Firstly congrats for your new book, I find it very interesting, and mostly important, extremely useful. Indeed, after a few months of intense bjj practice, I’ve started to develop internally rotated shoulders, which led to an acute bicep tendon inflammation.
Needless to say, stops from the training became necessary.
I remembered your pieces of advice, so started to train turkish get ups, as well as swings, and used some stretch band.
Now, in my bjj school they also train in what you don’t like, functional training for BJJ. I must admit that it’s been great to get in shape, but yes, they also stress those body parts already stressed by the sport (push ups, sit ups).
Some exercises like kipping pull ups, the use of clubbells and american swings also did not do a good favor to my already weak shoulders. Long story short, I would like to strengthen the complementary parts of the body as suggested by your book. In particular the shoulders, of course. I was wondering if you could advise me if there’s any difference between KB shoulder press, and KB see saw press; and so between double KB swings or one-hand KB swings?
Sorry for bothering you, and thank you for your time.
Also, have you really thought in some on-line training? That’s be great!!!
Always good to hear from former clients, hope you’re keeping well mate.
Now lets go through your question as there are several parts:
My New book: Thanks mate, I’m delighted it’s got you thinking, that’s always my aim, which is why I’m not one of those trainers that just releases workout program after workout program.
So Called “functional training”
As soon as someone says those two words my eye’s roll back into my head and I start to nod off, usually into a dream about beating said training to death with their own bosu ball.
Push Ups, Sit Ups, Kipping Pull Ups (why?), Clubbells and “american” swings (again – why?) are simply exercises. They’re not necessarily functional unless we first define the function we require.
In your case, the function is as follows:
General fitness and strength for BJJ, specifically strengthen the shoulder complex to better resist injury.
To prevent the recurrence of the biceps tendonitis/osis
Now this is defined, we can decide which exercises will be functional and which ones will not be.
Lets take the choices your instructor has made for you:
Push Ups – done right, these are a great drill, but if these are simply pounded out for reps, they’re a terrible drill. And guess what most martial arts coaches do…….
For the time being, slow your push ups right down, I’m talking 2-3 seconds on the way down and 2-3 seconds on the way up. Make sure the elbows flare out from the body by NO MORE than 45º and the hands are directly under the shoulders.
Tuck the tailbone under to keep the abs and glutes engaged. In fact, do everything in THIS ARTICLE from Bret Contreras on the subject.
Will this reduce the number of reps you can do? Absolutely, but at least you’ll develop some strength and control.
Sit Ups – I’m not a fan. Poor form in the sit up can lead to tightening of the hip flexors which often inhibits the abdominals so ends up being counter productive. You have my book, if you go to Page 26 where I list the 10 abdominal exercises I’d rather see you do instead of crunches. But first and foremost, get the Dead Bug dialled in, Tony Gentilcore has a great article on it HERE
Kipping Pull Up – Seriously? Why? These are a disaster waiting to happen and serve little to no purpose in the context of BJJ. I’ve written about them before HERE so won’t go into it again. Instead do lots and lots of Inverted Rows, be sure to elevate the chest and get the shoulder blades (scapula) sliding back and down before you even begin to pull.
When you’re getting good at these, start on Chin Ups with the palms facing you, but still focus on the scapula sliding back and down.
Club Bells – I’m surprised at this, very few people use them at all and those that do are usually fairly skilled. Clubs are excellent for the shoulder if done right.
I can only assume you’re not doing them right or you’re going too heavy. 1-2kg is plenty for most peoples needs unless you wish to specialise in clubbell training.
Here’s a clip I made a while ago on how I apply the clubs in training:
“American” Swings – again, why? This is another one I’ve covered before (HERE) so won’t go into detail on. Needless to say, it’s not going to do your shoulders any good at all.
More About Swings:
You asked about the difference between 1 and 2 handed swings, and also double swings.
Basically it’s this:
2H swings are a basic introductory exercise where both hands are on one bell. This is fine, but when you change to one handed swings the value of the exercise skyrockets. Now we have the whole weight in one hand, which causes the core to have to work that much harder to control the rotational force. The weight also goes through one shoulder, which asks the upper back to work a little harder to keep the shoulder secure in it’s socket.
And your grip is under more stress.
All these are good things for BJJ, and everything else in your life.
Now the double swing is a different animal again, we use it for developing explosive power. It’s in the same category as the barbell high pull and power clean, but many find it less technical to master. Plus we have some interesting physics to deal with as the bells accelerate back through the legs into the backswing, by the time they reach the terminal point on the backswing we have taken our hamstrings, glutes and back into a stretch position and then loaded them with a weight that is moving away at speed. We need arrest that movement before we can reverse it and fire the weights forwards again.
This is really where the value of a swing lies, it’s tricky to replicate with any other tool. Having a bell in each hand, means twice the load and many times the power requirements to get the bells flying.
The Kettlebell Press and the See-Saw press, why one and not the other?
They’re both great presses, but I like the See-Saw with a lot of my guys rather than the straight press where both bells move together.
To be fair this is a blog post in itself, I may sit and write that next, but in short there are two main reasons.
The first is the positioning of the body. If we’re dealing with people who are a little banged up from their sport, the see-saw press can be more forgiving as the body can lean away slightly from the bell travelling up. With two bells the lines are that much tighter and some individuals simply can’t tolerate it.
The second reason is that there’s no opportunity to relax during the See-Saw as both bells are in constant motion meaning the waist is in constant motion. With the double press they both come to rest on the chest allowing time to breath and relax.
Yes, I think a full blog post on the See-Saw press is needed.
This is a service I kind of offer. I have a couple of people I help out through online service, but it’s not something I make a habit off. Mostly because I can’t see the person and get my hands on them while their training.
I’m looking into working around this, but lets just say, to get me to train you onine will require some persuasion at this moment!
I hope this goes some way towards answering your questions and helping you on your training journey.
All the best and keep in touch