Whenever you take a look at Kron Gracie, Rodolfo Vieira or Gordon Ryan, to name just a few, one thing catches the eye straight away. of course, they’re all very formidable grapplers who have dominated the highest levels of BJJ. Apart from that, what they have in common is an impressive physique. No wonder most people involved in BJJ would like to look like those grappling monsters. Now, while it is not the main determinant of the outcome of a match physical fitness undoubtedly plays a major role in the success of these world-class grapplers. That said, their goal is usually mat performance and their chiseled physiques are only a welcomed side-effect. Now, we’re going to share with you a great conditioning secret that is going to get you the perfect Jiu-Jitsu body!
Let’s make something very clear for the beginning. BJJ conditioning is not about the abs! That impressive Jiu-Jitsu body you’re after is a clear indication of elite level physical preparation. Now, most of the professional grapplers and fighters often use lots state-of-the-art equipment. However, where they get the most bang for their buck is with good old basic exercises. And it doesn’t get more basic than picking something heavy and carrying it around. Hardly anyone that trains BJJ and competes at a high level is skipping over weighted carry exercises. And if you want the Jiu-Jitsu body that performs as good as it looks, you most certainly need them too!
Loaded Carries For The Ultimate Jiu-Jitsu Body
Carrying exercises are irreplaceable for developing a core of steel. The importance of the core in grappling cannot be overstated. The core consists of much more than just abs or lower back muscles. It includes all major muscle groups of the body and has a role in every complex movement it performs. The core is used for stabilization, flexion, extension, rotation, and anti-rotation. All of these movements are included in every roll or match a grappler does. Carrying heavy object in any of the manners I’m going to present further in this article, is a surefire way to get the core of a BJJ world champion.
Carrying exercises task the whole body in ways that are relatable to everyday activities. You’ve all heard the expression “farmer strong”. One look at Rousimar Palhares and you’ll know what it means. Loaded carries are often referred to as walks, due to the nature of the task. Now you can also get farmer strong but without the need to flip hay or wrestle cattle all day. That said, just picking something up and carrying it to exhaustion is not a very smart approach. Carries, just like all kinds of conditioning exercises, need proper programming in order for a maximal result. Furthermore, different types of the exercises need to be cycled at constant intervals in order to truly get you the perfect Jiu-jitsu body.
In terms of variation, it’s not only about the exercises. All aspect of conditioning training, like weight, duration, grip, loading style, equipment etc. need to be switched up. This is the only way to ensure your body adapts to as many different scenarios as possible. Just like in grappling.
How To Start Training Loaded Carries For BJJ
AS with all things BJJ, carries have a natural progression. Don’t just jump into the toughest variation possible unless you’re looking to get injured. Instead, the smart approach is to take it easy and allow the body enough time to adapt to imposed demand. After all the perfect Jiu-Jitsu body is not made in a month.
The first step of loaded carries is isometrics. The idea is that you pick up a weight in one arm and just stand with it. That way you train stabilization, correct posture and grip strength to name a few. Standing like this requires you to maintain a center of mass with a neutral posture against an external load. It is imperative that you know how to do this before going really heavy and starting to move around.
Begin by standing on one leg and holding a dumbbell on one side of your body. Standing in front of a mirror is perfect to get accustomed to the way it feels. You’ll also be able to track your posture through the exercise. The goal is to avoid leaning either toward or away from the dumbbell. Oh, and one more crucial thing. There should be absolutely no contact between the weight and your body! Three to five sets of 30 seconds is a great place to start.
Once you’re comfortable with the isometric part of the movement, it’s time to introduce some dynamics. In that sense, first look to add just movement before actually traveling with the weigh. The simplest way is to march in place, adhering to all the standards we set above. From there you can think about actually moving. The concept here is much the same, holding the load on one side of the body and performing a controlled walk while maintaining a neutral posture.
Two-Handed Loaded Carry Variations
Heavy bilateral carries are the meat and potatoes of any worthy carry program. They are perfect for increasing strength and conditioning, as well as building the ultimate Jiu-jitsu body.
The perfect tools here are the very basic. Dumbbells and kettlebells are great, but long bars work exceptionally well too. Pick up a bar with each hand and take a walk. Furthermore, as you progress you might think about carrying sandbags or wrapping a Gi or towel around heavy kettlebells. That way you’ll add a grip training component that is very specific to Jiu-jitsu. In the beginning, stick to kettlebells, dumbbells, and a trap bar if you have access to one.
In terms of height, loaded carries can be performed high or low. This stands the same for both single-handed and bilateral carriesLet’s look at both of these groups of exercises.
Low Loaded Carries
To perform low carries you need to make sure you keep the weight at your waist, or lower. That way, you’ll really challenge your core in multiple e planes of motion. Trap bars are a great carry choice for overall core stability.T shape of the bar keeps the load off the body so the shoulders don’t have to do extra work. Furthermore, pick up a trap bar and switch its position so that the plates face forward. This challenges your wrist position and overall core stability by increasing the level of the load. Swiss bars or barbells are another great option for this both uni and bilaterally.
With dumbells and kettlebells, the focus is on the transverse and frontal planes. They’re both very effective in cases of hip collapse due to weak glute muscles. This also stands true for instances where you use two long barbells, each in every hand.
High BIlateral Carries
These are a great tool to use as a regression to the overhead press. Instead of battering your shoulders in a plane of movement you rarely us in BJJ, going for a high carry is much more worth your time. For the ultimate performing Jiu-Jitsu body, high carries are a must. They train the anti-extension quality in the frontal plane by applying a flexion force on the body. This means that the torso goes forward so that the erectors must work to keep it upright. At the same time, the anterior core must also activate to prevent the erectors from bringing the spine into hyperextension. This is essential for a multitude of grappling positions, especially when holding in an isometric fashion.
With high loaded carries, the goal is locking out barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, or other weight overhead. Unlike front-loaded carries, they directly force the spine into hyperextension because the overhead lever is so long. This challenges you to maintain a tight rib-to-pelvis relationship. It also makes you stabilize an upward rotated position of the scapulae. However, just going overhead is not where these exercises end. Holding a weight in the goblet position is also a perfect option for grapplers.
Finally, the reason why these are going to work long-term and help transform you into a beast is combinations. The possibilities here are endless. You can combine a high and a low carry, two highs, different bars, whatever you think about. You’re going to be tougher, quicker and have a better gas tank. And you’re going to look better than ever before in your high-performing Jiu-Jitsu body!