This week I wanted to share a simple 4 exercise Isometric Training routine using just your bodyweight that will really make a difference on the mats. This routine focuses on the 4 main areas we use on the mats – Legs, Hips, Upper Body and Neck.
You will only do each exercise once so it will take less than 10 minutes to complete but it will quickly have you feeling the results that only isometrics can deliver.
#1 Legs: Squat or Lunge Hold
#2 Upper Body: Push Up Hold
#3 Hips: Glute Bridge of Single Leg Glute Bridge Hold
#4 Neck: Crow Headstand or Regular Headstand
Hold each exercise for up to 90 seconds. Check out the video to see how to do them.
Isometrics are the fastest and safest way to get stronger for the specific demands of grappling and this workout is an easy way for you to experience them for yourself. Do this workout 2-3 times a week and let me know how it’s working for you.
Being able to separate the upper and lower body is an important skill on the mats. Guard passing, sweeps and a lot of other moves require you to point your chest one way and your hips in another direction, which is a specific type of mobility that a lot of people struggle with.
In this video I explain more about the importance of rolling like a baby to help your BJJ and show you a simple way to start ading it to your routine.
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.
The glutes have three main functions, which include 1) Hip Hinging, 2) Hip Abduction and 3) Hip Rotation. And while you can go down a rabbit hole of exercises with each one of these, one of the easiest ways to start training the glutes is to add in a Hip Band circuit at the end of your workout.
I’m using the term Hip Band as a generic term to refer to products like the Glute Loop and Slingshot Hip Circle – large bands that are placed above the knees and used for a variety of glute enhancing movements.
My favorite way to do this is to pick six movements and do each of them for 30 seconds. This comes out to three minutes of work (6 movements X 30 seconds each) and really targets areas of the hips you didn’t know you had.
In this video I share the circuit I use the most often, although there are a lot of different movements you can use with this training tool. The important thing is to get started with some specific glute training like what I show below:
On the mats this circuit has helped by making it harder for my opponents to pin my knees together, plus it has helped to relieve some low back pain I would get after one too many hard rounds. Having strong, functional glutes is important for both performance and staying healthy, making it a must for your BJJ specific program.
If you want to learn more about glute training I suggest checking out Bret Contreras, a.k.a. The Glute Guy. He’s done a lot of great work in helping to show the importance of glute specific training and while most of his work is with people who just want to look good, he’s worked with Team Attos in San Diego and gotten good feedback from them as well.
Glute training is going to be a big part of the future of BJJ specific strength training but you can stay ahead of the curve and start using it today. If you don’t have one already then invest in a Hip Band and start using circuits like this one a few time a week and see how much it improves your movement and strength on the mats.
One of the most common things that you will hear from higher belts is that BJJ is all in the hips. The ability to move the hips is one of the most important skills for both offense and defense, plus the better your hips work the less strain you put on your lower back as well.
This is is why being able to use the hips properly is so important. And while a lot of BJJ athletes are aware of the importance of mobility training and working on exercises like Deadlifts and Swings, few recognize the need to include specific Glute Training to round out their hip development.
While the hips work in exercises like the Deadlift and Squat, they are also responsible for rotating the legs and pushing the knees out. Both Hip Rotation and Abduction (the fancy word for pushing something away from the midline of the body) are vital movements when rolling and training them is a must to see the best results on the mat.
In addition, the Glute Bridge has been shown in recent studies by Bret Contreras to work the body in a very specific way, meaning that it is important to train on its own as well. Bret, who’s worked with the dominant Attos Team in San Diego, has shown that the Glute Bridge is different than Deadlifts or Cleans, making it necessary to develop the best BJJ specific strength and movement.
In this video I explain more about the importance of Glute Training for BJJ and show you some simple ways that you can start including it in your program:
Like they say, Jiu Jitsu is all in the hips and the glutes are one of the most important muscles for hip function. Start including some simple Glute Training in your routine and see how it can help you.