top of page

3 Considerations for Training the BJJ Player

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a phenomenal martial art and sport.

Granted, I don’t train it personally, it’s just not where my training goals lie.

But I work with some of Ireland’s best.

I say Ireland’s best, even though they are Polish, Russian, Brazilian, Italian and, oh yes, Irish.

Most of whom are in preparation for Januaries Brazilian Jiu jitsu European Championships.

The sport itself is incredibly demanding on the body, but it’s also very individual. No two fighters move exactly the same, have the same attributes or the same technical preferences.

This makes training them about as far from cookie cutter endeavor as possible.

However, there are several common factors that need taken into consideration.

First of which is the basic BJJ posture.


This posture was the inspiration behind my eBook, Fighting Back

BJJ is performed in a forward flexed, almost fetal posture. This includes, but is not limited to:

  1. Internally rotated shoulders

  2. Winged scapula

  3. Tightened pecs

  4. Tight Lats

  5. Shortened abs

  6. Tight hip flexors

All of which if left unchecked can dramatically shorten a players career.

Which is why in almost every program I write for a BJJ player I include Inverted rows, a form of Deadlift and Kettlebell Swings.

Each of these exercises works the muscles that oppose the common BJJ posture and help restore some sort of postural balance.

Next we have the most common injury sites of the sport, which are:

  1. Small joints (hands, fingers, toes)

  2. Shoulder (rotator cuff)

  3. Knees

  4. Low Back

These need bullet proofing. Exactly how we approach this is dependent on the individual player.

For the knees, once we’ve assured that lower body mechanics are working well, we need a form of deep squat. This maybe Pistol Squats, Goblet Squats or Front Squats. But we always look to get into full range of motion. If that range of motion is lacking, we need to develop it.

For the shoulders, we need to build a rotator cuff and upper back that’d make the Hulk think twice. Inverted rows are king here, especially the Corkscrew row on a suspension trainer.

Again, exact details are dependent on the individual, but we have several protocols to improve and strengthen the individuals thoracic extension and rotation. We cannot expect a shoulder to function well unless the spine functions well, so this has to be a priority.

Most BJJ players love their pull ups, but as we listed above, the Lats are often already tight and dominate over the Lower Traps and Rhomboids. This is why I’m often reticent to add these to a players training program right at the start. Training pull ups when the lats are already dominant can lead further into shoulder and low back dysfunction.

That’s not to say we can’t use pull ups, we just need to assess carefully how and when to implement them. And that’s a blog post all by itself.

The Low Back then, usually that’s merely a result of spending so much time in that flexed posture. Developing muscular balance around the torso, including the glutes and abdominals usually takes care of this. So I’m not over concerned unless the player is complaining about acute pain.

Small joints such as the hands, fingers, feet and wrists are something that simply get overlooked in modern training methodology.


Fortunately I have a traditional martial arts background where conditioning the small joints is part of the culture. The BJJ players that train with me get this information but are expected to implement it into their warm ups, cool downs and any other opportunity that presents itself. Those that put the effort in report far fewer injuries than those that don’t.

Here’s an example of what we do:

This is very quick look at some of the special considerations that we need to take into consideration when working woth the BJJ player.

It’s far from the whole story.

I’ll be continuing to talk about training BJJ players over the next while, but if you want more information now, get yourselves a copy of the Fighting Back eBook:



Dave Hedges

2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page