Watch UFC Champion Francis Ngannou Wrestle CrossFit Athlete Chandler Smith
In a recent instalment of the ‘Fitness with Francis’ series on his YouTube channel, UFC’s reigning Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou spends the day training with Chandler Smith, who ranked sixth in this year’s CrossFit Games despite having no formal coaching and still being on active duty in the U.S. Army.
Next to Ngannou, Smith acknowledges he looks tiny, but this isn’t the first time he has trained with somebody twice his size; he recently challenged World’s Strongest Man Martins Licis to a CrossFit WOD and was wowed by his “blackout pace” on the assault bike.
But this time around, Smith is the one being challenged, and he takes up Ngannou’s invitation to join him in the ring for some wrestling. Fortunately, Smith has experience in this area; in fact, he originally took up CrossFit as a way to support and supplement his wrestling training. However, sparring against a giant like Ngannou soon wears him out, and they move onto a bodyweight workout.
“The goal is to use less equipment, and to burn calories with both your conditioning, your cardio, and your strength, but with your bodyweight,” says Ngannou. They start out by performing a set of 10 burpees, 10 reverse lunges, and 10 box step ups. Then, they do the same bodyweight movements again in sets of 8, 6, and 4.
While a lot of people tend to dislike burpees for obvious reasons—they’re notoriously exhausting—both Smith and Ngannou count them as among their favorite bodyweight exercises.
“I think I just found it very challenging, very explosive, because you need a lot of explosion to sprawl and come back and squat,” says Ngannou. “It’s kind of working everything at the same time, your full body… A workout has to be challenging, otherwise it’s not a workout.”
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