Isometrics for BJJ: Why they are a must for grapplers – BJJ Strength Training Podcast #2

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In this podcast I go into depth about Isometrics and why they are a must for grapplers. Based on my experience there are 3 reasons why you need them as part of your BJJ strength training program…

  1. They are more “sport specific” for the physical demands of the mat. Grappling requires more isometric strength than any other sport and so it is important in ways that other sports can’t understand.
  2. Gives you the biggest return on your time investment with improvements to your strength, cardio and breathing.
  3. They don’t leave you as sore and tired as movement based training, which lets you train harder on the mats and be better able to defend yourself in the real world.

If you want to learn more about Isometrics for your BJJ training program then Steve Maxwell has some great isometric stuff at

You can also find The Ramping Isometrics for BJJ Program, which is an Isometric Training Program I created specifically for BJJ, by clicking here.

Until next time…

Train Strong,

James Wilson

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Top 3 BJJ Strength Training Tips – BJJ Strength Training Podcast #1

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Top 3 BJJ Strength Training Tips

  1. Work on Isometric and Leverage Based Strength.
  2. Look at more than just the Big 4 Movement Patterns (Squat/ Hinge/ Push/ Pull).
  3. Rolling is the best “strength training” you can do.

Bonus Tip – Don’t mistake physical training for mental toughness training. 

Until next time…

Train Strong,

James Wilson

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Free Workout of the Month – Download Now

Last weekend I got the chance to go to a Josh Hinger seminar. I don’t know why but I really like him and his jiu jitsu. Maybe it’s because he could be competing in the Masters class but still enters and wins the Open class, showing all the younger dudes that old men can still bring it.

Maybe it’s because his special arm-in guillotene, a.k.a. The Hingertene, is a devastating weapon that I’ve personally been having a lot of success with. The great thing about it that it opens up a lot of other submissions as people defend it, which makes it a great go-to move to set up a lot of other things if it doesn’t work.

Either way, I found out that he was going to be in Salt Lake City so I drove the 4 hours to learn some more ways to use the Hingertene. And after 3 hours of Monoplatas and Hingertene details and follow ups it was well worth the effort to make.

Another thing that I really like about Josh is his commitment to training both on and off the mats. He knows that the only way to perform at his best is to balance BJJ with strength training and the results speak for themselves.

If you’re looking for a workout to help you on the mats then I’ve put together a new workout of the month for you. You’ll see I incorporate some unique training tools and methods like Ramping Isometrics and the Steel Mace into these workouts. I do provide some alternatives if you don’t have some of the training tools I do but it’s a good way to see how to use these things in a workout.

You can download the workout by clicking the link below. No emails or anything needed, just click the link and download the PDF to your computer. Each exercise has a link to a video demo so you have everything you need to get going.

Click Here to Download This Month’s Workout

Remember to start your workout with some sort of mobility routine. It’s important to be moving well before you start training, otherwise you’re just laying fitness on top of dysfunction. You can check out this blog post for a follow-along demo of a good routine to use if you need one.

Hope you enjoy thing month’s workout and that it helps you get even more out of your training. Plus, being fit helps you have more fun on the mats and that’s what the ultimate goal should always be.

Until next time…

Roll Strong,

James Wilson
BJJ Strength Training Systems

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5 Essential Glute Bridges to Add to Your BJJ Training

Glute Bridges are a staple of BJJ training because they do such a great job of training an essential mat-specific movement. Being able to bridge and create space is one of the first things you learn and something you keep working on as you advance.

And while we all know and love the regular Glute Bridge, there are a lot of different variations of this movement that we should be using as well. These variations can help shore up weak links with specific applications of the Glute Bridge, like applying joint locks or keeping the knees from getting smashed together.

Below are 5 of my favorite BJJ-specific Glute Bridges that can help you move better on the mats. Pick one that works on a problem you have or area you want to get stronger and then do it 1-2 times a week, doing 2 sets of 5-15 reps. You can add it into your workout or do it as part of a daily movement practice, the important thing is to get the work in.

1 – Val Slide Glute Bridge

We all know that Glute Bridges have a lot of carryover to the mats but something a lot of people don’t realize is the importance of keeping your hamstrings engaged to keep the heels in tight. A lot of people lose joint locks because they extend the knees with the hips, increasing the space and allowing room to escape, which is directly tied to this movement skill.

