July 14, 2023
How Many Days Should You Strength Train For BJJ
If you have followed me for any length of time, you know that I’m a big fan of strength training.
But, as a brown belt who trains 6-9 sessions every week, I know the importance of strength training.
Not only how it will improve your performance on the mats, but how it keeps you on the mats longer, without getting banged up.
Or even just feeling sore from your rolls all the time
But, today I want to answer the question, how many days should you strength train and some things related to this as well.
Recovery from life stress
One of the most important factors to consider is stress, not just the stress of BJJ but the stress of your entire life.
What matters the most is not what you do, but what you can actually recover from.
The more stress you have to recover from, the more benefits you’ll see from less training and less training volume.
The more our body and mind have to recover from other areas of life, the less recovery ability we will have for our training
Let’s talk about what I mean by stress
- How are you sleeping? How many hours? Is it restful?
- Is there a lot of stress in your relationships, significant others, kids, mom, and dad etc?
- How is your job? Do you love it or do you hate it? Does it tax you physically or mentally? Do you work overtime?
- How is your eating? Do you eat mostly junk food or is a diet full of protein, fruits, and veggies as well as healthy carbs?
- How many days do you train BJJ?
- What belt are you or what skill level are you? A white belt is going to create a lot more fatigue than a higher belt in most cases.
If most or all of these situations are high-stress to you, start by easing your way into strength training, with just 2 days, and start with easy workouts.
Increase intensity over time.
It may be wise to monitor your recovery as well, here are a few ways to do this
-Check your heart rate when you wake up daily. Sudden changes can mean you’re under recovering.
-How do you feel, do you feel more tired than usual?
-Does your cardio on the mat seem worse all of a sudden?
-Are you getting banged up more than usual?
-Are your strength numbers at the gym going down?
These can be all signs of under recovering.
When you first start incorporating some strength work, you may be more sore than usual, that is normal but give it a week or two.
This should improve.
If it doesn’t, change things up.
This is where having a coach may help you, it is not always knowing what to do,
But what small adjustments to make to continue to see progress?
Start with 2 days -low volume
This would really depend, but if you are like most guys hitting 3 + BJJ sessions per week, and you never lifted before.
Or it has been a long time.
It is best to avoid a ton of fatigue by starting with 2 days and keeping the set and reps on the low side, with plenty of rest.
Then over time increase the number of sets and reps you do and maybe add a third day down the road.
Here are some guidelines to get started
Workout twice a week
For each workout do a
- 1-2 lower body exercises
- 2 upper body exercises, an upper push and upper pull
- If you have time add an ab or core exercise
Do 1-2 sets of each exercise, but before you do those, I would do 1-2 lighter sets.
For example, say you’re doing a squat, and a hard set squat for you is 50lbs.
You could do a bodyweight set, then a set of 25 lbs before you do that hard set for 1-2 sets.
Rest 60s to 2 minutes between sets, remember we are building strength, don’t neglect the rest.
Form and control before heavier weight or harder exercises.
Here are some sample workouts
- Warm up first.
- KB squat 2x 10
- DB RDL 2x 8
- Slight incline DB press 2x 10
- Ring rows 2x 15
- 1 Arm farmer walk 2x 40s per arm
- Cool down
- Warm up first.
- Reverse lunge 2x 10/ side
- Trap bar deadlift 2x 5
- Ring push-ups 2x max reps or stop 1-3 reps shy of failure
- Seated Row 2x 15
- 1 Arm farmer walks 2x 40s per arm
- Cool down
Joint friendly exercises
Exercise selection is always important but even more so as we get older.
We really need to be selective in our exercises.
What exercise has the most upside, with the least downside?
Deadlifting from the floor can be great exercise, but it also has a lot of risks.
To me, smart exercises are usually the variants that
- Don’t compress your spine too much
- Mostly neutral grip pressing and rowing
- Where your core is involved, to help protect your spine.
- Non or little overhead movement, to avoid beating up your shoulders
Here is a list of exercises, I find most people can tolerate and build some serious gains
- KB deadlift
- Trap bar deadlift
- DB RDL
- Hip thruster
- KB Swing
- Goblet Squat
- Safety bar squat
- Zercher squat
- Barbell front squat
- weighted push ups
- Ring push ups
- Incline or decline DB bench press
- Landmine pressing
- Seated rows
- Ring rows
- 1 arm DB or cable rows
- Jacknife chin up up
- Neutral grip lat pulldown
- Sled push or drag
- Elevated split squats
- Step ups
- Reverse lunge
This is not an exhaustive list but are some exercise variation that works with most of my clients.
Strategically scheduling lifting sessions for enhanced recovery
This won’t work for everyone, but placing your strength work on the same days your do BJJ can improve recovery.
By doing this you create a true rest day, where your body can recover better.
Compared to doing a heavy lift on one day, then BJJ on the next day. Your body never really gets a true break.
An example of this might be lifting on Monday and Friday
Then you might try to do BJJ on Mon, Weds and Friday, this allows complete recovery days 4x per week. Which will help you get injured less and perform better on the mat.
Again this won’t be ideal for everyone.
Hope this was helpful and if you have any questions do not hesitate to reach out
By the way, If you would like more sample training programs, you can download it, here
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