Hello BJJ Gold Forum,
This thread is dedicated to all things Strength and Conditioning as they relate to BJJ.
This thread will be an ongoing work in progress that I hope we can build as a community into a good strength and conditioning resource for BJJ practitioners.
I wanted to get the thread up and running, and plan to add pictures and additional content down the line.
Scroll down to the Basic Bodyweight BJJ Strength Routine if you are looking for a quick program to get you started.
Ask any question, post any comment, share any thoughts or experience, and get motivated to pick up some weight!
Who Should Be Doing Strength and Conditioning?
Whether you are a competitive player looking for an edge over your opponent or a BJJ hobbyist looking to get the most out of your time on the mat, you need to be doing strength and conditioning.
Strength and conditioning for BJJ is not just about building muscle, getting lean, or lifting a bunch of heavy weights.
At the fundamental level, a BJJ strength routine should be about maximizing the health and longevity of your joints and muscles, followed by ensuring adequate strength across a full range of motion.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is incredibly hard on the joints and spine/neck. It requires our body to take pressure under random conditions while in less-than-optimal body positions.
BJJ also requires proper mobility through all joints, but particularly the hip joint, in order to be able to move optimally while rolling.
In the future I will go over mobility more in depth, training for mobility requires foam rolling (myofascial release), certain forms of stretching, and then strengthening that joint using external resistance.
Safely training strength also requires perfecting the form on most of the basic exercises coaches and athletes use to strengthen the body.
I will continue to update this thread with routines as well as answer any questions, however the following is a basic routine that can get you going on your strength and conditioning
Basic Bodyweight + Barbell BJJ Strength routine - 2x per week
The following routine is designed to train all the major planes of motion and take advantage of the weight of your own body to produce resistance and begin using one of the foundational strength tools: the barbell.
Even if you are in decent shape, bodyweight and barbell training can be surprisingly difficult, and there are infinite ways to scale almost every exercise to allow for continual progression.
If you have access tokettlebells and are familiar with their use, you can perform weighted squats as well as kettlebell swings
This is not a be all end all workout program.
It is a basic intro into bodyweight and strength training.
Many exercises can be substituted, however it would be overwhelming to go over every single option in one program.
I plan to continue to add better photos for each exercise with better instruction.
Day 1 - Upper Body -
Required equipment - pull up and dip bars/make-shift pull-up/dip bars
Recommended - Pull up/dip rack or gymnastics ring and a barbell with weight plates.
Perform each exercise pair by alternating between the two exercises for 3 sets each. Perform the second exercise immediately after the first, then wait 60-90 seconds to begin the second set.
I.e. - 10 pull ups followed by 10 dips, wait 60-90 seconds, repeat two more times
You really do need access to a pull up bar and something to do dips on for serious bodyweight strength.
Its difficult to load a horizontal row with no equipment. Even a bodyweight horizontal row requires access to suspension equipement.
If you don’t have any equipement, you can use your BJJ belt in the top of a doorframe to make a make-shift cable suspension and perform bodyweight rows.
Seriously… just find a barbell
Exercise Pair 1
Pull ups - 3x6-10 -
These photos demonstrate some options for pull-up progression depending on your equipment.
Bar Pull ups
Ring pull up
Exercise Pair 2
Push ups 3x15
Barbell Row or suspension bodyweight row 3x8
Day 2 - Lower Body -
Required equipment: none
Recommended equipment - kettlebells, barbell, medicine ball
Do not pair the squats and lunges/swing/deadlifts (perform all three sets of squats, all three sets of deadlifts, with a full 60-90 seconds between each set)
Progression - bodyweight squats - goblet squat (if weight is available) - barbell squat - pistol squat (bodyweight)
Lunges (if no weight equipement)
3x20 (10 lunges each side)
Kettlebell Swing/Deadlift (if you have equipement): -
3x15 (10 if deadlift) -
Will have more photos soon, but here is a barbell squat example. There is a lot of form involved in squatting properly and safely with weight and this is something I plan to go over in the future.
If you are squatting with bodyweight you are unlikely to injure yourself as long as you don’t move in a way that causes pain/tweaking during the movement. This is a good option if you aren’t confident in your squatting form yet.
Progression: perform kettlebell swings unless you know how to barbell deadlift, in which case you can perform the deadlift if you prefer.
