Fitness – The Bulldog Circuit with Brian Bowles

By Clay Walker, PhD

HardCore Gym fighter Brian Bowles attacks the Bulldog Circuit in anticipation of his return to the Octagon on May 25 at UFC 160.

MMA fighters tax their entire energy system—both aerobic and anaerobic—while competing and training. In order to reach their peak performance on fight day, fighters need to train both energy systems. One way fighters can reach their maximum anaerobic capacity is through circuit training.

This circuit is designed to increase UFC bantamweight Brian Bowles’ anaerobic threshold by mimicking a fight. Each exercise is timed throughout the circuit. Brian will perform 10 exercises for 30 seconds for a total of five minutes, giving maximum effort on each exercise. Brian will perform each 10-exercise circuit three to five times, resting for one minute after each five-minute circuit. This is repeated twice a week, depending on Brian’s resting heart rate, which can show if he is overtraining.

Brian hasn’t fought since November 2011, so the goal of this circuit is twofold.

1. Get Brian’s heart rate to a maximum level and make sure the maximum level can drop to at least 120 bpm (beats per minute) by the end of the allotted one-minute rest time.

2. Make sure Brian does not overtrain. When Brian’s heart rate ranges from a maximum of 188 bpm at the end of a circuit to 120 bpm at the end of the rest period, his anaerobic threshold is at a maximum and he is ready for fight day.

Brian will perform two circuits a week for five weeks leading up to his fight. He will complete a 10-minute warm-up routine to decrease the possibility of injury during the workout and a cool-down routine that involves static core work and a partner stretching routine.

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1. Airdyne
30 seconds
Brian pumps the Airdyne with his arms and legs as fast as he can.

2. Medicine Ball Slams
30 seconds (minimum 20 reps)
Brian lifts a 20-pound medicine ball over his head and slams it down as hard as possible. He ends the rep in the athletic position so he can lift the ball over head with his legs and core (not his lower back).

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3. Turkish Get-Up
30 seconds (minimum 5 reps)
This exercise is great for core strength development. Brian begins flat on his back with a kettlebell resting on his shoulder. He presses the weight and sits up, making sure the weight is pressed above his head. Brian bridges up and shoots his knee back, bringing his hips under him so he can stand up. The descent of this movement is performed opposite of the ascent, until Brian reaches the starting position. Switch hands and go again.

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4. Shots with Band
30 seconds (minimum 12 reps)
Brian sprints out from the anchor post and shoots a double-leg until the band is extended to maximum length.

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5. Wall Walk
30 seconds (minimum 20 reps)
The wall walk is designed to mimic Brian returning to his feet after being taken down. Brian walks up the wall using his back while holding a 20-pound medicine ball and pressing up with his legs.

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6. Ladder
30 seconds (minimum 2 trips)
Brian performs the “Icky Shuffle” on the ladder drill, keeping square while moving side to side. This will also help improve his footwork.

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7. Double-Leg Shot
30 seconds (minimum 5 reps)
From his fighting stance, Brian lowers his level, shoots a double-leg, elevates his opponent, and drives him to the mat.

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8. Sprawl
30 seconds (minimum 15 reps)
From his fighting stance, Brian sprawls, forcing his hips to the mat. Brian pops to his feet while moving 180 degrees.

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9. Knees
30 seconds (minimum 15 reps)
Brian drives a Muay-Thai-style knee into the bag as quickly as possible, while alternating knees.

10. Airdyne
30 seconds
Brian pumps the Airdyne with his arms and legs as fast as he can.

Clay Walker is a former 11-year veteran of collegiate football strength and conditioning. He has been an MMA strength and conditioning coach since 2007. Clay received his PhD from the University of Georgia in Kinesiology in August 2011.
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