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Is Weight Training Good for BJJ?

Is Weight Training Good for BJJ?

1. Human Strength and Strength Training

The ability to exert maximum muscular force is necessary to be able to lift or drag heavy weights. However, gaining such strength does not happen overnight nor is it possible for a man to gain strength without practicing how to lift heavy loads.

According to Gardiner,
“Milo of Croton gained muscular strength by training himself based on ‘scientific principles.’ Milo of Croton developed sufficient strength to carry a full grown bull twice around the stadium at the Olympic Games in the sixth century by carrying a bull calf every day from its birth to maturity.”

Individuals interested in improving their athletic performance in combat sports or gaining strength in preparation for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu should follow the scientific principle of increasing loads to gradually increase muscle growth. This exercise is referred to as progressive resistance training that is popularly employed in combat sports. More recently, the principle has become widely used throughout the world as a form of rehabilitating individuals suffering from disease or injury.

Human Strength and Strength Training

1.1. Muscular Strength

A recent study on the importance of muscular strength highlighted that the ability to exert force against external resistance has a strong relationship with physiological factors that may affect muscular endurance and strength. For Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners seeking to improve their muscular strength, they must first understand what physiological changes have occurred or may occur to effectively make progress in resistance training (RT).

Muscular strength is expressed in terms of :

  • Maximum dynamic strength
  • Isometric strength
  • Reactive strength

During BJJ weight training programs, by improving maximum dynamic strength, an athlete may also enhance maximum isometric strength and reactive strength characteristics, resulting in better athletic performance

1.2. Five Reasons for Strength Training

BJJ strength training programs can slow down the aging process, increase lean body mass, and keep you healthy. The five reasons that BJJ strength training is highly recommended is because:

  1. In the absence of strength training, you may lose 3-10 pounds of muscle mass every decade of your life.
  2. Strength training keeps your muscles active and improves your metabolic rate.
  3. Has a positive effect on blood pressure
  4. Reduces lower back problems
  5. Reduce joint pain, osteoporosis, and arthritic symptoms.

Five Reasons for Strength Training

1.3. Physiological Factors Affecting Muscular Training

In muscle training, strength development involves multifaceted factors like morphological and neural factors. The other factors that may affect the development of muscular endurance during the BJJ weight training programs are:

  • Initial strength
  • Training status
  • Genetics

An athlete’s history of muscle contractions (fatigue, postactivation, temperature, etc.) may influence the degree of muscular strength you gain.

Physiological Factors Affecting Muscular Training

1.4. Benefits of Strength Training in BJJ

During BJJ strength and weight training programs, the load exerted on the skeletal muscles helps enhance muscular endurance. As muscle tissue is highly adaptable, regular exercises work the muscles enough that it can result in hypertrophy.

On a cellular level, the change in the muscle structure enhances communication between the muscles and nerves. The following benefits can be achieved in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu by pursuing weight training and muscle growth:

  • Builds up body strength
  • Burns excess fat
  • Reduces risk of injury
  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Helps manage diabetes
  • Improves mobility and flexibility
  • Builds stronger bones
  • Improves your mood
  • Improves mental health
  • Helps with chronic disease management

2. Weight Training Principles and Program Guidelines for BJJ Athletes

BJJ weight training programs should correspond with the individual needs of the fighter. Most BJJ fighters have adequate fitness but they can improve their physical health by doing appropriate workloads that incorporate aspects of BJJ weight training programs.

2.1. Periodization

To ensure steady progress over a long training period, exercises have to be divided into specific time frames. Training programs are divided into the following cycles:

  • Macrocycles
  • Mesocycles
  • Microcycles

The longest is the macrocycles, followed by two to three mesocycles and microcycles. The purpose of these cycles is to speed up the training process and the development of motor functions that contribute to muscle growth. This principle was developed by Russian and Bulgarian conditioning specialists and endocrinologists. Periodized training programs produce fighters that are superior to those who do not incorporate variations in their training. The variations in these cycles are strategically designed for muscular endurance and include:

  • Alterations in the loading cycles
  • Exercises used
  • Intensity of the training sessions
  • Volume (set and repetitions)

A periodized weight training program should be planned with a conditioning specialist before participating in any Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competition so to ensure improved athletic performance.

Benefits of Periodization Training for BJJ Athletes

The major goals behind a periodization training program include:

  • Avoid overtraining
  • Allow time for physical and mental recovery
  • Gradually gain benefits throughout training period.

2.2. Acute Program Variables

All periodized BJJ weight training programs begin with the development of a basic full body workout plan. The variables included in the workout plan are the exercises chosen, order of the exercises, number of sets, intensity of the exercises, and rest duration between sets and exercises.

