. when you train them with decent weight.

This is a great option to get strong legs, build muscle and become more athletic.

Heavy Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat with DB’s

Trap bar RDL

RDL’s are purest form of a hip hinge or deadlift. Driving more hip mobility and targeting the hamstring and glutes.

Although, this one has a little more of a learning curve. It is a great one to learn. If you can’t bend over without pain, you’re bound to pull your back at some point.

I love Trap bar RDL, it is one of the best variations to get us to load an RDL without putting too much stress on the lower back.

Even clients who have sensitive lower back pain can load this RDL variation with little to no pain.

Because the weight is right underneath our center of gravity it tends to work well.

A few tips

  • Soften your knees before you start the movements
  • Think about driving your hip/tailbone to the wall behind you.
  • Try to get a big stretch on your hamstring and glutes(ass)
  • Then stand tall.
  • Focus on most of the movement coming from the hips without much additional knee bend or rounding of the lower back.
  • Brace your core/abs on the way down and exhale on the way up


That is my top 5, I hope you learned a ton and try some of these exercise. If you have any questions be sure to let me know.

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How Never Need A Personal Trainer Again?

“It’s just not the same without out.”

I’ve heard this over the years when clients of mine need to train alone.

Although it is a confidence boost in some ways, my goal for everyone is to build confidence to be able to train by themselves.

I want to give them the skills of fitness for life.

Just like anything, this is skill.

Not only training by yourself, but enjoying it and being able to push yourself hard.

So, I came up with some tips to train solo and have it be awesome.

Fall River Personal trainer

I have mainly done this for the past 15 years. I have had some awesome gains and a lot of fun as well.

#1 Music/podcast and audiobooks. When I need to do something I really don’t want to do , like do the dishes. It so much easier to do it and get through it. If I throw some music on or my favorite podcast. Working out is no different, putting on some music that will entertain you, inspire you and have you run through a wall.

#2 Caffeine, getting a little artificial boost to kick some ass in the gym is a great thing. If it’s through a strong coffee or supplements. This can really do the trick and help you get moving.

#3 If you’re training at home, it is best to have an isolated space, where you can train. Where people won’t bother you or you won’t get distracted. If you have a very hard time with this, I would recommend just going to the gym, until you get into the routine of working out consistently.

#4 Pencil you’re workout in each week, with the time you know you’ll have. Don’t let anything get in the way. Circumstances don’t change our responsibility. Don’t let minor things or lack of motivation stop you. Build discipline.

#5 Struggling to workout, just do 10 minutes worth of your workout. Maybe that is just doing your warm-up and then leaving the gym or calling it a day. Do that for a few weeks , until you feel like doing more. I guarantee in a month you’ll be crushing workouts in no time.

#6 Growth mindset. This is when we have the mindset of I can’t do this yet versus I can’t do this ever. Be patient, this is a skill, which may take time but don’t give up. You can do this.

#7 Reflect on your struggles with training alone, ask yourself why and ponder a few solutions, and give them a try and see if it helps.

#8 Keep a training journal and record the weight, reps, and sets you to do. Each week try to improve if you can. Training with intentions of improvements versus just going through the motions. Can make a big difference. Knowing you’re improving each week or every few weeks will inspire you to keep going and make it fun.

That is all I have for you. Do you have any tips to add?


PS Did you know, I write workouts for people to do on their own and hold them accountable to get the work done? I call this 1 on 1 online coaching , Would that be helpful to you?

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3 Step To Pain-Free Strength & Muscle Gains

I almost didn’t write this because who cares about joint health, warm-ups, and mobility?

I don’t think too many do. The only time I look into it, besides when I learned about it for my education.

Is when I have gotten hurt or banged up. I bet you are the same way.

But, Pain-free training is something, that has been on my brain more and more these days

Since, turning 36, I want to be strong and do BJJ for a very long time, hopefully until I die.

Fall River Personal Trainer

I like to train in a way that will help me with that goal.

Here are the 3 steps I do to make pain-free gains.

