Old School Training – Khabib Nurmagomedov

Khabib Nurmagomedov Training

If you are familiar with this blog, you have likely seen numerous examples of world class fighters who have thrived with a low-tech approach to training. I have intentionally highlighted fighters from all styles to demonstrate the effectiveness of such simplistic methods. An abbreviated list of athletes who have been featured before include Fedor Emelianenko, Buakaw Banchamek, Marcelo Garcia, Jack Dempsey, Ray Robinson, and countless others.

Khabib Nurmagomedov is yet another name that can be added to the list. He is a Russian mixed martial artist who is 22-0 as a professional. He is a multiple time Combat Sambo World Champion, a judo black belt, a NAGA grappling champion, and currently a lightweight fighter in the UFC. If you have not heard of Khabib before, the video below will provide a brief introduction.


As for Khabib’s training, he relies heavily on the sport and applies himself diligently with the basics. The ten minute video below captures some of the work that he performs throughout a training camp. Within the clip, you will not find anything fancy. Instead, you will see a world class fighter who trains in an environment that is as rudimentary as any.


You will see him running, shadow boxing, lifting stones, performing calisthenics, punching the mitts, and performing various partner drills. His training style is one that could be utilized almost anywhere. There is no dependence on high-tech equipment or the sophisticated programs that are so heavily marketed in today’s industry. Khabib’s training is not for show and is not performed with the intent to sell you on a particular methodology. His training is done for a single reason, which is to prepare him to fight at a world class level.

So much can be learned from Khabib’s example, as well as the others who have been featured before. First and foremost, if you are a fighter, the most important part of your training involves fighting. Whether sparring, drilling with partners, hitting the bags, or hitting the mitts, such work is physically taxing and vital to your development. The significance of supplemental work pales in comparison to that of your actual sport training.

As for all around conditioning, simplistic methods have stood the test of time for good reason. As Khabib and countless others have demonstrated, hard work with the basics is as effective as anything. You do not need a complex or elaborate program to condition yourself to fight. Intensity can be applied with almost anything, including nothing. Exercises such as swinging a sledge, running hills, and calisthenics have always been effective and always will. Such work can be performed almost anywhere and can be easily implemented alongside sport training without interference.

In summary, you do not need to be a fighter to benefit from Khabib Nurmagomedo’s example. If he can prepare to fight the best in the world with such simplistic methods, the average person can certainly get in shape with such methods as well. Don’t be fooled to believe that you need a complex program to condition yourself to thrive in the world around you. Apply yourself diligently with almost anything and the results will soon follow.


“Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it.” – Bruce Lee


  1. Love this blog, delete this comment if you think it’s annoying.
    His training is simple, not simplistic – these words are very different.
    Simplistic means over-simplifying – “treating complex issues and problems as if they were much simpler than they really are” – or, simplifying to a fault.
    If his training was ‘simplistic’ it would be too simple to be effective.
    It is simple, and elegant in its effectiveness.

    1. Training to get in shape is not a complex issue. That’s the point. It is everything but complex, despite what the bulk of the industry would like others to believe.

      1. He’s making a good point, Ross. The word you’re looking for is “simple”. The word “simplistic” has a negative connotation.

  2. The work is hard and basic. People want a pill or some crazy program that will “guarantee” them results. I repeat, the work is hard and that gets results!

  3. I train expat seniors in Mexico.
    My only equipment is a chip/dip assist, cables, cage,barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, Thai pads & gloves, Roman Chair, Bands, & sledge hammers & large tire.
    Best functional gym at Lake Chapala.
    Useful equipment is hard to come by here; your tips are welcomed.

  4. Remember a vid on Youtube where Ann Wolfe was training James Kirkland. They had a heavy bag dangling from a slow moving truck, and Kirkland would punch the bag while moving backwards ahead of the truck and forwards while moving towards the bag. She had Kirkland perform conditioning exercises that emualted manual labor type of work she performed growing up. Vid should still be out there on Youtube.

  5. I love this guy. He’s a beast. Only thing I don’t like about him is the fact that no one wants to fight him!

  6. “If he can prepare to fight the best in the world with such simplistic methods, the average person can certainly get in shape with such methods as well.”

    Indeed! And still, so many people are paying a lot of money to be able to do leg extensions and cable cross-overs, and stop working out if they can’t make it to the gym. It’s sad and funny at the same time.

  7. I think most people who frequent commercial gyms are working out for their appearance and give little regard if any to function. Machines like the cable cross-over, smith machine, leg press, Hammer Strength or Nautilus machines, are fine for their needs. Most people you see working out, aren’t competing in any sport at all, much less fighting in the MMA. For those people, isolation exercises probably do a bit of good and give them what they’re looking for. The Airdyne, VersaClimber, and the Concept II rower are used by lots of MMA fighters for their cardio, however. None of these cardio machines mimic a “real world” or combat situation.

  8. Eric:
    I’m not talking about function at all. I’m simply talking about the people who just want to get in “shape” and get a bit more muscular. There is no need for them to rely on machines or getting to the gym. Yeah, isolation exercises might do them “a bit of good”, just as pushups would do them “a bit of good”, while saving them some money.
    One of my relatives is a busy guy, and from what I can tell, he only works out if he can make it to the gym, which isn’t often. He doesn’t want to look like a bodybuilder, he just want to get in decent shape (which is pretty hard with that kind of frequency).
    Peopl can do what they want, but I just think that their excuses and money spending is, like I said, sad and funny at the same time. A lot of people have no idea what a floor and a few minutes of effort can do for them.

  9. Aleksander, Agreed. You can even work your back and pulling muscles to a degree with just the floor. And it is pretty hard to outgrow exercises like a single arm dive bomber pushup, or pistols, no matter how fit you are. I think the case with most people is they just lack the motivation and let’s face it, they are lazy. I’ve known people who purchased weights, treadmills, rowing machines, etc., for their “home gyms,” and the equipment becomes a good place to hang clothes. We all need to exercise, but most people just aren’t in to long term exercising, and I can understand that somewhat, everyone is different. I find it amazing that someone could watch something as boring as NASCAR racing, or watch or even play golf, yet some people love both “sports.” Commercial gyms know that most people won’t stick to exercising for any significant time and they reap the benefits for it.

  10. Interesting conversation.

    “no need for them to rely on machines or getting to the gym.”

    Well, in your relative’s case, sure. But if we want to be bodybuilders, than for the most part, I would think a gym is very helpful.

    I know, there are folks like Bar Starzz who get great upper bodies doing all bodyweight, but overall they are exceptions to the rule.

    But yes, technically, if you just want to “get in shape,” then push ups and walking while watching what you eat would be enough for most.

    I love watching fighters train, and love the brutal methods they use to toughen themselves up. But as a current gym goer who loves his gym, I don’t they are a waste of money for me.

    If I could not get to one, you bet I would just turn to my Infinite Intensity work out and go from there.

  11. “I know, there are folks like Bar Starzz who get great upper bodies doing all bodyweight, but overall they are exceptions to the rule.”

    People who are in shape – no matter how they do it – are the exception to the rule. I train with weights myself, but calisthenics can take you just as far.

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