Book Summary: Combat Conditioning Functional Exercises for Fitness and Combat Sports by Matt Furey

Combat Conditioning was the first book that introduced me to body weight exercises for functional strength and endurance. I was the type of kid in high school sports that was the proverbial “no talent ass clown.” What I mean by this was that I was very strong but natural talent escaped me. I always vowed that there are people that are much more talented but I would never be out worked. Growing up in the work out craze of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Pumping Iron” movie got me into weight lifting with all my friends. Now when you are young and you simple pound out weights to see how strong you are, bad things end up happening. When I received a physical before the starting season of Varsity football, the doctor looked at me and politely said – “Hey idiot, have you ever heard of stretching”? Needless to say the quest began to look for a better way to exercise and gain functional strength. Lawyer Note: I hate these but they are important. With any exercise routines, please check with your Doctor’s to make sure you are able to perform these routines.

Why is this important to me?

This book will help you acquire knowledge on body weight exercises that help in three areas: Strength, Endurance and Flexibility. If these three things are not important to you then please save yourself 5 minutes and shut off the video. Otherwise please continue on with me.

Have you ever seen any of the following: Great MMA fighters, cirque du soleil or a gymnastics competition? All of these phenomenal athletes have functional strength. This means that they can do things with their body that 90 percent of the population cannot. The good news is that 90 percent can do these things if they change up on their exercise routines. Another book you should check out is Convict Conditioning. This focused more on muscle, joint and tendon strength. What is beneficial about that is you can keep that strength well into your seventies.

Don’t get me wrong – any type of exercise is better than none. If you are doing nothing and start doing weight lifting then please keep doing it. But if you want a cheap way to work out with compound results then this book is for you. One big problem with weight lifting by itself is that it utilizes muscle isolation. This means that if you do curling then you isolate the movement to the bicep muscle. This does nothing to create functional strength for your tendons or joints. The human body was engineered to work together so why not shorten your work out and do compound exercises to maximize your results. If you did a simple pull up then you still exercise your bicep but you also engage your back, forearms, shoulders and core along with creating functional strength.

Matt describes his Holy Grail of working out which he coins the Royal Court. I will explain each exercise.

The Hindu squat is an excellent exercise. When you start out you can do a half squat like with your arms in front of you parallel to the floor but as you progress and build up strength in your knees, you will want to do a full squat with the back of your thighs touching the back of your calves.

Strong legs do a body good. When you work on your legs, you engage the whole body and burn calories all day even after the work out. The legs consist of the biggest muscles in your body and it shows the next day when they are sore.

When doing Hindu squats, work up to doing three sets of 100. Doing the royal court in 3 set cycles is a great work out that does not take much time. If you travel then this is a perfect routine because it does not take long at all.

The Hindu pushup is different than a regular pushup. Start with your feet a bit wider than shoulder width apart and your butt in the air. Push through in an arcing motion(similar to downward facing dog in Yoga). Try to work up to 3 sets of 50 repetitions. If you have never done these before and can only do a couple, do not get discouraged. Like anything new, it takes practice to build up.

This exercise will help you with strength, back flexibility and endurance. Enjoy!

The back bridge gets a ton of bad press. People think that it is bad for your back and neck. Like anything else, please do what is comfortable for you.
You can bridge three ways. Think of this as an exercise and NOT a stretch. You will feel your body warm up doing this exercise.

You can start with a work out ball if you cannot do the neck bridge. Then as you progress, you can move into the neck bridge (on your head) and then the gymnastics bridge (with your arms and no head).

Please note that if you never did these before then they will seem difficult at first. Do not get frustrated. Before I started bridging, I had terrible neck pain and back pain. Go figure because I was only doing heavy weight lifting with squats and bench press. Anyway, when I started doing the bridging, all of the pain went away.

The stretching in your back and neck feel great and the results will speak for themselves. Note: Do NOT force this exercise. Take your time and build up to it.

Combat Conditioning is a great book to introduce you to body weight exercises for functional strength, endurance and flexibility. I was watching a discovery show in which they were making a martial arts video game. They showed a man doing a unique exercise.

There were telephone polls in the ground at varying heights in two rows. He was jumping from one to another and landing on one leg. He would jump to the other and do a one leg full squat with his other leg fully extended in a kicking position. This is a true test of functional strength and flexibility. Oh BTW, this man was 75 years old. Results that last a life time are something I am always striving for.

I hope you have found this short summary useful. The key to any new idea is to work it into your daily routine until it becomes habit. Habits form in as little as 21 days. One thing you can take away from this book is the royal court. Try it as part of your exercise routine for one month and chart your progress. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the results.