Five Strength Training Exercises to Help Your Jiu-Jitsu Training
Strength training is an absolute must in today’s world of Jiu-Jitsu and Grappling. It is no longer an accessory but requirement in order to be at your best and if you are looking to improve all aspects of your jiu-jitsu. The list in this article represent exercises that anyone can include to improve their game, but these are not the only ones that can help. Strength and conditioning requires experimenting and consistency.
1. Push-ups/Pull ups
This is technically two different exercises but they go together so well, it’s only natural to pair them together. The push-up can be done literally anywhere, and the pull-up requires only something you can pull on. The multiple push-ups/pull-ups variations will challenge you physically and mentally. Learning to be strong, and mobile, from multiple angles is key to improving your jiu-jitsu. As we all know, things aren’t always forwards and backwards in jiu-jitsu. Push-ups allows you to get strong from different range of motions compared to the bench press, and the same can be said about pull-ups. Besides getting stronger and the minimalism of calisthenics, another added benefit is that you will greatly strengthen your joints and tendons, things that get missed with other forms of strength training. Calisthenics are often overlooked and undervalued, but with a little bit of Google research, you will quickly find that EVERY old school wrestler did calisthenics, and in high volume.
2. Turkish Get Up (TGU)
Many have probably heard this before, but if it isn’t broken there’s no need to fix it, the Turkish Get Up remains one of the best exercises for jiu-jitsu. The movement required for the TGU mimics a technical stand up in grappling. It does not matter which tool (kettlebell, dumbbell, sandbag, etc.) is used so long as the weight is challenging AND you are focusing on the movement. After a few weeks, you will be a lot more stable, and proficient in standing up. The TGU requires a lot of focus and concentration to make sure your body is stable, and recruits multiple muscles. So, grab something heavy, be it a dumbbell, kettlebell, barbell or a partner even, and get to moving. Don’t forget to train both sides with this exercise.
3. Kettlebell Swing
The kettlebell swing strengthens the posterior chain, which is important for pretty much anything in life. Some muscles in your posterior chain include: glutes, hamstrings, erector spinae, trapezius and deltoids. All those back muscles are going to get taxed, as well as your glutes and some of your legs. This movement is sure to correct any posture issues (we all know how important posture is in jiu-jitsu) as well as recruit your core muscles (another important aspect in jiu-jitsu). A strong and tight core and neutral spine is required to perform this exercise with correct form. Besides taxing and using multiple muscle groups, the added benefit of the kettlebell swing is that it will increase your work capacity, and therefore make you last longer on the mats. While strength helps, being able to outlast your opponent is equally just as important, and you get to improve both with the kettlebell swing.
I know what you’re thinking. “An isolation exercise isn’t going to help me. Bigger biceps won’t do anything!” I used to be a non-believer too, until I talked to a few people who were higher in rank than me, and more accomplished. Generally speaking, the bicep curl gets a bad reputation for being no good for anything other than bigger biceps, but let’s look at this under a wider lens. The movement of the exercise looks just like a movement someone would do to defend an arm bar attack. From my own experience, one of my training partners (who is a lot bigger and stronger than me) is always to withstand my arm bars simply by doing the bicep curl motion. The more weight you can curl, for high reps mind you, the longer you can defend an arm bar onslaught. Bicep curls for arm bar defense, but curls for the girls (or guys) too.
Any and all squat variation will greatly increase your performance on the mats. The legs feed the wolf, and if you’re trying to hunt submissions you need to have the muscular strength and endurance in your legs to push forward. Two legged squats, one legged, front or back, they’re all useful. High volume, high reps will provide the workload necessary to improve strength and endurance. Training the squat will give you that extra edge your need to score a take down, or make that triangle choke tighter, or hold your guard more efficiently. Don’t neglect your legs.
Those are the top five strength exercises that will make a huge difference on the mats. Try incorporating a few at first, and then all of them into your strength and conditioning routine, to reap the full benefits. Remember to focus on the MOVEMENT of the exercises and then high volume. Stay sharp on the mats!