Using Val Slides under your feet during a Glute Bridge can help reinforce keeping the hamstrings engaged, making it a more BJJ specific movement. BTW, you’ll notice a do 3 good reps followed by 3 bad reps in this video so you can see what happens if you don’t keep the heels in while doing the bridge.

2 – Knee Squeeze Glute Bridge

Another great way to make the Glute Bridge more BJJ specific is to pinch a yoga block between your knees. This not only works the specific skill of keeping a tight squeeze with the knees while extending the hips it also helps keep stress off the lower back by engaging the core more than a normal Glute Bridge.

3 – Hip Band Glute Bridge

Glute Bridges with a band around the knees is another way to spice things up. Since the glutes are also responsible for keeping the knees apart, this one is double trouble for them. Being able to resist someone smashing your knees together while extending the hips helps with controlling space on the bottom, making this another great BJJ specific exercise.

4 – Marching Glute Bridge

Marching Glute Bridge I’d a great way to work on single leg bridge stability. A lot of times we bridge with two legs to create space and then transition to a single leg stand as we use the other leg to control the space we created. A lot of people simply flop back down to the ground when this transition happens which ends up just going them smashed again. Using this movement to work on this BJJ specific skill can help you avoid this problem. Note the Val Slides under my heels for more hamstring activation and stability challenge.

5 – Ramping Isometric Glute Bridge

The Ramping Isometric Glute Bridge is the easiest way to improve raw strength of this essential BJJ specific movement. The a belt around your feet and waist as shown and then do 30 seconds at 50% effort, 30 seconds at 80% effort and then 30 seconds at 100% effort. No rest between the rounds, just ramp up the tension. Do one set to failure and say hello to your glutes, which will be on fire.

Until next time…

Roll Strong,

James Wilson
BJJ Strength Training Systems

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Improve Your Leglocks With These Mobility and Strength Drills

Leg Locks are the rage right now in the BJJ scene and for good reason…they work!

However, this doesn’t mean that everyone should just start grabbing ankles and falling back for wild, uncontrolled Leg Lock attacks. This approach to the Leg Lock game will not work in the long run and will only get you in trouble when you run into someone who understands the game and can capitalize on your mistakes.

As an official Leg Lock nerd I’ve geeked out on the movement principles behind a Leg Lock game and how I can improve them through mobility and strength training. This was both a selfish goal since I could use them to improve my own effectiveness, but it was also a way to help new people avoid the common mistakes.

One thing I’ve learned through coaching BJJ is that knowing what to do and physically being able to do it are two different things. And a lot of people lack the basic mobility and strength to apply what they are learning when getting started with Leg Locks.

Even the great John Danaher has a saying that reinforces this concept –

“Train movements before moves.”

He uses this saying to help people understand that if you can’t perform the basic movements needed for a specific move then it will be tough to do it correctly. You have to fix/ improve the basic movements needed first and then the technique itself will become easier to execute.

Which leads us to the mobility and strength drills I wanted to share with you today. They cover the 3 common mistakes I see people make and offer a way to improve the movement causing the problem.

These mistakes include…

Not being able to “close the triangle” and control the hips, usually related to a lack of hip mobility.
Not being able to trap and crush the foot in the armpit, usually from a lack of T-Spine and Shoulder Blade mobility .
Not being able to extend the hips without also extending the knees and “deadlifting” away, usually from a lack of specific Bridging work..

Based on this, here is a simple routine you can do at home to help fix and improve these key elements to effective Leg Locks:

Mobility & Strength Drills for Better Leg Locks

1 – Shin Box Switch X 10-20 reps each direction
2 – Sphinx Shoulder Pumps X 10-20 reps
3 – Sphinx Head Nods & Head Turns X 10-20 reps each
4 – “Leg Lock” Glute Bridge X 5-10 reps with 3 second hold at the top

Here is a video from a workshop I did going over these drills:

I recommend doing these drills 4-7 times a week for the next month and see how you’re feeling on the mats. Couple this with some focused drilling for your Leg Locks and you’ll be catching and finishing more people with much less effort.

Until next time…

James Wilson
BJJ Strength Training Systems

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