BJJ Competition - How to Complement It w/ Weights and Diet?

Hi everybody, I’m having a serious doubt regarding how to complement my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training. I’ll give you a quick panorama of my situation: first of all, I’m a complete begginer regarding nutrition, weight lifting and supplementation (still learning and reading a lot from this forum and the website). That being said, I’ve tried CrossFit a few years back, with good results on my BJJ game, however I stopped training because of money issues and kept on training only BJJ. About 6 months ago, I moved to a whole new continent, and lost 10 kgs, mainly because I was barely eating, and not training at all. Now that I’m already on track, I started BJJ again a week ago, but not surprisingly, I’m extremely weak and thin. So here lies the main question: I need to regain my weight, because I’m planning on competing at 75 kgs/165 lbs and I’m currently 65 kg/143 lbs, height is around 170 cm (5’5); also because at that weight I felt much more confortable and strong in my fights. How do I go about recovering that weight (doesn’t matter how long it takes) and what is my best option regarding strength training to complement my BJJ with?

I read a lot of the threads in the forum, and I can see that most of the experts here recommend either SS or 5/3/1 for most begginers, but as I said, being a total rookie, I have no clue as to whether or not that can make me achieve my goals. Being that I’m interested in competing BJJ again, the weight is important, but not immediately, as I can start in a lower category; however, being explosive and strong is non-negotiable, I absolutely have to get stronger. I know I have to get my eating ridiculously increased, but I’m kind of hesitant as to which supplements will help me with my pre work out nutrition, training, and post work out recovery. I used to take creatinine with good response, but I wanna know what else you guys recommend.

So, to make a long story short:

A - Complete rookie.
B - Which strength program do you recommend for BJJ?
C - Which supplements should I take in other to complement my eating?

PS: I mentioned the CF “background” because I know how to squat, deadlift and other powerlifting moves, however, I didn’t set my PR’s back then and certainly don’t have any of that information, so let’s pretend I’m starting from scratch.

Thank you in advance for any help I can get.

This(phase 2) for 6 weeks to learn the lifts…

then this…

For supps perfect world get Plazma, If on budget look into beta alanine, krealkalyn creatine(no water weight), karbolyn carb type products and bcaa/eaa s all taken peri workout.

ZMA, vitamin d3, krill oil and greens/superfood supp all good for general health and recovery

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Awesome articles, I’ll get to both of them right away! About the Plazma, I’d love to buy that but I couldn’t get a hold of that here in Spain and I’m not sure if they’d ship it worldwide. Thank you!

For someone who needs to learn the basic lifts something like the first article Rampantbadger posted, Starting Strength, or another very streamlined basic barbell lifting program geared towards beginners is a solid option.

However, personally I no longer view supplemental strength training and conditioning like I used to or like I see most strength coaches treating it, but instead I see it as things you do in order to best handle and be prepared for and remain injury free from the rigors of your chosen sport/activity.

For someone who has been a lifelong athlete and has kept their athletic attributes (strength, flexibility/mobility, explosiveness/connective tissue resilience, endurance, stability, core strength, etc…) in the proper balance thought that time, I think something like the second article by Thib would be a solid option. Unfortunately though, most adults fall very far short of that balance and continuing to build “performance on top of dysfunction” will only predispose one to injury in the long term.

For most adults I feel that the primary initial focuses should be on:

  1. Core strength/strength endurance (both static and dynamic)

  2. Regaining and building strength through a full range of motion in all joints in the body

  3. Rebuilding connective tissue strength and resiliency and bringing it back into balance with muscular strength

  4. Truly gaining mastery of your own body/body weight through all planes of motion to the point where additional resistance actually becomes necessary to continue to gain strength

So, at the very least if I were going to have someone follow that second program I would alter it as such:

  1. Drop the “plyometrics” for now as again most adults lose their resiliency in their tendons/connective tissues and those tissues are therefore not prepared for and placed at a greater risk of injury from participating in plyometric exercises

  2. Superset the Strength exercises with mobility exercises and only increase the resistance on the strength exercise once the mobility exercise has also been “mastered” as well

  3. Up the repetitions to the 12-15 rep range on all strength exercises as higher rep ranges result in more blood to the connective tissues and is better for keeping connective tissue and muscular strength in better balance, Also keep rest times to as short as possible (ideally no additional rest that how long it takes you to perform the mobility exercise); you want lots of fatigue and to build work capacity right now and build some muscle as well (Thib himself even posted an article recently which cited a study that showed that fatigue/failure in and of itself is enough to stimulate hypertrophy, regardless of load).

