If you don’t know the name Randy Couture, it’s possible you are a woman or French. At 47 years old, “The Natural” is a five time UFC champion, former Olympic alternate in Greco-Roman wrestling, and co-star of the upcoming Stallone guns-and-explosions extravaganza The Expendables.
He is also a grotesque parody of normal human aging. Couture last won the UFC heavyweight title at age 43, when most professional athletes—let alone those who base their careers on punching others/getting punched in the face—are looking for Ibuprofen endorsements. The secret to his longevity as a fighter is twofold.
First, he has better genes than you. Aside from purchasing a sports car, you can’t really do anything about that. Second, though, Randy Couture works out like a splinter. And while the rest of us are just trying to get big, he’s focusing on one thing: endurance.
Randy Couture, getting ready to field test his training regimen.
As a grappler, Couture has to spend hours a day pushing other huge men around. He’s strong, but more importantly he’s strong for 15 to 25 minutes at a time. If you’ve ever wrestled, you know that’s harder than it sounds. The kind of sustained effort that is required to tackle another man and hold him down causes the muscles to produce enormous amounts of lactic acid, and lactic acid is what you makes you, well, throw up.
Hence the Randy Couture Circuit. It’s strength training, sure, but it’s strength training without breaks—a series of grueling sets that work the same muscle groups over and over again, not so much to increase strength as to expunge weakness. The Couture Circuit doesn’t look like much on paper, but it feels like hell on the gym floor.
I would describe it as like drowning, if midway through the process of drowning you noticed that you were also on fire, followed by a sudden rush of guilt at not being able to deal with either problem. Couture calls it Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
He does six trips through the circuit, with 50 pounds of weight on a 45-pound Olympic bar, no rest between sets, and a one-minute break between each circuit. He is also a professional athlete. I recommend starting with just the bar and one trip through the circuit. If you don’t see your lunch a second time, you’re a tougher man than most.
The bent row—box optional
Bent rows (8)
With your torso leaned forward 45 degrees, your legs shoulder-width and your knees slightly bent, raise the bar from knee- to waist level, then back to knees.
Upright rows (8)
With your hands approximately six inches apart and your back straight, raise the bar from rest to chest level and back down.
Military press (8)
With your hands shoulder-width, raise the bar from chin level to full extension above your head.
Good morning (8)
With the bar resting on your upper back and your feet together, move from a crouched position to upright with your pelvis slightly forward. Good morning! I have to throw up.
Lunges—expression of contentment also optional
Keeping the bar on your upper back, put one leg forward with your knee bent and the other back with the leg straight. Bend at the knees and pelvis until your back knee almost touches the ground, then return. Don’t forget to do eight for each leg.
Squat push press (8)
With your legs shoulder-width and the bar on your upper back as before, move down into a squatted position, then bring your feet together slightly and push up into a military press. This is wear the author begins to beg for death.
With your feet together, move the bar from knee- to waist-level and back to knees.
Rest one minute, then repeat
Or go home and fall into the toilet.
Dan Brooks writes about politics, consumer culture and lying at Combat!