This may sound funny at first but stick with me for a minute and you’ll see what I mean…
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.
Alright, time for a confession…I HATE strength training. Or, I guess I should say that I hate the term strength training.
The problem is that it leads a lot of people to believe that strength is the end goal of the workouts when it really isn’t. This is based on the assumption that if you improve your strength numbers by X amount in the gym then you’ll improve your performance by Y percent on the mats.
However, we all know that this often isn’t the case. Sometimes people train hard in the gym and get better at working out but they don’t see as much improvement where it matter most…on the mats.
What gets forgotten is that strength is a symptom of how you move, not a direct cause of improved performance.
As an athlete how you move when you train – both on the mats and in the gym – is the most important thing for you to focus on. You want to use your exercises as a way to practice the basic movement patterns you need for your sport, not to simply get better at exercising.
So this means that if you improve your strength but you achieve it in a way that compromises how you move then it isn’t helping you on the mats.
For example, the deadlift is a great exercise for the BJJ athlete…if you do it in a way that trains the hip hinge movement pattern you need on the mats, not just your ability to pick up heavy stuff off the ground.
I personally like to see a 1.5 – 2 X bodyweight deadlift from guys I train BUT I want them to do it in a very specific way. If they start to drop their hips and bend their knees too much then they aren’t working the same movement pattern they need on the mat.
Strength gains made at the expense of how we move miss the ultimate goal of training and won’t carry over as effectively.
This also means that we need to establish good movement first. Any program that doesn’t emphasize mobility and movement quality over improvements in strength and work capacity will sabotage you on the mats over the long run.
So while you do need to get strong – which is why it is called Stength Training – it has to be done with the idea of following the same movement principles you want to use on the mat. Look at your Strength Training as Movement Practice and you’ll get a lot more out of it when you roll.
If you have any questions or comments about this article just post a comment below, I always like to hear what people think about this stuff.
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Until next time…
One of the first things you figure out about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is that the hips play a huge roll in your success. Being able to move your hips around gives you a lot more control of the situation and is one of the primary goals when rolling.
However, beyond just moving the hips is the specific action of moving the hips laterally, or from side to side. Shrimping your hips out is something you learned on your first day of BJJ but it can be tough for some people to pick up.
The problem is that Shrimping your hips out requires your hips to hinge and rotate laterally, which is not something most of us are used to doing. So, instead of moving the hips laterally we end up using the lower back which isn’t nearly as effective.
This makes exercises that help restore that movement pattern and provides ways to strengthen it very important for the BJJ student.
One of the my favorite exercises to do this is the Rotational Deadlift. If you haven’t seen this unique twist on the deadlift applied to BJJ then be sure to check out the video below to see how to do it and how it specifically applies to your hip movement on the mats.
Like I mentioned in the video, the bonus to this exercise is that it helps with the leg drive you need to finish a strong double leg takedown. One of the most important parts of BJJ is being able to move and drive laterally and the Rotational Deadlift is one of the best ways to add that specific element into your program.
If you have any questions about using this exercise in your workouts or if you have some exercise you’ve found help with lateral hip movement please be sure to post a comment below.
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Until next time…
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…