BJJ Strength & Conditioning Β· Workout (.pdf Included πŸ’ͺ)

The best way to build ‘strength & conditioning’ for BJJ, is to drill techniques and roll. πŸ€™ πŸ’ͺ The body will always adapt specifically to the demands placed upon it. To get fit for BJJ, you must do BJJ! in addition, the better your technique, the stronger & fitter you will appear.

For MMA – see our MMA Strength & Conditioning Program

This article includes a BJJ Workout program & a BJJ body weight workout in the form of a circuit that can be done at home or at the gym.

However, weights and specific conditioning exercises can make a big difference and give you the edge – if you utilise the gym correctly.

Strength for BJJ comes down mainly to:

  • Specific Core Strength
  • Neck Strength
  • Grip Strength
  • Hip & Glute strength & Power
  • Isometric strength i.e. squeeze strength in the upper body

Please note – that in my opinion at least – Nogi requires a lot more explosive power for optimal, functional fitness. With less emphasis on gripping, generally in no-gi you can explode out of bottom position and escapes more easily than with a gi.

Gi is ‘tighter’ and slower, generally.  If you are a gi-player, I’d therefore say that it might not be worth risking injuries with a high amount of explosive, plyometrics & Olympic Lifts.

mma
Here’s me in 2007, using a very technical armbar escape

 

Things to Avoid with BJJ Strength & Conditioning

  • Remember you are training for BJJ, avoid bodybuilding exercises
  • Remember BJJ is your priority, don’t get injured going too heavy or overtraining in the gym

General Tips for Strength & Conditioning for BJJ

  • Train Movements not Muscles. Use bands, weighted vests etc to replicate techniques
  • Don’t over-train your grip – you’ll end up with tendinitis pretty quickly
  • Train the fundamental compound movements – squats, military press
  • Be cautious with Olympic Lifts & Plyometrics*
  • Train your ‘squeeze’ with isometric exercises
  • Have AT LEAST 1 complete rest day per week
  • Leave at least 1 day between conditioning sessions/workouts
  • Consider the Add-On-Technique described below

*These are fantastic exercises to improve your explosive power. No doubt Yoel Romero is a fan of plyometrics, but they do dramatically increase your risk of injury. Start of with a low volume & light weights. Get a coach or mentor whenever possible.

BJJ Strength & Conditioning – Session 1

  • Warm up with specific BJJ movements*
    e.g. 10 sit throughs, 10 get-ups, 10 triangle choke-hip-ups, 10 chest 2 chest sweeps
  • skipping – 5 minutes

  • Barbell Front Squat – 4 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Push Press – 4 sets of 6 reps
  • Floor Barbell Bench Press – 3 sets of 6-10 reps
  • Chin Ups (or rope climb) – 3 sets of max reps
  • Tabata Interval on Airdyne Bike x 2

Session 1 

Exercise Sets Reps Notes 
Barbell Front Squats 6-8  
Barbell Push Press  
Barbell Bench Press (Floor) 6-10  
Chin Ups*max  
Airdyne Bike 2 Tabata Intervals  1 min rest between intervals 


*Hold your body at the top of the bar for an isometric hold of 3 seconds. You can also add band-exercises, and practice squeezing at the bottom of the movement for as long as possible:

Isometrics – Squeeze at the bottom of the pull



A Functional Warm up using BJJ movements:

BJJ Strength & Conditioning – Session 2

  • Warm up with specific BJJ movements
  • 5 minute skip
  • High Pulls x 4 sets x 5 reps
  • Split Squat x 2 sets of 10 reps (2 sets on each leg)
  • Barbell Squat & Press x 2 sets of 10 reps
  • Barbell Rows x 2 sets of 6 reps
  • Turkish Get Ups x 2 sets of 8 reps (click to see video of get ups)
Exercise Sets Reps Notes 
High Pulls  
Split Squats 10  
Barbell Squat & Press 10  
Barbell Rows  
Turkish Get Ups 2 sets on each β€˜side’ 

*Consider doing explosive shrugs instead of high pulls. High pulls can aggravate should injuries

