Most Jiujiteiros have no issue spending exorbitant amounts of time on the mats. Heck, if you didn’t enjoy BJJ, you wouldn’t train it in the first place, right? You wouldn’t mind training three times per day, if only your schedule allowed. However, BJJ isn’t enough if you want to become great at it. You also have to exercise! Your muscles need to be strong and healthy if you wish to have a long and injury-low rolling career. Most importantly, perhaps, you should work on your back.
But why strengthen your back in particular? Well, it’s not as straightforward as you may think it is.
BJJ FACILITATES BAD POSTURE – AND INJURIES THAT COME ALONG WITH IT
When „working out your back“ is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is that this is done to prevent back injuries. This is, of course, very much true. A stronger back means a healthier, less injured back.
However, when this is taken into the context of Jiu Jitsu, then it doesn’t make much sense. The back injuries that happen in BJJ are rarely the result of having a weak back; although, yet again, strengthening it helps. On the contrary, they are a result of sudden, forcefully applied movements (the horrors of a Twister and being stacked by a heavyweight, anyone?) and improper movement patterns.
What strengthening your back will do for your health is that it will correct your posture and prevent injuries to the front of your body, prolonging your BJJ longevity in the process!
If you think about it, you’ll quickly realize that Jiu Jitsu facilitates bad posture. Meaning: you’re crunched over all day, at your laptop and phone… And then, when you’re on the mats, what happens? The same thing – most, if not all of your time training BJJ is spent with a rounded back. This results in the muscles on the front of your body getting tighter (your shoulders and pecs), which makes you more susceptible to injury; especially to shoulder injuries. Additionally, it makes your back hurt.
The only solution to this issue is to strengthen your back and stretch the front of your body!
STRETCH THE FRONT OF MY BODY? WHY?
Yes! You shouldn’t start with strengthening your back, but rather with doing some deep stretches for the front of your body. As we’ve mentioned before, your pec muscles and shoulder get tight from being crunched over all the time… So, it would be wise to stretch them out a bit first; to loosen them up, so that they can function properly!
The most beneficial stretch that you could do is the pec minor stretch. It will open up your chest and shoulders, and it feels really good! Just find a door frame, place your forearm against it while bending the arm at the elbow, step forward, and relax into it. The video below explains how to do it properly:
Only after you’re done loosening up the pecs and the shoulders should you move on to back exercises; you will perform the exercises properly, as you won’t overcompensate by using tight muscles. And arguably the best back exercise for Jiujiteiros is the barbell row, as it will truly enforce your back muscles to pull you back – which means that your posture will be better.
Do it with control, don’t jerk it (if you do, then you’re using your shoulders… Are they still tight?). And it’s probably best to do them with a supinated grip so that your form has a greater chance of being excellent.
Watch this video to get an idea of how to execute it: