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Burn with Kearns: The Bucket List – Kevin Kearns




By Kevin Kearns, contributing writer on exercise and fitness

“How a 50-year old body builder transformed himself to fight in his first Muay Thai Fight”

Yes, you read that right! It was on a 50-year old’s bucket list to fight in his first ever Muay Thai fight. When I first received the call, I have to admit I thought this was crazy as a box of frogs! Fifty. And you want to step into the ring? That’s nuts. To top it off this new client lives 3 hours away from me. He was serious and we hit it off on the phone, so I decided to go forward on the project. Plus, he was willing to pay me what I asked. I have to admit I did not know what to expect on the drive down to NYC to work with this new client. That’s the chance you take in this Business.

When I first pulled up and the client walked out of his home it was obvious that he was in ridiculous shape. However, that was more on the lines of bodybuilding versus fight conditioning. The two are very different. This client was smart enough to recognize that and bring me in for this event. We had ten weeks to morph his conditioning into that of a fighter. The good news is he had already been training in Muay Thai with a very good coach that one of my close friends and master BWK trainers knew. That made my job a lot easier.  The challenges were the following for this client.

  1. a bone spur in one shoulder
  2. a minor lower back injury
  3. a paradigm shift, from bodybuilding to fight camp training
  4. mental conditioning for a fight
  5. recovery of an older athlete
  6. diet manipulation
  7. channeled aggression

In all honesty, (let’s call the client Dave), Dave is in unreal condition for a 30-year old and is extremely disciplined about his diet. Also, he’s fought his whole life in Business so mental prep would be easy. He already had the tools for the job. Since Dave had a bit of a hard life and was tough as nails, the channeled aggression would be something to work on. You want controlled aggression in a fight, and organized chaos. Losing it and swinging for fences does not always work in the ring because people get sloppy. Designing a program as well that will get the job done in 10 weeks with a paradigm shift was also the challenge.

I considered this like any other UFC fight camp I worked on. This was serious for Dave and his team, so it was serious for me. We had to think outside the box and change his muscle endurance.  We are going after building or enhancing more Type II A muscle fibers. Fibers that use both anaerobic and aerobic metabolism. One of the best ways we have used in our UFC fighters was programing known as “Gas in the Tank”. Interval sport specific training at level and programming built for fighters.

This is how we got “Dave” ready for his fight in 10 weeks while being mindful of his injuries and recovery factor. Our circuits were built on a 3-minute round although he was fighting three  2-minute rounds. I always believe in pushing the athlete above the comPetition time because of other factors that might contribute to loss of energy and confidence (i.e. adrenaline dump, nerves and alike). The consideration was saving his joints and repairing his injuries. The program below is what we had “ Dave” on to get him fight ready!

The circuits were 35 seconds of work, 15 seconds of rest, for 4 stations to start, with 1 minute of active rest to work on slowing the breathing down after working. We used the following equipment.

  1. JumpSport Trampoline (for plyometric exercises without impact)
  2. WearBands (for adding a load on the lower body without the damage effects of ankle weights)
  3. Resistance bands with handles (for upper body resistance without using traditional weights)
  4. Coverta Ball (for mental toughness for the core)
  5. Super Bands (for sport specific exercises for the fight)
  6. Agility ladders (for speed and mobility)

Circuit 1

  1. Jumpsport Fitness Trampoline power jumps – stand in front of the trampoline in with one fluid motion pull the knees to the chest as you jump up onto the unit.
  2. Super bands knees – with the band around the waist assume a boxing stance as you push forward creating resistance with the band start throwing knees into your partner’s Thai pads

3.   Crazy pulls with resistance bands – in a push like position grab hold of one band with one hand. Place the other hand on the floor now pull the band back towards to your ribcage.

4.   Kayak smashes with the Coverta Ball – with the Coverta ball rope in your hand and feet elevated you then swing the ball from side to side.

1 minute active rest on Vew Do Board (looks like a giant skate board without the skates). It is used to calm the athlete down after training hard. It aids in having them focus on balance and breathing.

Circuit 2

  1. Jumpsport Fitness Trampoline lateral bounds – with one foot on the trampoline you press your foot down as you spring over to the other side replacing the other foot in midair
  2. Super Band bear crawls – with the band wrapped around your waist and in a crawling position you scrabble forward 6 to 8 feet and then return to starting position
  3. Band Punches on one leg- with the all-purpose bands tied a shoulder height the athlete stands on one foot as he punches straight forward while maintaining balance
  4. Bounce to Box – with a Pylo Fit adapter and JumpSport Fitness trampoline have the athlete fall back as if he was falling against the ropes. The explosively bounce up and hit the focus mitts with 4 punches

1 minute active rest on Vew Do Board

This is how we got “ Dave” ready for his bucket list fight. How he did at his fight? That’s the next article)


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Stay strong, confident, and safe!

Coach Kevin Kearns, BS FMS  CPT – Direct: 508 404 8503

Both of Coach Kearns’ books may be purchased on For more information about Coach Kevin Kearns, including scheduling speaking engagements and classes (both online and in person), please contact him at 508-404-8503 or [email protected].

Author of “There’s Light In The Tunnel” How to Survive and Thrive with Depression  – “Always Picked Last“ A guide to navigating bullies on Amazon and Audible

Coach Kevin Kearns has been coaching in the world of fitness, nutrition, and tactical self defense for over 3 decades. As the former conditioning coach to 15 UFC Pro Fighters, and ranked in the Top 5 in the UFC , he is no stranger to the the importance of proper nutrition and proper mindset programming. He has long advocated to all his clients – athletes or the general population – about the importance of programming mind, body and spirit. 

Coach Kevin Kearns BS FMS CPT – Former conditioning coach to 15 UFC Pros Ranked in Top 5 by the UFC Personal Fitness Coach, Author, Columnist, Motivational Speaker, Corporate Wellness Consultant, Youth Wellness Program Provider, Certification Specialist, Personal Self Defense, and Law Enforcement Defensive Tactics Specialist