T Nation

Specific Training for BJJ


Hey all, I have been experimenting with different kinds of exercises, rep ranges, RM, etc for my wrist, forearm and finger strength.

Although I do have strength gains in all of the above the carry over to bjj seems to be very limited :confused:

Do any of you guys have some good advice on what exercises work the best, what rep range should be used etc. with bjj in mind.



I do a lot of deadlifts for bjj (traditional and snatch grip) and pullups (all different grips and with towels hanging from the bar). i find that direct forearm/grip work does not have much of a carryover to bjj.


Anything where you are pulling a rope is good. Any exercises emphasizing good posture (squats, deads, cleans) is great because posture is king man. Start there


Complex lifts, bodyweight, explosive movements, grip strength, flexibility and balance.


this might be the only time i would reccomend some of the otherwise foofy very "Sport Specific" exercises.

Still you go back to the basic formula

  1. What is your weakest athletic attribute that you wish to improve upon within your ground game

  2. How do you overcome this weakness in a progressive manner.

...because while you're concern is specific to BJJ it's not very specific to YOU.

but most people can benefit from the following.

More time drilling and rolling
metabolic conditioning

A lot of the strength work specifically for the ground game is going to include 3 important variables

ACTIVE grip strength*
isometric strength/endurance

tools for strength work I would reccomend is (wear a cup) and get an atlas stone fit to your size (you can make one pretty easily with plaster of paris, cement, and some other tools...google it... though elitefts has a tool to mimic it (look that up too)), a climbing rope, and a sandbag.

You can use these implements as accessory work, ME movements, and for metabolic conditioning. All of which is far too detailed to get into for just a reccomendation.

*active grip strength meaning you're fighting against something that is MOVING. Not just closing a gripper (which is not without it's HUGE merits)


As said above

Core exercises for sure. Push pull exercises. Compound lifts and core lifts will be key for sure.

I use alot of bands,body weight lifts, and explosive lifts for my training.

I lift to failure 90% of the time. Anyone who wants to argue that's wrong, will need to do it and tell my they don't see max results from it for their sport. I try to teach my muscles never to fail and if they to recover quickly. I want max strength as long as possible. One way to achieve max strength and endurance is to change your routine constantly. 1 week I may do compound high rep excercises, the next heavy weight olympic lifts. One problem with athletes today is routine. Don't get in one. Hit your muscles from different angles and always switch it up. I can help more if you would like to pm me. I train quite a few pro athletes in MMA,wrestling, and football. If you don't feel it the next day, then you need to change it up. I spend 1 hour every weekend changing my workout. You can always find the time to build a plan every week.

Let me know if you need some help. I promise results


I really don't have the time to get into it, but let me go ahead and respectfully disagree NOW. Compound lifts, bands, etc is great.

according to Zatsiorski's researched, when relativized, correlation between maximum strength and performance in endurance efforts requiring only type one fibers (typically below about 30% of one's 1RM for simple movements)is very weak, and often negative.

You need to review the type of effort you wish to produce before deciding what percentage of your training should be maximal strength. Not all physical efforts are derived primarily from strength, as seems to be the prevailing wisdom with some coaches these days.

Also NOT having a routine is like playing soccer w/o a goal, or basketball without a hoop. If you have no method in which to track progress and you're just randomly doing new shit everyday then you have no idea whether or not you're getting stronger.

If I squat today, then go 4 weeks doing oly lifts, jump training, odd implement training, and come back 4 weeks later to squat the same weight then I've effectively accomplished nothing.

At the very least you need to go a nice microcycle and absorb the actual effects of the exercise and solidify your strength gains (takes about 6 weeks in my opinion) rather than just having the effect of your cns adapting momentarily.

Unless you're an advanced lifter (i'm talking squatting 800+) you don't need to be switching up your routine every week.

Also how sore you are is a horrible predictor of if what you are doing is working. HORRIBLE.

You can do 20 sets of 10 on the bench press and be sore as hell tomorrow but I bet it won't have improved fuck-all about your bench press and you'll be too sore to train your technique the next day.



your strength training should not interfere with your combat training, and your fatigue level should be manageable enough that you can train w/o having a drop in your skill level.

No offense to you but,

is what you hear from guys in the gym who NEVER put any weight on the bar, NEVER put any weight on their body, and NEVER increase their performance. They just get their rocks off trying new 'cutting edge' shit.

You can hella improve your GPP doing a different workout everyday crossfit style. And that is "o-k" for conditioning but even then without proper progression you have no means in which to track your increase in performance.

