Mobility work is the one thing grapplers hate to do. Don’t get me wrong, some of us do it, but that doesn’t mean we like it. To be completely honest, even good old stretching is far more interesting than mobility work. However, the fact remains that we need it. In that regard, we all know what type of mobility we need the most in grappling – hip mobility. Whether you’re a top player or a guard wizard, you’ll benefit hugely from these integral BJJ hip mobility exercises.
A huge mistake people make when it comes to mobility is thinking that it is not a trainable quality. Nothing can be further from the truth. Yes, some people are born with crazy ranges of motion and need absolutely no accessory mobility work. However, most of us others, it’s not just up to the roll of the dice. Being brittle and stiff is something you can easily change. Moreover, the hips are the body part that’s highly responsive to mobility training. Given how i9mprtant hips are to grapplers and fighters, these BJJ hip mobility exercises should be the best part of your day!
Building Up Your Mobility
As I said, we all hate mobility training. It is repetitive, there’s no real feeling of reward and it does require you to dedicate a certain amount of time to it. However, there’s not a soul alive (apart from those that won the genetic lottery) that doesn’t need it. And this is particularly true for grapplers. However, instead of going over the usual anatomical and physiological reasons for needing BJJ hip mobility, I’ll focus on a much simpler approach.
There are two main reasons why you need to improve your overall mobility – performance and injury prevention. It is that simple. If you think both of these do not warrant your time and attention, wait a few years. For those among us who are wiser (and more beat up) mobility directly translates to better performance. Imagine having to re-guard against a young and strong guard passer. The more mobile your hips are, the more technical and easy your guard play is going to be. On the other hand, if you lack BJJ hip mobility, you’ll end up gassing out while trying to avoid getting passed.
Injury prevention is a subject that doesn’t really require lots of explanation. You might think that the hips are a body part that rarely gets injured, and you’re right. Up to a point. Our bodies work as a whole and mobile hips mean a lot less strain on more sensitive joints, like he knees for example. Now I have your attention. Working relentlessly on your BJJ hip mobility means you ‘ll spare your body a whole host of potential injuries.
The Best BJJ Hip Mobility Exercises
Passing the guard? It’s all about the hips. Working from the bottom? Hips again. Looking to finish a joint lock? Good luck doing it without the help of the hips. As you can see, the hips are, arguably, the most important body part for efficient Jiu-Jitsu. However, that doesn’t mean that only doing deadlifts and hip thrusts is enough to turn you into a great grappler. Nope, you also need kettlebell swings. And you need BJJ hip mobility training and lots of it!
The one thing to keep in mind with regard to mobility training is that it’s not the same as flexibility training. A yogi’s hips might be crazy flexible, but that doesn’t mean they can take the strain of training grappling. A better way to think is more in terms of a gymnast’s hips. While they have great flexibility, they’re also strong enough to propel themselves through the air in a whole host of unnatural positions. Throw in a partner and you’re pretty close to what we do in BJJ on a daily basis.
The exercises below are highly specific to BJJ hip mobility. They’re designed to loosen your hips, improve range of motion and still keep them strong and powerful. The perfect blend of qualities for any grappler.
Hurdler Hamstring Stretch
To begin with, we’ll start with something easy. The hurdler hamstring stretch is something you know from PT classes in school. You sit down on the ground, extend one leg straight in front of you and bent the other so that the toes point back. However, you do not just want to touch your foot with your hands as most people do. The goal here is to go forward, with a straight spine, as far as possible. Moreover, you’re not just going to hold the stretch. Instead, opt to pulse at first, until you get sufficient mobility. Even then, make sure that when you go all the way down, you contract the hamstring while holding the position.
This one looks funny but is an incredible BJJ hip mobility exercise. Get on your knees, touch your feet together behind you and place the knee as wide apart as possible. Even getting into this position is awkward at first. He goal here is to eventually push back with your hips. Since it is going to be really hard at the beginning, you’ll need to focus on loosening the hips. To do that, place your palm so the floor and just move around in the position. Later on, you’ll place the elbows on the ground and focus on pushing as far back with the hips as possible. Once again, a combination of pulses and static holds is the best.