Chosen Exercises

The chosen exercises should be specific to the types of techiques performed by BJJ athletes in competitions. The criteria of the exercises should be according to the:

  • Movement pattern
  • Movement velocity
  • Muscle groups

Also keep in mind that the choice in equipment is crucial.

Order of Exercises

The order of exercises is determined by the size of the muscle groups being worked. Preferably, the larger muscle groups should be worked first before working down to the smaller muscle groups.

Number of Sets

The number of sets in a BJJ weight training program is directly related to the individual’s training goals.

  • Multiple sets optimize the development of strength, endurance, and performance
  • SIngle set weight training programs are recommended for beginners and maintaining weight.

Intensity of Exercise

The intensity of each exercise in your workout program is the most important variable to consider in resistance training or if you wish to increase muscle mass. Many researches support the basis for a maximum repetition continuum. Repitition continuum relates to how the number of repetitions and the workload affects how much your strength increases.

RM resistance less than or equal to six Maximum power outputs
RM resistance greater than or equal to 20 Improves muscular endurance

As a BJJ athlete’s strength increases during a periodized training program, the RM goals are also maintained.

Rest Periods Between Sets and Exercises

The researcher Kraemer highlighted the influence rest periods had on the following factors in both men and women:

  • Blood lactate
  • Hormonal concentrations
  • Metabolic rate

Shorter rest periods elevate blood lactate concentrations compared with longer rest periods. The amount of exercise done and how long your muscles were exerted determines your blood lactate concentration.

Specifics of Training

Identifying the specifs of each training program is essential when keeping track of your progress in BJJ training. It is mentioned in different studies that exercising at a specific velocity increases your strength without negatively affecting other factors such as stamina, muscle mass, etc. The use of velocity-specific training to improve muscle growth, strength, and power at a specific velocity is appropriate for BJJ athletes.

How Can Strength Training Help to Lose Weight in Martial Arts?

Muscle tissue requires a lot of calories to build and repair which results in large amounts of calories being consumed. Fat is burned as you build muscle, thus increasing your metabolic rate. As long as muscle mass development takes place, your body will burn more calories and enhance your athletic performance.

How Can Strength Training  Help to Lose Weight in Martial Arts?

Success in martial arts requires slowly improving yourself through weight training and weight loss, making progress by steadily improving your BJJ skills. The intensity of your exersises will directly impact your performance in BJJ matches.

Can A Woman Lose Weight by Lifting Weights?

Weight lifting exercises can help women lose weight faster compared to cardio. It can shape your body by burning excess fat, improves strength, and minimizes the chance of injury.

3. Development of Explosive Strength and Power with Resistance Training

“The ability to exert force earlier in a movement plays a vital role in many athletic and everyday activities.”

Intense resistance training ensures muscle growth and an increased rate of strength development. Rapid increases in strength is achieved when stretch-shortening cycles such as pulls and cleans exercises are employed at high intensity.

According to the researcher Newton:
“In a bench press exercise power output was not maximal over about 50% of the range of motion when 30% of the 1 RM was lifted as explosively as possible. Activation of the antagonist muscles of the upper back and lack of neural activation in the chest over much of the range of motion to protect the joints may explain this observation. When the weight was allowed to be released from the hands at the end of the range of motion with use of a specialized testing device, power output was enhanced throughout the range of motion.”

This data demonstrated that “speedy reps” are beneficial when it comes topower development.in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

4. The Best Weight Training Exercises in BJJ?

The following are the most common resistance training methods used in martial arts to improve an athlete’s strength and power.

4.1. Ballistic Exercises


Ballistic exercises require a large amount of force to be exerted within a short time. The speed and force applied in movement can outweigh the weight and mass of an object. The most popular ballistic exercise is medicine ball training.

4.2. Medicine Ball Training

A medicine ball can enhance your strength and endurance in preparation for BJJ fights. The medicine ball’s weight varies from 6-10 lbs but the BJJ athlete has to throw the ball with more than 10 lbs of force to enhance muscle flexibility.

