Torture Circuit

// By Jonathan Chaimberg

Time to Get Midieval

Former Canadian national wrestler Jonathan Chaimberg is a renowned strength coach to many professional athletes in the NHL, MLB, and UFC. In addition, Chaimberg has developed strength programs for some of the UFC’s most elite fighters, including Georges St-Pierre, Rory MacDonald, Rashad Evans, Mike Ricci, and Kenny Florian at his Adrenaline Performance Center in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. This month, Jonathan gives readers the run-down on a program he developed for Rory MacDonald and Mike Ricci that we like to call the “Torture Circuit.”


Elastic Band Ladder Walk

The elastic band ladder walk is great for glute activation. Perform this as a warm-up to activate a very neglected lower body muscle group.

Put an elastic band around both your knees and ankles. Walk the ladder four times, twice forward and twice backward.

Torture Circuit
Perform the six exercises in the circuit without resting in between. Once complete, rest for two minutes. Perform five circuits.

TRX Inverted Row Push With Elevated Feet

Weighted chin-ups are a great vertical pulling exercise, but inverted rows are my favorite exercise for pulling horizontally, which is crucial in building strong pulling muscles and a solid back. You can increase the difficulty by wearing a weighted vest. You’ll feel the difference in your grappling and clinch work. It’s also a great way to prevent shoulder injuries.

With your arms fully extended, hold two TRX straps, with your feet elevated and your knees bent. Extend your knees until your body is prone. Keeping your elbows in, pull yourself up until your chest hits the strap handles. Lower yourself back down. Bend your knees and return to the starting position. Perform 10 reps.

Single-Leg Deadlift

The single-leg deadlift is ideal for building your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. The exercise is difficult, without the danger of loading too much weight and risking injury, which is common in the standard deadlift. Since MMA takes place on one leg in reality, it’s a great way to build functional strength, without worrying about straining your lower back with too much weight.

Hold a kettlebell in your left hand. Bending slightly with your left knee, perform a deadlift by bending at the hip and extending your right leg behind you for balance. Continue lowering the kettlebell until your chest is parallel to the ground. Return to the upright position. For an added challenge, hold a kettlebell in both hands. Perform 10 reps, and switch sides.

TRX Jackknife

This is one of my favorite movements for building a bulletproof core. The TXR jackknife is challenging, and it is key for building a solid core and preventing lower back injuries.

Put your feet into TRX straps and get into a plank position. Perform a reverse crunch, bringing your knees to your chest. Extend your legs to the starting position. Perform 10 reps.

Medicine Ball Chest Pass

This exercise builds explosive pushing power. It’s also reactive and involves an eccentric load followed by a burst of concentric force. I love using this exercise alone or complexed (following a bench or dumbbell press to build superior power endurance).

With a partner standing over you who is holding a medicine ball, lie flat on your back, knees bent, and feet on the floor. As your partner drops the ball to your chest, catch it. Exploding with your arms, push-throw the medicine ball back to your partner.
Perform six reps.

Medicine Ball Slam

Ball slams are a great upper-body power movement. Just like with the medicine ball chest pass, it can be utilize by itself or complexed (following chin-ups).

Hold a medicine ball with both hands, as you stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Raise the medicine ball above your head, and extend your body vertically. Slam the medicine ball to the floor as your knees bend and your heels touch the ground. Catch the ball with both hands on the bounce. Perform 6 reps.

Sled Push

This is my all-time favorite exercise. It builds power, strength, and endurance, depending on how you load the sled and set the course. Either way, no training is complete with a good sled routine. You can load the sled heavy to build power and strength, or load it lighter to work on speed and muscular endurance.

Take an athletic posture, leaning into the sled with your arms fully extended and grasping the handles. Push the sled as fast as possible, focusing on extending your hips and knees to strengthen your posterior chain. Load the sled heavy, and work on short, explosive power. Push for 10 yards, up and back. Load the sled lighter, and work on endurance. Push for 20 yards, up and back.

Test Your Limits

10-10 Treadmill Challenge

I like to use the 10-10 treadmill challenge for testing anaerobic threshold. It’s easy to set up, but hard to do.

Put a treadmill on 10 mph and 10 degree incline. Run for as long as you can without touching the handles. The test ends when you cannot stay on the treadmill. Perform every two weeks.
Average: 75-90 seconds
Above Average: 90-120 seconds
Elite: 120-150 seconds
+150 seconds: Take up 400 meter running, because you are unreal.


Get your morning kicked-started like Rory MacDonald.

1 scoop Six Star Vanilla Cream Whey Protein
1 banana
10 oz. almond milk
1 tbs. peanut butter
1 tsp. honey
4 ice cubes

Mix all the ingredients in a blender. Hit the power. Drink it down.

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