A calculated mix of traditional and novel strength and conditioning exercises, Caveman Training is prided on its specificity as much as its difficulty. It produces fast and measurable results whether you’re seeking muscle mass and definition or looking to boost performance in a particular sport or activity. “It takes the best of all training methods and puts them into a truly comprehensive routine that’s goal-specific.”

So says Scott Ramsdell, creator of Caveman Training and owner of Minnesota-based Athletic Performance Inc. (API), where Sherk and a handful of other top-tier mixed martial artists endure the frenzied and relentless pace of this system before heading to the Octagon. Ramsdell conceived of Caveman Training with athletes in mind but has expanded it to include more than 80 detailed routines that anyone can do, depending on their goals and experience levels.

“Caveman Training originated here at API,” he says. “I was tired of the play-it-safe attitude with athletes. I was tired of seeing them coddled as if they were going to get injured or die if they were pushed too hard. I’ve heard from every one of my fighters that their training with me is harder than their fights. I believe this should be true of every sport. The training and preparation for the competition should be harder than the competition itself.”

While API’s Scott Ramsdell recommends performing Caveman Training under a certified trainer’s supervision, particularly if you’re new to it, he offers up these three routines as a broad sample of what he puts his athletes through. He also has a rating system—gold, silver or bronze—depending on how long it takes you to finish each workout.


In this workout, the reps are few and the weights are fairly heavy. Pace is the ultimate controlling factor in how effective this routine can be.

Treadmill (10% incline/10 mph) 20 seconds
Slosh Pipe Overhead Squat 5 rep
Wide-Grip Pull-Up 5 reps
Double-Under Jump (jump rope) 20 reps
Heavy Bag Twirl (60-pound bag) 5 reps
Box Jump (24″ platform) 10 reps
Double-Under Jump (jump rope) 20 reps
Sandbag Clean and Press 5 reps

Going Caveman: Start from the top of the list and work your way down as fast as possible while maintaining good form on each exercise. There’s no scheduled rest. Perform the sequence 10 times total, noting your time after the final sandbag clean and press.

Score: Gold: 20 minutes or less; Silver: 20:01-25:00; Bronze: 25:01+

Sit ups


Routines like this can give medicine balls a nasty reputation. This simple-looking workout, which should be performed using a 20-30-pound medicine ball, attacks your core and stabilizer muscles. If you’re looking to make this one more interesting, do it interval style, alternating your pace from circuit to circuit.

Overhead Squat1 11-20
Close-Grip Push-Up2 11-20
Sit-Up1 11-20
Close-Grip Push-Up2 11-20
Overhead Squat1 11-20
200-yard sprint4 11-20

1 ball above your head
2 both hands on the ball
3 start by doing 11 reps per exercise, then add one rep each time through until you reach 20
4 don’t use medicine ball

Going Caveman: Complete each exercise in sequence in circuit fashion. Immediately dive back into the next set, and continue until you’ve reached 20 reps per exercise. Again, there’s no scheduled rest. Don’t forget to score your total time.

Score: Gold: 18 minutes or less; Silver: 18:01-22:00; Bronze: 22:01+

Pull ups


Looking for a trial by fire? This power-focused routine amounts to 7-10 minutes of total work for most athletes but provides a healthy dose of muscle-building benefits in the process. “This must be done at sprint speed for it to be effective,” Ramsdell says. “The weights must be moved as fast as possible: Think short bursts of 100% effort with enough rest to allow for complete recovery.”

Box Jump (24″ platform) 10
Deadlift (185 pounds) 10
Thruster (40-pound dumbbells) 10
Pull-Up 10
Close-Grip Push-Up 10
Pull-Up 10
Bent-Over Row 10
Upright Row 10
Shoulder Press 10
Renegade Row 10

Note: Use 40-pound dumbbells for all exercises in Circuit 2 except the pull-up. Weights can be scaled down on any exercise to meet your experience level.

Going Caveman: Complete each exercise in Circuit 1, moving quickly from one exercise to the next without rest. At the end of Circuit 1, rest 3-4 minutes. Perform this circuit five times, recording your total work time for each run-through. Start Circuit 2, completing it in the same fashion as the first: five times through with 3-4 minutes of rest between circuits. Add your workout times from both circuits to get your score.

Score: Gold: 6:30 minutes or less; Silver: 6:31-8:00; Bronze: 8:01+