Five examples of ballistic exercises include the following:

  • Bench medicine ball throw
  • Jump squats
  • Medicine ball chest pass
  • Standing rotational toss
  • Overhead throw

These exercises will likely result in:

  • Reduced muscle stiffness
  • Prevents injuries
  • Improved body movements

4.3. Plyometric Exercises


Plyometric exercises are famous strength exercises. The basic concept of these exercises are to contract and relax muscles at a rapid pace within a short time. Contraction and relaxation of the muscles at a rapid pace works many joints in the body. Exercises that involve fast and consistent movements are considered ideal for strengthening and conditioning. Examples of plyometric exercises include forms of jump training such ase:

  • Box Jumps
  • Jumping Knee Tucks
  • Broad Jumps
  • Jump Squats or Single Leg Hops

4.4. Guidelines for Plyometric Trainings

Guidelines for  Plyometric Trainings

4.5. Kettlebell Training


Using a kettlebell is also a form of resistance training which comprises of a weighted ball and handle. Common kettlebell exercises are:

  • Goblet Squats
  • One-Arm and Two-Arm Kettlebell Swing
  • Russian Kettlebell Swing
  • Kettlebell High Pull
  • Kettlebell Lunge Press
  • Kettlebell Sumo High Pull

The benefits associated with kettlebell weight training include the following:

Kettlebell Training

  • Shapes, strengthens and conditions the body
  • Enhances flexibility, mobility, strength, and stability
  • Body and mind coordination
  • Reduces excess body fat
  • Improves posture
  • Enhances bone and joint health

4.6. The Full Body Workout Plan for BJJ

Based on the different exercises that enhance muscular strength, you can use the knowledge to come up with an effective workout plan with different numbers of sets, repetitions and levels of intensity.

4.7. A two-day strength training program for BJJ

Day 1:

Jump Squat Four sets of 10. RPE 10
Bench press Four sets of 10. RPE 10
OverHead Throw Two sets of four. RPE %
Plank Three sets of 40
Side Plank Two sets of 30

Day 2:

Pull-Ups Three sets of five. RPE 5
Goblet Squats Three sets of five. RPE 7
One-Arm Kettlebell Swing Two sets of 10. RPE 8
Medicine Ball Chest Pass Four sets of five. RPE 7
Box Jumps Four sets of 10. RPE 8

You can prioritize the exercises in the weight training program according to your needs. It is important to choose ones are best for your joints, muscles, and bones to gain optimal strength. Focus on the exercises that help you work on your weaknesses.

Grapplers try to obtain maximum strength in their upper and lower body to ensure holds and grip strength. MMA fighters prioritize strengthening the entire body strength through a full body workout plan.

4.8. Tips for Weight Lifting Beginners in BJJ

If you are new to weight training programs, remember the following points before starting:

  • Warm up
  • Wear proper weight lifting clothes
  • Consider lifting lighter weights first
  • Gradually increase the size of the weights
  • Keep interval span of 60 sec between sets
  • Full body workout should be no more than 45 min
  • Stretch muscles after workout
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Rest 1-2 days before resuming.

4.9. How Do Weight Training Exercises Transform the BJJ Athlete?

Weight training programs impact your body’s muscular composition by toning, conditioning, and strengthening the whole body.

How Do Weight Training  Exercises Transform the BJJ Athlete?

The muscle groups used in BJJ can be strengthened by incorporating weight lifting exercises.

4.10. Should I Lift Weights Before or After BJJ Training?

Weight training and BJJ training cannot be performed interchangealy, you have to set your goals first before you even start. The basic purpose of strength training is to condition the entire body to handlephyscial stress. Fatigue should not be the end result. By the end, you should have improved balance, better mobility, and joint stability.

4.11. Is Heavy Weight Lifting Bad For You?

Heavy weight lifting has many benefits when it comes to muscular strength and endurance. It helps with weight loss and slows down the aging process. Check with your doctor before lifting heavy weights and not to do it without the help of a proper coach or heavy weight trainer.

4.12. How Many Times Per Week Should a Teenager Lift Weights?

The teenage body undergoes hormonal, emotional, physiological, and psychological changes. The beneficial weight lifting and body weight exercises for teenagers are:

  • Squat
  • Bench Press
  • Overhead Press
  • Bent-Over Row
  • Push-Up, Pull-Up, and Step-Up.

Three days of training per week is suitable for obtaining maximum strength at the start of a weight lifting and body weight exercise program.

4.13. What Kind of Weight Lifting Equipment is Best for BJJ?

You can start your BJJ workout plan by using the following weight lifting equipment:

5. Conclusion

To enhance your muscular strength in preparation for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, progressive resistance training programs comprise of greater or lighter workloads with more or fewer repetitions. Weight lifting shapes the athlete's body, enhances power, and reduces the likelihood of injury. According to research, many BJJ athletes believed that resistance training programs were an extra load that did not contribute to their performance in BJJ fights. But now it is clear that a well-structured strength routine is an integral conditioning strategy for BJJ athletes.

Thus, weight training programs improve the performance of BJJ fighters, resulting inan increase in mobility, flexibility, and strength.

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