T Nation

Starting Judo


Before I get flamed, I've read through this forum and tried to search for answers, and I still have some questions about training for judo.

Here's what I'm thinking about:

Day 1: Full body strength work

Day 2: Judo class

Day 3: Explosive work

Day 4: Judo class

Day 5: Full Body strength work

For the explosive work I'm very confused about whether or not to use medicine balls and agility drills. How much do they help? I'm definitely going to be using olympic lifts.

For the strength days, I'm wondering if it would be better to completely do away with deadlifts and squats in favor for single leg deadlifts and squats variations.

Next, I'm wondering if I should do use the 5x5 scheme for the single-leg exercises or if I should kick the reps up to 8 because in the past while strength training, I've noticed that I make faster progress with my lower half when I use higher than 6 reps. My upper body seems to respond better to the lower reps. I don't know why, but I do have over a year's worth of recorded strength progress saying that's what my body does.

Also, I'm thinking about doing away with bench press-like movements entirely in favor of overhead pressing stuff and weighted pushups. Thoughts?

Lastly, it seems like judo movements require an explosive, very strong core, so my thought was to taylor exercise selection so that each movement involves anti-core-rotation. For example, doing suitcase and single-leg deadlifts instead of deadlifts, doing single-leg pushups, doing a variation of a land-mine instead of an overhead press... I'm not sure if this is a good idea. It just makes sense to my novice mind. Feedback would be awesome.

Thank you.


Are you just starting judo? Because if you are, this schedule is a pipe dream.

If you're not just starting and have worked yourself up to where you can handle 1) high volume and 2) a beating on your joints, then give this a shot.

But, if you are new, you should probably just do judo for a while, and adapt your plan as your work capacity increases.

It is my experience that they help very much, but it is my opinion that having a whole day devoted to them, while doing judo three times a week, will leave your joints creaking and broken.

I work them in on my lifting days - but not all the time, and only when I can. Maybe I should work them more, but I do enjoy devoting some time to just lifting heavy things.

No. Don't do that. In fact, do the opposite.

You are taking judo. Have you forgotten that?

If you are serious about a combat sport, you must reevaluate your goals.

What is progress? Progress for me used to be lifting heavier weights and getting bigger and eating as much as I could.

Progress for me now is adding an extra round to my boxing days, hearing a more consistent pop when I hit the bag or the pads, and having my coach say , "You're looking better."

Oh, I've got some more muscle on me? Cool. But I box.

Your goals must change accordingly.

This will get you a plethora of answers depending who you talk to. I am of the opinion that the usefulness of the bench press is vastly overrated, and the destruction it can wreak upon your shoulders, vastly underrated.

However, dumbbell bench should be incorporated if you can do it - and I assume you can because its doubtful your shoulders are more fucked up than mine, and I can still do it - but most of my pressing work comes in the form of overhead pressing and pushups. It has worked well for me.

It is not a good idea. You will have a very strong core, and pussy ass legs that can't move anyone around.

Follow a basic lifting program and get your back, your legs, and your abs as strong as you possibly can. Get your overhead press, your rows, and your rear deltoids as strong as you possibly can. However, DO NOT SACRIFICE STRENGTH, especially in the deadlift or the squat. These exercises are of paramount importance in any grappling sport, especially a standing one.

Others with more experience in judo can offer better advice on specificity, especially KMC should he see this thread.


Thanks for the response. That's a lot to think about and I appreciate it.

I am just starting judo, but have been doing WS4SB in conjunction with crossfit-style conditioning workouts for the entire summer.

Let me see if I understand your post:

  1. Keep the basic strength movements for sure.
  2. Include the power stuff with the strength days.
  3. Maybe just do two strength days a week until my joints are used to the judo.
  4. Pushups are better than bench iyo. I thought so.

I think you misunderstood one thing I said. I didn't mean that my legs looked better when I did higher reps, I meant that the weight I could do increased faster. I was stuck at 175lb deadlift for a little over a month until I switched to training higher reps on legs (I'm female, btw). Just something I noticed about my body.

Thanks once again.


