T Nation

Judo Workouts etc


I have been training for the last 6 months with a month of strength training like 1-6 etc and a month of ovt or gvt and just started Judo this week. I was wondering what kind of workouts people that do grappling use. I have searched for this and most use Coach Davis's workouts but I am in college and don't have the money to buy one. Do people find max effort work like 80% of 1rm 2 reps for 8 sets or something or speed work like 60% 1 rm for more volume to be better for grappling? I will still be doing some bodybuilding workout phases as this is just a club sport but when I do my strength training I would like it to help with Judo. I always use squats, deads, benching, and pull-ups in all my programs. But will take any ideas on where to find programs or just what people find effecting. Oh I just picked up a super gripper and will be using that twice a week to help with grip strength. I relies this post is kind of rambling but if anyone can help that would be great. Thanks. .


Since you have only just started taking Judo you probably aren't aware of this but Judo/Ju-Jitsu and all martial arts are more about technical movements than strength. I have been taking a mixed martial art ( Kajukenbo ) for about 3 years. Like you I was under the impression that muscle is the key to being a successful martial artist. This couldn't be further from the truth. I used to weigh 260lbs, when I first started taking Kajukenbo and ( this is no exaggeration) the smallest person in the class, literally a 98 lb woman, who was an intermediate belt, wiped the floor with my ass. Now, if she made the mistake of letting me out of her guard ( ju-jitsu) or allowed me to get mount ( ju-jitsu) she was in a very bad position. However this had less to do with muscle and more to do with body weight. When she didn't make those mistakes, I ALWAYS submitted.
Now it should be noted that our system includes 72 different Judo throws take downs etc. While a I agree that muscle does help it's not the primary tool used in any martial art.
If you are looking to get stronger, just look for a program here on T-mag in the past issues and go for it. There are certainly plenty of them ( and they cost nothing) If you are looking to get better at Judo, then you should practice at every opportunity. If your instructor will allow you to use the mat with your classmates (before or after class) then by all means use the mats! Also, I would advise that you practice against people that are better than you as much as possible. Martial arts are only mastered with lots of practice, flawless technique and time. There are no shortcuts for good old fashioned experience.
Just one more suggestion, if your school goes to tournaments and your instructor will allow you to participate ( having very little experience) then by all means go! You will find that as you progress in your Judo training that you will learn very quickly certain peoples styles of fighting. This leads to getting very "comfortable" with your training partners. Even the purest of martial arts schools have slightly different ways of teaching techniques and when you spar against someone you've never met you learn something new every time!

Try not to take this the wrong way, everything I have said here is meant to be helpful. But, with only one week of Judo under your belt, the best thing you can do to get better at Judo is "just do it".

While I do know that there are workouts for people in the martial arts, you need to take one step at a time. Start with learning each technique flawlessly by the time you remember that you wanted to increase your strength in order to win, you will realize that massive grip strength or specific muscular training is not the secret to being an excellent martial artist.


Thanks for the input, I agree that obvously I just need to learn it, but I figured I spend so much time in the gym that if it will help in the future that would be great. Do you feel that watching videos online etc of moves will help at all, or should I just wait until i get back on the mat to learn.


MagicMyke has many good points. However, if you are looking to train specific muscles for grappling I would think about the following:

  1. Strong hips and legs for throwing and takedowns-Squats, Deadlifts (high rep).

  2. Strong Grip as that is the only connection that you have to your opponent-Iron Mind Hand Grippers,

  3. Pulling muscles (lats-biceps)-Pull-ups

As in most sports especially grappling pectoral bulk is useless and in fact, could be a limiting factor in your success. Therefore, I would steer clear of all Bench Pressing.

Finally, I would lift weights in some sort of circut fashoin so that your body is trained to excel in strength while being pushed cardiouvascularly.

Just some ideas, hope you find them usefull.