They are mobility, pump, and joint-friendly exercises

Step 1 Mobility

Mobility is how much range of motion you have control over a given joint.

Often it is when we are forced outside our mobility, where we don’t have strength and control.

Where we end up getting hurt.

Certain joints in our body need more mobility than others.

These are our ankles, hips, T-spine, and shoulders.

When we don’t have it, it can not only beat up that given joint but the joint next to it as well.

A good example is if your ankles and hips are tight, that could beat up your knee joints.

Mobility exercises


Any exercises that will help increase our mobility, are where you want to start.

These can be

  • Soft tissue work like rolling out your muscles with a foam roller or lax ball
  • Stretches to release tight areas like pec stretch for your shoulders
  • Corrective drills, that help open these areas like 1/2 knee T-spine rotation.

Here are some of my favorite mobility exercises by joint


  • Rolling out feet and calves
  • Calf stretch
  • wall ankle mobility
  • Heel Walk
  • Toe raises


  • Rolling out quads, hip flexors, glutes, adductors and hamstrings
  • Couch stretch or hip flexor stretch
  • 90-90 hip stretch
  • frog stretch
  • hip switches
  • pigeon stretch
  • adductor rocker
  • Hip capsule stretch
  • Squat and Pry


  • Roll out the T-spine
  • windmills
  • T-spine extension against a wall
  • 1/2 kneeling rotations
  • Torso twist stretch


  • Roll out pec, lats and traps
  • Bar hang
  • Pec stretch on pole
  • Y pec stretch
  • Lat stretch with bands or straps


The next step is to get a pump on the weaker muscles.

We usually have tight and overdeveloped muscles, and on the opposite side, the other muscles tend to be weak.

A Common one is really tight pecs with a weak upper back or tight hip flexors but weak glutes and hamstrings.

We want to pump and strengthen these muscles.

Fall River MA

After stretching or mobilizing the tight one, we are going to go right into pump work. In most cases, these are the muscles on the back side of our body upper back, glutes, and hamstring.

Here are some of my favorite drills for each area

Upper back pumps

  • YWT iso holds
  • Band pull parts
  • face pulls of all kinds
  • Any horizontal row

Lower body pumps

  • Bridges
  • Band walks or banded abductions
  • Banded pull throughs
  • Frog pumps
  • Banded leg curls
  • Sled dragging of all kinds

These first steps are, what you should do before you work out or can be done daily as a way to increase mobility and reduce pain.

The next step is going to be, what you want to do in the gym, improve your mobility as well build strength/muscle.

But, without beating up your joints and undoing the first two steps

Joint Friendly Exercises

This is my favorite part we are going to lift and put in some serious work.

Joint friendly doesn’t always mean easy, boring, and lame.

We want exercises that have a high upside and very little downside.

This is what personal trainers learn in every course the risk-reward ratio.

Most of the time we want to stay away from exercise that :

  • Compresses or beats up our spine
  • Too many pronated or elbow flared-out upper body exercises
  • Limited overhead exercise
  • Less barbell work and more strength work with DBs and KBs
  • Less hip-dominant exercise if you have trouble with your hips and low back
  • Less knee dominant exercise if you have trouble with knees
  • Less pushing exercise, if we have shoulder pain(at least for a little while)

Pain-free upper body exercises

Too much benching or pressing with a barbell is going to cause trouble.

Overhead stuff as well, as most people don’t have the mobility to do it safely.

In general, a neutral grip is just going to feel better on your shoulders, elbow, and wrist.

Here are some options I love for upper body

Pain free upper body option

  • Db bench press variation ( flat, incline, decline, floor alternating 1 arm)
  • Push-up variations, I love ring push-ups and weighted push up
  • Landmine presses
  • Pulling option
  • Ring rows
  • Banded pull parts or face pulls
  • Bench rows
  • 1 arm db or kb row
  • neutral grip lat pull down
  • Plus, loaded carries are a great option for farmer walk and rack walks
Fall River Strength training

Pain Free lower body exercise

With the lower body, we want to pick exercises that don’t compress the spine , and leg exercises that will activate your core .

