Just got my first stripe on my white belt today! I am looking to supplement my bjj training with weights approx 2x a week. I am already quite experienced in the gym as I have weight trained consistently for 3 years.

I know that the best way to improve bjj is to do it. However I would to know what exercises I could do in the gym to improve my game and examples of sets, reps, intensity etc?



3 Answers 3


Take a regular beginner strength program, reduce the volume, and do that alongside BJJ.

So, just to spitball a program for two days a week on top of BJJ that you're doing, say, 3 times a week:

  • A day: squat 2 sets of 5, adding weight every 3 sessions. As many sets of towel-grip pull-ups necessary to get to 25 or 30. Add weight if it only takes 2 sets.
  • B day: power clean 3 sets of 3 (again, adding weight every 3 sessions), then deadlift one set of 5 (yet again, adding weight every 3 sessions), then as many sets of dips necessary to get 40 reps. Add weight if you only need 2 sets.

Stretch frequently, both after workouts and on non-workout days. The squats need to be real, deep squats, not half squats. Front squats might be easier to accomplish for this purpose. Deadlifts should be heavy fairly quickly, and done with a strictly straight back.

That's it. Strength training for a BJJ noob is basically regular strength training with less volume. Since you're an athlete you need to do at least some power work (e.g. power cleans, sprints, box jumps). Everyone should do some mobility work. Conditioning for a BJJ noob means going to class and rolling a lot.

  • Thanks for the answer, Can you provide any examples of mobility work? I feel that I need to work on my flexibility and mobility.
    – RNI2013
    May 13, 2014 at 21:09
  • @RNI2013 Sure. Yoga is a fine start. I went to several months of classes and did a private lesson, then used that experience to develop a home yoga workout that I do alone. There's also the basic non-yoga stretches: touching toes (with focus on the hamstrings, not the lower back), butterfly, hurdlers, arm and leg swings, 3rd world squats, ankle dorsiflexion, calf stretches... Kelly Starrett's MobilityWOD is a good internet resource. May 14, 2014 at 6:34
  • There are yoga classes at my academy which i will definitely start attending! Thanks for you answers, no doubt youll see me posting other beginner bjj related qs in the future lol!
    – RNI2013
    May 14, 2014 at 8:09

I think your strength/endurance inevitably grows while constantly training bjj, doing weight training just takes more of your bjj training time away; 1 - you could be training and getting better at bjj 2 - you're taking time off bjj to recover your muscles

I did the same thing for a while and then learnt that my muscles get tired quicker while rolling. I recommend doing cardio and focus on exercises where (if you insist on doing weight training) you do enough sets to get your muscles tense, but do not tear them [as you would when your aim is to grow muscle].

bjj is mostly a thinking art, rather than strength; therefore you rarely find the heavyweights winning absolute on all levels (with the exception of buchecha of course)

  • 1
    Thank you for your reply. Do u not think though that some level of strength would be beneficial? I know not to rely on it but surely it can only help your game?
    – RNI2013
    May 13, 2014 at 21:08
  • It would definitely help. It's been mentioned in other questions as being beneficial too.
    – user15
    May 13, 2014 at 23:49
  • Okay. . .I'm just speaking from personal preference/opinion then probably @RNI2013 it definitely helps, but one thing I've noticed is once you're stronger than most of the guys you train with you forget, or omit details of techniques and you don't realise that they're working because you're stronger than your opponent and not because your technique/jits is better, I therefore prefer not doing TOO MUCH weight training. . .that's how i'd some up my answer May 14, 2014 at 9:17
  • 2
    Yeah, so it could be summed up as "get as strong as possible but do not rely on it, rely on technique"?
    – RNI2013
    May 14, 2014 at 9:27
  • true...........(dots to make the comment go through :D) May 14, 2014 at 9:33

In my opinion to improve your jiu jitsu you need to train more jiu jitsu.

I can se just a few cases in which I think that a parallel train could be indicated for beginners in order to drsticaly improve its game.

If you are a sedentary person, overweight or underweight person. The train should be focused on strengthening, in order to avoid injuries.

If your strength and conditioning are ok, you will evolve much faster, if you focus on training jiu jitsu. (GI and no GI).

Disclaimer: I'm not telling you not to do a parallel strength and conditioning workout. I'am just saing that in my opinion if you are a beginner, I believe that if you force your energy just in jiu jitsu it will help you evolve much faster.

In practice: if your strength and conditioning are ok, it is better to choose to train BJJ 5 times a week than just 3 in exchange for 2 strength and conditioning sections.

When is strength and conditioning training welcome?: Im my opinion if you are up to purple belt and you’re a competitor.

To finish, some quotes:

Carson gracie trainer of great BJJ fighters used to say: If you want conditioning for BJJ then roll with all of your training buddies in every session .

Victor Doria a great BJJ champion (actually living in the USA) usually says: if you want to become strong in BJJ then you have to do strength during training. (In a technical way)

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