Training With the Pit Master

By John Hackleman

In Sports Applications, Videos

July 25, 2010

Video Article

Legendary MMA trainer John Hackleman discovered CrossFit in its early days and hooked up with Greg Glassman at the original CrossFit box in Santa Cruz. Soon after, Hackleman started CrossPit, a sport-specific hybrid MMA and CrossFit training protocol that has churned out countless firebreathers. Hackleman’s current gym, The Pit, utilizes this training strategy with great success.

“Conditioning is as important as anything else in the martial arts,” the Pit Master says.

Take a closer look inside The Pit, the mind of John Hackleman and the training protocol that has produced athletes such as Chuck Liddell, Antonio Banuelos, Casey Olson and more.

12min 22sec

Additional reading: CrossPit Basics by Tony Budding, published April 1, 2006.



26 Comments on “Training With the Pit Master”


wrote …

So where is CrossPit?


wrote …

seems like a really cool place to train, would definitely like to check it out.


wrote …

Sample workouts?


wrote …


"Use what is useful and throw away what is not. JKD is simply to simplify."
Bruce Lee


wrote …

Not your average registered nurse...


wrote …

I bet she's still bitter about the breakup.


wrote …

So I guess you don't need to lift weights to be a fighter? That guy who was going there for seven years looked like he could use some strength training.


wrote …

Don't judge Ben.... just because they didn't show it in the video, doesn't mean they don't do it. I would bet my left nut that they incorporate SOME sort of strength training in... maybe not as much as your standard CrossFit Firebreather but some for sure. I would love to train with John... he is top notch world class. Good Video... CrossFit is out there, everywhere, making lives better.


wrote …

The Pit is pretty legendary in MMA circles, thanks in part to Chuck Liddell. I've met lots of MMA fighters who are into crossfit, it seems like there is some definitely similar training methodologies.

It's out of sheer respect (and fear) that I don't totally make fun of Hackleman for painting his toenails!


James Glinn wrote …

John is a fox. A true warrior. It is great to see his persistence and hard work continuing to reward both him and the athletes he develops.

Way to go Road Dog....


wrote …

That must be where Chuck Liddell started painting his toe nails, he learned from the best.


replied to comment from Justin Key

They have no barbells at the pit.


wrote …

"“Conditioning is as important as anything else in the martial arts,” the Pit Master says."

My conditioning absolutely crushes my instructor's. Not only that I'm half his age. I am nowhere close to being able to beat him. His technique is so breath-takingly efficent that he doesn't need plyometrics to be fast or olympic lifts to be powerful. He doesn't waste as much time as me and he delivers more power with far less exertion.

Even if I could deliver strikes as well as he does I would still have to contend with his superior parries, footwork, structure, defence, feinting and general tactical superiority that comes with over 40 years of study and application.

Conditioning is not the equal of technique.


Jeff Martin wrote …

I respectfully disagree. Technique suffers with fatigue. That is a universal truth in the martial arts. A martial artsist that is not fit is not the best he can be. I believe that is all John is stating.


wrote …

Great interview with one of the best; thanks for the intereview posting. The pitmaster's insight on the relationship of conditioning and functional training is spot on.
Interviews like this makes my subscription so worthwhile!

As for the shallow minded comments above; save those for the main page, they make you look like a tool.


wrote …

Thank you all... CrossFit has changed my teaching, philosophy, health, methodology,bussiness and my life...all for the better. I want to thank Greg and Lauren, Greg A, Tony B, Annie S, Eva T, and more recently The crew at SinCity CrossFit (Shain, Billy, TJ, Bobbie, and my personal coach JenCor) for helping this old Karate guy to get into the best shape of his life.


wrote …

Very cool video.


replied to comment from ben green

You don't need barbells to do strength training.


wrote …

I sometimes hit the heavy bag for some rounds after the WOD. Crossfit has definetly helped my boxing.


wrote …

That guy's a cool cat


wrote …

Thanks for the video. He is first class.


wrote …

what do you need for strength training?


wrote …

Great video! Really enjoyed it!


replied to comment from ben green

Look at the picture of John. He's sitting on a loaded barbell. There's a power rack, dumbbells, and a medicine ball sitting near him.
What gave the impression that they don't use weights?


wrote …

thats not at the gym.


victor sellinger wrote … home of the Pit Master Workout Program that takes 9 Pit video workouts and 10 CrossPit workout cards and incorporates them into a 7.5 month workout program. Read all about it and check out the video trailers at You can also get a sample of The Pitmasters workout on that site as well.

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