You want to work leg-dominant exercises, that are opposite of your trouble area.

If your knees are beaten up, focus on hip and hamstring-focused lower-body exercises

If your hip or lower back is beat up , focus on knee-dominant lower body exercise.

Here are some of my favorites, I’m putting them in 2 different categories, knee-dominant and hip dominant.

Knee dominant

Goblet Squat

  • Box squats
  • Back squat
  • Front squat or Zercher squat
  • split squats
  • lunges
  • step-ups
  • elevated split squats
  • Backward sled drag
Fall River Fitness


  • BB deadlifts
  • DB/KB/Trapbar RDL
  • Good morning
  • Trap bar deadlift
  • Single leg rdl
  • staggered stance rdl
  • hip thruster
  • leg curls
  • Back extension
  • Reverse hypers
  • Forward sled drags

This is not an exhaustive list of every exercise you could do, but a good list of the ones my clients and I had great success with.

Let’s review to get tout pain or less pain

  • Address mobility
  • Pump the weaker muscles
  • Use joint-friendly lifts when you strength train

Any questions, be sure to reach out.

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(Podcast)3 Factors For Getting Strong For BJJ

I have talked at length about the benefits of strength training for BJJ:

  • Improve your performance on the mats
  • Recover better, so you can train more and acquire skills faster
  • Avoid major injuries

In this podcast, I talk about how to strength train for BJJ and the 3 critical things you should focus on to see the best gains

Check it out here

If you are interested in personal training and you are in/around Fall River, I have personal training sessions available, click the links above.

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How Many Days Should You Strength Train For BJJ

If you have followed me for any length of time, you know that I’m a big fan of strength training.

But, as a brown belt who trains 6-9 sessions every week, I know the importance of strength training.

Not only how it will improve your performance on the mats, but how it keeps you on the mats longer, without getting banged up.

Or even just feeling sore from your rolls all the time

I go over this in detail, in this article

But, today I want to answer the question, how many days should you strength train and some things related to this as well.

BJJ Strength Training

Recovery from life stress

One of the most important factors to consider is stress, not just the stress of BJJ but the stress of your entire life.

What matters the most is not what you do, but what you can actually recover from.

The more stress you have to recover from, the more benefits you’ll see from less training and less training volume.

The more our body and mind have to recover from other areas of life, the less recovery ability we will have for our training

Let’s talk about what I mean by stress

  • How are you sleeping? How many hours? Is it restful? 
  • Is there a lot of stress in your relationships, significant others, kids, mom, and dad etc?
  • How is your job? Do you love it or do you hate it? Does it tax you physically or mentally? Do you work overtime?
  • How is your eating? Do you eat mostly junk food or is a diet full of protein, fruits, and veggies as well as healthy carbs?
  • How many days do you train BJJ?
  • What belt are you or what skill level are you? A white belt is going to create a lot more fatigue than a higher belt in most cases.
BJJ workouts

If most or all of these situations are high-stress to you, start by easing your way into strength training, with just 2 days, and start with easy workouts.

Increase intensity over time.

It may be wise to monitor your recovery as well, here are a few ways to do this

-Check your heart rate when you wake up daily.  Sudden changes can mean you’re under recovering.

-How do you feel, do you feel more tired than usual?

-Does your cardio on the mat seem worse all of a sudden?

-Are you getting banged up more than usual?

-Are your strength numbers at the gym going down?

These can be all signs of under recovering.

When you first start incorporating some strength work, you may be more sore than usual, that is normal but give it a week or two.

This should improve.

If it doesn’t, change things up.

This is where having a coach may help you, it is not always knowing what to do, 

But what small adjustments to make to continue to see progress?

Start with 2 days -low volume

Fall River Strength Training

This would really depend, but if you are like most guys hitting 3 + BJJ sessions per week, and you never lifted before.

Or it has been a long time.

