Strength Matters: Most Jacked BJJ Athletes

Strength Matters: Most Jacked BJJ Athletes

Photo: Mike Calimbas Photography

Helio Gracie believed superior technique could overcome all other disadvantages but in an effort to be at the top of their game – these jiujiteros put some serious effort into strength and conditioning. Below you can view our most jacked bjj athletes and gain insight into their strength and conditioning routines:

Gordon Ryan

Gordon Ryan’s meteoric rise to fame has been followed by his meteoric gains in weight.

Gordon Ryan sure talks a big game but also he’s apparently a huge worker. Recently Ryan shared his schedule for the day which is scary – to say the least.

Here are some highlights to give you an idea what it takes to become ADCC champion:
* woke up at 545 to get to 745 class with danaher where we drilled and trained until 915.
* At 930 I did my MMA drills led by @danaherjohn until 1040
* went to teach a private directly after from 1040 until 1140.
* 1230 where I then took John’s second class of drilling and training ending at around 230.
* At 5 I taught an hour long private then another hour long private from 6-7.
* At 730 I taught the night class @renzogracieacademy until 9 pm.
* lift weights from 930 until 11.

Nobody is denying the ADCC medalist is working overtime making both his physique and skills happen however it’s also pretty obvious to point out that Ryan does not compete at the only bjj competition that features In Competition testing – bjj gi worlds.

Nick Rodriguez

ADCC silver medalist Nick Rodriguez has taken the grappling world by storm. The division III wrestler only took up BJJ training 2 years ago, and in a record time reached the impressive silver medal at this year’s ADCC.

He earned his purple in BJJ on the podium of ADCC from his instructor, after having beaten BJJ black belt world champion Mahamed Aly and 2015 ADCC champion Orlando Sanchez.

Rodriguez has incredible agility and explosiveness for such a big man. At 230lbs he was see using the spectacular cartwheel pass multiple times at ADCC, confusing his opponents and literally jumping over their guards.

He even released his own strength training instructional on BJJ Fanatics about the perfect grappling workout:


Mahamed Aly

BJJ world champion Mahamed Aly is built like a professional NFL player. This physical specimen could have chosen any sport and have excelled in any one at the elite level.


Pablo Popovitch


Height: 1.78 m (5′ 10″) Weight: Pablo competed in various categories. He’s frequently featured in the -84 kg category. BJJ Heroes lists his weight division as Medio (82kg – 181lbs).

For his last ADCC appearance in 2011 Pablo Popovitch worked with Jeremy Fedoruk – strength and conditioning expert. Among other things they’ve done work on hip extension, knee extension and ankle extension to improve Pablo’s takedown game and the ability to control the opponent. Pablo’s day also included daily bjj and wrestling trainings. Typical routing includes a variety of squats and deadlifts. Particularly interesting is a routine of deadlifting the Olympic weightlifting bar with no weights but with jumping on every 5th repeat. In the video attached below he also power slams battle rope and does inward and outward rotations of it. He also keeps his own diet to help speed up recovery – the Popovitch diet.


Andre Galvao

Photo: Mike Calimbas Photography

Height: 1.74 m (5′ 9″) Weight: Meio Pesado (88 kg – 194lbs)   Andre Galvao is one of the greatest competitors in bjj maybe ever. He has 5x World Championships, 8xPan American Championships and 6xADCC golds under his belt. His instagram features some impressive bench presses. https://www.instagram.com/p/BEENb5JCtjY/?taken-by=galvaobjj In the comment section he confirms the weight in question to be 365 lbs (or 165.5kg). In an interview in 2014 he said he couldn’t begin to understand the athletes who still indulge in coke, hamburgers and similar guilty pleasures. You can view his circuit training for the ADCC on //www.bjjee.com/strength-conditioning/andre-galvaos-pre-adcc-circuit-training/


Rousimar Palhares


Height: 1.72 m (5′ 8″) Weight: He recently fought Tonon at 83kg but he’s been known to walk close to 90 frequently. However the UFC still lists his weight at 77kg (or 170 lbs).   Rousimar Palhares’s monster physique is a source for bafflement. The little tree stump (“toquinho” in Portuguese) claims he works out 13 times a week. 3 times strength and conditioning training and the rest is dedicated to sparring. One rare video of him in the gym documents his 300kg leg lifts as well as benching what looks like 188.2 kg or (415 lbs).



Ricardo Arona

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Height: 1.80 m (5′ 11″) Weight: 100kg or (220lbs)

Possibly the greatest ever champion in the ADCC. He has never had a single point scored on him in the ADCC. Ricardo Arona always showed up in tremendous shape for his competitions and fights. He is built like a bodybuilder.

BJJ Heroes has more:

He dedicated a lot of time developing ways to improve his strength and conditioning. For this, he says he likes to train with nature, having developed a set of exercises from walking against sea’s current to develop balance, running up hills on a beach for stamina and doing extreme manoeuvres while surfing in the beach of Itacoatira to test his adrenaline dump.

