top of page

The Top 5 kettlebell lifts for BJJ

Most gyms have kettlebells, and many BJJ guys have a kettlebell or two at home to supplement their sport training.

So what in my opinion are the top lifts a BJJ player should be doing in their home workouts?

The following, in no particular order, are my top 5 kettlebell lifts:

1 - Turkish Get Up

Aside from the obvious similarities between the Get Up and certain BJJ movements this is a great lift for all who roll.

The main benefits are found in the first part of the lift, the roll to the shoulder, elbow and up to the straight arm, this is what we call the half get up.

Through this section of the movement we are improving and reinforcing scapulohumeral rhythm, that the linkage between the shoulder blade (scapula)and the upper arm bone (humerus)

The way we teach it in Wild Geese requires you to try maintain some external rotation in the shoulder throughout the motion, so the nervous system must figure out how to keep the weight stable as you move around underneath it.

Yea, the core muscles get a good workout, as do the hips in the second half the lift, but the magic lies in how it makes your shoulders feel.

2 -Snatch

The snatch takes a long time to really master, but should you be willing to put that time in, you will be rewarded with a phenomenal conditioning exercise that trains many of the key BJJ muscles.

The lift is initiated by the kettlebell swinging back through the legs which ballistically loads the hips and hamstrings, as you drive the hips through, the weight swings out and up while you control it with the back and core, before finishing in an overhead position challenging our shoulder stability/mobility

We can train Snatch as a single lift doing a great many continuous repetitions over a period time, 2,5,10,20 minutes

Or focus on fast reps for shorter periods, up to 2 minutes with longer rests.

We can combine it into a circuit with other exercises, it pairs lovely with Squats and / or push ups

You can use it in a complex, flowing into a Turkish Get Up, an Overhead Squat, a Press or a Windmill from the top position.

Or this:

Don't be tempted to load up heavy on this, leave that to the kettlebell specialists, instead let volume do it's work and become a nigh unstoppable workhorse.

3 - Figure 8

I love these as a warm up or as part of a conditioning circuit.

Many years ago when I was still fairly new to kettlebell work, I put a load of these into a workout thinking of them as an "active rest"

The next day I was scared to cough or sneeze!

This is a sneaky core training drill that focuses on the transverse plane, ie rotation.

We can play with technique too, wider stance where you have to shift you weight as the bell travels is a great hip opener. Or swinging the bell up to a catch gives a bit more extension focus

4 - Double KB High Pull

Now we Grip & Rip!

Once you have your technique dialled in, start loading this up. This is an explosive hip extension and row, just like entering into a throw (irimi)

Find a weight that you are safe with and move it as fast as possible until you're seeing stars.

I love these done heavy in the 3-5 rep range.

5 - Double KB Squats

The Double Kettlebell Front Squat is a must. This will build core strength, upper back strength and leg strength, and does so with deceptively light loads.

A pair of 32kg bells is no joke on this lift, but the 64kg total is nothing on a bar.

That's due to the forward placement of the load, that 64kg is sitting forward of the body, meaning your torso must lock down tight to keep the bells up as you Squat.

Many guys find this Squat helps them get deeper than other variants as you have to stay upright to balance the weight.

Work these in the 6-8 rep range for multiple sets.

If you only have access to a few sets of bells, you can up the intensity by doing 1.5 rep Squats.

Of course there are many more than just these five movements, but if we were to strip things down to a minimum, which is a solid idea, especially for those already training hard in their sport, you'll do well with these few movements.

If you want something a little more involved and structured, try our Kettlebell and Bodyweight training plan available on Train Heroic, available here

And as ever, if you have questions, get in touch

And don't be shy about sharing


Dave Hedges

169 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page