It is best to avoid a ton of fatigue by starting with 2 days and keeping the set and reps on the low side, with plenty of rest.

Then over time increase the number of sets and reps you do and maybe add a third day down the road.

Here are some guidelines to get started

Workout twice a week

For each workout do a 

  • 1-2 lower body exercises
  • 2 upper body exercises, an upper push and upper pull
  • If you have time add an ab or core exercise

Do 1-2 sets of each exercise, but before you do those, I would do 1-2 lighter sets.

For example, say you’re doing a squat, and a hard set squat for you is 50lbs.

You could do a bodyweight set, then a set of 25 lbs before you do that hard set for 1-2 sets.

Rest 60s to 2 minutes between sets, remember we are building strength, don’t neglect the rest.

Form and control before heavier weight or harder exercises.

Here are some sample workouts

Workout  1

  • Warm up first.
  • KB squat 2x 10
  • DB RDL 2x 8
  • Slight incline DB press 2x 10
  • Ring rows 2x 15
  • 1 Arm farmer walk 2x 40s per arm
  • Cool down

Workout  2

  • Warm up first.
  • Reverse lunge  2x 10/ side
  • Trap bar deadlift 2x 5
  • Ring push-ups 2x max reps or stop 1-3 reps shy of failure 
  • Seated Row 2x 15 
  • 1 Arm farmer walks 2x 40s per arm
  • Cool down

Joint friendly exercises

Exercise selection is always important but even more so as we get older.

We really need to be selective in our exercises.

What exercise has the most upside, with the least downside?

Deadlifting from the floor can be great exercise, but it also has a lot of risks.

To me, smart exercises are usually the variants that 

  • Don’t compress your spine too much
  • Mostly neutral grip pressing and rowing
  • Where your core is involved, to help protect your spine.
  • Non or little overhead movement, to avoid beating up your shoulders

Here is a list of exercises,  I find most people can tolerate and build some serious gains 

BJJ Strength Training

Hip hinge

  • KB deadlift
  • Trap bar deadlift
  • DB RDL
  • Hip thruster
  • KB Swing


  • Goblet Squat
  • Safety bar squat
  • Zercher squat
  • Barbell front squat

Upper push

  • weighted push ups
  • Ring push ups
  • Incline or decline DB bench press
  • Landmine pressing

Upper Pull

  • Seated rows
  • Ring rows
  • 1 arm DB or cable rows
  • Jacknife chin up up
  • Neutral grip lat pulldown

Single leg

  • Sled push or drag 
  • Elevated split squats
  • Step ups
  • Reverse lunge

This is not an exhaustive list but are some exercise variation that works with most of my clients.

Strategically scheduling lifting sessions for enhanced recovery

This won’t work for everyone, but placing your strength work on the same days your do BJJ can improve recovery.

By doing this you create a true rest day, where your body can recover better.

Compared to doing a heavy lift on one day, then BJJ on the next day. Your body never really gets a true break.

An example of this might be lifting on Monday and Friday

Then you might try to do BJJ on Mon, Weds and Friday, this allows complete recovery days 4x per week. Which will help you get injured less and perform better on the mat.

Again this won’t be ideal for everyone.

Hope this was helpful and if you have any questions do not hesitate to reach out

BJJ FAll River

By the way, If you would  like more sample training programs, you can download it, here 

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Client Spot Light-Mandy

Client Spot Light

Mandy Cusick has been a long-time client, I first started training her, early in my personal training career, and she has come back a few years back.

With the goal of building muscle and getting strong, as well as feeling better.

She has done an amazing job.

Super consistent, with her workouts and always pushing the weights.

She regularly squats and deadlifts her own body weight and more, which is very impressive.

She sees me 3x a week, and I design a custom strength program for her, to reach her goals.

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How To Eat More Protein To Build Muscle & Recover Faster?

Sometimes, knowing something isn’t enough.

We might know that getting more protein will drive better outcomes, with almost any goal.

But, we actually try to do it in our life.

