Do not just write out resolutions this year; actually follow through! Here’s a game plan to help you get started.

This piece was initially published in the January 2013 issue of ‘Fighter’s Only‘ magazine.

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Establish the Goal
With the New Year approaching, many individuals are gearing up to write out their resolutions. Typically, these include a number of health and fitness-related goals; lose 20 pounds by June, complete a 10k, earn that blue belt, deadlift 400 pounds, fit in to a new pair of skinny jeans, etc. While I think it’s extremely important to establish goals, I think it’s more important to establish the “road map” to help you achieve these goals. You can write resolutions down on paper all day long, however, if you don’t have a plan and implement that plan, you are just wasting your time…and your paper too.

Method to the Madness
Once you have determined your top 2-3 fitness goals, it’s important to employ a few vital steps:

  • Follow a S.M.A.R.T. protocol (Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Driven)
  • Write your goals down and put them somewhere you will see them everyday
  • Share your fitness goals with your support team – training partners, coaches, family, friends, co-workers
  • Re-assess your goals frequently to ensure you are progressing appropriately
  • In the words of coach Dan John, “The goal is to keep the goal the goal”. It’s his creative way of saying – stay the course and do not get “exercise ADD”


This time of year, most of us are coming back from a week or so of holiday travel. I love the holidays as much as the next guy, however, I don’t like how they disrupt the routine. There are company holiday parties, family gatherings, and bowls of eggnog everywhere you look. These “distractions” lead to additional calories, additional stress, and you are left with additional holiday pounds.

Yes, you may be out of town and away from your fitness facility, but that is certainly not an excuse to skip a workout and have a second serving of pie instead. Get a week pass at the local gym, perform a bodyweight circuit of squats, pushups, and planks in your hotel room. Even going for walks everyday is better than opting for the couch. Encourage family members to exercise with you and motivate each other.

Slow and steady wins
Now that the holidays are over and you are ready to get started, my advice is to take action and progress slowly. All those distractions we discussed above may have led to some time away from the gym. I see way too my people, myself included, jump into their new routine in January…and then end up visiting the local physical therapist before Valentine’s Day. It is important to start off slowly and not do too much too soon. Slow, steady progress is better than no progress at all. Just like a professional MMA athlete who is coming back from an injury or long layoff. We must crawl before we walk and walk before we run.


Take Action!
It’s safe to say people want to look great at the beach. Let’s be honest…A big reason many people exercise is to look good and feel confident in their bikini or when their shirt comes off. When I think of sports that have athletes with great physiques, MMA is near the top of that list. Sadly, following the same routine as Phil Davis does not mean you will have his 8-pack abs in just 5 weeks (Those darn genetics do play a small role). You can, however, implement many MMA-inspired movements and drills along with full-body compound exercises to get an effective, efficient, muscle building, fat burning routine. In other words; a program that delivers results! A program that will help you obtain those goals that you created at the beginning of the year.

Let’s take a closer look at a ‘New Year, New You’ routine:

*Program Layout

  • Complete the 2 circuits in Day 1 twice a week (Monday & Thursday)
  • Complete the 2 circuits in Day 2 twice a week (Wednesday & Saturday)
  • 4×8 = 4 sets of 8 repetitions
  • Complete all 5 exercises in the first circuit for 4 sets before starting the next group of movements

*Equipment Needs

  • Day 1: box/bench, heavy bag, bar for pullups, tubing/cable machine, dumbbells/kettlebells, TRX, stopwatch
  • Day 2: heavy bag, dumbbells/kettlebells, trap bar/straight bar, stopwatch

DAY 1                                                                DAY 2
Circuit 1                                                           Circuit 1
Box Jump 4×8                                                Skater Plyos 4×8 per leg
Bag Ground & Pound 4×30 sec                    Knee & Elbow Strikes 4×30 sec
Pullups 4×8                                                    Dumbbell Chest Press 4×8
Bag Slams 4×30 sec                                     Strikes – Combos 4×30 sec
Torso Rotations 4×15 per side                     Hip Hikes 4×15 per side

Circuit 2                                                         Circuit 2
Goblet Squat 4×8                                          Deadlift 4×8
Sprawls 4×10                                                Strikes – Combos 4×30 sec
TRX Rows 4×15                                           Pushups 4×15
Power Head Kicks 4×10 per leg                  Speed Leg Kicks 4×15 per leg
Bag Carries 4×30 sec                                  Farmers Walks 4×30 sec

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Every workout should begin with a proper 10-15 minute dynamic warm-up that elevates your heart rate and prepares your body for the workout to follow. Bird dogs, bridges, jumping jack variations, and thoracic spine mobility drills are staple movements in my dynamic warm up routines. Follow every workout with 10 minutes of stretching. Focus on any areas that may need a little extra work. Flexibility and stretching is an overlooked aspect of fitness so do not neglect this step. Complete the two routines 2 times per week for 4 strength-training sessions per week. These workouts are designed to, not only build strength and shed fat, but also improve your cardiovascular endurance as well. Along with this routine, follow a nutrition plan that encourages eating REAL food, make sure to get plenty of proper rest, and the results will come.

Regardless, of your occupation, age, gender, or background, we are goal-driven creatures. Tap in to what inspires you, create your game plan, set it in motion, and do whatever it takes to get the job done. No excuses.

About Doug
Doug Balzarini, CSCS, MMA-CC, is the owner of DB Strength, which provides fitness training, education, and resources. He is also the strength and conditioning coach for Alliance MMA where he works with UFC Champion Dominick Cruz, Phil Davis, Brandon Vera, Travis Browne, Ross Pearson, Alexander Gustafsson, and more. Prior to starting his own business, Doug worked at Fitness Quest 10 as a personal trainer, strength coach, and Operations Director for Todd Durkin Enterprises (TDE).

He has completed some graduate work in Biomechanics at SDSU and has obtained multiple certifications including ACE, NSCA-CSCS, MMA-CC, TRX instructor training, EFI Gravity instructor training, LIFT Sandbag Certification, and FMS training. He has produced his own 2-DVD set on strength training for combat athletes, appeared in many fitness videos and articles, and was recently a coach on “The Ultimate Fighter” TV show.

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