Without a doubt my favorite addition to my own bodyweight training over the last year are the Bodyweight Flows. Something about getting down on the ground and crawling around is challenging, fun and enlightening all at once, plus it has a ton of transfer to helping you move better on the mats.
Posts Tagged ‘bodyweight exercises’
Bodyweight training is a universal training method with a long history. Pretty much everyone who has ever “trained” on any level, from ancient man to modern day Olympians, has used bodyweight training.
When you do a chin up, a push up or a bodyweight squat you are doing exercises that have been also been done by Spartans, Greek Athletes, Roman Gladiators, Medieval Knights, Old Time Strong Men.
When you think about it, bodyweight training is a pretty cool legacy that we share with an impressive list of people.
Unfortunately, most of us need to go back to the roots of strength training and learn to truly master our own bodyweight. Up until the modern fitness culture, strength was often built and displayed using bodyweight, not machines and barbells.
The term Calisthenics come for the Greek words Kalos and Thenos, which roughly means “beautiful strength”, and it was originally the term used for hardcore feats of bodyweight strength. However, over time barbells and machines replaced the hardcore bodyweight exercises and the term Calisthenics came to mean light, high rep exercises that you did to warm up or do in a group class.
The ability to master your own bodyweight was lost – old school strongmen, powerlifters and bodybuilders were often able to execute single arm chins and handstand push ups, something most of the modern group of these guys can’t claim.
Along with this loss of respect for hardcore bodyweight training something has been lost in our athletic development and this makes bodyweight training one of the best ways to help BJJ students everywhere regain that lost element of athleticism.
Bodyweight training is the best way to improve body control and awareness which is essential for learning new skills and improving your “flow” on the mats. It is also easily accessible by everyone and can be done anywhere, anytime.
In fact, while I may be new on the BJJ scene I’ve been working as a high level strength coach for over a decade and I’ve seen that the lessons I’ve learned there translate very well to my new passion. I’ve also noticed the same problems with movement and strength issues hindering techniques on the mat that I’ve seen in the other sports I’ve worked with.
Because of that I know that strength and conditioning holds the key to your long term progress in BJJ and the sooner you take advantage of it the sooner you can avoid the frustration that comes with performance plateaus, nagging injuries and techniques you can’t seem to grasp.
By looking at “strength training” as a form of movement practice you can create much more carryover from your exercises into your BJJ practice. When you improve your fundamental ability to move off the mat you’ll improve your potential to move on the mat.
In fact, many times it isn’t a lack of understanding a technique that is holding you back as much as an inability to create the basic movements you need to apply the technique properly. Fix the movement and you’ll fix the technique as well.
Now, once you move like you’re supposed to you need to work hard and improve your strength and cardio – all things being equal, the stronger guy (or gal) will win and being able to outpace your opponent can cause them to make mistakes.
This means that while technique is King, your strength and cardio can still make a big difference and bodyweight training is one of the best ways to start taking advantage of everything strength training has to offer.
So, when you consider that you’ll be able to improve your technique, increase your strength and develop better cardio, why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of strength training?
To help you get started I’ve put together a complete 30 Day BJJ Bodyweight Workout Program that I want to give you for free. This workout has…
– A warm up drill to help improve your mobility in the your hips and shoulders, two key areas to our ability to move efficiently both on and off the mats.
– Bodyweight Flow Drills to help improve your hip mobility, core strength, shoulder stability and overall athleticism. The Bodyweight Flows take you back to when exercise was knows as “play” and bring a fun new element to your workouts that have a ton of transfer to the mats.
– Strength Training Circuits to help improve your leg, core and upper body strength in ways that will help you move with more authority on the mats. While strength shouldn’t be used in place of technique, it can sure make your technique much more devastating and hard to counter.
– Bodyweight Cardio Drills to help improve your ability to push the pace when and dictate the flow of the match or be able to drill longer and harder. Since so much of BJJ is moving your bodyweight around these drills are great ways to condition yourself for the unique demands of grappling.
Just register below to get instant access to this FREE 30 Day BJJ Bodyweight Workout Program and let me know if you have any questions about it. Also, if you like this free workout please click one of the Share or Like buttons below to help spread the word.
Until next time…
One of the more common questions I get asked is about what to do while recovering from an injury. While some injuries are harder to work around than others, the most common injuries from BJJ are to the arms and legs and so finding ways to keep strong without all 4 of them is necessary from time to time.
My basic advice for training with an injured arm or leg is to train everything else as hard as you can. The idea of backing off of everything else so you don’t develop a big strength imbalance isn’t the way to go for two reasons.
First, there is significant evidence of a neurological “carryover” from training the non-injured side. What this means is that if you injured your left arm, for example, but kept training the right arm as hard as you could the left arm would lose less strength than if you did nothing at all.
The irony of all of this is that I’ve been nursing an old elbow injury that flared up a month ago and I’ve had to spend a lot of training time following this advice. What I found was that the simplest and best program for me was the Naked Warrior.
The Naked Warrior is one of Pavel Tsatsouline’s many fine training books and centers on only 2 exercises – the single arm push up and the single leg squat a.k.a. pistol squat.
At first this seems like a pretty hard-core approach for someone nursing an injury but once you realize that you can scale the exercises back it makes perfect sense.
This approach allows you to train all of the other limbs hard without a lot of wear and tear from weighted exercises. I tried to lift “normal” for a few weeks just using my left arm and found that after a while I started to feel the stress of all the misloaded lower body exercises and my non-injured arm was starting to feel the stress as well.
After thinking about how I could stay strong (sets in the 3-5 range) without causing some other sort of overuse injury in the process. That’s when it hit me…the single arm push up and squat would be the perfect solution.
So, for the last week I started doing 2 sets of 5 reps every day as my strength training. I’ve had to modify things a bit by using a bar set up in my rack so I can do an elevated single arm push up and I’ve been using the TRX straps to help me maintain good posture on the single leg squats but even then I can already tell my body likes this approach much better.
It’s been tough for an exercise geek like me to stick with just two exercises but I know that it is good to do every once in a while. Plus, I’m going to get really good at my single arm push ups and single leg squats, two exercises I know are important but I just don’t spend enough time on.
This brings me to me final point, which is that with the right perspective even an injury can be a positive experience for you if you stay receptive to opportunities. Hopefully you never have to but if you do find yourself facing an injury to an arm or leg look at it as a chance to work on your strength, Naked Warrior style.
That’s it for now, if you have any questions about how to apply this approach or any tips you’ve found helpful in overcoming injuries please post a comment below. Also, if you liked this article please click one of the Share of Like buttons below to help spread the word.
Until next time…