We drop the ball.

Here is 5 step process on how to get more protein

#1 3 protein-based meals

#2 Track your protein-dense foods in a tracker to see, where you’re at

#3 Eat bigger portions

#4 Add 1-2 protein snacks between meals

#5 Rember you’ll get 10-30g of trace protein from the carb and fat based food you already eat.

Check out this video, where I break it down for you

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My Top 3 Strength Workouts to Build Muscle and Get Lean This Year!

The foundation of a great workout

Today I’m going to teach you three of my favorite workout routines, to get strong, build lean muscle, and help support long-term fat loss.

You can swipe these and make some major upgrades to your body and health

But, before we get into the workouts. Let’s talk about what makes a great workout.

Strength training

The best training is going to be around a strength-based workout. That means trying to build strength week to week.

This is going to build lean muscle, which will drive better health, strength, and fat loss due to muscle, increasing the calories your body burns each day.

Remember, muscle is what gives our body the shape we want.

If you’re looking for toning or getting jacked.

These are just different levels of building muscle. To be honest, getting jacked tasks takes a lot of work and time.

So, ladies, this is not going to happen by accident.

Don’t be afraid of lifting or resistance training.

I am not talking about HIT classes or circuits that use strength exercises. That is not strength training.

Strength training is focused on great form, hard sets, and enough rest to repeat those hard sets.

With the intention of getting stronger each week by:

  • Doing more weight
  • Doing more reps 
  • Improving your form

Fundamental movement patterns

The majority of the exercises in your workouts should be the fundamental movement patterns.

These are going to give you the best bang for your buck.

They are

  • Squats
  • Hip hinge aka deadlift or hip thrust
  • Upper push aka push-ups or press
  • Upper pull aka rows, chin ups, pulldowns
  • Single leg exercises aka step-ups, split squats, lunges

We should all be training these each week, trying to hit each movement at a minimum, of 2x  each week with great form and control.

Fall River personal trainer

Now the variation, that we choose should depend on our fitness level and limitation

A beginner might be doing bodyweight squats and someone with 3 years under their belt might do a barbell front squat.

Warm up

The warm-up is part of the workout, that too many skip it.

Warm-up will allow you to move better, train harder, and get hurt less.

I find people either warm up too long or not at all.

I like to get a quick warm-up and then train hard.

This should take you 10-12 minutes

I follow the 6 phases warm-up sequence I got John Rusin from the PPSC certification.

It goes like this

  • Foam rolling 60s per 
  • Stretch 60s
  • T-spine rotation or core exercises 1x 10-20 reps
  • Upper back activation or glute activation drills 1x 15-30 reps
  • Light movements we will do in the workout 3x 3
  • Power 3×3 of jumps or throws or even KB swings

Here is a sample of one

  1. Roll out your hamstring 60s
  2. lying dynamic hamstring stretch 15 per side
  3. ½ kneeling rotation 15/ side
  4. Bridges 30 reps + banded pull aparts 30 reps
  5. Air squat + push-ups 3x 3 10s rest
  6. Box jumps 3x 3 60s rest (focus on max power for each reps)

At first, it might take like 15-20 minutes but once you get going, it should only take about 10 minutes.

Ramp up sets

Ramp-up sets are lighter sets before the working sets, which I will prescribe in the workouts.

The idea is to practice good form, with lighter weights before we go heavy and hard for our working sets. As well as help us select the right weight for our working sets.

Too often people don’t do warm-up sets, so they end up doing 3-4 sets, but only the last set is anywhere close to an actual hard and productive set.

Usually, the stronger you are the more ramp-up sets you’ll want to use.

This is because if you are weak it takes fewer bumps in weight, to get to a weight that is hard for you.

Ramp-up sets will take you from lighter weight to your first hard set

Here is an example

Say today you have squats for 4x 6

A heavy weight for 6 reps for you is 200lbs

You may do 2-4 ramp-up sets before you do those 4 sets of 6.

