Gilbert Burns is a Brazilian MMA fighter and a 3x Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion in the lightweight class. With a 12-1 fighting record he has made a name for himself in the fighting world and he will continue to have a huge impact with the years to come.
On FitworldExposed we like to talk about fitness as a whole and not just bodybuilders and powerlifters because we believe that “fitness” is a word that is very vague because there are so many different sports and athletes that you could learn from. We have talked to countless arm-wrestlers in the past, but fighting is similar except its not only with one arm at a time, its with the whole body. Fighters have a lot of strength, technique, explosiveness, endurance and the list goes on. In other words, fighters are some of the most complete athletes that there are out there because they have to work on so many different aspects of fitness as opposed to just getting strong on one particular area.
Another thing that is interesting about fighters is that they have some of the biggest and strongest necks out there (even the fighters who are in the lightweight class). This is because most fighters take their neck training very seriously due to the fact that it could literally be a life insurance policy. I always say that if you want to get good at something then you have to learn from the best and this is why fighters are some of the go-to guys to talk to for fighting advice and neck training tips.
Lets get into it!
How did you get into this sport and also what differentiates this style of fighting from all of the other ones out there?
Hi. I started at a young age (12 years old), in 1998 and in Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro Brasil. I started as a Jujitsu competitor and did my first tournament in less the 1 month of training and never stopped ever since. I graduated to a Black belt in 2007 and 2011 to 2012 made I this transition to MMA. The MMA style is very different from all sports that I have tried before. The first time you fight your opponent is really trying to hurt you and you need to training a lot of different forms of martial arts, stand ups, punches, kicks, knees, elbows, takedown defense and offense along with Brazilian Jiujitsu. Add that to cardio and lifting, it is a hard sport.
What is a weakness that you are really trying to work on as far as fighting is concerned?
My background is all on grappling so I consider my self the best BJJ on light weight division, but my weakness is my stand up, that is my focus to improve on my stand up, but to keep my grappling on high level.
What is your favorite submission or strike to use in a fight and why?
My favorite submission is Armbar because I trained and used it my whole life.
Whats your take on direct neck work and how do you train your neck if you do any direct work for it? Whats your take on neck bridging variations?
I do a lot of works on my neck because it is really important to have a strong neck for grappling or for taking punches. I do a couple of different strength bridging exercises and a lot of stretches to work on neck flexibility.
How important is neck and trap work for helping prevent head injuries and concussions?
It is very important to prevent a lot injuries because when I started to do it when I was kid my foundation became strong, but if you do not have this foundation you better start to work up to it gradually.
Bodybuilders have their typical bodybuilding splits:
Monday: Chest + Triceps
Wednesday: Shoulders + Traps
Thursday: Back + Traps + Biceps
Friday: Arms + Abs
What would a typical fighting program look like throughout the week? (Training sessions in gym, fighting sessions, conditioning…etc)
I do strength and conditioning 2-3 times a week and I focus a lot on hips, back, neck, legs and shoulders because these areas need to be strong. They do not need to be tight, but to make my training better and not just make me strong. We do a lot of explosive sprints and air dyne cardio along with climber hops. .
A lot of people say that Squats and Deadlifts are the key must-have exercises, but not everybody is trying to be a Powerlifter either so what are some common exercises that you will usually see in the programs of many fighters? (ex: core work, single leg work…etc)
We do Deadlifts, Squats, Core and shoulders because they are the foundation and our big joints need to be strong for this type of fighting.
How long do your sessions usually last on average?
The conditioning is usually between 35 and 45 minutes while the MMA class is between 60-90 minutes.
How many times per week do you train per week when getting ready for a big match?
I have 13 total training sessions a week.
What are some of your favorite exercises for conditioning and also ab exercises for building a bulletproof core?
I do a lot of sprints, Plyometrics, TRX work and pull ups I like a lot too.
For someone who has never gotten into a fight in their lives, what would be some basic beginner tips that you would give someone one on how to protect themselves as much as possible in a street-fight without weapons?
Try to do a BJJ class if you want to learn how to protect yourself.
Where do you see the sport of Jiu-Jitsu in the future?
The BJJ is improving a lot and I like the way it is going! I think that the sport will soon be very professional and worldwide.
Thank you for your time!
If you want to see more of Gilbert Burns then you could check him out at: