Should Grapplers Be Doing More Body Weight or Free Weights Training?

Should Grapplers Be Doing More Body Weight or Free Weights Training?

Body conditioning is important for keeping up endurance levels, promoting a healthy cardiovascular system and toning up. But most importantly, it enhances performance on the mats. Hitting the gym everyday is not necessary if you are regularly training BJJ. The drills and sparring should provide you with enough of a work out. However, if you have a particular goal in mind, or you just need to get in an extra sweat, it’s important to know the appropriate endurance levels for your body while training Jiu-Jitsu.

A body weight exercise is a workout that doesn’t involve using free weights or machines. Squats, jumping jacks and lunges are all example of this type of exercise. Weight lifting on the other hand, involves the use of barbells or heavy weights to target a particular muscle group.

There is never going to be a straightforward formula for everyone. However, weight lifting can be often strenuous on the body, causing soreness that can last for even a couple of days after going to the gym. When I used to lift weights to bulk up my quads and hamstrings, even a light weight could cause me to be unable to move my legs the next day in practice. Lifting heavy weights is not recommended if you are training BJJ on a regular basis. Although weight lifting is good for building bone density, doing it improperly can result in serious injury. When lifting weights — especially heavy ones — it’s crucial to have someone help you with correct positioning and posture to avoid injury.

Body weight exercises can be fairly easy to do every day, and won’t cause intense soreness. “Weight lifting gives you strength” may sound contradictory. But on some level, that statement carries a great deal of truth. You may build strength but it may not be the kind of strength that is required for BJJ. When heavy weights are involved, the body builder is required to stay in one place, and create a sort of symmetry with their body in order to ensure proper lifting. In any martial art, movement is on two different planes. The only other sport that requires such an alignment is rowing.

A BJJ practitioner requires a gymnast’s power on the mats. In an interview with “T Nation,” former gymnast and coach for the USA Junior National Gymnastics Team, Christopher Sommer, said that a gymnast’s’ “training is compromised almost entirely out of bodyweight exercises.” Sommer also noted that “gymnastics training does indeed build incredible strength.”

“For example” he said, “I was not a particularly strong gymnast, yet I was able to do a double bodyweight deadlift and weighted chins with almost 50% extra bodyweight on my very first weight training attempts.”

When training BJJ it’s also important to take into consideration your diet and fitness. Body weight exercises are much more valuable in consistent BJJ training.

Here are some examples of body weight exercises for grapplers:

Pushups on your fingertips/ Spiderman pushups
Bulgarian split squats
Ab hip thrusts
Hill sprints
Broad Jumps

Rolling Strong combines scientific exercises and routines specifically geared towards grappling.

Phil Daru is a performance coach for over 200 Elite Level Fighters in all aspects of combat sports.
Learn a comprehensive approach that covers everything from proper warmups to exercises designed to improve your guard!