WWI Reveals the Truth About Conditioning!

WWI truly is “The Great War”, because it offers so many lessons for every aspect of life. 

Whether you’re a warfighter at the front, a combat sports athlete on the mats, or just an average Joe or Jane just trying to make it through life intact, there is no greater repository for life lessons than the history of WWI! 

That’s why I wrote my first book on this topic, The Forgotten History of WWI: From the Dark Ages to 1939, and did a corresponding podcast on this topic with my good friend, James Lafond! 

And it is to a specific lesson for combat sports athletes from this “Forgotten History” that we turn to today!


In WWI, the British got the job done because they had staying power, pure and simple.

They could strategically and tactically survive the fight for longer because they could last longer…and this brought them victory after four years in the trench warfare hellholes of the Western Front! 

The Germans on the other hand, they could go real fast at first…but when it came to staying power, they had nothing left in the tank! 

From the Schlieffen Plan in WWI to the Blitzkrieg in WWII, the Germans showed the world that an impressive start doesn’t mean an impressive finish. 

We see the same thing on the mats, in the cage, and in the ring time and time again! 


“Conditioning is your best hold,” said the famed Catch Wrestler Karl Gotch. And he was right! 

Technique and Strength start out strong at the beginning of the match, but if you don’t have solid Conditioning, then you’re gonna be in big trouble real quick!

A few times experiencing this, and you’ll realize why you don’t want to be the Germans in WWI or WWII! 

So just how do you go about getting the rock solid Conditioning, and win like the British in WWI?

Read on to find out!


Just what is Conditioning, you ask?

Conditioning is composed of two parts: 

  • Muscular Endurance
  • Cardiovascular Fitness

You have to have both in order to win. Most people however, only focus on the Cardiovascular Fitness side of things. That means long, boring rides on gym-bound ellipticals or exercise bikes. 

But when you only do that, your muscles will go out before your lungs, and muscle tears ensue…sidelining you for weeks, even months! 

Instead, you’ll kill two birds with one stone when you work both Cardiovascular Fitness and Muscular Endurance at the same time. 

And there are three big ways to do it: 

  • Jump Rope: Boxing Specific 
  • Kettlebell Swing: Wrestling Specific 
  • Dands and Bethaks: All Around Specific 

But whichever one you use, mastering Internal Hip Rotation is vital to getting the biggest bang for your buck in all of these. 


Internal Hip Rotation is needed on Jumping Rope to better activate the arch of the foot. This will make you more springy and agile. 

This emphasis on agility is what makes this conditioning exercise Boxing Specific…Boxing does not work without Footwork! 

As my good friend James Lafond says: “I can beat Mike Tyson any day of the week if his feet are nailed to the floor!” 

As footwork is a critical component of Wrestling as well, this emphasis on agility with Jump Rope is Wrestling-centric as well…however we must examine another conditioning exercise for Wrestling specifically that works differently than Jump Rope.  


Internal Hip Rotation is needed on Kettlebell Swings to keep your feet grounded and give you greater hip propulsion, thereby giving you more control over the Kettlebell. 

This control over the Kettlebell is critical for Wrestling. Why, you ask?

Because in the Kettlebell Swing, you are controlling a heavy, resisting, ballistic object in space with your hips and your grip

This simulates controlling a live resisting opponent in Wrestling. And if you can’t control a Kettlebell, how are you going to control another human being? 


In the Crossfit and somewhat in the Strongfirst world, Hip Hinge patterns like Kettlebell Swings and Romanian Deadlifts are seen as being Internal Hip Rotation Dominant.

Contrarily, these worlds see Squatting patterns as being External Hip  Rotation dominant, with that famous “knees out” cue of Dr. Kelly Starrett and Dr. Aaron Horschig fame. 

However, these guys are dead wrong…and a host of ruined knees belonging to their practitioners is the proof in the pudding. 

On the contrary, Internal Hip Rotation is needed for Squats, particularly all manner of Bethak “Hindu Squats”, as presented in Tom Billinge’s masterful book, WarYoga

Internal Hip Rotation is needed for all manner of Squats and Knee Bends because just like in the Jump Rope, it better activates the arch of the foot for springiness and agility. 

Likewise, it greater activates both the Tibialis at the shin and the Vastus Medialis Oblique (or VMO) at the knee. 

These two muscles are the critical components that strengthen and protect the knee. For rehabilitation and preventing injury alike, working these are the key!


Well, there you have it. The Secrets of Conditioning revealed! 

Whether you Box, Wrestle, or do anything else, make sure you’ve mastered your best hold…Conditioning! 

So when it comes time to fight your “World War”, whether on the Mats, in the Cage, or in the Ring, you’ll be able to last forever like the Tommies…

And Win the War to Victory! 

Pulp Fiction Power to you, my friends!


Richard Barrett


Written at 12:48 PM at an Applebee’s somewhere in the USA…

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