I don't understand how the hell you stay motivated if you can't beat your logbook. Or it takes you 6 months to get back to a workout to see if you did better than last time.


So Xen, you say sore ness is a poor indicator of progress, what is sore ness an indication of? Does sore ness equal progress and does lack of soreness equal no progress?


I won't debate any of that with you. I'm no scientist. However, I will challenge you that my style of training works anyday. I respect your opinion and belief. I have made nothing but progress and have a following of many athletes getting my help and loving the results. With that beings said, I'll keep doing what I'm doing obtaining progress, until results don't happen anymore.

I read,ask questions, and research. However after all of that....what works...works. I can assure you that my training has reaked nothing but unbelievable benefits. I use the same exercises two weeks in row occasionally, with different weight, reps etc. Most of the time I switch up consistantly making sure all groups are getting hit.

If I was bodybuilding.....your arguement i would consider more. In my sport there is a lot of different motions playing out. MMA/Grappling is not routine motions...IMO

If it is you better learn some new sweeps, and or technique. I believe in make the body strong in any movement by always shocking it with different exercises. That way it's ever out of its element.

I could be wrong and I'll keep an open mind, but results come from what I'm doing. That's all I know. Until I'm proven wrong the some facts and articles will need to take a backseat in my training.


"Also NOT having a routine is like playing soccer w/o a goal, or basketball without a hoop. If you have no method in which to track progress and you're just randomly doing new shit everyday then you have no idea whether or not you're getting stronger."

I do have a routine. Every week I change it. I still hit the muscle groups, just in a different way My routine is to change the routine.

Being sore isn't the best calculator of progress, but it's a good idea your hitting muscles that need worked. IMO

All I care about is progress. I have obtained nothing but that. I was always a strong and fit guy while lifting. I hit a plateau. I changed to this style of working out after training with some pro football players and it has been nothing but uphill. So you can argue and attack this style all you like. I'm reaching new heights and that's all that matters. My strength endurance is rediculous and strength is right where I want it. If every damn thing is proven then how come debates are so abundant in the fitness world. There is a study for every study. I try things and the success rate form the path for my future fitness plans.

Somebody asked for help and I will share this. It has helped me.

Not to toot my own horn (but i want people to open there minds a little and challenge their body), but I haven't met many people with the strength and muscle endurance i have in my weight class. I didn't always have this. I hear all the time how strong and solid I am in my grappling directed towards strength. Would you quit this type of workout if you had the above happening?

Also the is asking about strength for grappling. This is not power lifting or bodybuilding. A fast paced workout to failure is what he needs. He needs to hit everything with compounds exercises,Ply,Core/Olypic lifts,etc. Alternating these through different workouts would be great for him. I'm sure of it!!!


"DOMS is caused by tiny microscopic tears that occur in the muscle as a result of high intensity exercise (such as weight training, intense cycling, etc). After the workout, the muscle begins to rebuild itself (provided it is allowed enough time and nutrients to recover). This is the rebuilding process which creates new muscle that is bigger and stronger than before. In other words, your muscles are growing. Your muscles grow when you are at rest - not when you�??re at the gym.

DOMS pain is different from the burning sensation and pump you feel during a workout and also different from the pain you get from an injury. DOMS is often used as an indication of a productive workout as it means you�??ve trained intensely enough to break down muscle tissue.. and now, as a result, you will be rewarded with new muscle growth."

There are many arguements on this as well. Soreness mean progress (muscle growth,strength,etc)? Mystery I can't answer. I believe it means your muscle never felt it from that angle before an it's going to rebuild it better for the future.

From all things I have read. Unless somebody know the answer for sure....I don't know if that can answered.

Just for the record. I don't use it for my main source of progress.


Ok. To sum all that up...

"It works for me cause I hit my muscles from different angles" is your argument? And I have nothing to go on but your reassurance that you are an all-star strength coach.

I'm not even going to bother responding.

To answer the question... soreness is just a sign that you broke down muscle tissue to the point that your body is having a hard time repairing it. It is inflamed, broken down muscle tissue.

Thats it.

progress is putting weight on the bar.

Thats why its called STRENGTH training.


Rock climbing....trust me. Great fun too.


I just got one of these: A DynaFlex gyroball. Definitely seems to be working active grip strength - I'll let you know how it turns out.
Warning, desk jocks! DO NOT take it to work - it's SO addicting...



very true. nice avatar btw


I believe one of the authors on T-Nation said something along the lines of "soreness is a good indicator that you did something different."

