If you’re like most Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu students, you’re probably looking for ways to take your BJJ game to the next level. When it comes to making your way through the BJJ ranks, nothing compares to training regularly and rolling just as often.
Constant training ensures your gradual growth as a martial artist as you constantly add new techniques and drills to your arsenal. Your core will also become stronger when you train regularly, making it easier for you to execute certain techniques and train harder.
Of course, there are also a few things you can do off the mat to improve your BJJ and give yourself an edge over your training partners or opponents during competitions.
1) Hip Thrust
The hip thrust is an exercise that is tailor-made for BJJ practitioners. It mimics one of the most often used movements in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: bridging. It’s one of the first movements people learn when they start BJJ training. It is used to perform many sweeps and leg chokes.
That’s why the phrase ‘good hips’ is often used by BJJ practitioners. Those who develop their hip muscles tend to have a significant advantage over those who don’t. It is one of those things that is often the difference maker when it comes to who ends up with an advantageous position during scrambles.
This exercise is best done with a special type of exercise bench called a hip thruster, but it can also be done with a regular exercise bench or a plyometric box.
Performing a hip thrust
- Sit on the ground with your back against an exercise bench, your glutes on the floor and your feet about shoulder width apart.
- Bring your feet inwards until they are about a foot away from your glutes.
- When new to the exercise, feel free to spread your arms out on the bench for extra stability.
- Now, push your glutes off the floor using only your hips. Make sure you get full extension on each rep and slowly go back to the starting position.
- Once you’re familiar with the form, you can use barbells, dumbbells, or resistance bands to make it more of a challenge.
2) Modified Lunges for Grapplers
Having strong legs goes a long way when it comes to BJJ. It makes it easier for you to push opponents off and work your way back to your feet, it makes it easier to execute techniques like triangle chokes and sweeps, and it helps when driving your opponent to the ground with a takedown. Every BJJ practitioner should perform leg exercises regularly.
One of the best ways to get the most out of your leg workouts is by performing modified lunges. They are similar to regular lunges, but instead of the standard feet position, your feet are positioned just as they would be when going for a takedown. Doing this makes your glutes do the majority of the work.
Performing a grappler’s lunge
- Start from the reverse lunge position.
- Move your torso so that your shoulder line and chest come close to your knee.
- Keep your back straight and your face at a 45-degree angle with the ground.
- Perform a lunge while keeping your other heel on the floor.
- Perform the same exercise on the other side.
Feel free to add weights to the exercise as you build up your strength. It’s typically best to use dumbbells or kettlebells for this.
3) Alternating Base Rolls
Here is a more advanced exercise that can improve your BJJ game. It is often easier for people who are already used to performing bench rows and similar exercises. However, it is a very beneficial exercise for grapplers since it mimics the motion performed when trying to pass someone’s guard.
It strengthens your back, lats, and, most importantly, your base. A strong base helps you maintain good posture when rolling, it makes it easier to stuff your opponent’s attempts to sweep when you have them pinned, and it makes it easier for you to control his legs and hips when passing the guard.
Performing alternating base rows
This exercise is best performed using dumbbells or kettlebells.
- Start with both your feet pointing straight ahead and two shoulder lengths apart.
- Keep your elbows in and tight just as you would when grappling.
- Push downward with one hand, while pulling the weight in the other hand towards your hip.
- Repeat the same exercise for the other hand.
Burpees are a great exercise for BJJ practitioners that does not require any equipment. It is a great way to target many of the core muscles in the upper and lower body, and it is also a great way to improve your cardiovascular endurance. Anyone who can do 100 burpees at a time likely has cardio for days.
Burpees improve your hip flexibility and mobility, especially if you use proper form and jump as high as you possibly can at the end of each burpee.
- Start from standing position.
- Lower yourself into a squatting position and place your arms on the ground in front of you as you would when performing a push-up.
- Kick back your legs into the push-up position.
- Drop down and perform a push-up.
- Kick your feet back into the squatting position.
- Stand up and jump as high as you can while clapping your hands over your head.
Try starting with only about 5 burpees per set. Work your way up as you become stronger.
Each one of the exercises listed above works out muscles that are often used when grappling. Building these muscles up will, in turn, make you a stronger grappler. Of course, nothing improves your BJJ game like training with great instructors and rolling regularly.