One of the best tools to use to get in shape for martial arts is by far the kettlebell. Or a couple or even a bunch of them, for that matter. They are the top utility for strength and conditioning for grapplers and are used worldwide. With kettlebells, things seem easy. The only thing you need now is a program and some exercises. That’s where most people hit a snag. As kettlebells gained popularity in the fitness world, training with them become more complicated. there are a bunch of pointless exercises out there now, some of them making the way into grappling conditioning as well. Since simplicity is key for grapplers, there are some exercises that fit the bill better than most (or all) others. And even among them, there’s one Jiu-Jitsu Kettlebell exercise that is an absolute winner when it comes to creating better grapplers.
Kettlebells Training and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a very time-consuming activity. While you’re probably aware of the time it takes to train, you might not be factoring in commuting time. There’s also washing your equipment, packing for class and even meal prep. Plus, the one thing you’re surely not factoring in is the time you spend looking at DVDs or YouTube videos related to BJJ. Given that most people out there do have a few other things to do, like jobs, family etc, this leaves really little time for additional training. Especially strength and conditioning training, in a more “traditional” sense. This again demands preparation, commuting, training at a facility, monthly fees etc. A good way out of this is turning to kettlebells for conditioning training. An even better way is knowing what the one Jiu-Jitsu Kettlebell exercise that you truly need is.
I am probably going to take you by surprise with the exercise I’m about to focus on. It is not the Turkish get up, nor the kettlebell swing. Despite the popularity and effectiveness of both, there’s something much more important for grapplers. It is core training, one done in a way that really taxes the core in unusual positions. Because, as you know, these “unusual” positions are actually very usual for grapplers. While the Turkish get-ups are definitely a good choice, there’s a surprise contender that offers even more benefits. People rarely see kettlebell windmills as a strength building exercise. And it is even rarer to regard it as a Jiu-Jitsu Kettlebell exercise that is actually beneficial.
Understanding Core Training
When people think of the core, the usually only think about the abdominal muscles. In some cases, they also include the muscles of the small of the back too. However, the core is much more than just a group of muscles that are in direct touch with each other. The core encompasses a big part of our musculature. Moreover, all of these muscle groups have the task of working together in an optimal fashion. This is not easy at all, especially considering the modern lifestyle.
The core is actually made up of all the muscles we already mentioned. The abdominals and lumbar muscles to make a large chunk of the core. Other key components are the muscles of the upper back and the shoulders on one end. On the other end, it is the hip flexors, upper thighs, and hamstrings. As you can see, the core requires most of your torso musculature to put in some work. No wonder our top pick Jiu-Jitsu kettlebell exercise is one that targets the whole core.
The thing with training the core is that it helps you train most of your body all at once. This is a very important ability for Jiu-Jitsu. BJJ requires a very high level of coordination and the ability to adapt to sudden changes of direction. As such, training the core to be able to move in a full range of motion in each possible direction is crucial for grapplers. Doing that requires either a very complicated program or just one carefully picked kettlebell exercise.
The Ultimate Jiu-Jitsu Kettlebell Exercise – Windmills
The windmill is an exercise that you can do with one or two kettlebells. To begin with, remember two simple rules. The first I to start light, very light if you’ve never done it before. Second, do not work with two kettlebells unless you’re really advanced in kettlebell training.
The reason that the windmill is one (if not the) best Jiu-Jitsu kettlebell exercise is diversity. You can train pretty much your whole body with just one exercise. Plus, you get a lot of different physical benefits from it. You’ll get stronger without a doubt since you’re using an external resistance that you can increase at all times. Combining both gives you the ability to be strong at the ends of your range of motion. This is as key to BJJ as much as correctly executing techniques.
What you get from windmills is direct dynamic work of your oblique and side abdominals. During this, the front abdominal and the muscles on your back work hard to stabilize. Since the weight remains over your head, you also get a lot of shoulder mobility and stability work. And, your hip flexors and hamstrings, in particular, get to work a lot both concentrically and eccentrically. From a conditioning perspective, try going for time with just one kettlebell and tell us how you feel after 20 minutes non-stop. It is the one Jiu-Jitsu kettlebell exercise to rule them all!
Mike Perry is an expert when it comes to training with kettlebells. Since he is also a solid grappler, he’d be my choice for a strength and conditioning trainer. Since I can’t get to him, I use his “KB Essentials Instructional Guide” DVD set to great success. Now you can too because this resource is available, cheap and full of information that lasts a lifetime!
Executing The Windmill
Let’s take a look at some of the technical aspects of executing a windmill. If you truly want to master kettlebells, look for a trainer. Or, pick up a good instructional DVD, like MIke Perry’s. This will ensure you’re safe from injury while training.
The starting position of the windmill is with a kettlebell held over your head with one arm. Stat with a stance that is a little wider than shoulder width. From there, the aim is to bend sideways, aiming to touch the ground with your free hand. While you do that, you need to make sure you keep the kettlebell over your head at all times.
The key thing to remember about windmills is that you need to keep your joints straight. Keep your kettlebell arm straight at the elbow. This is the most important thing. Also, keep your spine and another arm straight, along with both your knees. Basically, you should be bending at the hip joint only along with rotating the shoulders. And, keep your eyes on the kettlebell at all times too. Once you go all the way down, get back up towards the starting position.
Once you master this particular Jiu-Jitsu kettlebell exercise, you can look to add in on ore two more to get an even tougher workout. The two I mentioned before, Turkish get-ups and swings are great choices.