  4. Streamline the strength exercises so you focus on one upper body push, one upper body pull, and one lower body exercise at a time, then add in a core stabilization exercise (plank, hollow body hold, etc…), a dynamic oblique exercise (Russian Twists, Floor Wipers, side plank lifts, etc…), and a dynamic spinal Flexion/Hip Flexion exercise (sit-ups, hanging leg raise, v-ups, etc…). If you still have time/energy left you can add in a hip hyper extension exercise (Superman holds, back extensions, reverse hyperextensions, etc…) and/or wrist exercises (wrist curls, reverse wrist curls, leverage bar work, wrist push-ups, etc…).

Good luck and hope this helps.

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That’s really good info, thank you very much! I’ll definetly apply these.

One of my favorite topics! I started StrongLifts at the beginning of the year as part of my strategy to help keep up with the younger guys I train with (I’m a 49 year old BJJ black belt). Interesting that you are looking to compete at LW (167.5 lbs/76 kg). We’re about the same height but after years of competing at LW against younger guys who were cutting down from MW (181 lbs/80.3 kg), I’ve finally realized that I’m more a natural FW (154.5 lbs./70 kg).

My goal is to get to a decent “advanced intermediate” level of strength via SL, and then move on to more sophisticated programs like “Athlete Lean, Athlete Strong” as recommended above.or Thib’s Six Weeks to Superhero (I love complexes!).

Gaining strength without too much size is my biggest challenge. Right now I avoid carbs on jiu-jitsu training days and have pre-workout carbs (rice) on SL days. Sat/Sun are for balancing out (add or limit carbs depending on where my weight is on Friday). This is letting me hover around 150 lbs. - near the top of my weight class.

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Thank you for your comment! I’m struggling to start lifting, as I’m still unable to start a proper diet (long story), but as soon as I get started with SS, I’m sure I’ll see the results right away. I don’t wanna lift without eating like a bear, since I feel it will be pointless. Aside from lifting, do you do any other mobility exercises outside the mats?

I have a little workout I do before class that I’ve been doing for years. Mostly range of motion stuff, replicating the movements I’ll be doing on the mat (hipscapes, technical lifts, wrestler sitouts, etc.) After class I do a conditioning circuit of hipscapes, pullups, hip thrusts, and jump squats to finish.

I would mirror pretty much exactly what Sentoguy said.

I have found that training methods that improve neural drive and recruitment have been much more beneficial to my bjj performance with the exception of a few, basic static lifts: Front squat (or Safety Squat Bar Squats), Deadlift, Overhead Press, Bench Press, Pullups and Rows (barbell or db). Single leg exercises have helped me a lot with mobility and balance as well, I prefer lunges with my front foot elevated but bulgarian split squats, walking lunges and regular split squats are good as well.

It is important not to neglect any major area of performance in your training program since BJJ requires adaptations in such a large range of physical attributes. The main areas to focus on are mobility, static strength, power, muscular endurance, strength endurance and cardiovascular conditioning.

You can program this as follows:

Warm up
Bodyweight exercise circuit x 5 sets with no rest
Bw squats
Sit ups
Hip bridges

Mobility work
(Check out DeFranco’s limber eleven for this)

Pick 1 power movement (cleans, high pulls, snatches, etc…) and work up to a heavy (ish) 3 sets of 3 reps

Pick 1 main lift (squat, Front squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press) and work up to a heavy(ish) 5 sets of 5 reps

Hypertrophy/Assistance strength exercise
Pick a lift in the opposite plane of motion from your strength lift (if you did squats, do a deadlift variation, if you did overhead press, pick a pullup variation, if you did bench press, pick a rowing variation) and do 5-8 sets of 8-12 reps with a moderate weight.

Conditioning/muscular endurance
You can do almost anything here. Sprints, sled pulls, prowler pushes, challenging bodyweight circuits, etc are all good choices but I prefer barbell complexes (my current favorite is 5 cleans, 5 front squats, 5 presses, 5 back squats, 5 behind the neck presses, 5 high pulls, 5 romanian deadlifts, 5 barbell rows). Don’t go too heavy on these! I only use 135lbs and am 260lbs and have been lifting for almost 20 years now. I would recommend starting with just the bar and working up in small incrementa from there. I do 3-5 sets with 1 minute rest between sets.

Then you can do some prehab work. I recommend soing bent over lateral raises, face pulls and band pull aparts to keep the shoulders strong and healthy.

Afterwards I will do some slow, steady cardio if I have time.

Train 2 days a week, one with emphasis on upper body and 1 with emphasis on lower body. If you have aesthetic goals, you can train some bodybuilding movements on a third day but keep it to “pump” work. Don’t do anything heavy and stick mostly to dumbbells and cables on this day. When I do this, I just do delt raises and curls for around 6 sets each.

Of course, there are a million ways to set this up effectively. This is just an example of what has been working for me; although, I do change it up a lot (probably more than I should). Since you are new to lifting, you should keep the same lifts for AT LEAST 6 weeks before moving to different variations. Don’t swap lifts until you have really mastered the old ones and don’t swap lifts until you aren’t getting stronger on them for 2 weeks in a row.