You might do it like this

  • Ramp up set 1 50lbs
  • Ramp up set 2 135lbs
  • Ramp up set 3 185 lbs
  • 1st working set 200lbs
  • 2nd working set 210lbs
  • 3rd working set 225 lbs
  • 4th working set 230lbs

Note -When you get to your working sets, you might add weight a little as you go or keep the same weight through all the sets. 

Hard sets

There is a recent study that says rep ranges are less important as long as your sets are intense.

Intense sets, are sets that you go to 1-3 reps shy of failure.

Failure is the point when you can’t do another good rep, without altering your form

This is what is called a hard set.

You want 6-10 hard sets per body part per week to see gains.

At first hard sets can be tough for newbies, because they really don’t know what that level of intensity feels like.

Often when they think they have 2-3 reps in the tank, it is really 6-10.

Over time, you’ll get better after this.

As much as it is important to do hard sets if you’re a complete beginner. You may need to spend some time learning how to move well before we add those hard sets. 

For beginners focus on form for the first 2-6 weeks.

Some common ways to gauge hard sets in your workouts are:


RPE stands for the rate of perceived effort. How hard a set felt to you.

You want your working set to feel like 7-9 on a scale 1-10.

RIR stands for reps in reserve. Which is how many more reps, you could have done, if you kept going at that weight.

This you want to be at 1-3.

Use these to record your workouts with the weights and reps you did.

This will help you gauge how hard you went and will allow you to make better decisions the following workout.

One of the major principles of seeing gains is trying to push more weight or reps each week, these scales will help with that.

Fat loss workouts

Fall River Fat loss

Fat loss workouts are a bit of a myth.

Fat loss happens when you take in fewer calories than you burn.

You can do this through diet and exercise or a combination of both. But, often it is best to do it through diet.

As long as you’re in a deficit, that is really what’s going to drive fat loss.

But, if we look at strength training and building muscle. We know that people who have more lean tissue or more muscle. 

Will have an easier time getting lean and staying lean. This is due to lean tissue driving a faster metabolism, meaning you’ll burn more calories at rest.

As far as exercise goes and long-term fat loss, strength training might be the best option.

But, with that said cardio workouts will burn more calories, thus making it a better option for fat loss in the short term. But a few things to think about with this

  • Workouts usually burn a very little amount of calories, the difference you may see might be very small.
  • Doing cardio for health benefits is better a idea.
  • Too much cardio, especially high intensity, can actually make you hungrier, so if you are thinking you can out cardio a bad diet. This usually always backfires 🙁
Fall River Workout

For fat loss I prefer 

  • Strength training
  • Get more steps
  • Do cardio for the heart health benefits, if you have time

Focus on these diet tips to shed fat

  • Eat fewer calories than you burn
  • Eat 1 g of protein per pound of body weight
  • Eat 3-5 servings of fruit and veggies a day
  • Drink 60-100 oz water
  • Don’t forget to sleep, that aids in fat loss too

Walking or steps

I just reference steps.

For most people trying to get more steps through the day, is a better option than doing hours of cardio in the gym for fat loss.

The reason is walking is a low-intensity form of cardio, that has great health benefits but does not stress the body like cardio.

You get the extra calorie burn without the increased hunger of doing a bunch of cardio.

A good starting point is 7500 steps per day

Fall River Personal trainer

The workouts

Here are my favorite workout plans to program for my clients and I.

One is not better than the others.

Whatever you choose to do,  don’t neglect the basics or you won’t see results

  • Stick with each program for 9-12 weeks
  • Use great form 
  • Do hard sets
  • Rest properly, usually 60-120s after each hard set or circuit.
  • Allows 1-2 days in between workouts if you can
  • Make sure you fuel and eat enough calories and get your protein
Fall River Strength training

Workout 1

Let’s get started. This one is pretty common in the fitness industry.

For good reason, it is simple, time efficient, and covers all the bases.

We are going to do two supersets, which is when we go back and forth between two exercises.