Going to have to disagree on this one.
I wouldn't try and attempt to increase your cardiovascular capacity whilst weight training. My reason for this is the conditioning required for grappling is very specific and would be best developed by grappling. You shouldn't be repeating what you do in judo training but developing qualities that are not as well trained by grappling alone. That would be strength development, speed strength in particular.
I would try to develop absolute strength and speed-strength at the same time, like WSB training. Although you only do it as hobby you still need good relative strength to be able to perform well. You will get bigger while strength training anyway.

As ZEB says hip-extension is vital for throws and take-downs. I would try and incoporate oly lifts into your training as they teach you how to accelerate objects under varying degrees of resistance or recieve forces from an object. I've personally found these very helpful for throw/take-downs, especially supplexes! (do you do these in judo?!)

But avoid high-rep stuff. You will develop the required endurance from judo.
For grip training I would try to develop high static strength as opposed to dynamic (crushing) strength. Deadlift holds for 8-12secs or isometric holds with your grippers not repping! Nothing longer as you shouldn't have to resist with maximal force for that long, you will learn to relax in judo and conserve your strength for when you need it.

Benching can be helpful in grappling as you will often have to break the opponents balance by pushing and then pulling them into the throw and to resist an opponent trying to pull you toward them. Also you should always try to maintain a balanced development of strength to avoid injuries.


You can also try doing very short timed sets. CT specified martial arts as using very short sets between 5 and 10 seconds. Do 8-12 sets of this format. Your load should be 50%-60%. The key to this training is to blast as many reps out as you can in the alotted time. Your goal is to surpass your reps. Thats how the progression works for this type of training. The movements should be explosive. Its not recommended that you do big movements with this e.g. snatches, deads and complex multi movments.

As for grip, stick with creed's suggestion. Its about a lasting grip not a crusing grip. Static holds, hanging holds and plate pinches will work wonders for that.


I don't know how to do olympic lifts but I was thinking I could do deadlifts and then snatch grip high pulls and then push press all at different times to get the effect. Of course it won't be as good. But I figure it's a good start? I have the ivanko(sp) super gripper as I stated above and will hold the gripper for 30-45 seconds with as much weight as possibal. I will also start more demanding ab workouts twice a week as I have noticed they are important. Oh and hamstring raises from the ground with the towel under my knees ....maybe also some neck exercises as being thrown tends to give me a stiff......neck in the morning. Do these exercises sound right?
Thanks guys, this sport so far has been fun and I look foward to learning more about it.


While watching videos can be very helpful, you have to understand the application behind the moves. So if you wanted to watch videos that are specific to your style, I think that as you learn the application, videos will allow you to "see" where certain throws can be utilized. As to your mat question, yeah man get on the mat at every opportunity.

However, I need to clarify a few things that you said in your original post. You said that you have been training for the last six months, is this the sum total of your training experience or has it just been the last six months that you are getting serious about lifting?

The only reason I ask is because you seem to jump from talking about looking for coach Davies workouts for martial artists, then to strength training, then to bodybuilding. I'm not an expert in this arena ( thats why you don't see me post on those topics) but if you are an experienced lifter then I deferr to your own experience. Just seems to me ( just my 2 cents ) that you haven't quite targeted just exactly what it is you want to do yet. ( beware of overtraining ! :stuck_out_tongue: )

Are you actually taking Judo? Is it a "pure Judo style?" or is it a mixed art? While Judo does involve grappling, there are more intense arts like Ju-Jitsu that require stamina rather than strength. This is why Helio Gracie ( founder of Gracie Ju Jitsu) was able to grapple with his top student for almost 4 hours straight while being 30-40lbs lighter and 40 years older. And also why I stressed the technique in my first post. Lets not get confused here, UFC, PRIDE and all of NHB ( No Holds Barred ) while certainly fun to watch, the application is more of a survival slant. As anyone who has fought "a street fight" and a "tournament" fight would readily attest to that. While they do use grappling ( mainly Ju Jitsu ) and Judo ( but mostly just the takedowns) the end goal is to beat the crap out of each other until one or the other either taps out or passes out.

