If you want to get better at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, there’s no doubt that you’ll need to improve your body too. While there are countless ways to do this, here are six we recommend.
We’re all for people finding ways off the mat to improve their BJJ game. That being said, you can’t possibly improve without putting time in on the mat and actually sparring. Aside from what it does to fortify your training, sparring works your muscles and your conditioning in a very specific way that’s simply impossible to replicate with any exercises.
Burpees are a great BJJ workout for a couple reasons. First, you need some serious lung capacity to knock out 50 or 100 of these, especially if you’re going to do multiple sets.
Secondly, they’re a good workout for both your upper and lower body. Make sure you’re doing the actual jump at the top of your burpees so you build that explosive power in your legs.
Third, burpees automatically increase your hip mobility. The entire exercise demands their cooperation. In BJJ, your hips are arguably the most important part of your body.
Hindu Push Up
This is a great variation on the traditional pushup. Your core needs to stay nice and tight while your body goes through the motion, but it’s also another great movement for your hips too.
If you don’t have a solid grip to rely on, your BJJ game isn’t going anywhere. Whether you do gi or no-gi, a strong grip is essential.
There are a lot of ways you can build a better grip, but we prefer chin-ups and pull-ups. For one thing, lifting your own weight is a lot like tugging on someone of similar size. It also forces your grip to work through different angels as your body goes up and down.
Lastly, it’s just a very efficient workout. When you pull up, make sure you’re looking toward the ceiling to really activate the entire upper back. You’ll even feel your abs get involved too.
Explode, Explode, Explode
Any exercise that forces your body to explode is going to help you with BJJ. Box jumps are amazing for this. When you go to take someone down, your quads have to be powerful enough to push through resistance and finish the movement.
That’s not where your need for explosiveness ends, though. Think about breaking your opponent’s guard. If you want to pass, you need explosive power to move to side-control.
Box jumps are great for this (or just jump squats), but so are clapping pushups. Kettlebell swings, clean and jerk, deadlifts and jump lunges are all great ways to train your body for explosions too.
While we advocate sparring to train up your conditioning, sprints are probably our second favorite method for building your lungs into powerful cardio pipes.
A sprint should take between 15 and 60 seconds. Mix it up, but also do what you can for now and build on it. The longer you sprint, the more time you need to give yourself for recovery.
Doing this type of interval training for sprints is better for cardio than all the jogging in the world. You only need 10 to 20 minutes to get a lot of quality sprinting in too.
You Don’t Want Too Much Muscle
You’ll notice that, for the most part, we stayed away from using weights. They’re not inherently a bad idea, but the kind of muscle you’ll build isn’t always transferable to the mats.
Having lots of muscle is great for BJJ, but only if you’re able to support it during matches. Big, bulky muscles look cool, but they’re going to demand a lot of oxygen and fill with lactic acid in short order (which will render them useless).
For best results, stick to bodyweight exercises and really push yourself to hit higher set/rep combinations. Above all else, though, remember what we said at the beginning: you have to hit the mats.