WS4SB is a fantastic program. I used it for a long time, it was more or less my template until I found 5/3/1. I still tend to steal pieces from it, and occasionally a rep scheme or two, when 5 x 10 proves to be either too much or too boring for me at that moment.

Other than that, yes, you've caught what I'm saying. Work medicine ball slams into your lifting days, do sledgehammer work at the end of your upper body day (taxing, but not so much that your abs will be too sore to do judo or deadlift), do explosive pushups but do them as your main press - don't inundate yourself with OH pressing and what not immediately after.

One thing I can say is that throwing a thousand or so punches in a workout means that on lifting days, my assistance work is going to be MOSTLY pulling work.

For you, judo is going to be a mixture of both, but probably predominantly pulling (correct me if I'm wrong.) So you may want to make sure that you're getting the right amount of pressing to even it out (even though you still probably won't need much.)

You'll know what you're working right after the first class when your muscles get sore. Concentrate on working the opposing muscle of the one that's sore. For me, that means I do rear delt work in every workout. For you, it may mean differently but you probably get my drift.

If you've found it works for you, than give it a shot. Just be wary of putting too much volume on yourself. There are days when 5/3/1's leg day is just too much for me when I know what I have to do in the ring the next morning - so I tone it down. Adjust accordingly, but start too light, and too little with the lifting, and work your way up on that once you know what you can handle.


My cauliflower ears are ringing.

I played judo as a child, thru HS and then again as an adult- thru masters.
I took it back up when College and Greco Roman wrestling where no longer an option.
So I guess I am experienced?

Irish set you up for a very good start with his post.
to add a few things.

Don't answer right away.

what kind of school, job , home life do you have
that is allot of training.

and alot of time away from those activities , and more importantly-
not allot of quality recovery time.

think about what your fitness levels are now- what they really are

depending on the class- you might have a hard time with the conditioning work
involved- judo feeds on push ups.
and you are probably going to find you are lacking in some very key areas

aside from conditioning

because sprints and other stuff isnt Judo.
or grappling.

flexibility and or mobility

grip strength

neck strength



hips that can do things glutes that can fire.

and rotational strength

A common misconception I would say mistake but that is a strong word
is to get caught up in the 'other training'
then your skill work

what you do in the weight room or track or for conditioning
is the other training.

the problem is its more alluring then the skill work
and easier to show improvements in.

yes one can help the other - but it usually hinders in the begining

think about all that stuff- where you are now

the trinity I always preach is

strength training

lately Im adding
life and recovery

find room for it all
see how you do in class,
and then start thinking about routines


Ok I just typed all that shit and then saw your reply

You being female
changes some things-

your grip is def going to be an issue.
WSFSB is excellent

go to the head of the class for pushups over bench.

women usually make better students with grappling and Judo
they figure out leverage faster.
boys like to muscle thru.

two days a week is a solid idea.

do an A of lower and B of Upper choosing from 2 to 3 exercises

limmit the ammount of accesscory work in the begining
Yes to unilateral work
Yes to loaded pushp ups dips and pullups
Yes to Grip work
Yes to jumps/med ball


Kmcnyc-Right now I'm up to about 8 dead-hang chinups at once, 30 pushups at once with chest an inch or two off the ground each time. I've been working on higher rep deadlifts of late and did 42 reps at 145lbs in 7 min. I can bench 115lbsx4 reps, front squat 120lbsx3reps (I don't back squat due to an injury), and run a mile in 6 minutes. I know there's a ton of room for improvement there, but hopefully that gives you an idea of where I'm at.

For the next six months I'm going to be attending college full time with a more-than-full load of classes. My goal is to continue working out during what looks like it's going to be the most stressful semester of my college experience. I'm taking judo because I've alway loved play-wrestling people and I'm hoping it will keep me motivated in the gym.

So two days a week of lifting and the rest spend on skill work would be a good plan to begin with?

What do you think about warming up with skill routine/med ball/ jumping work and then doing the basic strength work on two strength days a week?

Edit: By an A exercise and a B exercise you're implying a superset, right? Is there any time between those (like 30 seconds) or is it just one and then immediately the other? Should I superset an upper body with a lower body or...?