When I read your post I understood it to be a desire to be a better martial artist, hey I've been wrong many times before and could be now.

I agree that a man who has beast like strength AS well as flawless technique is a man to be wary of, take away one or the other attribute and you have an easier to defeat opponent.

Even tho I dropped almost fifty pounds I was still in the heavyweight class at tournaments which by the way is 175 lbs to infinity! At 210 I grappled a man that had to be 290 lbs maybe 17-18% body fat and I tapped his ass out faster than any match prior.( mmmm... paper cutter my favorite choke) My very next match was against my own class mate and he weighed about 185 and beat me out for first! ( and I had a Bye! He did not.) It came down to 2 things, technique and stamina.And lets not forget that technique begets stamina, IE less wasted movement less expended energy. Now my instructor teaches out of my gym so I happened to know that we were of about equal strength, as we also lifted together. ( as a side note I personally love it when an guy tries to muscle me, I know right then and there that he doesn't have much in his arsenal or he wouldn't be trying it to begin with!)

AS I'm sure you already know first hand, grip strength is nice but not a key factor when you are wearing a double knit or even single knit Gi. Many of Judo's throws actually depend on this fact. It's this very issue that caused Royler Gracie and his brothers to start a completely new tournament that has matches with and with out Gi's. Those things are like big old luggage handles!

Another point to try and drive my point home. In my first post I told you that I weighed 260 pounds, I was probably 30+% bf and I was using the friggin EAS program on top of my MMA sessions! I took second in state that year in the beginner heavyweight division. I didn't know jack squat about training! All the while geting my ass handed to me by a 98 lb female intermediate belt.

If a big fat, couch 'tater with no previous MA experience can do a program made for housewives while doing high repetition low weight workouts can accomplish that, well I think that speaks volumes towards my technique argument.

The Gracies came in and turned the NHB world upside down because they were smaller than most competitors and had a better technique. Its well documented on web as well as reputable publications. ( like Black Belt mag.)

ZEB- no disrespect intended here but I'm not sure that your suggestions have any merit when applied to a Judo/Ju Jitsu style. Your hands are most certainly not your only connection to your opponent. The guard for example ( which mainly uses the legs ) is a very important technique to learn, and with proper technique a skilled grappler can submit a man that is sitting on his chest with basic locks and if your style permits small joint, and knee locks.

If I had to pick any of the suggestions made here, I would have to agree for the most part with Creed. I don't know him but I can tell that he has at least some if not alot of MA experience, just based on the expamples he provides. As far as hip extension is concerned, its important but I think the same results can be achieved with regular stretching. Yes I realize that lifts done with a full range of motion do increase flexibilty, and if you are going to lift anyway then its an added benefit. However if Brown isn't comfortable with Oly lifts he can still do some good just working on flexibilty.

SO in a nut shell my points are these:
1) if you want to train strength, why on earth would you only train towards one end? Don't you want over all strength for everyday situations? If you want to get strong then do it, and for gods sake used the tried and true methods posted by the men who put it to use on a regular basis. ( hey they are free after all! ) Strength is certainly an asset in many aspects of life.

2) You have already stated that you want to get strong, be fast and bodybuild. All repectable goals but you will have to break down and concentrate on one at a time to really get much out of it.

I understand why you want to do it but if you try to go balls to the walls in all directions you can easily get frustrated due either to not realizing your goals or just plain get burned out on all of it. You've got six months of solid training under your belt already, why jeopordize your positive mental attitude by spreading yourself too thin. (what I'm saying is after I got wise and started getting educated here at T-Mag I was doing the same thing bro)

3) I said it before and I'm saying it now, if the REAL goal in your Judo class is honestly to become a good Judo man then time, a concentrated effort, direction and experience are your best freinds. However if you are even a little like I was when I started and just want to dominate men in the ring, you are going to fast find out that regardless of your strength, bigger or smaller, the man with the better technique is going to spank you. After all it IS the the primary principle that martial arts are built upon. Regardless of style.