BJJ Strength & Conditioning – Session 3

  • Warm up with specific BJJ movements
  • Hindu Press ups – 2 sets of max reps
  • Shoulder Bridge Press – 2 sets of max reps
  • Stability Ball Hamstring Curls – 2 sets of 20 reps
  • Stability Ball Back Extensions – 2 sets of 10 reps
  • Stability Ball Pikes – 2 sets of 10 reps
Exercise Sets Reps Notes 
Hindu Press ups Max reps  
Shoulder Bridge Presses Max reps  
Stability Ball Hamstring Curls 20  
Stability Ball Back Extensions 10  
Stability Ball Pikes 10  

BJJ Circuit

Use a weighted vest to create a highly specific BJJ Circuit

  • Fight-stance – Sidestep Squats
  • Sit-throughs
  • Rotational Box Jumps*
  • Burpee-Sprawls
  • Triangle ‘hip ups’**
  • Medicine Ball Slams
  • Band Curls
  • Militarily Press
  • Glute Bridge into Mount Hip Escape***
  • Fight Stance Squat & Step****
  • Thrusters (Squat & Press) with band or dumbbells

*Stand on a box. Face forwards. Jump and rotate so that you land looking to the right. Video here.

**Lie on your back. Lift your feet off the ground & perform a triangle choke movement, in mid air

***Lie on your back. Bring feet to your buttocks. Bridge up by lifting your buttocks off the floor as high as possible. Then perform the mount hip escape by ‘shrimping’

****Adopt the stance of a wrestler/BJJ Player, standing up with one leg in front of the other, slightly side on. Squat down, and then as you come up, step forwards as far as you can by driving off your back foot. Then squat down and repeat.

Below is a video of a hip escape with a ‘shrimping’ movement

The Add On Program

If you are training 4 or 5 times a week, and rolling for hours each week, your body needs rest, not more conditioning & stress.

I would recommend looking to periodise you training, but also consider using the “add-on program”.

Instead of dedicated an hour or two, to your strength & conditioning each week. Consider performing 3 or 4 sets before you train. Make your rolling more intense and use it as your fitness training.

With an extra 15-20 minutes before training, you can give yourself 2 or 3 days full rest.

A single set of resistance training, can significantly increase strength, according to research – see study here. Also, I believe this is the approach to conditioning that Firas Zahabi uses.

Example Add-On-Program

Day 1

Warm up

Front Squats – 2 sets of 8 reps

Plyometric Rotational Jump – 1 set of 10 reps

Day 3

Warm up

kettlebell clean & Press – 3 sets of 10 reps on each arm

Day 5

Warm up

Chin ups – 2 sets of max reps

Clap press ups – 2 sets of 6 reps

That’s it!

15 minutes, 3 times a week, before you train BJJ.

The Add-On-Approach 

Day Exercise Sets Reps Notes 
Barbell Front Squats 6-8  
Plyometric Rotational Jumps 12  
kettlebell clean & Press 10 3 sets per arm 
Chin Ups max  
Clap/Plyo Press Ups  

Exercise at your own risk.
Jumps, plyometrics & Olympic Lifts all carry a relatively high risk of injury.
Always consider to risk-to-return ratio of your conditioning program. 
For example, barbell High Pulls are a great Olympic Lift for developing power, but also carry a high risk of injury.

PreHab Exercises for BJJ

Do these exercises at least twice a week to help prevent injuries.

Rotator Cuff Exercises:  

Neck Exercises

Reverse Curls with a band & Bottom-up Kettlebell Shoulder Press

Crucial Stretches for BJJ

The World’s Greatest Stretch

worlds greatest stretch
World’s Greatest Stretch. Right Foot in front, Left Knee on the floor. Left Hand Down, Right hand reaches back

Neck Stretches

Hang off a bar

Literally hang off a chin up bar for 1 minute. Be careful not to lift yourself up and then drop into position though, as you could damage your shoulders.

More info about the benefits off bar-hanging on my post here

Finally, I’d just like to mention that supplementing with baking soda and doing the Wim Hof technique helped me fitness for BJJ & MMA tremendously. The baking soda makes a big difference with muscular endurance and Wim Hof helps to control your breathing.

For some more ideas on strength & conditioning, please see my strength & conditioning for boxing post

Download the Workout Plan as a .pdf here.

About Drew

MMA, Fitness & Marketing enthusiast from North Wales, UK. A Stoic Hippy with no hair. Not to boast but - 1st Class Degree in Sports Science from Loughborough, MSc in Nutrition from the University of Liverpool. 20 years experience of weight & fitness training.
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