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Advice: Grip Strength, Leg Pain


I've got 2 questions, and I hope that this forum can help me. Confession - I'm not a body builder. I do strength training to further my cause in another area Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ).

First question - Grip strength is critical in BJJ. I do a number of grip specific things like the gripper duh, farmer walks w/ dumbells, wrist exercises, etc. I've found that my grip strength has improved especially endurance-wise but my limiting factor now seems to be finger toughness. Once I achieve the grip I usually do pretty well to hold on, but it's the initiating the grip that still seems to plague me. Any ideas?

Second - I do a fair amount of leg work as leg strength is critical to a fighting position in BJJ known as the guard. I do all of the traditional exercise and have been experience nice gains both in strength and endurance. I'm having this nagging pain that usually comes on while squatting heavy (for me that's 6-8 reps of 275).

The pain starts just below the hip on the side of my leg and extends down about 1/2-3/4s down my leg. It's not the joint per se. I can feel the muscle, or tendon, whatever when I do a classic hamstring stretch with one leg crossed over the other, but instead of leaning forward I twist away from the back leg. Again up and down the side of the leg. Really weird. Anyway this area stays tender and sore longer than the big muscles of the leg and kind of hurts a bit after wards say when I try to walk stairs. Any ideas?


What's your training for your lower body look like?

I'm confused about what you are saying with the grip, are your hands just slow to grab the Gi or body? Are your hands getting torn up by the Gi?

My hands were scabbed up when I first started training from irritation with the Gi, but as I kept my training up I got calluses on my finger joints that kept me from getting hurt.


sounds like your grip is realatively weak and you need callouses.
youll get them from the Gi and regular
lifting like deadlifts, rows, and pull ups.

drop the grippers and pick up two tennis balls
try to do some pull ups with them
much better then captains of crunk- they are not good for much.

as for your leg were' not doctors like on sherdog.
it is likely your piriformas and IT bands are tight.

try some foam rolling and google stretch the IT band on youtube and you will find some decent stretches.

If it really hurts go see a DR.



Lower body, usually 4-5 sets of 225-275. I usually do some higher rep squats with 135. I try and crank out 2-3 sets of 15 reps at a much higher speed for stamina. Then leg press or barbell lunges for the glutes. Then either a circuit of calf raises, leg extentions, and leg curls, or calf raises with hip flexor work, the high knee machine, and the groin machines (i.e. yes/nos).

The grip thing is weird I agree. It is getting the grip that I struggle with. My fingers and hands are fairly tough and callous, but I have long slender fingers. Once my fingers can curl and close around the gi I'm usually pretty strong at maintaining the grip. It's the pummle and digging for the grip that I struggle with. I'm thinking rope climbers, of gi pull ups?


kmc, I'll do some searching on your recommendations on the leg pain. I did do some foam roller stretching and that definitely helped some.

On you hand suggestions, how would I do pull ups with the tennis balls. I'm intrigued.



put them in your hands, and hold squeeze them against the bar.... they are on top of the bar
you might need to step of a block or platform to get a good setup.
I saw these at a wrestling camp as kid- hurt like hell.

my hands are big, for a little guy- if your hands are too small just throw a towel or gi or big fat rope over the bar and ue grip the cloth to do pull ups. or use two towels one per hand...

thanks mate



I try to make sure that I do a good amount of hamstring curl work and hip extension work in my leg training, it seems to cut way down on tweaks in my training.

Towel chin-ups had the biggest carryover to grabbing and holding onto the Gi for me.


foam roller for leg pain.

lots of forearm curls; bigger muscles = stronger muscles. grip work, plate holds, barbell holds, db holds for time. if you can grip a 200 lb dumbbell for 1 min you can hold a gi.


Foam roll your legs NOW or your knee cap will start tracking wrong. I ignored that shit and have an assortment of shit to deal with.

As for your grip, you're going to need a dynamic grip for bjj. I recommend tug of war with a gi top.

KMC's idea is gold. It's basically like a thick bar pullup but you will have a dynamic component because your forced to squeeze HARD the entire time to keep the tennis balls on the bar and you have to adjust how you're squeezing while you do pullups.

Also drill a hole in a baseball, put an eye socket through it and hang it from a pullup bar with a little length of chain. your body's motion along the chain will cause some oscillation so you have to adjust your grip a bit while you're doing pullups (similar to holding someone's wrists)

Also, i read this in an old school Chin-Na book. Actually makes a lot of sense and improved my grip strength. Just open your palms out in front of you and open and close your hands really quickly. Kinda like you're grabbing boobies. You'll probably be pretty quick the first 15seconds. do that shit for a minute and you'll feel the fatigue set in.


Guys, great suggestions, thanks for the reply! Now for the hard part, putting these new concepts into the rotation.

200lb dumbbell hold for a min, NICE. No can do. I thought I was doing OK with 60lb farmer walks. Time to raise the bar, no pun intended...


Xen I saw the baseballs recently at a friends school and was like oh shit.

I did the tennisballs years and years ago
at like hs wrestling camp



yea we have the baseballs at CSW... made me realize i need to start working my grip. I completely blanked on the tennis ball idea though. Jens Pulver did it in his UFC uncut (or wtfever), I need to start doing that as well.


For grip stuff just go to IronMind and read around.


dude the iron mind stuff is crazy

I want a 25lb blob!


Yeah, Iron Mind is nuts. There is a blog somewhere on the site with all sorts of crazy set ups.

The Iron Mind people are working class guys. So if you look around, you'll see lots of low-cost tips and tricks.

FYI, I just ordered these:

In theory, they should be fantastic for sustaining grip strength.

Will report back once I have experience.


Lucky you. I attended the Attacking the Guard seminar at CSW. There was no way I could drive there to train without quitting work. Alas. Enjoy yourself!


I live about 15min away. I'm there twice a day ;-p if you ever make another trip up let me know, you have a place to stay. I have the attacking the guard DVD let me know which guy you are so I can put a name to the face LOL


Damn. Wish I had known that. Just moved to NorCal. I would've hit the place up on weekends.

In the Rubber Guard DVD...... I'd be a white guy at about 210. I look way different now, as I'm at 185.

Almost done with dieting. On about 1400 cals a day and seeing progress daily. So I'll send some pics in a few weeks.


Claw- you got a fight coming up?
sounds like your cutting....



I did. Then I got injured. Been out of the MMA gym for about four months. Doing cardio and lifting only.

It has actually worked out nicely so far. I'm saying that not as a "make lemonade" view. The injury came at the right time and taught me the right things.

It's hard as hell to cut weight while training. I now have a theory why so many fighters get injured before fighting. It's not that the training is much more intense. It's that you're upping training while not giving your ligaments the nutrients they need. Plus, if you're low carbing it to cut, your ligaments are "dry." I was losing an unusually large amount of weight to see if I could fight 170. So my cals and carbs were too low.

I was 185 (glycogen depleted) today. I'm hoping that 6-8 more pounds will do the trick. We'll see.

Once I'm where I want to be weight wise, I'll start MMA training again on a full maintenance calories.