I tend to agree with Xen on this one that soreness while it has its merrits isn't exactly a good indicator. In fact, personal evidence has shown that I've made better strength gains during periods in which I wasn't getting bad DOMS. So take my personal case study as is.

Back to the BJJ. Which part of the grip is it specifically that is failing? If it is your fingertips slipping, then that is a different story from your forearm getting sore.


For grip training with the gi just plain old towel pullups (weighted) work best. No gi, pinch gripping and deadlifts seem to work best. For conditioning I've never found anything that works better than crossfit.

Last, if you are new you probably just need to learn to RELAX. Noobs fall into 2 categories in my book, squeezers and spazzers. Either way, they both tire quickly. You have to learn to use technique. The sooner you learn this, the quicker you will learn. Some people go for a long time before they figure this out.


I read through my posts and don't see where I said I was trying to convince you. I didn't say take my word. The guy posted a thread asking for advice. This is mine and you called it bad. I disagree it's wrong. Why? because this guy here it worked for. Stop being a dick and just agree to disagree. i'm not being aggressive towards you. I just said my belief on all this. My progression is based on my sport and lifting accomplishments. I have both. Take my word? I don't give a crap whether you take my word or not. I posted this to help someone out. Even if you were correct and i am wasting my time the way i train, you think you'll convince me with your short cocky feedback?

I'm a good guy who likes to train hard. I'm just here to share my knowledge. I guess guys like you know it all, so maybe you should just tell us the secret. You seem to know it all. I have made progress and met high expectations. That is all I know. You need to relax on me and open your mind a little. We don't have to agree. Life is full of people who don't agree. Get off the soreness thing. you're feeding into that too much anyways. I just said i am sore often and that feels like a indicator my muscles are bing worked. Am i wrong? I searched the net and found arguements twenty different ways. I'm not here to make you smile. I'm here to learn and help out. Get off your high horse.


How then, can you account for the soreness one typically experiences from a new routine, versus the lack of soreness later, when loads are much heavier and stimulation is at it's peak? According to that logic, DOMS should always get worse, not better as we progress and become more capable of generating greater intensity. I haven't found that to be true!

Tendons attach muscle to bone. Tendons do not attach to muscle in one spot, but as a sheath that covers the end of the muscle. (Think: mesh glove) Tendon sheaths do not have the vascularity that the muscle further away has. Blood transports waste products away from the area worked, but where you have less vascularity, you have more limited ability to remove waste products.

Typically, you feel DOMS the most in the areas closest to the end of the muscle. But the end of the muscle didn't get more work than the rest of the muscle, nor did it get more stimulation. Rather, that is just the least vascular part of the muscle. Furthermore, most people find DOMS improve or subside if they do some light work the day after a workout. If DOMS were the result of microscopic tears then I would think additional work would only inhibit, not improve recovery and repair.

I wouldn't interpret soreness as a barometer for the effectiveness of an exercise or a routine. Were that the case, most people would never work shoulders since shoulders seldom continue to get sore once they adapt to heavy work. I would also avoid specific programs or exercises intended merely to produce soreness.



You may be right. I was just sharing my routine and idea with the thread owner. I mentioned I am sore often with this type of fitness. I can admit I may be wrong. I'm here to learn as well.

There are so many studies out there on soreness. You make sense in your post. i can't answer that with great confidence that soreness means anything. I do know my strength is good and muscle endurance is great. Better than ever before.

I understand this is the internet and nobody knows me and can just take my word. I didn't ask for anyone to believe me. The thread owner asked for some advice. Changing up routine often, but hitting same muscles in different ways is my style.

Does it work, YES IT DOES. How do I know? Did i run this through scientific testing? No, I do it and others with success. Can you take my word for it, no. I'll keep on keeping on and everyone else do the same. Open your mind a little. I have great lifts and I owe it to changing it up.

I'm not looking for huge lifts. I lift for my sport. If I was lifting for max lifts, then I would definitely spend more time on one particular lift. At times i do. There are plenty of months I involve olympic lifts every week. To keep core strong.

However there are so many different types of exercises that hit the same muscle a different way. To me changing up is right and I know it works. My lifts are very strong and i can recover very quick. That's was my basis is for this type of training. That's enough for me.

We'll just kick dirt here arguing this. I know my results. The soreness statement I can admit i don't know everything on. Just know there is all kinds of studies on it and is not exactly known. I do not measure my training by sorness. I measure it by lifts,endurance, and overall results I see from it.