In our last newsletter, we discussed strength training for self-defense. This week, we will cover Fitness for Self-Defense to improve your conditioning and endurance.

Any movement that trains the body’s response to its environment while raising your heart rate over time is conditioning and endurance. But situations involving high-stress, physical contact demand a certain kind of stress response and adjustment. This is where two kinds of conditioning can ready you for whatever challenges may lie ahead.

Conditioning for Two Kinds of Endurance

Muscular endurance allows your body’s muscles to exert force for an extended period of time, even in situations that require intermittent bursts of speed and explosive strength. Examples of this are activities like hill sprints, obstacle racing, football, and of course, fighting. By contrast, cardiovascular endurance allows the body’s muscles to operate functionally over longer periods of time while under aerobic stress. One philosophy keeps to a shorter conditioning period for employing high intensity intervals. Between a 20 to 30 minute workout is a normal window for adherents to this thinking.


Running, especially with sprints and inclines, is an excellent way to improve your cardiovascular endurance and overall combat readiness. Running improves your capabilities in two ways. First, it expands your lung capacity so that you can breathe in more oxygen, and faster. Second, it strengthens your heart and its ability to pump oxygen-carrying blood through your arteries. This improves your circulation and of course, you get better at the first layer of defense: to run away from trouble!

Body Weight Exercise

Pull-ups, crunches, lunges, Russian twists, and push-ups are all great ways to increase your strength endurance. These exercises use your natural body weight as resistance and improve your balancing and stabilization muscles at the same time.

HIIT Training

High intensity interval training is a type of conditioning that not only uses intervals of highly demanding cardiovascular stress on the body, but intersperses it with dynamic, compound movements while keeping the heart rate above its natural homeostasis. This provides a great hybrid of cardiovascular and strength endurance training and results (it’s also great for burning fat when done consistently with a good diet).

Conditioning and endurance for self defense requires a tailored approach. Think about the actions you might have to take in a self defense scenario, and adapt your fitness routine to those demands.