Strength & Conditioning For BJJ

People ask me all the time about what program to do for lifting. Specifically, what lifting will help with BJJ. So, I decided to put a basic program up for you guys. I based this largely on the influence of Dan John, Jim Wendler, Mark Rippetoe, and took a lot of the suggestions made by Robb Wolf because he is also a BJJ student. Because BJJ is such a metabolically taxing activity, the metabolic conditioning (aka-puking) is kept to a minimum. This, of course, is for maintenance and longevity. If you are preparing for a competition, I would design a periodized program specifically for that tournament that would have more met-cons. This program puts a premium on developing solid strength gains, while minimizing total volume to allow for maximum recovery. This becomes WAY more important considering the fact that you are engaged in a VERY demanding sport. Remember, Strength & Conditioning are supposed to be SUPPLEMENTAL. It’s supposed to be a part time activity, to make you better at your sport, not a new sport all together! So, here it is:

S&C for BJJ:

New lifters will begin with 3×5 in power movements. Strength/Skill movements may be practiced in any scheme, so long as it is challenging, and improvements in load or efficacy are being made. Core movements will be done in either 3×10 if repetition based (sit ups, russian twists, etc..), or 3x Max Effort if they are Time Under Tension Based (planks, L-sits, etc)They will do 3 weeks on, 1 week off (from the lifting! Not BJJ!). Follow this until you cannot add weight to your power movements in 2 consecutive sessions.

Then, once a plateau has been reached in the Power Movements, lifters will move to a cyclic rep scheme, staying with 3×10/M.E. in core, and Strength/Skill is still free practice.
week 1= 2×5
week 2= 3×3
week 3= 8×1
week 4= recovery

Day 1:


Day 2:


Day 3:

Strength/Skill (Olympic lifts, Old Time lifts, or gymnastic work. Should be more coordination based than strength. any rep scheme or progressions will be fine.)
Met Con (under 15 minutes, include solo sprint, and sled work in addition to High Intensity Interval Training)

Start light. Form is more important than your ego. If you aren’t 100% solid with your form, get a coach. Private instruction costs less than back surgery.

Progress slowly, but every single time! Put a LITTLE more weight on every single session!  If you deadlifted 315 for 3×5 last time do at least 320 for 3×5 next time. When you absolutely can’t increase the load, its time to switch approaches.This will take a long time, if you’re pushing. Once this happens on the cyclic program, you will be quite strong, and will most likely need a very personalized program to see any improvement. Honestly, most people could stay on just the first program and be fine. If you’re really nasty, you may move to the second program. To need more than that, you better be lifting houses before you ask me to make a new one!

Don’t add too it. I know, I know, you’re the man. You can lift a truck, everyone at lifestyles/Planet Fitness thinks you’re crazy strong. Whatever. This isn’t the latest Flex Wheeler Muscle Mag routine. This is a program for hardcore BJJ students. I didn’t make it low volume because you’re a cupcake. I made it low volume because you’re supposedly doing BJJ 4-5 days a week. Hard. Which means recovery is key. This program will get you strong, and leave enough in the tank that you can still put in volume on the mat. Want to add more leg work, do 100 shots. Think it’s light on Met Con, roll six days a week. This is like A.A., don’t talk about it, and theorize. Just start. It works, if you work, so work it!

If you have any questions, ask away.

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