Work the opposing muscle of the one that's sore? I would have never thought of that. Is that to make sure that you don't develop a disbalance?


Let me clarify
When I say A or B I mean using two different workouts A for lower and B for upper

My warm up needs are different then you as I am old and slow and need allot of it.
I do incorporate lunges ,jumps ,skips hops, med ball passes and slams
Plenty of activation work and some static stretching to warm up.

Lateley I do a few sets of OH squats to see if I am warm enough and see what else I need to target with stretching.
And I do some barbell complexes to start off.
Between sets I don't really rest I do more activation work
But that's what works for me.

Again don't get caught up in the details it's probably more important just to figure out your schedule and see if you can
Do two sessions and have it not impact other training or school


That seems like not very much Judo to worry about building a routine around Judo...


agreeing with the above posters


What would you recommend? Just doing the judo and that's it?


Sounds good. Thanks.



kmcnyc and FightinIrish have given you excellent advice.

I would second that taking Judo twice a week and adding to gym sessions sounds like a good plan.

My only concern is that you mention you write:

I want to stress the importance of doing well enough in school here. Just like injuries can plague you for a long time, damage done to your GPA may plague you as well. It will be far easier for you to put forty pounds on your front squat after this semester than it will to turn B's into A's.

I am assuming by college we are referring to an undergraduate degree. You did not specify your major, but overall GPA, specific classes, and the GPA of required courses can all effect internships and acceptance into post graduate programs. Are you planning on pursuing any of these?

Now, I do not think two days a week of Judo, and two weight room days is necessarily too much but if you have a lot of other constraints on your time, social life, family, job, etc., it may be.

My suggestion is to take up Judo, and play a bit looser with the out of Judo conditioning. Two workouts but let them be loose enough in structure to let you work around/through soreness and leave the gym feeling good, not dragging. Injury prevention, and getting better at any weak points Judo points out (and there is very little like grappling to show you where you are weak) should be the focus. Also, let Judo and the gym be fun/refreshing from the grind of school work.


Robert A


I'd recommend you keep on doing what you've been doing if you've been happy with the results and just add Judo on top of it.

I think you don't need to change what you've been doing 'till 1) fundamentally change your goals and expectations of you strength training/lifting to accommodate/revolve around Judo or 2) You are doing so much Judo that the sheer volume of physical activity is too much, and you need to cut down to allow for recovery.

I would never recommend not lifting. I'm just saying you don't need to change what you're doing if it's been working for you because you're adding 2-3 hours of Judo a week.


Everyone's advice has been very helpful. I'm working on some pretty tough science courses this next semester. If I keep doing the current strength training template I'm using, I'll be working out 6 days a week. Four days of activity sounds much better than that.

I especially like the advice to make the gym and judo into a nice break. With that in mind, it would make sense to do an upper and lower body day on each of the weekend days and only do the two judo classes during the week.


I would always want to give myself an off day. Granted the "off" day turns into a laundry/shopping/social/study/date/party/get car fixed/inspected day. But, we write it as off in the schedule even though it is about as "off" as the ten second breaks in the Tabata protocol, or the first 30 seconds of rest after working a "slaughter line" drill.

Putting gym time on the weekends would not have worked well for me for the above reasons, and the fact that the gyms usually close early and weekends may be a time to sleep in. Your milage may vary. But if you are one of those annoying morning people than I am especially happy you are getting into Judo, because I know Judo hurts...

Since you said science classes here are a few random points that may help you. I do not know if they are entirely combat post appropriate, so if enough people want me to edit this out I will. These points are random and just off the top of my head. Hopefully at least one of them will make the time spent reading them worth it. They are based on my own experience, so they may not apply to you.

In martial arts/fighting/Judo you will be taught to protect and strengthen your weak points while going after the weaknesses of your enemy/opponent. This is not limited to the mat/gym. In higher education/life most everyone runs up against a time/circumstance where they cannot simply learn/master it all. If that is the case then high yield is the order of the day. If you know enough for the A, you may want to shore up another area, or even another subject. I am constantly amazed at how smart many of my fellow students were because they managed to get by without recognizing this, until they could not any longer.

