Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is known as one of the most challenging martial arts in the world. The whole concept of the technique is set to allow a smaller person to defeat a much bigger rival. This is achievable through the use of special techniques rather than sheer strength.
The truth is, you don’t have to be the strongest person to do jiu-jitsu. But, fighters must develop many skills, including explosive strength and superb conditioning. These two factors can make a ton of difference in competition and during the sparring sessions. It will allow you to stay competitive against a bigger man and even shock them how tough you’re during the rolls.
As all students know, jiu-jitsu includes a lot of close-range pulling, twisting and grabbing. So, students must have the required explosive strength to shift between the positions faster. Also, it improves the defense as you can escape many troubles on the bottom.
How can I improve explosive strength for BJJ?
There are various workouts for improving explosive strength. In this article, we are focusing on the exercises that will make you a better grappler.
Our list consists of anaerobic and plyometric workouts that can help you develop explosive strength in a very short time. Plyometric training is a group of exercises in which muscles exert most force in a short interval of time. In BJJ, it allows a person to develop powerful and quick movements on the mats. Out of all plyometric exercises, we are focusing on the ones that have an impact on the hips and entire lower body segments.
Further, anaerobic workouts are best for improving explosiveness and the entire lower body power.
Like plyometric training, anaerobic exercises gives you the ability to perform intensive moves on the mats over an extended period.
So, let’s dive into some of the best workouts for building an explosive strength for jiu-jitsu. Add one of these into your weekly regime, and we ensure you will feel great benefits in a short period.
Top 4 workouts for building an explosive strength
1. Medicine Ball Workout
This timeless workout tool is still one of the best ways to enhance explosive strength. What’s more, you can use a medicine ball to complete a full workout! Since there is no muscle isolation, your whole body and all muscle groups are getting a workout. Also, this workout will get you in phenomenal shape and improve the conditioning.
Medicine ball workouts are simple but high intensive. Thus, if you don’t have previous experiences with these, begin by using a smaller and lighter ball. Of course, the key is to use a heavier ball for maximizing the workout.
In terms of exercises, grapplers should choose those that will move your body in a similar fashion as during the rolls on the mats. The key is to impact the same muscle groups as in practice and move in the same range of motion.
1.1 Medicine Ball Squat to Throw
- Start with feet shoulder-width apart
- Take a medicine ball and put it right below your chin at your chest
- Squat with the weight on your chest and come back up to your feet
- Use the overhead pressing motion to throw the ball up in front of you.
- Make sure to keep your eyes open and on the ball.
- Once it falls down to the floor, pick it up and squat
- Repeat the process
1.2 Medicine Ball Russian Twists
- Sit on the floor and hold the medicine ball in front of your chest
- Raise your legs from the ground and slightly bend the knees
- Turn the upper body to one side and touch the floor with the medicine ball
- Once you get back into the starting position, proceed to the other side
In the beginning, perform this exercise without the ball. This way you can prevent back injuries and focus on learning the moves. Once you feel comfortable, begin using a light medical ball and slowly increasing the weight to feel the muscles work.
1.3 Medicine Ball Slam in different directions
- Begin with the feet shoulder-width apart
- Take the ball and raise it over your head
- Slam it to the ground as hard as you can
- Pick the ball from the ground and slam it to one side and do the same to another.
- Repeat 3 x 12
1.4 Medicine ball throw
- Select a medicine ball according to your current strength
- Take the ball
- Throw the ball from the center of your chest to the wall as hard as you can
- Repeat for 30 throws
Jumping exercises are the main aspect of plyometric training and a great way to build explosive strength for BJJ. As we all know, strong legs and hips are the most important areas in BJJ. That said, performing jumping exercises a couple of times a week will strengthen the hips and legs, and make them more powerful.
But, there are various jumping exercises and not all will develop power and explosive strength. That said, it’s important to know which jumps you need to train. We’re bringing you the jumping workout that will make your body explosive and powerful.
2.1 Jump in sequence
Some people perform this exercise by jumping over boxes or hurdles. But, if you don’t have either of the two, it’s not an issue. The focus is on performing the jumps with maximum explosiveness.
- Warm-up before starting
- Begin with a couple of single jumps to get more comfortable
- Explode with three forward jumps in sequence
- Repeat the process 3 times to finish the rep
2.2 Squat Jumps
A squat jump is the vertical plyometric drill and an ideal one for the grapplers. This form of jumping targets the glutes, calves, and hamstrings. Apart from the explosive strength, it also improves stability and balance. They are simple and easy to perform and you can do them both outside and inside the
gym. Also, once you feel confident and strong, you can add external weight and
make the exercise more challenging.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands by your side
- Bend your knees and squat down
- Make sure to keep your chin up and shoulders rolled back
- While getting up, focus on using the momentum to jump as high as you can and throw your hands to generate more force
- Do 4 sets of 15 repetitions each
2.3 Long Jump
- Begin with your feet hip-width and in the squat position
- Explode into a jump from this position and swing your arms back in order to generate more force
- Land on your feet with both knees bent
- Turn around and repeat or continue to jump forward if you have the necessary space.
