Modern Day Core Training For BJJ Athletes

Does this sound like your “Core Workout”?
100 Crunches
100 Decline Sit-ups w/25lb plate
100 Side Bends w/45lb plate (50 each side)

If this sounds like your “Core Workout”, then it is the same exact “Core Workout” that bodybuilders 20-30 years ago did to look good in front of the mirror. We all would love to have a 6-pack, but our training should match our goals. If my goal was to run a marathon, I wouldn’t run 1-mile/2x’s per week.Training doesn’t match your goal.

Becoming the Jiu-Jitsu Athlete

To become the best BJJ athlete that you can be, you must always look to improve upon your total body strength, core strength, and overall endurance. As a BJJ athlete, working out is not only beneficiary for your health, but helps to improve your performance on the mat. I am sure that there have been plenty of times that you have been rolling, in your academy or at a tournament, and you just felt gassed. Have you ever asked yourself the question, if you trained the right way, meaning, a specific type of training for which your body needs to train in order to help enhance performance; could you have escaped the attack? Finished your opponent? Or even just stayed more competitive?

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[social][/social]There are so many reasons why I feel it is necessary to have a strong core. Here is my top six:
1. Helps keep a healthy lower back
2. Enhances balance and stability
3. Improve posture
4. Improve functional movement
5. Help you lift heavier loads…like a human body
Are these enough reasons to continue reading this article?

[bjj][/bjjad]When I train BJJ athletes, their program design will always include some flexibility, strength, plyometric, and endurance training. Not to forget to mention that every session WILL include core training.

Top 3 “Bang For Your Buck” Core Exercises:

1. Turkish Get-Up
The Turkish Get-Up is one of an exercise that every one should be doing, and do not see enough of. This exercise has an endless number of benefits such as total body coordination, proprioception, overall mobility, shoulder strength, and most importantly core strength.
The Turkish Get-Up works the core because the load is continually held overhead while you progressively move through the steps of the exercise underneath the load. By having the load overhead, moving from a supine position to standing position, forces the oblique’s and transverse abdominals to stabilize, while the rectus abdominals are used to prevent spinal flexion. In short it means a hell of a lot of core work!

2. TRX Body Saw
The TRX Body Saw is a complex move that I first learned from Dr. Stuart McGill, one of the world’s leading researchers on the lower back and core. Dr. Stuart McGill’s research has shown that repeated spinal flexion (which is what happens when you perform crunches and sit-ups) damage spinal discs. You can actually get a more challenging workout for your abdominals without increasing the risk of injury to your back.
The TRX Body Saw is a core exercise that I always recommend my athletes add into their programming. It provides a combination of stability and mobility. It is a very deceptive and challenging move and requires you to totally lock up the core before you start to incorporate any type of movement.

3. Ultimate Sandbag Shoveling
Ultimate Sandbag, or USB, Shoveling closes the gap between the weight room and functional movement. It may sound great for a BJJ athlete to be able to do 100 crunches in a certain amount of time with no rest, but unfortunately this will not help them in the last minute of a match.
USB Shoveling is another one of those exercises that may look to be deceiving. This is because of the dynamic rotational movement needed to properly execute this exercise. This movement is a total body movement. If you rely solely on the trunk you will place unnecessary stress on the spine, but by taking advantage of the power in the hips you can prevent any back injuries during rotation. Also just like the Turkish Get-Up, the USB Shoveling provides hip mobility which will prevent your hips from lock up and allows for extreme stress to be placed on their lower back.
Another unique aspect that USB Shoveling provides is the eccentric load in a multi-planar base. Eccentric load and extreme ranges of motion are two variables that bridge the gap of why people get injured during training.

Work these three exercises into your Core Workout and bring your core out of the ’70s.

Rich Mejias
Strength and Conditioning Coach
Leverage Training Center

Rich is currently the Co-Owner/Strength and Conditioning Coach at Leverage Training Center in Wyckoff, NJ.  Not only does he specialize in training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu/MMA  athletes, but he also is a Blue Belt under Nova Uniao/Robson Maura Black Belt, Josef Manuel at Cutting Edge Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Rich’s certifications are numerous, but it is his focus, commitment, leadership, and experience that allows him to get the most out of people.  Whether it is getting an athlete ready for a local BJJ Tournament or MMA fight, our goal is always the same…Get the athlete ready for the battle of their life.

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