People have to learn for themselves. I could go on and on and give example after example where smaller, weaker men have defeated much bigger and stronger opponents ( Yes even in Sumo!) But the truth of the matter is, it's up to you to draw your own conclusions and create a program that agrees with you.( or just follow one of the professionally planned programs until you can make your own)

I've learned at least that much in my time here at T-mag. And if you do happen to make a mistake then its a lesson well learned and you move on. Lord knows I've made plenty :))


I got hooked on Brazillian style JJ several years ago. Wish I could have done this sport when I was a teenager instead of Little League, etc. Grappling is the most demanding physical activity I know of. Strength, speed, flexibility, stamina, coordination, balance, mental strategy. For most of my adult years I have been into weight training and the watersports available here in Hawai'i. They have kept me a very young 62. Most new friends underestimate my age by 30%. I train with a lumbar laminectomy at L5 and a rehabbed ruptured left achilles tendon.

But I digress. I think grappling is so demanding that it would be easy to overtrain with any other activity. The thing to do is to allow plenty of time for recovery. Periodize your emphasis from month to month. Or train JJ once or twice a week with brief but intense weights once or twice a week. Bottom line is I think it would be impossibe to go full blast on weight training and then through in a few sessions on the mat. "Listen to your body."


I have a great deal of respect for those on the board who disagree with my concepts, as stated in my brief post above. However, I disagree with their approach-Heres why:

First of all nothing is more important than skill. I have seen many men with good strength defeated on and off the mat by those who have more skill. Therefore, I would agree with all who suggest that your focus actually be with time on the mat.

My main point in my previous post is that Judo, like life, is not one rep. I think there is way to much emphasis on one rep (or low reps) strength. Not that it does not take skill and great discipline to achieve this type of strength. A powerflifter for example trains in a very disciplined manner and acheives an admirable amount of strength for his effort. This should be commended!

However, In reality low rep strength is highly overrated relative to practicality. Anyone who has worked on a farm, moved furniture, shoveled snow or dirt, picked up a sledge hammer, or been involved with grappling knows that the man who is capable in these activities is the one who is able to constantly keep their muscles in a ready state, rep after rep, without fatigue being a major factor. Yes you can do this with mat traing, but you can also do it in the gym with the proper program. If you want to be competitive in the final few minutes (or seconds) of a match, you have to train properly to be there!

You simply need to use a different energy system on the mat than the one that you would use training low reps. Anyone who has experienced a lactic acid burn in the muscles after a prolonged (higher rep) set knows that this is the best system that will assist you on the mat. We have all come off the mat before with our forearms feeling like swollen balloons, not exactly the feeling you get from doing :12 static holds is it? Hence, I once again recommend that you train higher reps, say 12-20 or so. Especially with a movement like Squats and Deadlifts!

I will also stand by my recomendation regarding the Barebell Bench press. It is first of all an exercise that creates more injuries than virtually any other movement in the gym. (More of this on another post). For that reason alone I would stay away from it (and I do). Anything that you feel can be gained by Benching, for an athletic event, can be replaced with a more atheletic movement like Push-ups. If necessary you can do weighted Push-ups.

However, you have limited time in the gym and I think it is wise to stick to developing your grappling muscles,(yes there are grappling muscles), of which the chest is not one! One only need look at the best grapplers in the world to determine this. What muscle groups always stand out in the finest grapplers? Traps; Neck; Biceps; Forearms; Lower back; Hips; Upper Thigh; There are many great exercises to train these groups. If you are confused regarding exercise selection you only need do a T-search to find them.

As far as my comment on grip goes, I stand by it! I have participated in and have seen many, many submission grappling matches and I have yet to see anyone tap someone out without using their hands! I am sure there are exceptions, however we care more about the rule than the exception. The grip is even more important in Judo as there is a GI to grab.

