Exercises and Weightlifting Techniques for BJJ Athletes

Sumo Deadlift:

The Sumo is the BJJ Deadlift variation. Our hips are our lower body’s engine. Specifically, I like the Sumo variation for BJJ because of the greater activation of the adductors and quads and the many smaller muscles prone to injuries around our hips. This is also a beginner friendly Deadlift for those new to weightlifting.

Set Up: Shoelaces under the bar, hinge at the hips and grip the bar with hands against the inside of the knees, pull your lats into your hips, keeping head in a neutral position, squeezing your glutes, let your glutes pull the bar up to your hips like you’re getting up from a chair.

Eccentric Stiff-Legged Deadlift:

Stiff-legged deadlifts help round out muscle balance in your lower extremities and are very effective at injury-proofing your hamstrings. Hamstring injuries tend to occur when the muscle is being stretched and then loaded. The SLD does exactly that, allowing you to train safely in an otherwise dangerous position. Not only does strengthening your hamstrings keep your guard cinched, strong hamstrings keep your knees stable during risky movements like when someone is trying to muscle their way out of your closed guard.

Set Up: Start with feet hip-to-shoulder-width apart, toes forward, knees extended but not locked. Slowly lower the barbell, away from your legs, for 4 seconds. The end position of this exercise is when the plates touch the floor, your neutral spine begins to fail, the knees can no longer extend, or when your heels rise up off the floor.

Side-to-Side Landmine Press:

This landmine overhead presses allow you to work your chest and shoulders through a blend of horizontal and vertical motion. Landmine OH presses are also known for their low injury risk and development of the shoulder girdle musculature. The side-to-side motion mimics that asymmetrical pushing found in BJJ. The half-kneeling position forces trunk stabilization and disallows lower extremity and thoracic compensation. No cheating allowed with this press.

Set-Up: Gripping the end of the barbell with interlaced hands and keeping elbow tucked in front with a 90 degree angle between your bicep and forearm, push the bar up in slight arc motion, at the top transfer the weight to your other hand and lower. Switch knees after each set. 

Bulgarian Split-Squat:

During BJJ there moments where are entire body is tensed and yet each limb will be doing something different. BJJ is a sport of finding stability and strength in asymmetrical positions. The BSS encompasses all of those important aspects with the added benefit of stretching the hip flexors, a typically tight area for most BJJ athletes. This is a challenging exercise that even experience lifters struggle with. Try bodyweight first before adding external loading.

Set-Up: Put a marker on the floor (like a plate or water bottle) for your foot placement, pick up your load and reach the back foot on to the bench, you can keep an active toes if you prefer, keep a slight torso lean, try to sink your pelvis in a straight line to the ground, lower until your knee is just above the ground or until you can longer handle the stretch, drive through your mid-foot to the start position, your knee should remain stacked over your ankle.