Here, we have a gymnastic true classic. This is also one that you know, and one that most people get wrong. The goal is to sit down, straighten your legs and keep them as far apart as possible. The pint is not just to lay forward and stretch. You need strong and mobile hips, remember? To get them, you first want to wiggle yourself into position, so that you do not overstretch anything. Only then do you want to do little bounces so that you get deeper. And here’s where things get interesting. Instead of only holding the stretch you’re actually going to do reps. The first version is to cross your arms on your chest and lift your torso upward and go back down. For a tougher progression, get the palms behind your head.
Another one that’s common to gymnastics. This is actually one of the BJJ hip mobility exercises that gives you the most bang for your buck. It is a mixed dynamic and static exercise by nature. To begin with, you start in the same straddle position as the pancake. The goal is to activate the muscles first by pointing your toes to the outside. Then, place your arms near your hips and help yourself to a standing straddle. Come back down and repeat.
Hip flexor Stretch
The hip flexor stretch is something that’s a part of every stretch routine. The way we’re going to do it here is to get into a lunge position, but do not touch the back leg to the ground. Instead, that leg stays on the toes, with the knee pushing downward, but not reaching the mats. Feel free to reach up to accentuate the stretch. Side bends are also a great way to get even more from this simple exercise.
This is where things get really interesting. Form the hip flexor position you’ll put that back knee down and then drop the elbow to the ground, next to your lunging leg. If you can’t you can keep the palm on the ground. Make sure you wiggle around and work your hip joint from multiple angles. Keep the shin of the lunging leg vertical at all times. From there you can use the near side arm to push on the knee for a better stretch. After that, drop the leg down and go into a pigeon pose pulse, before going back up. This sequence is key to rapidly improve your BJJ hip mobility.
The shin box completes our list of top BJJ hip mobility exercises. A regular in many mobility routines, this one is also seen in Ginastica Natural as well. Sit on the ground, with one leg bent in front of you, and the other behind (like for a hurdle hamstring stretch). The goal is to use your glutes to go up and get back to the bottom. The exercise is done for reps, but you should hold the last rep on the bottom as a static stretch for maximum benefits. Make sure you do this one on both sides.
Putting It All Together
So how does this BJJ hip mobility routine actually work? First of all, the sequence of exercises is there because it starts easy and progresses to more difficult ones. However, if you see fit, you can switch the order or skip an exercise if you have injuries. When it comes to programming let’s answer the most common questions regarding this routine.
How to use this routine?
Until you really get comfortable with it and achieve a certain level of mobility, the best way is to do 10 reps of each or hold each static position for 10 seconds. When you’re comfortable with it, you can do it as a circuit, flowing from one exercise to the next. The reps can be as fast or slow as you wish, but make sure you go for complete movements.
When should you do it?
While this is a solid warm-up, the best way to use this routine is either as a cooldown after training or on its own during the day. If you opt for the last option, I’d skip this routine as your morning one. When you wake up your body is tense and you might end up straining it instead of actually benefiting from the routine.
That’s easy. If you can fit this BJJ hip mobility in your daily regiment, you’ll see massive improvements in next to no time. That said, you can even do it a couple of times a day, or break it up and do different exercises only. And, if you’re able to do it as a flow, you can pretty much fit it anywhere during your day.
How long until you see results?
That depends on whether or not you have injuries and how often you do the routine. If you can do it daily, and you’re able to go through it without trouble, you’ll start seeing results after a couple of weeks. Just remember that mobility isn’t like strength training and you do not need to change up the routine after a few weeks. The longer you spend doing it, the more mobility and range of motion you’ll unlock for your hip joint.
BJJ hip mobility training doesn’t need to be complex. You do not need special foam rollers or balls and bands to make things work. All you need is a bit of room and some time to work. This is why the routine is perfect as a cooldown routine after BJJ. The benefits you get in return will help you not only stay healthy but also perform at a whole new level on the mats!