I would also use the Iron man grippers as suggested as they will mimic the constant grabbing and releasing that occurs in a fast match. Once again use high reps and pump out those reps until your forearms are swollen up like a balloon, as that is how they will feel in a grueling match!

My previous post was to just give you a general direction, and was by no means comprehensive. I completly agree with those who recommend Cleans, or some sort of Oly movement. Both great ideas! You can work many "grappling muscles" with these movements. Such as, Forearms for gripping, traps, back, etc.

If all of this is hard for the die hard low rep boys to swallow they only need take a look at the Iowa or Nebraska wrestling weight lifting program. I understand that college wrestling is not Judo, but the similarities are far greater between wrestling and Judo than between Judo and say powerlifting!

Again, good luck and no offense to those who have a different approach to training relative to Judo.


I'll throw in my $0.02 quickly. Basically, I think that improvements in neuromuscular efficiency are very, very movement specific. In other words, practice your Judo if you want to get better at Judo. Improvements in strenth training-related neuromuscular coordination do not carry over to other movements.

The only think I would work on in the gym, if you are really focused on grappling, is optimizing your body composition. That's mostly achieved through diet so you should have to do very little work in the gym, once or twice a week should work fine.


I agree with what you are saying, yes those qualities are the priority when it comes to grappling but I still stand by my opinion that one should aim to add something else to their game, some quality that isn't developed by their 'normal' training. It is during grappling sparring that you should be working on your lactic acid tolerance not during your gym time. Why work on your strengths? IMHO if you are doing weights then you should be building on your weaknesses. With regards to strength training, the greater the amount of external resistance to be overcome, the more developing maximal strength will improve muscular endurance. In movements that require 80% of max strength, only by increasing maximal strength can endurance be enhanced. Conversely muscular endurance requiring less than 30% of max strength shows only negligible improvement by training maximal strength. This suggests that maximal strength training will be more important for grapplers than for strikers in improving muscular endurance, and should be given greater priority.

you make some very valid points but
I think you dismiss strength too easily, if it isn't important in grappling then why are they governed by weight limits? Why can Bob Sapp with only 6mths of training behind him almost beat one of the best Heavyweight BJJ fighters ever? Yes technique counts for more, but I wouldn't dismiss strength and power so readily. Why is it that the strongest pound for pound fighter matt hughes also happened to be the most dominant UFC champ? Yes he got schooled by BJ but I really think he massively underestimated the guy! I predict that he will destroy BJ in the rematch. Also BJ is very fast and explosive. Another element that is developed by strength training and related to relative strength.



I am not suggesting that anyone train with "30% of their max strength." As I stated the 12 to 20 rep range is superior for grappling. If one had a max squat of 300 pounds he would then train in the 60% to 70% range accomplishing the desired effect with 12 to 20 reps. If one were to train in the 30% range relative to my 300lbs squat example he would be doing 60+ reps. I never recommended that.

I agree that max strength can help with strength endurance, just as you stated. However, strength endurance training helps in strength endurance sports such as, Judo far more. While strength endurance training will not assist max strength as well, it does not matter as much. And given a limited number of training hours in the week it is important to train sport specific!

I totally agree with your assesment on Matt Hughes. He lost because he underestimated the talented BJ Penn. Hughes will not make that mistake again, and will comeback better than ever. Oh by the way, look up Matt Hughes training and you will see that he trains as I have described in my previous posts.

