Human chess

This Jiu Jitsu workout burns fat and builds functional strength.

“Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is like a game of chess using your own body because it's as much mentally taxing as it is physically; it's very strategic as well,” says Ed Gemdjian, Tier X coach at Equinox Century City. Though he’s been working in the fitness industry for 13 years and is a life-long athlete, Gemdjian didn’t find martial arts until he was 33-years-old—but he’s hooked. “It’s much different than weightlifting because the resistance you’re working with on the mat has a brain,” he says. It’s also completely changed his physique: “In the two and a half years I’ve been practicing, I've dropped about 20 pounds but my strength has not decreased at all,” he says. (Read more about how that’s possible here.)

And it’s functional strength, specifically, that the sport naturally gifts its practitioners. “If you do a squat, you're strengthening the same exact lines over and over again and you get really good at the squat. With martial arts, you're challenging different lines of the body, different lines of pull, different lines of push, and so the entire body gets functionally strong.” In other words, it makes you a very well-rounded athlete.

This routine, created by Gemdjian, will help you build the perquisite strength and endurance you need to start training in Jiu Jitsu. “The requirements of grappling are grip strength, upper-body and core strength, stability, and mobility,” he explains. “Most of these exercises take you through a pretty large range of motion; Even the crocodile push-up covers space and distance, and it's very taxing on the hips and shoulders to stay that low to the ground while moving.”

Even if you have no intention of taking up martial arts in the future, this workout is worth adding to your repertoire. “It's a highly complex metabolic routine with a nice mix of uncommon movements,” says Gemdjian. “All of the exercises have a degree of conditioning to them; They’re fast-paced, meaning you're taxing the muscles and heart, burning more calories and fat.”

Complete the following moves in a circuit fashion. Do as many reps as possible of each one for 30 seconds, then immediately move on to the next. Rest for one minute between rounds and then repeat for a total of three rounds.