If you want to be the best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athlete you can be, then you need a strong and stable core! If you neglect working on it, you might not reach your maximum BJJ potential; but you could also get seriously injured.
Phil Daru – one of the world’s top MMA trainers for over ten years, who has trained champions such as Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Dustin Poirier, Junior Dos Santos, King Mo Lawal and many others; as well as a strength and conditioning coach for the American Top Team – has prepared 6 BJJ-specific core exercises that you’ll enjoy a lot!
STRENGTHEN YOUR CORE!
The primary thing these exercises will work on, Phil explains, is intra abdominal pressure or core tightness. This is of high importance, because a Jiu Jitsu athlete needs to be able to both brace and breathe properly at the same time; so that he can continue moving optimally despite the positions he finds himself in.
Also, they will be working your anti-flexion, anti-rotation and anti-extension; all of which will turn your opponent’s attempts to break your posture and sweep you into a difficult endeavour.
Flexion and extension, also, will enable you to both pull the opponents towards you and to extend yourself when necessary (for example, when resisting someone’s pull). Finally, rotation improvements will help you to, for example, rotate your hips out more effectively; while isometrics will improve your strength in static positions.
The first exercise are the Deadbugs. Phil demonstrates that you’ll, basically, be laying down on the floor with your legs bent at a 90 degree angle and your arms straight up towards the ceiling. Then, you’ll extend one of your legs in the same time as you’re pulling the opposite arm down behind your ear (while still keeping it straight). Then, bring them back to the starting position and switch sides.
The point of this exercise is to keep your lower back on the floor as much as you can; don’t let it rise off! To achieve this, Phil explains that you need to brace and pull your abdominal muscles down to the floor.
SHIN BOX PAYLOF PRESS
For this one, grab an elastic band, tie it to a post and sit on the floor so that you far leg is externally rotated, while the other leg is rotated internally. Then, Phil demonstrates that you need to take the band with your far hand, interlock your arms and bring them to your chest. Now, press forwards with your hands until your arms are locked out; then, drive your hips up while you make sure that your torso and hips are pointing forward at all times.
From there, come back down slowly with your hips and immediately repeat the drive through – keep your arms straight the whole time!
HANGING LEG RAISES
A popular gymnastics-style exercise, Hanging Leg Raises will work your rectus abdominis muscle (your abs); getting you ready to pull your opponents with more effectiveness, as well as strengthening your Guard. How to do it? Phil explains; grab a bar you can hang from, lock your lats and hollow-out your body. Now, drive your legs up to a 90 degree angle, lower with control and repeat.
REVERSE HYPER EXTENSIONS
Reverse Hyper Extensions will strengthen your lower back, hamstrings and glutes. Simply lay down on the Reverse Hyper machine with your belly down, wrap your ankles around the point you’ll lift the weights with, and extend your legs backwards while keeping both them and your upper back straight.
CABLE TRANSVERSE ROTATIONAL PULLS
As you might’ve guessed, this one will help you develop that rotational strength. Phil shows that you need to grab a cable from the bottom side of the pulley; then, step back a bit and get one leg back (one that’s on the same side you’re gripping the handle with) away from the other leg. Keep your spine neutral. Now, pull the cable across your chest and rotate your hips into the same direction.
TALL KNEELING ANTERIOR ISO HOLD
For the last exercise, Phil demonstrates that you’ll be on your knees – just like in Closed Guard; with an elastic band wrapped around a post and its other end wrapped around your back, underneath the armpits. From there, drive up and hold that position by squeezing your glutes and engaging your abs as much as you can… While you try to resist the band’s efforts to break your posture.
Phil demonstrates and explains these exercises in great detail on the video below:
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!