Grapplers should not train like bodybuilders. Strength training should be supplemental to their sport. The strength and conditioning field has evolved quite a bit, but there are still people who use exercises that are not beneficial to them. I am going to discuss five different exercises that you can add to your strength program. These exercises will make you stronger overall, and less prone to injuries.
Gi pull ups
Grappling is a sport that requires a lot of pulling. One example would be a single leg takedown attempt. After you have reached your partner’s leg you will have to pull it in tight so you can complete the takedown. Another scenario would be holding the sleeves of your opponent while playing spider guard. It is a constant battle between pushing and pulling. Developing the back muscles necessary to perform these actions is really important. The reps and sets will determine which attribute you want to develop. Using the gi for pull-ups comes with a bonus. That bonus is also working on your grip strength. In my opinion, it is essential for a grappler regardless of their weight class to be able to pull their body weight up utilizing the gi.
Strong and powerful hips go a long way in Jiu-jitsu. You use your hips when shrimping, shooting for takedowns, passing guard, bridging, finishing submissions, etc. The kettlebell swing will help develop power in your hips. It will also teach you how to use your hips properly by hinging. The swing also targets the posterior muscles of your body. Such as your hamstrings and glutes which are very important for strong bridging abilities.
If there is one exercise that can be used for conditioning, strength and many other attributes this would be it. Sled pushing demands great lower body mechanics and trunk stabilization. These are the two main components when going for single or double leg takedowns. Besides that, the sled can also be used for cardio. All you need to do is load it with weights and start to push it back and forth at an intensity suitable for your level. If you want to make yourself throw up go ahead, but I would not recommend it.
If you have never picked up a heavy object and tried to walk with it, go outside right now and do it. There is nothing
special about carrying heavy shit. What makes carries so great are the benefits that you get
from doing them. There are three ways to carry something heavy. Bear hug, suitcase, and farmers carries. If it doesn’t have a handle and it is too heavy, like your opponent for example, then bear hug will do. Sandbags or rocks work great for bear hug carries. For the other two variations, kettlebells should be your tool of choice. These exercises will teach core and hip stability. The point, however, is to use proper technique. Every muscle in your body will be working.
One of best exercises for lower body strength. You can use a weight vest to make it harder or hold weights in your hands. This exercise works one leg at a time. That is one reason why it is so great for grappling athletes. Another great thing is that these are safer compared to conventional squats with the barbell. There is no direct compression of the spine and the discs. Bilateral squats require lower back stability at the bottom which makes them less safe compared to Bulgarian squats.
Trap bar deadlift
Deadlifts make grapplers strong but should be performed with caution. Lower back injuries are a pretty serious thing. A
better choice for grappling athletes would be the trap bar deadlift. Look in the mirror and be honest with yourself. You are not a powerlifter so don’t train like one. The position of the body with the trap bar allows a more functional lift. What makes it ”functional” is the centering of the weight which remains constant throughout the lift. Conventional deadlifts take longer to learn and put you at a higher risk for injury. I know it’s sexier to ‘’lift conventional bro’’, but walking like a ‘’stiffie’’ due to a back injury is worse.
Strength training is a great way to build strength and improve your grappling. With that said, you should always train smart. Random bodybuilding workouts will not help your grappling. They might actually hinder performance on the mats. Use the exercises described above to your advantage. Remember, sets, reps and weight will determine your goals. The best approach will be to hire a trainer that can help you. Train smart, stay healthy and enjoy the process.