- Do 4 sets of 5 repetitions each
2.4 Box Jumps
Box jumps is a great exercise for learning the landing mechanics and to reduce joint stress. In combination with other jumping exercises, it will bring your heart rate up and help losing weight too.
- Set your feet shoulder-width apart
- Bend your knees and push the hips back
- Jump explosively to propel yourself on the box
- Land on the box in a partial squat with your back flat and chest up
- Carefully step back down
- For developing most power, do sets of 3 to 6 reps every 2 minutes
*Jumping off the box puts a lot of stress on the hips, lower back, and Achilles. As said above, the key is to reduce joint stress so make sure you don’t jump off the box.
Kettlebell workouts are perhaps the best way you can improve strength and power. Most of the exercises are improving both lower and upper body segments. What’s more, you can target the muscle groups you don’t usually do with other exercises.
Kettlebells are very popular among BJJ practitioners. Also, many exercises will allow you to mimic similar moves you perform on the mats. That said, adding this workout to your regime will boost your cardio and develop bone-crushing strength.
3.1 Double kettlebell clean and press
This exercise engages both the upper and lower body as well. For many grapplers, this is the best kettlebell exercise for improving strength and power. That said, begin with the light kettlebell and focus on learning the proper form.
- While standing, grab the kettlebells with your hands and let them swing between your legs
- Keep them close to your body while pulling them up
- Put both kettlebells into the rack position (between your forearms and biceps)
- Press them straight up to lockout
- Lower them back into the rack position
- Drop them slowly back into the starting position
3.2 Turkish Get-up
Like the clean and press workout, Turkish get-up works the entire body. For grapplers, this workout is great for mobilizing the hips and upper back. Also, the Turkish get-up protects the shoulders and keeps them healthy. This is important since BJJ students are always putting a lot of stress on the shoulders. This exercise takes some time to master, but, it will boost your performance on the mats.
3.3 Double Kettlebell swing
The double kettlebell swing is one of the most popular exercises if you want to develop explosive power for jiu-jitsu. It targets the hamstrings along with the complete core, and it is a great way to increase power and balance as well. You can perform this exercise either with kettlebells between or beside your legs.
- While standing in a bit wider stance, grab the two kettlebells and hike them back between your legs.
- Squeeze the butt cheeks together and pull the hips forward to generate more power
- Use the energy to bring them up in front of your chest and after a brief floating pause at the top, allow them to descend back between your legs
- Once again, use the swing momentum to repeat the process
As said above, jiu-jitsu includes a lot of pulling and grabbing. That said, every BJJ student needs to have a strong grip and forearms. Thus, pull-ups will help you increase the upper body strength and become more explosive as well. Apart from its great physical benefits, pull-ups are great because of its simplicity. You can perform them anywhere that you can lift yourself up.
Some people find it hard to do more than a couple of pull-ups. But don’t let this discourage you! Once you got to master the technique behind the pull-ups, you will instantly start increasing the numbers. That said, let’s look at the best pull up workouts for developing explosive strength for BJJ.
4.1 Switch grip pull up
Switch grip pull up is the perfect exercise for improving grip and explosive power. Before performing, make sure to complete a proper warm-up and do at least 10 regular pull-ups.
- Do an explosive pull up from the dead hang position
- Once in the highest position, let go of the bar and switch the grip from pronated to supinated
- Repeat the same move but this time, go from supinated to a pronated grip
- The aim is to do 5 reps from each grip
If you have a hard time switching between the grips, you can practice by going back to the ground after each pull up, switch the grip and continue. This way, you will get more familiar with the moves and build the necessary strength.
4.2 Burpee pull-ups
Burpee pull-up is a high-intensity workout that combines upper and lower body movements. Continuously switching between push-ups and pull-ups increases the heart rate and burns a lot of calories. That said, it enables you to develop explosive strength and cardio as well.
- Begin with your feet shoulder-width apart
- Drop to a pushup position on the ground
- Do a pushup and then jump up to the pull-up bar and do a pull-up
- Go back to the beginning stance and repeat the process
4.3 Sternum pull-ups
The great thing about Sternum pull-ups is that it covers a larger range of motion. Thus, this exercise will increase your pulling explosiveness and strength.
- Grab the bar with the pronated grip
- Make sure to fully extend your body
- Pull yourself up and slightly lean your torso back
- Go up until your lower chest is leveled with the bar