Do you know what the biggest problem with BJJ strength training is? People do not want to do it. While rolling is fun, unpredictable and we can never get enough of it, strength and conditioning is boring, repetitive and doesn’t feel as rewarding. However, we absolutely need to complement our Jiu-Jitsu with some additional work. Whether it is stretching, corrective exercises, strength, conditioning, or all of the above, we need to do our homework. If only we could do it in a time-efficient manner where we could be done and dusted with it in less than 20 minutes…
My professor Carlos Maia refers to BJJ strength training as homework. What we do on the mat during class is our main work. It is where we learn the ways of the Gentle Art and develop as grapplers. Conversely, it is not when or where we should be aiming to also develop athletic abilities we need or think we need. As per his mantra, “do your curls and bench presses outside of the Academy. They’re homework”. This is a great way to approach BJJ Strength and conditioning, but that still doesn’t make the actual training fun and easy to stick to. But that’s only if you’re stuck doing traditional style bodybuilding stuff or some functional fitness crap. As it turns out, there are some pretty effective, and most importantly, time-efficient ways to get into crazy shape in 10-20 minutes.
Time Efficient Strength Training For BJJ
Time-efficient training does not only refer to finishing a workout in as little time as possible because you’re bored with training or don’t have the time. Given the grappling workload, and everyday chores, squeezing in BJJ strength training can be really hard. Moreover, it takes a lot of time to recover Jiu-Jitsu, to begin with. Additional conditioning just means more time required for recovery, and that can prove to be even harder than planning for strength training sessions. Luckily there’s a “hack” of the sort, that might just help with all of these conundrums.
Time-efficient training means you get the job of BJJ strength training done in anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes. This refers mostly to the organization of training, or the methods used. In terms of tools or exercises, you can do just about anything you want. You could use free weights, gymnastics, kettlebells, maces, bodyweight, partner workouts, etc. You can also program intensity and volume according to your specific needs. Intensity is how hard you’re pushing yourself, while volume refers to the amount of weight and/or reps you’re using.
The key with any training session and particularly short ones is balance. You need to make sure you push enough to make progress, but not so much that you exhaust yourself and be unable to recover. That’s where programming comes in. However, that’s not something we could just write for you. You know your goals, your body, your access to fitness tools, etc. When you plan your time-efficient BJJ Strength training, remember to think progressively – start slow and low, and build up from there. You could rotate exercises, fitness tools, or even among the two training methods, I’m about to cover as the best versions of time-efficient training for grapplers.
EMOM stands for Every Minute On the Minute. That means that you’re going to do an exercise, or a superset/triset of them, fro the prescribed reps or amount of time at the start of every minute. You get to rest for the remainder of the minute and repeat at the start of every next minute. The length of such a workout is usually 10-20 minutes, but I’d strongly recommend that you start with 10 if you’ve never done EMOMs before.
You could go straight forward with EMOMs, doing the same exercises on each minute. You could also use an alternating style of training or start complicating things. There are options to use odd and even minutes, or even-numbered minutes to switch up exercises or intensity.
EMOM BJJ strength training is really useful because you can throw in just about anything you think of. You could train heavy, you could go light for reps, or you could focus more on conditioning if you want to. A great option is to set up stations. If you set up 4 stations and spend a minute on each, training EMOM style, in 5 rotations you’ll end up with a grueling and ultra-effective 20 minute BJJ strength training session.
AMRAP stands for As Many Rounds/Reps As Possible. Once again, it is a CrossFit-style of workout, something they use in their WODs (workouts of the day). Unlike CrossFit, though, for BJJ strength training you need to program workouts in a progressive fashion. That said, AMRAP training has you doing maximum repetitions of an exercise, or rounds of a circuit, for example, for a preset amount of time. An example of AMRAP for rounds would be the highest amount of rounds you can od of 10 kettlebell clean and presses, followed by 10 sprawls you can do in 10 minutes.
Once again, don’ be fooled by the deceptively easy nature of this type of workout. Start with 10 minutes, or even less, and do not exceed 20, because there’s a point of demising returns, depending on the exercises of your choice.
AMRAP allows you to really control the intensity by controlling the pace. If you’re doing heavy deadlifts, you’ll, of course, go slower. However, if it is bodyweight/gymnastics exercise or explosive medicine ball work, you could pick up the pace and/or reps. There’s a lot of variety to program in here and these types of workouts can be really grueling.
Putting It All Together
Let’s look at a couple of EMOM and AMRAP examples that are perfect for BJJ strength training. Given that folks often like to train with simple equipment, I’m not going to focus on workouts that require a specialized gym to execute. In fact, for both examples below, you only need stuff you can find in any commercial/garage gym. Or, you could always modify them to use whatever tool, style of training, or exercise you want. Just remember to follow the methodology, and you’ll be done in no time.
EMOM for BJJ
*Repeat the circuit every minute, on the minute, for 10 minutes
Equipment: 2 Kettlebells
- Dead swing-clean-squat-thrusters (5 reps)
- Triceps push-ups (5 reps)
- Sprawl jump and clap (5 reps)
*Repeat for 10 minutes with as little rest as possible. Try to beat the number of rounds next time you do the workout.
Doing BJJ strength training doesn’t have to be time consuming nor boring. Instead, it could be fun, really efficient, and just as difficult as grappling. With EMOM and AMRAP training, you get everything you need to develop all athletic qualities you’ll need as a grappler, neatly tucked with a bow. You could even use the same workouts to go for strength, conditioning, gas tank, recovery, corrective exercises… the combinations are endless, and there’s no way you can’t squeeze in 10-20 minutes a couple of times per week to really take your grappling to the next level.