Technique is important in BJJ; so is strength. Strength and conditioning are essential to prevent injuries and to keep your body in prime shape for grappling. In a match where both grapplers are equally skilled, the stronger and more conditioned grappler will always have the edge. While some grapplers neglect this aspect of training, it is an integral part of the sport that will help you become a better grappler.
Strength training for BJJ allows you to dominate an opponent who might have a higher technical level. While not always true, physical attributes can cover deficiencies in technical skill, provided that you can use your strength and conditioning effectively.
Below are 12 exercises guaranteed to build strength and condition your body for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
1) Bent-Over Rows
The bent-over row is an exercise that builds your grip strength, back, and core. This exercise translates well to BJJ as many techniques require pulling power. Alternatively, you can do rows with a towel or gi to work on your grip strength for gi Jiu-Jitsu.
The Pull-Up is a classic bodyweight exercise that strengthens the back and arms. It can be done in many ways, such as with the monkey grip, a gi or towel, focusing on the negatives (eccentric), weighted, and chin-ups. Nevertheless, all pull-up variations will help strengthen your grips and back for pulling and isometric movements. If you find the regular pull-up difficult, perform dead hangs first and work your way up.
3) Rope Climbs
The rope climb is one of the best conditioning exercises used by martial artists. It helps you build the endurance needed to hold positions for an extended period. Having powerful grips also helps you with locking in submissions. Likewise, it strengthens the forearm and grip for collar ties and wrist grabbing. Please note that it is a challenging exercise, most BJJ athletes struggle when first trying the rope climb as it requires bracing of the core.
4) Plate Flips
Like rope climbs, plate flips work your forearms and allow you to grab something quickly. Being strong in this regard enhances your ability to grab the opponent once you see an opening. It could be from getting that collar grip or wrist that you may use to advance with your attacks.
5) Farmer’s Walk
Farmer’s walk is an isometric exercise that works your core, strengthens the rotator cuff, and improves your posture. This exercise greatly enhances your grip strength which significantly aids in controlling the opponent or finishing a submission.
6) Bench Press
The bench press is one of the best ways to improve upper body strength, particularly the triceps, shoulders, and chest. It can be done in different ways, such as with a pair of dumbbells, a barbell, or on the floor (floor press). The upper body strength you gain from the bench press will translate well when creating space, framing, or pushing the opponent.
7) Hammer Curls
Hammer curls are great for improving arm and grip strength. It strengthens the wrist and the tendons in the arm, preventing bicep-related injuries. This exercise comes in handy when performing body locks or finishing submissions requiring a bit of squeeze, like the rear naked choke.
The deadlift is the best exercise to increase overall body strength. It dramatically increases your functional strength, strengthening your posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, and erector spinae), grips, back, hips, and core. Deadlifts will make your takedowns, sprawls, and submissions very difficult to deal with.
9) Hip Thrust
The barbell hip thrust is one of the best exercises to boost overall sports performance. It can be done with a barbell, resistance band, or dumbbell. You can even use your body weight as a warm-up before training sessions. This exercise translates well to BJJ because hip drive is always a key component to moves like reversals, sweeps, and submissions.
The squat is undoubtedly the best way to build lower body strength. Having strong and durable leg muscles will significantly benefit you as a grappler as it is extensively used both in the standup and on the ground. A cool thing about the squat is that it can be performed almost anywhere, with or without equipment.
Some of the squat variations that will help your BJJ are the split and front squats. Split squat helps strengthen your legs and increase your explosiveness when changing levels for a takedown. The front squat helps as, most of the time, you are heavily loaded in your front legs during the stand up. This will make your base very sturdy and strong.
11) Power Cleans
Power cleans help your movements become explosive. Olympic lifts like the power clean help you apply a lot of force without being too tense. It also improves your overall athleticism, strengthens the neck, and makes your upper body more coordinated.
While the power cleans are primarily done with a barbell, you can also perform a variation with a medicine ball.
12) Kettlebell Swings
The kettlebell swing is one of the best kettlebell exercises for grappling, as it develops core stability, power and mobility. This exercise strengthens the grips, hips, lower back, and core. You can go light if you want to build your endurance or go heavy if you want to develop crushing power.
Building a solid body is always an intelligent approach to maximizing athletic performance. While technique is always the primary focus of all BJJ practitioners, it is always recommended to supplement your training with a strength and conditioning routine so that your body can perform well. For what is the use of your mind if your body cannot follow?
Remember that physical conditioning is always a big part of the puzzle as far as martial arts are concerned. We encourage you to create a workout program using our recommended exercises. These exercises will surely elevate your strength and conditioning to the next level.
You may also like: