Book Review: The Complete Strength & Conditioning Blueprint for Grappling Sports

Book Review: The Complete Strength & Conditioning Blueprint for Grappling Sports

Tom Barlow, Braulio Estima blackbelt, decided to work with a strength and conditioning coach to prepare for the 2012 British Open.  Enter Will Badenoch of Plymouth Performance Gym.  Will designed a strength and conditioning program specifically for Tom that took into account that Tom had other responsibilities outside of BJJ, didn’t want to sacrifice mat time and was coming off a long layoff due to injury.  Tom went on to win his division in the British Open and said, “I can honestly say that I’ve never felt in such good shape during a competition.”  Will decided to use his work with Tom to create an e-book outlining a 12 week strength and conditioning program for other grapplers.  The manual, The Complete Strength and Conditioning Blueprint for Grappling Sports, is a succinct treatise on how to incorporate Will’s program into your training.


The manual begins with a few chapters detailing the differences between strength, power and conditioning.  These physical attributes are intertwined with one another but have their own distinct characteristics and training methodology.

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After explaining the attributes we are introduced to the basics of the programs:

  • There are 3 phases – each is 4 weeks long
  • Training sessions are intended to compliment your grappling training (not replace it)
  • There are 2 sessions per week
  • Each phase focuses on a single primary attribute with secondary focus on the remaining two attributes
  • The program is designed for someone with a life outside of grappling

The first two phases (Strength & Power focus) use the same basic template:

  • Mobility work
  • “Priming” Circuit
  • Strength/Power work
  • Circuit
  • Core
  • Finisher

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The final phase (Conditioning) is broken down a little differently:

  • Mobility
  • Warm Up
  • Intense Complex
  • Optional work

The book ends with some guidance on what to do once you’ve completed the twelve week cycle and how to taper for a competition.

What I liked:

The programming is intelligently designed and something that the average person with average recovery can do without changing their grappling sessions.  Will’s knowledge of powerlifting, strength training and periodization is apparent in the design of the program.  For those familiar with Louie Simmons, Jim Wendler and Pavel Tsatouline you’ll see familiar concepts.

There’s virtually no fluff, the eBook is just 30 pages long.  One of my pet peeves is buying a strength & conditioning book and realizing that 90% of it is pictures and descriptions of exercises that I already know how to do or can find demonstrated for free on YouTube.  The program includes mobility work and is periodized, which is awesome and often overlooked.

What Could Have Been Better:

As I look at the exercise index I see a lot exercises that the typical Crossfitter (or anyone who trains in that methodology) will know but if you’re newer to strength and conditioning work you’re going to need some research and/or personal coaching to make sure that you can safely do the exercises listed.

The theory and concepts behind Will’s programming aren’t explained to any significant degree in the manual.  Again there are some assumptions made about the target audience.  If you already know these concepts or don’t really care (maybe you just want to be told what to do) you’re good to go.

Wrapping It Up

The Blueprint shows you how to insert Will’s 12 week program into your grappling training.  In my opinion the programming is smart, manageable and realistic [I’ll be using it for myself in a few weeks].  I especially liked the emphasis on mobility work and periodization.  If you have a background that includes strength training, Crossfit or similar activities you’re going to find a no-frills manual on how to adapt your knowledge to fit into the needs of a grappler and $19.99 is a reasonable price for a 12 week program.  Once you’ve purchased the manual be sure to join the Facebook group for any questions you may have.

If you’re new to strength and conditioning I’d recommend getting personal coaching from a qualified professional.  Once you’ve got a good base you can look into something like the Blueprint.

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