Nowadays, it is pretty much impossible to find someone that just trains BJJ, particularly if they also enjoy competing a lot. training strength and conditioning is simply a part of the puzzle, even though it is a part that is often misunderstood and more importantly, misused. Lifting weights or running can feel a lot more rewarding compared to the struggles we face in BJJ, both when picking up on new stuff, and when rolling. Let’s try and make things simple today – instead of going over the anatomy and science of the best Jiu Jitsu workouts, I’ll just offer you several different ones for your homework.
Strength and conditioning training is fun, even when it does not help your grappling. the trouble with it is that everyone is looking for Jiu Jitsu workouts that is highly specific to the sport, and done by the best grapplers in the world as confirmation that they work. That’s meaningless. Ask yourself this first: Why are you doing strength and conditioning? If it is to get a quick fix of aesthetics training and a feeling of accomplishment, grat. If you’re all about improving your performance on the mats, however, keep on reading.
The Strength And Conditioning Homework
I have shared the concept of strength and conditioning training as homework for grapplers. The gist of it is that you should do most of your training on the mats. your main training is doing actual Jiu Jitsu, whatever the class structure and curriculum might be where you are from. Everything else, when BJJ is your focus is supplemental training. In simple terms, that is something you should look to do when you’re not on the mats. Otherwise, you’re wasting a great opportunity to actually train some more BJJ!
When it comes to supplemental training, you will know that it is no longer supp[elemental when you’re lifting weights or swinging kettlebells a lot more than you’re doing armbars and guard pass drills. If you are actually able to keep strength and conditioning in the “supplemental zone” and do it as your homework, you are free to explore ways in which you can enjoy it more while getting all the benefits. And yes that will include some aesthetic gains, as a “side-effect”.
Basically, when it comes to Jiu Jitsu workouts, there are none… Jiu Jitsu is the best Jiu Jitsu workout, as corny as that may sound. That aside, if you would like to explore ways in which you can become stronger, faster, leaner, and have more endurance for the particular goal of being able to perform better in the sport of BJJ, then, there are specific workouts that will help you win your quest. Not just that, but pretty much every training discipline or modality offers things that have a great carryover to BJJ.
5 Jiu Jitsu Workouts That Never Fail
Do you know how the following Jiu Jitsu workouts won’t fail you? If you stick to them. Too many times people gather all the “best” Jiu Jitsu workouts and then never do them or stop after a couple of times… You need to do your homework all the time if you want to see progress!
That said, in my quest to bring you effective BJJ strength and conditioning workout options I opted for variety instead of going deep into training physiology this time. Namely, the following 5 options feature workouts from different aspects of physical training, and there’s something in there for pretty much everyone. IF you have any more ideas about other types of workouts that you would like me to include, feel free to suggest them!
Crossfit For BJJ
Those of you that love CrossFit and BJJ are probably aware that you can’t do both all out. Basically, you have to pick one and do the other in a supplemental fashion. If CrossFit is your homework, then you have to do two things: first, don’t train more than a couple of times a week, on days that you don’t have BJJ. Second, be careful which WODs you pick, because some are, well, just plain stupid. Having a certified and knowledgeable (do not mix the two) CrossFit coach is a must.
Basically, if I had to pick, I’d go with either Fran or Murph. Those of you that do CrossFit know what I’m talking about. Given that most people like to lift weights, I’ll opt for Fran here as the first of our top 5 Jiu Jitsu workouts.
Fran (21-15-9 reps for time):
- Thrusters (squat to shoulder press in one motion. 95-pound for male, 65-pounds for female athletes are the recommendations)
Weightlifting For BJJ
Full body is all the jazz. That is the only thing you need to remember when programming weightlifting Jiu Jitsu workouts. Again, I wouldn’t recommend doing more than two workout sessions per week. The exception from full-body workouts that is acceptable (well, if you want to see results, anyway) would be an upper/lower body split.