As far as diet, you can’t go wrong with meat, rice and veggies. You can make soups, stews, stir fry, mexican dishes, traditional American dishes, etc… all off the same grocery list of you have a little flair in the kitchen.

Supplements aren’t really necessary but it’s a good idea to get some protein powder (don’t get caught up choosing fancy protein powders. It’s a waste of money.) Just get a whey protein or whey/casein blend that you can handle the flavor of. You should also get a good multivitamin.

If you want to get more supplements, next up would be creatine (this also does not need to be fancy or expensive. Plain ole’ creatine monohydrate does the job just fine. Next would be a preworkout with L-citruline malate, BCAA’s and L-arginine. You can buy them by themselves or you can buy a premade preworkout but they can be a little pricey.

To be quite honest, I didn’t take anything other than protein powder when I was a powerlifter/strongman and was very strong and big.

Just try to eat at least 4 times a day and try to eat a lot of your food for the day before and after your training session. A good way to gain muscle mass without gaining fat is to eat all of your carbs for the day right after your training session. On days you don’t train you don’t eat as many carbs. There is a great book detailing this diet called “Carbohydrate Backloading” by Keifer that I would strongly recommend buying. Another good one is “The Anabolic Solution” but I can’t remember who wrote it.


Here’s a guy I’ve been following for a very long time. Lots of great ideas for building your own mobility drill program.

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I also compete in BJJ. Flexibility and movement are just as important as strength…knowing that, I would actually order “Simple and Sinister” by Pavel and complete that kettlebell program while supplementing with a sprint regime and going to class at least 3x per week. Once you reach the “Sinister” goal in that program, then reassess your needs and choose based on that. Make sure you leave a day for healing and growth due to the impact rolling hard can have on the body.

I recommend Rogue Fitness KB’s due to the good value for the money.

I would put a extra maybe 2 to 1 focus on pulling to pushing my bjj coach always emphasized removing the gap and not allowing space for opportunity another vitally important thing is hip thrusts ive thrust guys 275+ off me on the bottom of a mount sets of 20 works well and forearms dont forget forearms ill never forget the debilitating burn my forearms felt after my first live match

Depends on how many days you train and how hard you train first off. A day where you are doing a lot of live rolls isn’t a good day to plan a heavy weight session. Let’s say you train BJJ 3 days a week-Monday Wednesday Friday with Monday and Friday being the hard practices. Those days you should do nothing but your bjj. Tuesday should be an active recovery (swim, jog, yoga etc) Wednesday after your light practice id do a heavy weight session. Thursday again active recovery or full rest, learn to listen to your body. Friday should again be dedicated to your practice and Saturday I would do another heavy weight session and finish with some kind of HIIT (sprint intervals on treadmill) Sunday will be your full recovery day. A month out from your tournament take away one weight session and replace it with an open mat day.
As far as what kind of routine to follow, that is a lot of weight to gain it depends on how fast you want to gain it, know that all the weight you gain won’t be muscle. I’d focus on one main compound movement per workout and the rest of the workout filled with hypertrophic/bodybuilding style stuff. A lot of people will disagree but hypertrophy and strength compliment eachother well and the amount of weight you want to gain won’t be achieved by doing some monotone starting strength shit. Don’t worry about how much you can bench or squat that will have nothing to do with your ability to choke a mofo out. Your goal is to gain some weight and strength not be a hulk or powerlifters. These are all things I wish I did I lifted way too much and trained too much and burned myself out. An example for you;

Day 1
Deadlift 6x3 (not too heavy about 60-70% of a 1rm)
Row variation 5x8-12
DB incline or flat 5x8-12
Hip thrust 4x10
Core exercise 4x10-15

Day 2
Front squat 5x5-8
Pull ups+dips 3 supersets
DB clean and press or snatch 4x3
Neck bridging or high rep shrugs
Interval sprints

As far as diet, don’t do any crazy fad diets stick to the basics-complex carbs (more on the days you train, less on lighter days) brown rice, oats, while grains,potatoes and veggies. Good fats from fish, eggs, olive oil or coconut oil and butter. Protein from and meat, fish, eggs dairy product etc. As far as supplements most of them are a scam. Stick to the stuff that we know works. Multivitamin, fish oil, creatine(be careful with this if you have to cut weight though) and MAYBE protein but you should get plenty in your diet. A good macro ratio should be 40%carbs 30% fat and 30% protein. Hope this helps and good luck in your competitions and remember practice always comes before strength and conditioning. If you have to choose between weights and bjj always choose bjj. Can’t make it to the gym? Do some push ups, burpees, hill sprints whatever it is just get it done and win.