For those who practice BJJ, strength, conditioning, and stretching is homework. Class time is for being a sponge that takes in all of the knowledge being presented from the teacher. It is time to focus on BJJ. However, competitor or not, white belt or black belt, complementary strength and conditioning training is highly recommended to add to your skillset. It is key to pick a strength & conditioning / stretching routine that accounts for limited time and the demands of grappling.
Why exercise alongside BJJ training?
- Develop maximum power, speed & strength
- Injury Prevention
- Mind Body connection
- Increase mobility & endurance
- Focus on breathing techniques
How often should I exercise when BJJ training?
When two fighters have equal levels of technique, the deciding factor of success will be BJJ strength. With that, comes the responsibility of figuring out how and when to incorporate strength training into BJJ. It is probably overused to claim that one must do what is best for their body. It is overused because it is insanely true. Remember to know the difference between “best for you” and “best for you while still pushing yourself”. Take body type and weight along with goals into consideration when creating a program. A solid strength training program is usually 3x a week in conjunction with training.
While BJJ continues to spread all over the globe, so do the training modalities. BJJ strength training should begin with focusing on form and depth to support strength increase later. The intensity level should be similar to training BJJ itself. The same focus and intention should be there. The beginning of the workout should focus on those slow, eccentric / plyometric exercises with progressive overloading that finally leads 6 sets of 5-8 reps per exercise. Focus on progress & effectiveness - not utter destruction.
What equipment do I need for BJJ training?
*A commercial gym will have everything you need or even at home if you have a setup. TBC also will have everything you need strength training wise and the mats for when you’re ready.
Bumper Plate Weights
How to strengthen safely for BJJ
The safest way to train is to ask for help when not knowing what to do. It starts with form and surrendering to not knowing everything in the weight room like you maybe do on the mats. Never skip the warm up (but, seriously).
Top Strength & Conditioning Exercises for Brazilan Jiu Jitsu
BJJ students are always looking for ways to improve and level up. Weight training is definitely one of them. Constant training ensures gradual growth and ability to execute certain techniques. For you BJJ students, think about it realistically. It’s good to get the most gains for your buck (get it?). Prioritize compound movements and exercises that work the full body.
Modified Lunge for Grapplers
Strong legs for BJJ goes a long way. Strong legs make it easier to push opponents off and work your way back to your feet (insert clapping emoji here, right?). Modified lunges are similar to a regular lunge, but the feet position is different. Position your feet as they would be when going for a takedown. This is when your glutes will get a lot of work in.
- Start from a reverse lunge position.
- Move torso so chest and shoulders are close to the knee.
- Keep back straight and face forward (focus on something at eye level).
- Perform lunge with a 45 degree ankle while keeping other heel on the floor.
- Make sure to do the same amount of reps on each leg!
Alternating Base Rows
Base rows have a similar feel or motion as bench rows or bent over rows. It is great for those who practice BJJ because it mimics the same motion performed when to pass someone’s guard. It strengthens lats, back, and base. Base rows also help with form and posture an insane amount. Dumbbells or kettlebells can be used.
- Begin with both feet pointing straight and more than shoulder length apart.
- Keep elbows tucked in to the side.
- Push downward to grip with one hand while pulling the other weight towards the hip with the opposite hand.
- Repeat on the other hand.
Probably the king of all exercises. A good squat is a classic method of developing crazy amounts of strength. It builds a strong core, quads, back, glutes, and hamstrings. Remember earlier about the gains for your buck. Here it is! There are different variations of squats that may be beneficial as well, such as the cossack squat, v-stance or b-stance. Make sure to have the form down before adding weight. This can be performed with dumbbells or a barbell.
For the more traditional squat:
- Begin with feet shoulder width apart.
- Drive hips back and create a 45 degree angle.
- Keep back straight, look forward, and core engaged.
- Drive knees out.
This exercise is a classic for a reason. Deadlifts work all muscles of the body and help the body to develop vast amounts of power. The kind of power that anyone training BJJ needs. There are many deadlift variations, but it is recommended to stick with classic barbell deadlift. For BJJ athletes, make sure to use quads more often than the glutes. This will be important in the hip-hinge movement.
- Start with feet hip width apart.
- Hands wrap around the bar with a close grip.
- Shoulders and back down with hips at 45 degrees.
- Keep chest up, out, and open.
- Inhale and brace up.
- Squeeze glutes and come back down.
Oh, how we love a good hip thrust. Hip thrusts are a very similar movement to bridging in BJJ and help to perform sweeps and chokes. It’s all about developing the right hip muscles in BJJ to have those “good hips”. As always, form is everything here. It’s a great way to work on those leg muscles, engage that core, and work on hip movements. We can sometimes underutilize the hip. Let’s get to it! Remember… POWER.
- Use a bench to support your back and begin by sitting on the ground with feet about shoulder width apart.
- Plant feet about a foot away from glutes.
- Place hands where it feels comfortable on the bar.
- Push off glutes and extend hips up.
- Slowly come back down and do not reset every time unless going extremely heavy.
Building strength doesn’t happen without caring about the rest of the body and focusing on flexibility / mobility. The body has to recover in order to grow. BJJ training is a lot on the body and you may be surprised by the incredible difference you could feel with focusing on stretching after a light warm up prior to actual training (both strength and BJJ).
The butterfly stretch improves flexibility in the groin and hip region. The stretch itself isn’t too difficult, but with repeated practice, it can really do the trick. Begin by simply sitting on the ground, pull ankles and bend legs toward the pelvis. It may seem like an awkward pose but you’ll really feel that stretch when pulling on ankles to bring everything in closer. For an additional stretch, take elbows to apply downward pressure.
Ankle mobility and flexibility are important for injury prevention and proper technique execution. Staff ankles are usually because of tight calf muscles and limits the range of the ankle. Ankle rotations keep ankles controlled with active mobility and provide the kind of tension that your ankle may be looking for.
- Sit with legs in front.
- Pick the starting ankle and put your heel on the floor that will act as a pivot point.
- Slowly rotate ankle closewide with a full range of motion (say it louder for those in the back!).
- As you continue with the rotation, increase the range of motion by trying to increase the size of the circle that you are making with your toes.
- Go for 10-15 clockwise and counterclockwise with each foot. Repeat 1-3 sets per foot.
Quadrupled Overhead Shoulder Stretch
Stretching can sometimes suck, duh. But this stretch will be one of those that will have you saying, “ooooh.. That was a good stretch”. It is great to work out any kinks that you may in your back or shoulder area that could prevent you from doing your best in training.
- Knees a little bit wider than hips.
- Keep one hand firmly planted in front of you
- Lift one arm onto a bench or placeholder that is shoulder height.
- Hold for about 30 seconds each arm and repeat 3x.
More About The Boxing Club
At TBC, we offer the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) classes in San Diego. We have a full understanding of the power and stamina of grasping flexibility, core strength, grappling, and advancing your mental game. Jiu-Jitsu combines combat arts, strength training, and self-defense into one. Our classes are designed to give white belts a new place to learn and those who are on a winning streak a place to keep learning. Learn from the best with our award-winning coaches that pride themselves on bringing the most valuable instruction to students. Learning BJJ is practical, fun, and a great skill to have.
October 15, 2020