Gabi Garcia



Height: 1.87 m (6′ 2″) Weight:  97.9kg (216lbs)

Back in 2015 Gabi Garcia said she could make 198 pounds for her mma debut. Without a doubt her weight loss is followed with a killer strength and cardio routine. While her form leaves much to be desired, the weights she lifts are monstrous – much like Gabi:

We’ve confirmed she practices crossfit at a variety of locations and is a known user of the elevation training mask.




Kron Gracie

Kron Gracie

Kron Gracie

Height: 1.75m (5′ 7″) Weight: Peso Médio (82kg – 181lbs)

Kron Gracie likes to mix it up. Besides teaching he’s a fan of the outdoor work outs. He swims in the ocean, jogs, rides a bike or swims. His warm ups typically consist of about 100 pull-ups and dips. Young prodigy of the Gracie clan claims to barely ever lift weights. Instead he focuses on push-ups, pull-ups and jiu-jitsu. You can find out more about Kron’s regimen if you click here.


Rafael Mendes


Height: 1.75m (5′ 8″) Weight: Peso Pena (70kg – 154lbs)

Unlike many of the above mentioned, Rafael Mendes advocates doing no less than15 three minute rounds without rest in-between. He believes that short rounds make the match more equal even against lower ranked opponents. To goal is to be fast and powerful to win. He insists he doesn’t really believe in pumping iron. Sometimes he does 6 or 8 10 minute rounds without rest. The goal is to reach the submission without rest so he can keep moving. He insists this type of training increases endurance. In spite of everything he says, watching his circuit training for the ADCC leaves no doubt – he is a beast on his own.


Angelica Galvao


Height: 1.75m (5′ 8″) ? Weight: Meio-Pesado (74kg – 163lbs)

Back in 2006, after finding out she was expecting Angelica Galvao hung up the belt for a while. In spite of giving up bjj for the time she was still doing daily dead lifting. That’s how fat her commitment goes. Back in 2011 she returned to the competitive circuit and won Worlds straight away. For the Galvaos gym time equals family time. She’s equally committed as Andre to achieving maximum athleticism and she’s got the body to show for it!


I just love lifting ? Amo malhar

A video posted by Angelica Galvao (@angelicagalvao) on

Rodolfo Vieira

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Height: 1.85m (6′ 1″) Weight: competes at both Peso Pesado (94kg-207lbs) and Super Pesado (100kg/221lbs)

Rodolfo Viera believes in hard work. He dedicates Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to conditioning on the mats. He often does specific exercises and cardio in the morning. In the afternoon he typically trains bjj at GFTeam. But twice a weak he focuses on lifting weights. On weightlifting days he practices positions in the afternoon class as opposed to regular training. These are the days you could catch him and have a lighter sparring session. There’s no question, he puts in hard work and thinks through every aspect.

Gregor Gracie

Gregor Gracie-700


Height: 1.80m (5′ 11″) Weight: 77kg or Peso Medio (82kg/181lbs)

Gregor Gracie upholds the family tradition of cross-training. Over the years he even participated in several wrestling exhibition matches. The instructor at Renzo Gracie academy claims his preparations for MMA fights are 100% focused on his opponents characteristics. Much like his cousin Kron, during down time you might catch him skating. If you follow his social media you might also see him working on his calisthenics and cardio. Unlike the average bjj player Gregor also has the access to a hyperbaric oxygen chamber.


Romulo Barral


Rômulo Barral is a black belt under Vinicius Magalhaes and competes for Gracie Barra, where he has won numerous championships. Rômulo Barral is one of the top Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighters in the “Meio Pesado” weight division. Rômulo Barral maintained this black belt status in the years that followed with consistent medals at the top BJJ tournaments in the world. In August, 2011, Rômulo established his own Gracie Barra academy in Northridge, California, proving that he is also a coach. Rômulo is a 5-time black belt world champion, 3-time silver medalist in the open weight division, and a NO GI world champion, and the 2013 ADCC champion.

Romulo Barral’s very well known strength and conditioning coach, Leo Frincu, wrote a special blog post dedicated just to Rominho. 

In the post, Leo talks about why Romulo WILL reach all of his goals. Check it out:

“Today was another amazing day. It was another reason why I absolutely love my job and it was confirmed again that what I preach works. Romulo, after years of training, you’ve reached a limit most athletes don’t know exist. I’ve been coaching you for a while and I can proudly tell you that your mental and physical state have established an alliance that very few are able to achieve. You experienced how your desire fuels your drive. You acknowledged your will power becoming your weapon. This is the day when your purpose became your religion and your Dream became your God. Today was the perfect example of what it takes to achieve your goal. You need to worship it. You need to believe in it. You need to feel it running through your veins. You need to become one with your dream, as if, life wouldn’t matter without.
My friend, welcome to the NEXT LEVEL.”

Honorable mention: Lucas Hulk Barbosa, Patrik Claudio, Roberto Cyborg…

Why are SUPERSETS the key to Nicky Rod’s “pump”?

  • ADCC silver medalist Nicky Rod’s unique and simple workout tweaks will take you to BEAST MODE in no time!
  • You don’t have to be a high level wrestler to get a high level GAS TANK!