Russian twist 3x20 (10 twists in each direction) - medicine ball
Leg raises - lying down or hanging - bench/floor or hanging straps
Russian Twists with Medicine Ball (can be performed with on the floor without equipment as well)
Leg Raises (can also be performed on the floor/bench)
Basic Bodyweight Strength Guidelines
Below is a basic outline of a good baseline general mobility and strength levels to have some concrete numbers to shoot for.
Push ups -
You should shoot to comfortably be able to perform sets of at least 20 strict form push-ups with stopping to rest or breaking the plank position.
Shooting for 10 strict bodyweight dips for males, and 5 for females, indicates good upper body strength.
For men, being able to comfortably perform sets of 10-12 strict pull-ups or chin ups, wide or narrow, is a good indicator of sufficient upper body pulling strength.
For women, sets of 5-6 bodyweight pull-ups is a good upper body strength guideline
Performing sets of 25+ full range of motion bodyweight squats indicates a good baseline lower body strength and mobility.
The ability to perform full-depth pistol squats for sets of 10 indicates a full range of motion and strength in the lower and upper body.
Please ask me any questions related to this routine or anything strength and conditioning!
My Background in Strength and Conditioning
Since I began training, I have been very interested in figuring out the best way to strengthen the body for BJJ (spoiler: there’s no best/perfect routine, everything you do is cost/benefit).
In the last year I feel that I’ve really begun to dial in a good strength and conditioning program for myself as well as my wife. We both train BJJ 3-4 days a week and therefore have to adjust our strength and conditioning.
I hold two different training certifications through NASM, and most of my training style and philosophy is based on the scientific principles laid out in their Optimum Performance Training model.
I use this model for many non-BJJ strength and fitness clients I train in person, however the principles can be used to develop programs geared for any athletic pursuit.
I also frequently reference the National Strength and Conditioning Association manual as well as a number of physical therapists and coaches who I have read and learned from.
In addition, I have learned a lot from many expert guests on various BJJ podcasts I’ve listened to over the years, and I will keep an ongoing compilation as part of this thread.
Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING I recommend as a program to either a client, friend, or training partner are exercises or workouts that I have practiced and performed myself over time.
What this means is that there are many exercises that other people may do/recommend in other strength and conditioning programs that I do not mention or teach.
I generally skip things like Olympic lifting, advanced gymnastics, and other technically demanding skills, even if those skills may be useful for athletic development.
I’m not good at those movements, and I cannot perform them safely myself, so I don’t include them in my programs. There are plenty of simple, safe, and effective ways to develop optimal athleticism for BJJ.
As requested @Sky, here is a brief picture guide to the mobility/recovery I do pretty much after every training session or before bed. I hope to improve photo/space quality as I make more content, but I wanted to get you guys some info ASAP.
Calf (lateral gastrocnemius and soleus) release - find a tender spot on the outer edge of the calf or just above the Achilles and hold pressure on that spot for 30 seconds.
Gluteus medius - find a tender spot on the upper outer edge of your hip (lateral hip) - hold 30 seconds
Latissimus Dorsi - Lie on your side and find a tender spot below the armpit - hold for 30 seconds
Piriformis - cross leg (left leg in picture) and sit on the foam roller. Find a tender spot on your hip/butt on the side of the crossed leg (in the picture its the left hip) - hold for 30 seconds
Quadriceps - find a tender spot on the top/front of the quad - you can find tension all along the quad many times
T-spine - find a spot on the upper spine - hold 30 seconds and spread your arms to feel a stretch across the chest.
Stretches - I use a strap for lying hamstring and inner thigh stretches. Your knee should be straight throughout these stretches even if that means your leg doesn’t come up that high. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds, per leg, and repeat 2-3 sets if possible
Notice how I cross my stretching leg slightly over the relaxed leg - this adds a bit more stretch to the outer edge of your calf and hamstring.
Once I stretch my hamstrings, I take my leg to the side and do 30 seconds to stretch the inner thigh/adductor muscles. Again keep the knee straight and hold for 30 seconds.
Performed consistently as a cooldown or recovery routine, you will feel a difference in your body.
You should experience less soreness/aches and pains, improved recovery, and over time, greater range of motion and mobility.