top of page

5 Exercises Strength Exercises Essential to BJJ

Over the last few weeks I’ve been involved in a new project.

It’s a project that revolves around my favourite things, Strength Training and Combat Sports. I loooove training combat sports athletes, here a wee story on what I’m talking about, then we’ll get the meat of the post, those 5 exercises….

….Several years ago I started training a very keen BJJ practitioner called Peter. Since that time, Peter has gone on to open his own very successful BJJ school and he and his wife (who I also train) have participated in BJJ competitions across Europe, often bringing home medals, now their clients are doing the same.

Peter is a great statesman for BJJ and is doing great work for that community not only through his school, but he has a few other projects on the go.

The latest one is the one he has asked me to help with.

It’s called, and in case you haven’t already guessed, it’s a service dedicated to helping the BJJ player to get the very best strength and conditioning advice possible.

It’s early days in the project, but we have some content already on the site if you head over.

As it is an S&C service for BJJ, I figured I’d get the ball rolling a bit here and offer up a selection of gym exercises that I feel carry the most value to the BJJ player.

1: Turkish Get Ups

Ah, the good old Turkish Get Up.

Few lifts offer quite as much as this movement does. From core strength to shoulder stability, from hip mobility to proprioceptive feedback, this exercise holds a lot of value.

Learn it slowly, practice it with patience.

There’s a trend on the internet of people advocating Turkish Get Ups be done with very light weights, even with just a shoe balanced on your closed fist. I’m not one of those people. I do highly recommend you work it using a bottoms up (kettlebell held by the handle upside down, ie the bottom is facing up) grip for the first few reps of the workout.

Here’s how:

I advocate that you build up the weight you can shift, build it over a long timeline, but aim to go heavy, anything over half your bodyweight is excellent.

How many do we do? If we’re doing the half movement, swap hands after every third rep, full movement after each rep. You can then either go for reps or time, both work. I like time as it shifts the focus onto quality movement rather than hitting a rep goal. A minimum time is 5 minutes, but I’ve gone as long as 45 minutes in the past. 5-10 minutes works well. We translate that into reps and you’ll average out 1 rep every minute, so 10 minutes is 10 reps, or 5 each side. More or less…

2- The Deadlift

There are simply no better strength building tools for the grappler than the deadlift. Not only that, it’s as simple as picking something up off the floor, and then putting it down again. Or at least, that’s what it should be.

The key is to lock the core, including the lats down tight. Nope, tighter than that!!

Take a solid grip, in this clip I’m showing the Snatch Grip Deadlift, a great option for the BJJ player. But a standard grip (just outside the legs) is good. Next take a deep breath in and tighten the midsection hard around it.

As you tension, lower the hips a touch, lift the chest a touch and feel the bar tighten as you put some tension into it.

Now push your heels through the floor, the bar should lift slowly off the floor. Endeavour to keep it as close to the shins as you can and accelerate it upwards until you stand tall. The push the hips back again and allow the bar descend along the same path it came up. Lower it in a “controlled fall” as in you don’t just drop it, but you follow it down, guiding it as you go.

Don’t be tempted to go all out on this until you have plenty of experience. And never take a set to failure, leave one or two reps in the bank. I recommend sets of 3-5 reps for the majority of the training.

3- Ab Wheel

This innocent looking little device will be one of the best purchases you ever make. They’re cheap and take up no space, but they’re highly highly effective.

Why so effective? They take the abdominals into a lengthened state under load.

Here’s how it’s done:

Pay attention to the details in this video, it’s the difference between screaming abs or crippling low back pain.

4 – Lateral Lunges

I’ve thought for many years that this movement is grossly underrated. With more information coming about about the importance of the adductors in terms of knee injury prevention, I think the lateral lunge is about to have it’s day. You heard it here first folks!

We use the goblet squat position for this so the load is held to the front, loading the abdominals. The foot on the straight leg (straight means NOT BENT!), the leg you step away from, must remain flat to the floor, don’t let the outside edge lift at all! That will limit your depth, but will load up peroneals (outside of calf/shin) and the adductors (inner thigh) as you fall away. The stepping leg lands, loads and then immediately pushes you back to the standing position.

It looks like this:

5 – Inverted Rows

I ummed and ahhed here about whether to put in pull ups, scap ups or inverted rows. The truth is, done well, they form a continuum of progression. We start athletes on inverted rows, move them to scap ups and eventually pull ups. Reverse that list and you have regressions.

Why are regressions so important? Because they are inevitable. You will be tired, you will pick up injuries etc, so you will move down the chain of exercises.

The inverted row is also a better exercise for teaching scapula movement.

Here’s how I like to be done:

So how would we put these together?

Try this:

1A: Deadlift x 5 reps 1B: Turkish Get Up x 1 L/R (half Get Up x 3 L/R) 3-5 rounds, not including warm up / ramp up sets

2A: Lateral Lunge x 6-8 L/R 2B: Inverted Row x 8-12 2C: Ab Wheel x 8-12 3-5 rounds

Finish with your choice of exercises now. Select a few that will get the heart rate up and help you with your game. Set a timer, 30secs work, 10 secs break for 9-15 sets. Select maybe 3-5 exercises and do them as a circuit.

For example: Shinbox extension – Hindu Push Up – Sit through Or Kettlebell Swing – Plate Slide Plank – Bridge escape Or Sprawl style Burpee – Double Kettlebell High Pull – Deck Squat

The list of choices is endless, so have fun with it…


Dave Hedges

Also, my new personal blog/podcast thing: And of course, check out the new site, there’s a lot to come over the next few months there!

eBooks, Nutrition €25.00

43 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page