When it is mid-term/finals time recognize the stuff that will take a long time to learn and will only be covered in a few test questions. Look at the material and tell it to fuck off because you did not want those points anyway. Spend the hours on what will be the bulk of the test. In Judo you should not spend the bulk of the time on very special moves that there is seldom an opportunity for. You spend it on the things you will either use every time you step on the mat, or be used by if you ignore (balance, structure, spirit, etc.).

If the notes for the class are available in the bookstore, some large universities do this, get them. Get them early. I was not a good learner while taking notes. Some of my friends learn better by playing stenographer. Either way it is to your advantage to have a copy in case you miss something. Higher education is hugely expensive, do not cheap out a few dollars on materials.

I do not know what subjects you are taking exactly. If they make board review books for a higher level that cover the subject than acquiring them early is a great resource. For example the High Yield series of books and the Board Review Series of Books by Lippincott Williams and Wilkins are excellent. If you are taking gross anatomy, physiology, neuroanatomy, pathology, or chemistry I strongly recommend getting the corresponding books. They are cheap, especially compared to textbooks, and available on amazon. Conversely, I am also fan of the Made Ridiculously Simple series by MedMaster. Again, if you are taking a subject that they cover, get the book. Beg, borrow, or steal to get your own copy. Do not lend these (board reviews or Medmaster) out. If someone steals them you will have to kill them and then make up for lost study time while covering up your crime/destroying evidence.

I wish I did not have to write the next point, but I also wish I was taller. Not all professors are good teachers. Not all classes make teaching/learning easy. If you are sitting in a class and the discussion de-rails because of the other students, or the teacher goes off in left field and you are not interested, or if the class/teaching time is simply not conducive to learning then read the notes/study guides above. Do it during the class time. This way you at least spend the credit hours of the class learning from the teacher, being enriched about something tangential to the subject, or self-teaching. This point is one I paid dearly for. So please, learn from my experience.

Power-Point has probably done more harm to university and above teaching than anything else in the last 20 years. If your instructors teach off of power-point and consider copies of the slides to be an effective handout you have my condolences.

While you cannot teach a thing without understanding it, simply understanding it is not the sole qualifier to teaching it. I have had to sit through far too many busy power point slides and poorly taught subjects to ever trust that a person be paid thousands of dollars a credit hour takes their job seriously. Unfortunately you will ultimately be held responsible for the material, so figure out a way that will allow you to learn it and at least get adequate grades if not excel. Resolve to not let the incompetence of others destroy you.


Robert A


Thanks Robert. I surprised myself and made it through that entire post. There was some good stuff in there that I'll have to keep in mind. I'm taking organic chem, the second in the basic physics series, a 300 level anthropology class, and a writing in the major (biology) class. So far I have the Cliff Notes book for physics and ochem. I found Cliff notes to be great for math and the basic chemistry classes. So far I've made lots of flash cards for ochem and have started memorizing the reactions. The class hasn't even started yet. I'm just scared.

I do agree that it would be a good idea to give myself a day off for mental reasons. But I'll probably just end up sitting on the couch studying from sun up until sun down like I did last year. So maybe I should still keep to working out on the weekends for the sole purpose of getting off the couch at least once. I'm weird like that.


Agreeing with Robert, whenever i am studying at College and the class isn't any interesting i just open my laptop and go study something else, that way i won't be wasting my time in any subject that might not be interesting, or the teacher isn't able to teach in an interesting/involving way.


quick thoughts -

-only 2 judo classes a week? is this all your club offers? don't expect to improve very quickly.

-lifts... these need a lot of work. you can't fire a cannon from a canoe, and until you strengthen your foundation I don't think you will see a gain in "explosiveness". cut out the explosive days, stick with something simple like "Starting Strength" right now.

-food intake is already too low (i assume based on lifts), and you will need to eat even more to recover from the addition of judo classes.

I am envious that you are starting judo at low strength levels because you will develop good technique faster than your stronger peers. every time some goon twice your size manhandles you with shit technique, don't try and fight fire with fire. keep the ju in your do and you will surpass him before long....