Thursday, June 09, 2011


Hi everyone,

I have been getting a few emails asking me what type of exercises I do to stay in shape for combative purposes. Now before I begin I would like to say that you do not need to be in great shape to successfully be able to protect yourself in a violent altercation but it does help. Most altercations only last between 5-20 seconds so you don’t need to train like an MMA fighter doing five, 5 minutes rounds on the bag or in the ring and doing a ton of cardio.

What you want to keep in mind when training is to perform exercises that are functional which simulates real life activities that you will need to be able to perform when you’re protecting yourself. This is exactly how the great warriors of the past have trained such as the Spartans, Gladiators and the Romans trained. This in turn makes you faster, stronger in executing your tactics and you have greater self confidence in your combat abilities. Being physically fit also makes you mentally tougher and more focused then someone who isn’t fit.

You want to perform compound exercises which are great for strength training. They involve multi joint movements that work several muscles at the same time because in reality you will be using multiple muscles at the same time when executing your combat tactics or tasks. An example of a compound exercise would be a squat this exercise works the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, glutes, lower back and the core. Try to avoid focusing on isolation exercises which only work one muscle group at a time. An example would be the bicep curl which only works the bicep muscle. This way when you’re engaging in your combat tactics or activities such as running away from a group of guys wanting to swarm you your muscles can perform the task at hand without failing you especially in times when you need them most.

So here are only a few exercises that I use that I find is beneficial to my survival skills.

Kettlebell exercises but with a spin instead of using a Kettlebell I use two (one for each hand) 5 gallon water cooler bottles filled with either sand or water. You do kettle bell exercises which are great compound exercises but by using sand or water it makes the weight unstable making you work harder to lift and stabilize the weight. This also has an added bonus by increasing your grip strength.

Note: Another alternative to Kettlebell training is sand bag training or water bag training which is basically an exercise ball filled with water this training also works grip strength at the same time.

Urban running is a great way to condition yourself to be able to escape and evade multiple attackers who want to swarm you. Remember when dealing with multiple attackers your goal is NOT to fight them but to hit and escape. So how does urban running work? Basically run for a distance then immediately sprint for a short distance then begin jogging. Find barriers that you can jump over or go under while running such as benches, climb over fences, run up stairs 2 or 3 stairs at a time you can also scale walls (basic parkour training). To increase intensity put on a weighted vest or a back pack with weight plates in it. This way your body is accustomed to this type of running and overcoming physical obstacles that get in your way allowing you to create barriers between you and your enemies so then you can lose them.

Sprints while pulling a weight sled this increases speed and gives you explosiveness you can also wear a weighted vest or back pack while doing this.

When performing any basic exercise such as chin ups instead of performing them under hand perform them over hand. The reason being is that when you need to bring yourself up over any type of barrier such as a fence you won’t be using an under hand grip to pull yourself up you will be using an over hand grip instead. To help increase your grip strength when performing chin ups place foam from a swimming pool noodle where your hands grip onto the bar, this will make it harder for you to grip onto the bar and raise yourself up. You can also do this with your dumbells and barbell giving you an instant cheap fat bar.

Neck curls are a great exercise because they help prevent your head from jarring back abruptly when someone tries taking off your head with a knock out punch. Basically grab a pail, tape pipe insulation foam on the handle and place your desired weight inside the pail. You then grab the pail using your teeth and curl the bucket up and down using only your head. This in turn builds neck strength preventing your head from being easily jarred back and also builds jaw strength when biting someone and tearing off flesh down to the bone.

So those are just a few of the exercises that I do to give you an example of how I go about working out for combat. When setting up your own workout routine ask yourself if the exercises you are performing will enhance your combat skills so your muscles are functional, explosive, and strong and can get the job done when crap hits the fan.

Remember there is no such thing as a dirty fighter only an educated one.

Norm Bettencourt


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Norm Bettencourt is the Creator/President of Tactical Self Defense which specializes in personal protection tactics against modern day threats of violence. For more information visit