This Circuit Training Routine Will Help You Take Your BJJ Game To The Next Level

While the best way to improve in BJJ is to train more in the gentle art itself, alternative conditioning methods will certainly give your game that extra “oomph”. While there are plenty of different methods to improve your Jiu-Jitsu outside of actually training in the art, circuit training ranks very high on the list.

A “circuit” is a series of exercises, each performed for a certain amount of time or repetitions, one after the other. When you performed all the exercises needed, you have finished a circuit, and you can begin the next circuit right after, or after a brief period of rest.  

Unlike other forms of resistance workouts, circuit training is typically a short workout, usually lasting less than 30 minutes if done at the right intensity. The equipment used in the routine does not necessarily have to take up a lot of space, making it ideal for group classes within the BJJ academy.

While it does build some strength, explosive power, and cardio, the real star of the show is muscular endurance, which is one of the most important physical aspects of BJJ. Playing guard, passing, maintaining dominant positions, finishing submissions, and just the sheer execution of a technique favors the development of muscular endurance. You will last longer in those later rounds of sparring, and more rounds mean more polishing of your techniques.


The Circuit Exercises

To help you get started with your circuit training for BJJ improvement, we have come up with a series of exercises that are mostly compound movements and are not too heavy on your central nervous system. This means you can do them with high intensity, working your muscles to a very high degree, and still be able to train BJJ before or after the routine.

The only pieces of equipment needed are 2 kettlebells of the same weight, but if you only have access to 1 kettlebell, we also provide you with an alternative way to perform the circuit training. The ideal starting weight is 16kg each for men and 12kg each for women. 


1) Plyo Push-ups

Do a clap in between every rep of a push-up. 1 repetition requires you to push hard and fast on the floor as you are coming up on a push-up, to generate enough “air time” to clap your hands together, and quickly land with both hands on the floor. This will help your body get used to generating explosive power, while also working your chest, shoulders, and tricep muscles.


2) Goblet Squat

Hold the kettlebell close to your chest and perform a squat. Use one kettlebell or both kettlebells, depending on your fitness level.


3) Renegade Rows

Go to a push-up position on top of 2 kettlebells. Do a regular kettlebell rowing motion with one arm, while the other arm balances on top of the other kettlebell. Repeat the motion with the opposite arm to complete one repetition. Your legs and core should be in a plank position the entire time. This will work your core and back muscles.


4) Kettlebell Swing

Perform a regular kettlebell swing. Make sure to keep your back straight during the entire motion, and do only a slight bend with your knees as the kettlebell goes down. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings.


5) Kettlebell Bent Over Row

Just like a regular barbell row, but with a kettlebell on each side. Feel the pull on your lats and traps.


How To Perform The Circuit

Here are 2 methods on how to perform the circuit:


Method 1 – As Many Reps As Possible (AMRAP) Workout

Set your HIIT timer to 15 seconds of work and 45 seconds of rest. Perform As Many Reps as Possible (AMRAP) of each exercise for 15 seconds and rest 45 seconds in between. Make sure to take note of how many reps of each exercise you were able to do in 15 seconds so that you may try to beat your record in your next workout session.

The workout should look like this:

  • Plyo Push-ups – As Many Reps As Possible (AMRAP) for 15 seconds
  • 45 seconds rest
  • Goblet Squat- AMRAP 15 seconds
  • 45 seconds rest
  • Renegade Rows*- AMRAP 15 seconds
  • 45 seconds rest
  • Single or Double Kettlebell Swings – AMRAP 15 seconds
  • 45 seconds rest
  • Kettlebell Bent Over Row Left Arm- AMRAP 15 seconds
  • 45 seconds rest
  • Kettlebell Bent Over Row Right Arm- AMRAP 15 seconds
  • 45 seconds rest

Repeat the circuit again, starting with the Plyo Push-ups. Do at least 3 circuits and a maximum of 5 for beginners.


Method 2 – Every Minute On The Minute (EMOM) Workout

Set your HIIT timer to ring the alarm every 1 minute. Perform a fixed number of repetitions per exercise at the start of every minute. The earlier you finish your target repetitions, the more time you will have to rest. This method is usually more difficult than method 1 as it will leave you with less time to rest.

The workout should look like this:

  • Plyo Push-ups – 10 reps (if you are unable to do a regular push-up, you can do kneeling push-ups instead)
  • Goblet Squat – 10 reps
  • Renegade Rows* – 5-7 reps
  • Single or Double Kettlebell Swings – 10 reps
  • Kettlebell Bent Over Row Left – 10 reps
  • Kettlebell Bent Over Row Right – 10 reps

Again, repeat the circuit, starting with the Plyo Push-ups. Do at least 3 circuits and a maximum of 5. 

*If you have access to only one kettlebell, you can replace the Renegade Rows with a simple 30 seconds plank.



kettlebell swing

Ideally, you should be able to do at least 3 circuits per workout. This should be able to give you enough energy for another session, or two, of BJJ training for the day. For a more intense workout, 5 circuits would be ideal.

If you can do more than 5 circuits easily, it may be time to increase the time for AMRAP workout to 20 seconds of work and 40 seconds of rest, or increase the rep range for EMOM workout by around 20%. Another option is to increase the weight of the kettlebell.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to change the exercises frequently. Changing the time, rep range and/or weight of the kettlebell will provide enough stimulus for adaptation – your body’s way of getting stronger. That is why it is important to keep track of your numbers. Again, write down the number of reps you were able to do for each exercise so that you may be able to add more to your next session. 

If you are feeling weak or lethargic the day after your workout/training, it may be an indication to lessen the load or the number of reps. You also need to make sure to get enough rest from these types of workouts. We recommend a maximum of 3 times a week of circuit training, especially if you are training BJJ at the same time.


So there you have it, a circuit training routine that can help improve your BJJ game by increasing strength, cardiovascular and muscular endurance. Remember that these types of workouts are a supplement to BJJ training and not a replacement.


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