Then we are going to finish with what you want to develop, this is a perfect time to work on areas, that you want to develop, doing specific exercises for those areas like

  • Abs
  • Glutes
  • Calves
  • Shoulders
  • Even doing interval finisher for 2-5 minutes

Superset 1

  • Quad dominant lower body exercises like squat or lunge etc
  • Upper pull exercises like row, chin up or lat pulldown
  • 2-4 working sets of 6-12 reps and rest 2 minutes after you do both or another option is 1 minute between each exercise.

Superset 2

  • Hip or hamstring dominant exercise like a deadlift, hip thruster, back extension or leg curl
  • Upper body push like chest press, push up or shoulder press
  • 2-4 working sets of 6-12 reps and rest 2 minutes after you do both or another option is 1 minute between each exercise.

Now, pick 1-2 exercises to work on the area, you want to develop , do 10-20 reps with 30-60s rest

Here is an arm example

12 bicep curl

20 tricep pushdowns

You would do this workout 2-3x a week, each day of the week picking different exercises variation.

Then repeat those for 3-4 weeks before you change them

Need exercise ideas, check out my exercise library

Fall River workouts

Workout 2

This is one of my favorite programs to run, you get a mix of it all.

I think it is a blast.

You start by lifting heavy for low reps and long rest to build strength.

Fall River personal training

Then you do higher reps with less rest in a circuit to focus more on building muscle and training capacity.

Finally, you finish with a couple of exercises, of what you want to grow like glutes, abs arms etc

Heavy lift

Do 2-5 reps of 6-7 sets with 90s- 3 minutes of res

I like heavy deadlifts, squats, split squats, pressing, and even chin ups here.

We are focused on lifting heavy but with good form, so we can really push the intensity, that is why the rest is long

Strength circuit

I like 3 exercises here. If my heavy lift was a lower exercise, I will do an upper body-focused circuit like

Upper body push like push up or press

Lower body working opposite movements I did with heavy lift, so if I deadlift heavy I might do high reps squat

Upper body pull like row, pulldown or chin up

Do reps 8-15 with 90 sec rest after you do all 3, for 2-4 rounds

Now, pick 1-2 exercises to work on , that you want to develop , do 10-20 reps with 30-60s rest

Here is an arm example

Banded hip thruster 20

Side to sideband walk 20 in each direction

2 sets

You would do this workout 2-3x a week, each day of the week picking different exercises variation.

Then repeat those 3-4 weeks before you change them

Need exercise ideas, check out my exercise library

Fall River Fitness trainer

Workout 3

This one is really great for time efficiency and although it is fast-paced, it is still great for building strength and muscle.

Your gonna do 4 exercises in a circuit

  • Quad dominant exercise, remember that is a squat or some type of lunge/split squat
  • Upper push like push up or press
  • Hamstring hip dominant exercises like leg curl, deadlift or hip thruster
  • Upper pull like row or chin ups

The first exercise one is for strength, so we want to do 3-5 reps

The rest should be hypertrophy rep range which is 6-12

Rest for 30-60s between each exercise.

This allows us to get through a lot of work quickly but we are still getting 2-4 minutes of rest before we hit the same move again, this allows better strength and muscle-building gains

Here is an example

Trap deadlift for 5 reps rest 60s

Incline DB Press 8 reps rest 60s

1 arm cable row 12 reps per side rest 60s

KB Goblet squat 10 rest for 60s

4-5 rounds

I like to use the first 1-2 rounds to go lighter and warm up and then go pretty heavy the last 2-3 sets.

After you are done if you have time, you can add some extra work on areas you like arms, shoulders, glutes or abs

You would do this workout 2-3x a week, each day of the week picking different exercises variation.

Then repeat those 3-4 weeks before you change them

Need exercise ideas, check out my exercise library

Wrapping It up

I wanted to give you the basics of training for massive results, plus give 3 options for organizing your training.

Here are training examples of those 3 workouts splits :

Fall River personal training
Fall River Wrokouts

If you have any questions let me know, I got your back

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