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A Knight’s Tale…Strength And Conditioning Recommendations For Sir Lancelot?

A Knight’s Tale…Strength And Conditioning Recommendations For Sir Lancelot?

Knights of the Damned by redshift27


Call the squire and inform him that Sir BR is about to show his fellow knights a way to build on their already mean jousting skills! I was up late Saturday night (post Saturday Night Live), yeah that late! Anyways, I came across a very interesting show on the History channel called Full Metal Jousting. Yes, believe it or not it was about modern day Knights suiting up in armored gear,  jumping on horseback, and galloping towards one another at killer speeds while trying to plant a large stick (a lance) on the shoulder of their opponent to knock his ass off his horse! Crazy sport right? I sure thought so which is why I kept on watching. As a strength and conditioning coach I couldn’t help but study their techniques and movements and try to come up with a sort of strength and conditioning assessment for the needs of the modern day Sir Lancelot!

These Guys Are Athletes…

Make no mistake these guys are athletes. This sport is obviously very dangerous and the physical nature of these guys is right up there with the toughest collision sports around. I mean these guys are literally crashing into one another on horseback with giant lances and alcohol is not even a contributing factor. If that’s not good TV I don’t know what is. I couldn’t resist taking a second to show you this if you haven’t already seen it. Check out the video below…

Now I think you get what I’m saying. Big collisions + big horses + big sticks = BIG SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT and a need for an effective strength and conditioning program to give a knight an edge. Let’s face it, if you are going to do something as intense as this then you better have your body on the ready to receive some big time hits! I’m sure Sir Lancelot wouldn’t mind the added development of some core stability, shoulder strength and stability, and especially cervical spine stability due to the fact that a knight might have to withstand severe whiplash in case he takes a lance straight to the face!

When examining the act of jousting on horseback as a strength and conditioning coach I would really want to work on helping the knight to develop total body strength while also stressing the development of core stability, shoulder strength and stability, and cervical spine stability. The first element of core stability can be drawn up a number of ways, but as you know the way I think I like to keep it functional. Some kettlebell swings, deadlifts, and other big core movements properly applied within this type of strength and conditioning program should do the trick. The swings and deadlifts should allow for more core stability while emphasizing the act of keeping a neutral spine while sitting and riding on horseback. Oh yeah, let’s not forget about the big horse in this sport either.

The Naked Warrior

Looking at the development of core stability I would also want to include some variations of push ups. While honing in on the core stability the shoulder strength and stability is also a major factor within this type of strength and conditioning program. Due to the needs of the knight having to direct his lance into the shoulder of his opponent to forcefully dismantle him from  his own Mr. Ed he needs to make sure his shoulders are solid.

To ensure more core stability and shoulder strength I would want to include some staggered push ups, rotational push ups, and if possible even one arm push up drills. Manipulating leverage and weight redistribution involved in the drills that I just mentioned would be great for building the body up for a sport such as this. Note, the inclusion of turkish get ups would also be highly beneficial for the added shoulder stability. Here’s a simple staggered push up that you can add to your strength and conditioning program using one of your handy kettlebells

In addition to this I mentioned the importance of the competitive knight being able to keep his head attached to his shoulders. In a fancier way I mentioned the importance of cervical spine stability. Why did I mention this? Well, because if a knight takes a lance to the chin the chances are his neck is going to whiplash to some degree. Even if he is expecting the blow a cumulative effect of this happening frequently over time could lead to some severe health issues, hence the importance of a royal strength and conditioning program.

Like football players and even MMA athletes the neck has to be solid. Some highly effective overhead lifts such as kettlebell snatches and presses are great options. However, in addition to this I would also implement the use of a chain for some isometrically neck loaded push ups. Did I say more push ups? Hell yes I did, but the purpose of this is to isometrically load the cervical spine while maintaining a neutral spine during the push up activity. As you drape the chain over the neck and push up more chain comes off of the ground thereby making the upward phase of the push up more challenging. The key is to keep the head up and not look down at the ground.


Wow, did I just do a quick strength and conditioning assessment for a jousting knight on horseback? Yes, I did and it is the year 2012 too. Who would have thunk it? Nevertheless, if you are into this sport or you know someone that is then I hope you take your strength and conditioning program serious! I’m pretty sure you do, but if you don’t then I recommend you put your personal physician on standby to sign off on a sh*t load of pain killers. This sport is as physical as they come and it doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. If you happen to be interested in mounting up on horseback to challenge the valiant effort of a fellow knight then I wish you the best of luck my good man!

If you really do consider it then before armoring up to challenge Sir Lancelot feel free to lean on me for the off the horse portion of your sports preparation. You can do so by signing up to join my emailing list right here for FREE! Upon joining you’ll receive my FREE training guide, tons of FREE training tips, my FREE newsletter, and you’ll even be knighted! Ok, maybe not the last part, but the strength and conditioning tactics are no less than royalty! Remember that most anyone can train hard, but only the best train smart my friend.





I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Uh Bro… you took this post all the way back in the day with jousting. I think I will pass on this jousting thing. I would rather just have a minor wreck in my car than to get hit at full speed with a stick by some dude on a horse. At least my car would protect me. But what I can get with is the idea of suiting up in knight gear with my stick in hand and looking bad ass on a horse. Do I need core and cervical spine stability training to do that? Well… never mind. You would tell me “yes” just because you like to bring the pain. Just like you brought the extra pain to me yesterday when you told me to do those 100 body weight squats. Yeah homie, I still remember because my legs, and butt are feelin’ it right now. You’re still my brother though and I still love you… even though you hurt me 🙂 And for some strange reason I keep coming back to you for more. I think I have some sort of mental complex going on. Thanks for the awesome article bro! Keep’em coming 🙂

    1. Ha, you know you could suit up in armor and bash somebody with a lance Karis! I think you’ll agree with me the jousting thing sure looks interesting, but I sure as hell wouldn’t do it. I think I’ll just stick to the the Muay Thai and kettlebells. 🙂 All joking aside the element of cervical spine stability should be a key focus in MMA too, especially because of the clinch and various choke holds used in the sport. Glad you enjoyed this one. Look forward to seeing you in class tomorrow. 🙂 P.S., hope you still aren’t mad at me about those squats! LOL.

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