Sports specific training was a hot topic a while ago, riding in on the back of the whole “functional training” nonsense.
It’s still around, but I think it’s finally dying out.
But does that mean you can’t put together a gym program that is specific to the needs of your sport?
Of course it bloody doesn’t.
It does mean that taking the actions commonly found in your sport and doing them with a weight in your hand is usually a waste of invaluable gym time.
After all a BJJ player spends his life in a curled up (flexed) position working against the resistance of another human being, why then go to the gym and do more of this with only gravity as resistance?
Why would he put his spine under further stress and play deeper into any dysfunction their sport promotes?
Why not get to the weight room and work an exercise that will develop real strength while going a long way to rebalance the body?
In Fighting Back I look into the posture that becomes very common amongst many BJJ players and it becomes clear that all the time on the mat rolling in a foetal position tightens and shortens the musculature on the front of the body.
We’re talking Pectorals, especially the Pec Minor, the Abs and the Hip Flexors.
This means that while strength in these areas is absolutely necessary , there’s a good chance their getting worked adequately on the mat. After all, what do most people do when they don’t have a gym to train in? Push Ups and Crunches!
I’ll bet that your BJJ warm up contains dozens of push ups and crunches.
When you get in the gym you’d be better of with a simple, yet little known variation of classic lift.
I’ve made this lift a corner stone of many a BJJ player’s training program with great success.
It’s called the Snatch Grip Deadlift.
It’s like a regular deadlift but with a wider grip on the bar. This means you start in a lower position, asking more from the legs and with the arms wide to smoke the upper back. So you work the all important extension pattern of the body, learn to tighten the upper back and control the shoulder blades and develop ridiculous core and grip strength.
Here’s a clip I made especially for the Fighting Back manual
If this is a new exercise to you, start light and focus on form. Keeping a straight spine and the shoulders pulled back and down is more important than the amount of weight you can lift.
Limit strength is not a priority for BJJ, but a healthy spine and shoulders absolutely is. This variation on the deadlift will do more to balance the body than just about any other exercise you can choose, follow it with some high rep 1 arm kettlebell swings and you’ve a training program that will do more for you than 99% of all the other training advice you will see on the internet.