(Keep in mind, I am all for a max strength cycle in the off season)


Thanks again everyone. I just got the martial arts training book by charles stanley for 14 bucks on amazon.com I figured for the price it was a good buy. Judo so far has been great and I am looking foward to learning much more about it.


go get the biggest guy in your class an grapple with him. i am only 74kg at the moment and train with guys who are 100kg plus and very skilled.

thats a strength training workout in itself. you will also have to think more technically in order to compensate for the difernce in size.

you can only get better

my two cents



Just did some reading and found an article by Tudor Bompa who talks about training for Judo:
'Take judo for instance. Once I listened to a presentation regarding strength training for judo. The speaker was your typical Olympic lifting coach. He went over snatches and the clean and jerk! When the organizers asked my opinion, I simply said that the whole idea is wrong because judo involves primarily the flexor muscles of the hips, abdominals, and trunk, not the extensors normally targeted by Olympic lifting moves. The lifting coach became very upset when he heard me say this and left the room!'

In my defense I recommended Oly lifts because of my Vale Tudo training in which you would most often shoot an opponent or pick them up from the hips while facing them.

But it makes sense that if you were facing away from the opponent to execute a throw you would use you hip flexors e.g. a hip or shoulder throw.
But I am sure there are some throws in Judo which have you facing your opponent and these would obviously benefit from training the hip extensors. Standing ab pulldowns PL style would be perfect for this.



Good find! Nice Job!


"you make some very valid points but
I think you dismiss strength too easily, if it isn't important in grappling then why are they governed by weight limits? "

Because you can be 300 lbs and be 50% body fat and just roll on to a 125 lb man and submit him via suffocation. It has to do with weight advantage in this case rather than strength.
Secondly the weight limits are generally for "tournament" fights that are insured and sanctioned by martial arts governing bodies. No insurance no tournament. If you have ever seen a policy for a martial arts tournament you would see the types of restrictions placed on tournaments. ( NHB promoters have the cash to pay the incredibly high premiums for those types of fights)
My point is this if you want to be a better baseball player you have to go to practice, football, soccer, Ping pong, hot dog eating, it doesn't matter when you only have 6 days of anything under your belt. You have to learn the game in order to be good at it. Thats why I suggest practice practice practice.

"Why can Bob Sapp with only 6mths of training behind him almost beat one of the best Heavyweight BJJ fighters ever?"

-MM: Almost doesn't count period. I almost benched 400lbs but I couldn't get it off the rack. ( I know I'm a smartass :stuck_out_tongue: )
I don't know who Bob is training with so I don't know what his schedule looks like but I know that at the gracie BJJ school in Cali- classes run all day long. If you pay for it you can grapple for 8-10 hours a day. An average class for an average "Joe" is 1 to 1.5 hours 2 times a week. So in effect "IF" this were the case, and I assume it is since this is Mr. Sapps job, he could effectively get a months worth of practice for an average Joe done in a 5 day week. Practice makes perfect. Bob is also 6ft 3 and weighs 350 lbs and he has to be close to single digit body fat. If he hits you, you feel it. This in fact is how he won his first 2 matches. He is a powerful striker, but smart enough to recognize his weakness. ( after he lost to an armbar)

"Yes technique counts for more, but I wouldn't dismiss strength and power so readily. Why is it that the strongest pound for pound fighter matt hughes also happened to be the most dominant UFC champ? Yes he got schooled by BJ but I really think he massively underestimated the guy! I predict that he will destroy BJ in the rematch. Also BJ is very fast and explosive. Another element that is developed by strength training and related to relative strength. "

Matt Hughes has been competing and winning in NHB fights since 1998 (possibly longer.) He also has a mixed martial arts record of 27-3-0. You don't just walk on to the mat of a MMA tourney and get that kind of record without lots and lots of training. He has lots of practice as well as strength under his belt. But we are talking about the NFL or MLB of martial arts here. When you are taking on top athletes in your class, of course strength counts. I certainly never said that it doesn't. However, "BrownNH" the guy we are talking about here, has 6 whole days of Judo under his belt! ( at the time he posted)and though he never answered my question, I'm assuming only 6 months of lifting. Certainly he has no plans in the next few months to take on Matt or Bob. (at least he hasn't mentioned it) Also you use the "pound for pound" descriptor which is highly subjective.