This past week I was on our family vacation in the Outer Banks. Although I didn’t get in any mat time, I was able to get three days of weightlifting and some interval training done.



I did do some research and found one school on the Outer Banks that had Brazilian jiu jitsu classes, but it was over an hour away from our beach house and I just didn’t want to spend that much time away from the family last week. Anyone who has small kids knows that a family vacation is for them, not you. I wasn’t too concerned about this since I have been getting a lot of quality training time in the last several weeks, and this week I will be stepping my training up since I’m only five weeks out from the New York Summer Open in July.


I did, however, get in some quality strength and conditioning days last week. On Monday my brother-in-law and I drove up to a large commercial gym. It was the first time that I’ve stepped foot in a “big box” type gym in about eight years. It was a bodybuilder’s heaven full of cables, leverage equipment, and anything else that you could imagine for isolation movements. There wasn’t one person using the power racks and, yes, someone was curling in the squat rack.


Unfortunately, there were no platforms and definitely not enough space to perform cleans, so heavy cleans were off the list for Monday. On the positive and surprising side, there were plenty of heavy dumbbells to finish my last week of the strength and power phase of my program, so overall I was happy with the trip.


One thing that I messed up on was not doing heavy squats while I was at the gym Monday. I had originally planned on going back up on Friday morning and doing squats and Romanian deadlifts, but when my brother-in-law and I returned back to our family at the beach house, we had been gone for about three hours. This is the exact reason I didn’t do any BJJ while I was down there. I just can’t be gone from the family that long on our vacation. 


But not training in a gym wasn’t a huge problem because like everyone, I brought down 200lbs of standard size dumbbells in case of an emergency. Standard plates are nice because they take up almost no space in your vehicle when you spread all the plates out over your trunk.  



Due to limited resources, I didn’t quite finish out the strength and power phase like I wanted to, but it worked. I just had to substitute some exercises. Barbell squats, barbell rows, barbell shrugs, barbell hang clean and jerk, barbell cleans, and barbell Romanian deadlifts were out. Dumbbell split squats, dumbbell rows, dumbbell shrugs, dumbbell clean and jerk, one-arm dumbbell snatch, and one-leg barbell Romanian deadlifts were in. 


The only exercise I was unable to substitute was the rope pull up. For a minute or two I thought about hanging a beach towel down from the second story railing and doing pull ups while I was dangling off the balcony, but then figured that there was too much potential for disaster.


I even got a nice interval circuit done on Tuesday with both of my brothers-in-law. Considering how limited I was with my strength and conditioning equipment, I still had a pretty decent training week and a nice vacation.


Monday - Strength and Conditioning:

  • Vertical Jump 3x8
  • Plyo Push Up 3x8
  • Barbell Pop-Up 3x8
  • Push-Offs 3x8
  • Dumbbell Bench Press 100 x10, 120 3x4
  • Dumbbell Overhead Extension 95 3x8
  • Core Work


Tuesday - Strength and Conditioning:

Interval Circuit:

4 Rounds per exercise for 30 seconds, with 1:45 rest between rounds


  • Four Step Agility Run
  • Broad Jump
  • Burpee
  • Spider Push-Up
  • Power Lunge
  • Volume Shadow Box
  • Plank
  • Attack Sprawl
  • High Knees (1 Min.)


Wednesday - Strength and Conditioning:

  • 1 Arm Dumbbell Snatch 65 5x2
  • Dumbbell Split Squat 85 3x5
  • 1 Leg Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift 85 3x5
  • Core Work


Friday - Strength and Conditioning:

  • Vertical Jump 3x8
  • Plyo Push Up 3x8
  • Barbell Pop-Up 3x8
  • Push-Offs 3x8
  • Dumbbell Hang Clean & Jerk 40 4x4
  • Dumbbell Row 95 3x8
  • Dumbbell Shrug 95 3x12


James Kearns is an active Brazilian jiu jitsu competitor and also trains and competes in Olympic weightlifting. Learn more about James at his website, BJJ Barbell Strength, and follow his journals here every week.