It can be really confusing what and how to train for grappling strength in a commercial fitness gym, so let me declutter things a bit. First, you want to start with something explosive, then move to something heavy, and end up with assistance work. This is the basic formula that works with all kinds of programs out there, from West Side Barbell to Olympic lifting. The exercises, will, of course, be your choice, depending on preferences, abilities, and goals, but the big three (deadlift, squat, and bench press) should have a spot in any program.
- Box jumps – 5 sets x 3 reps with 90 seconds rest in between sets
- Zercher squats – 3-5 sets x 3-6 reps, not going over 80% of your 1 RM. 2 minutes rest.
- Superset: Inverted rows & dumbbell bench press: 4 sets of 8-12 reps
- Superset: Scarecrows & military press: 4 sets of 8-12 reps
- Core or conditioning circuit (programming depends on choice of circuit)
Bodyweight For BJJ
When it comes to bodyweight training most people have two things to understand – your body can be enough resistance and you can’t just do squats, pushups, and pullups and expect to progress. IN terms of not using weight, your body can challenge you constantly, but you will need to think somewhat outside the box. That means that after a certain point your body adapts to certain exercises, which in bodyweight terms is not much, despite many more being available than the few people use.
Gymnastics is one way of really developing crazy amounts of strength as well as incredible control over your body. Conversely, I find those to be the best bodyweight Jiu Jitsu workouts as well. Remember though, that you will need a good base of endurance before you master some of the more difficult gymnastics moves. So, being able to do 200 squats, 100 pushups, and 50 pullups is the baseline. Check out some interesting gymnastic strength training exercises below:
Kettlebells For BJJ
kettlebells are the tool that people love more than anything else when it comes to BJJ. Certainly, they are a great way of developing both strength and conditioning, but they also have some limits. That said, fro those that love training with them, there are endless Jiu Jitsu workouts to pick from. The basics are to maintain a good form, use the appropriate weight for you, and of course, know when to use one and when to use two kettlebells. Oh, and if there’s one thing to always include in your kettlebell training routing for BJJ, it is a variation of loaded carries.
Kettlebell circuit for BJJ (use a moderate to heavy weight):
1 arm snatches – 5 reps on each side
1 arm clean and press – 5 reps on each side
Goblet squats – 10 reps
Goblet reverse lunges – 5 reps on each side
1 arm high pulls – 5 reps on each side
1 arm rows – 5 reps on each side
2 arm swings – 10 reps
Running For BJJ
Finally for those that are truly old school or enjoy running for some inexplicable reason, conditioning for grappling won’t be a problem if you tweak regular old long-distance running a bit. This is where intervals come into play. However, before we look into programming options, let’s cover where you can do these workouts. outdoors is the obvious top choice, especially if you have hills and the likes nearby. Indoor options include treadmills, ellipticals, versa Climber and jump rope.
Simple intervals that include both sprinting and running at a slower pace are a must in running-based Jiu Jitsu workouts. You can start off with a 1:3 ratio of sprints to jogging, and look to switch it up eventually. Another great thing is to have different length sprints and jogging intervals within the same workout, keeping your body guessing all the time.
Even More Homework!
What if you enjoy yoga? Well, that’s not really something that we’d consider a workout is it? It is more of a recovery/health-improvement method. The thing is, that is also homework! It would be ideal if you could do Yoga, stretching, or some soft tissue work every day, but that is not easy for most people to achieve. Between training BJJ and doing strength and conditioning Jiu Jitsu workouts, there’s not a lot of time left to do recovery.
The truth is, recovering from training takes up almost as much time as training does. A solid recovery routine that involves active and passive stretching, self-myofascial release, and breathing exercises will take up anywhere from 20-40 minutes easily. The bottom line is that these workouts are just as important, if not more as any other type of homework training you’re doing as a grappler. So, e you do at least a couple of them a week.
Jiu-Jitsu workouts for strength and conditioning are not set in stone, nor is there a methodology out there that is better than every other methodology. IN essence, you should do what you like and enjoy doing. If you hate running and love kettlebells, it would be dumb to think that sprints are the only way to get in shape for BJJ. As long as you program things smart, and don’t forget that conditioning is homework, pretty much anything you do will let you in fighting shape.