Strength Training for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu


 I’ve been asked by numerous students to write up a template that would work for a BJJ student who would like to get stronger, so here’s a little tidbit of what one could look like for one particular individual.

Just to be clear, nothing substitutes time on the mat (mat time) learning and practicing the art with the goal of building a repeatable skill. In BJJ, knowledge is one thing and applying that knowledge is another thing all together. The audiences that I am speaking to WANTS to build BJJ skills WHILE improving overall strength, not one or the other.
The strength is NOT a substitute for the skills necessary for long-term growth and success in the art. Far too often students begin getting stronger and they stop making the small positional adjustments in BJJ which were required of them when they were weaker, instead they muscle through positions and just burn out trying to overpower their opponent making all that strength work pointless.

The key in my opinion (through experience in trial and effort) is to play a weaker person’s BJJ game. Your game continues to be built around movement and pressure but it is now backed with an engine that has the stamina to keep GOING and to squeeze and lift when the time is right. Sometimes you’ll need the strength when dealing with a larger opponent or someone of equal skill , otherwise it’s just there for your health and longevity.


Benefits of Strength Training for BJJ:

–       Reduce the potential of injury by increasing lean muscle mass and tendon strength
–       Males- increase testosterone production which enhances recovery and overall performance
–       Strength in squatting positions required in low guard passing and general guard work
–       Reduce over-use training. By using different movement patterns in strength training you will be moving outside your regular BJJ moves, which is good for your joints, major muscle groups, and supporting muscle structures ( ie: rotator cuff, scapular stability). Too much of the same thing on the body is never great

Beginner Strength Training Protocol

The first thing you need have some lifting skills on hand, and if you don’t you’ll have to seek out a qualified coach to teach you. You’ll need to be proficient with the major lifts, Dead Lift, Back Squat, Bench Press, and the Shoulder Press. Once you get these add in Front Squat, Lunges (weighted and un-weighted), Close Grip Bench Press, Pull Ups, Dips… the list can get long but it’s enough to get you moving forward.

This template is assuming that you can move properly, have adequate single leg strength and that you have relatively balanced strength levels from left to right. Below is a template for a lifting program designed to help you get stronger, that’s all. Later it is important to build into the program some speed/ strength movements to increase your power output. Being strong and fast is much more desirable then strong and slow!


2 Sessions Per Week

Day 1. DL Intense/ UB Pull Intense + LB Squat Stamina/ UB Pull Stamina
Day 2: Squat Intense/ UB Push Intense + LB Pull Stamina/ UB Push Stamina


A1. DeadLift @ 42X1 tempo, 4-6 reps x 4 sets, 2 min rest
A2. Wt’d Pull Up @ 31X1, 3-4 reps x 4 sets, 2 min rest
B1. DB Walking Lunges @ 10X0 10/leg x 3 sets, 60 sec rest
B2. Ring Rows @ 21X1 8-10 reps x 3 sets, 60 sec rest

A1. Back Squat @ 31X1, 4-5 reps x 4 sets, 2 min rest
A2. Barbell Shoulder Press @ 21X1, 3-4 reps x 4 sets, rest 2 min
B1. Russian style Kettle Bell Swings 15-20 reps x 4 sets, 1 min rest
B2. Lying DB Bench Press @ 30X1, 15-20 reps x 4 sets, 1 min rest


A1. DeadLift @ 31X1 tempo, 4-6 reps x 4 sets, 2 min rest
A2. Wt’d Supinated Chin Up @ 31X1, 3-4 reps x 4 sets, 2 min rest
B1. DB Walking Lunges @ 10X0 8/leg x 3 sets, 60 sec rest – add wt from last week
B2. Strict Pull Up @ 11X1 AMRAP (-1)  x 3 sets, 60 sec rest

A1. Back Squat @ 31X1, 3-4 reps x 5 sets, 2 min rest
A2. Close Grip Bench Press @ 30X1, 3-4 reps x 5 sets, rest 2 min
B1. Glute Ham Raise @ 20X1, 10-12 reps x 4 sets, 1 min rest
B2. Push Up AMRAP (-2) @ 10X1 reps x 4 sets, 1 min rest

Get the jist?..

We are adding in some variation with reps schemes, lifting tempos, and exercise selection WHILE sticking to a plan and progression so it’s not just randomly chosen movements day to day.

Coach Eric Cady
OPT Associate Coach In-Journey
BJJ Black Belt