Benefits of Weight Training in BJJ

BJJ trainer
Training Smart: How Weight Lifting Can Help You Conquer BJJ

The Ultimate Guide to Using Weight Training to Excel in BJJ

In Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ), being taller and heavier does not give you an overwhelming advantage. Because this martial art only allows grappling, it levels the playing field for shorter or lighter fighters, allowing them to overpower adversaries several feet taller than them. However, to succeed in BJJ, you still must possess the physical and mental capability to throw your opponents, submit them on the mat, or escape from a hold. Entering a BJJ match without adequate strength, stamina, coordination, or mental fortitude will only end with you getting tossed around like a ragdoll.

Before you can try sparring or fight in a true BJJ match, you first must undergo weight training to ensure you are in proper shape to stand toe to toe with more experienced BJJ practitioners. The purpose of weight training is to build muscle strength, improve anaerobic endurance, and increase the size of skeletal muscles.

In this article, you will learn why weight training is a reliable fitness routine to prepare your body for BJJ.

Increased Physical Strength

Weight training
The Benefits of Weight Training for BJJ Fighters

Whether using a barbell, dumbbell, or other types of weights, the constant contraction of your muscles while lifting heavy weights off the ground or over your head causes your muscles to break down from the strain.

When they recover and repair themselves, they gain muscle mass and grow larger. Having bigger and denser muscles means you can exert more force when going on the offensive and handle more pressure when fighting defensively. 

However, be careful not to bulk up your muscles too much since heavier muscles could reduce speed and mobility.

Less Excess Body Fat

If you have a bit of a gut, doing weight training exercises can help you eliminate a lot of excess body fat. As part of building muscle mass, you also increase your metabolic rate. The heavier the weights, the more reps you complete, and the more physical exertion you endure, the faster and more calories you burn. 

In place of the body fat you lose will be lean muscles, tighter contracting muscles with a low or almost non-existent fat content. Not to mention that you will also be sporting flat, rock-hard abs.

Reduced Risk of Injury

Building Strength for BJJ

Exercises like the deadlift help reinforce your back, leg, and core muscles, ensuring they can handle carrying more weight without becoming strained. 

More durable back, leg, and core muscles also straighten your posture and reduce back pain. 

Another benefit of lifting weights is that it increases the flexibility of the joints in your arms and legs, ensuring they can stretch farther without any discomfort and also protecting them from being injured when more pressure or weight is exerted on them.

Improved Cardiovascular Fitness

The longer you stick with a weight training fitness regime, the more efficiently and longer you can sustain physical exertion without having to rest. As part of improving your stamina, weight training exercises can help improve your cardiovascular fitness by reducing the amount of energy needed to do a takedown, hold, or guard. So long as you keep your body’s movements to a minimum, you should be able to maintain a submission for a while before you start to feel fatigued. Another benefit is that you run less risk of suffering cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks or high blood pressure.

Helps with Chronic Conditions

Weight training
Weight training for chronic conditions

If you suffer from a chronic condition, such as diabetes or heart disease, weight training can help make it easier to manage and function day-to-day with less discomfort. 

If you have a condition like arthritis that makes it difficult to move or causes loss of muscle mass, weight training can counteract by building muscle strength and reducing discomfort when moving your joints. 

If you have difficulty thinking or walking like with dementia, weight training can help keep your joints from locking up and increases cognitive functions.

Better Mobility & Flexibility

To be able to perform complex BJJ techniques such as the triangle armbar, you have to be able to stretch your joints as far as possible to maintain your hold and keep your opponent from escaping. 

Besides the ones in your arms and legs, weight training also increases the mobility of your hips, shoulders, and spine, making it possible for them to contort, spin, or flex with less strain, minimal discomfort, and no lasting damage when rolling on the mat. 

Better mobility and flexibility throughout your body give you access to a broader range of advanced BJJ moves, which could give you more options to attack or defend when facing an opponent.

Heavier Bone Density

A girl lifting weights
From the Gym to the Mat

As the density of your muscles increases, your bones also become denser at the same time to match the change in your body structure. Higher bone density helps better support the added weight of your bulkier muscle mass. If you consistently keep up with weight training, you can also slow down the rate of bone loss as you grow older. Maintaining a high bone density will also help reduce the risk of getting a bone fracture during BJJ matches or osteoporosis by the time you become a senior.

Teach Applicable Skills

When approaching weight training, you have to be willing to commit to a difficult and intensive health routine that forces you to push beyond your limits. 

While planning out or going through the weight training program, you: 

  • learn to set new goals, 
  • devise a plausible schedule, 
  • change things up by trying new exercises, 
  • and increase the difficulty by increasing the number of reps. 

By learning how to incorporate weight training into your lifestyle, you better manage your time, complete tasks more efficiently, and learn skills that can be applied not only in BJJ but also in other aspects of your life, including work, family, or school.

Stable Mental & Emotional Health

A man exercising
Positive emotions

When lifting weights, your pituitary glands release hormones known as endorphins that travel to your brain, which help you feel at ease and instill positive emotions. As endorphins flood your brain, it suppresses stress hormones like cortisol to relieve feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression. Reduced negative emotions can help improve your self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-image. 

In extreme cases, when your heart rate is high, and you suffer an injury, endorphins can also act as a temporary pain killer. Unfortunately, the pain will start to return as the flow of endorphins in your body starts to slow down.

Enhanced Coordination

As you practice weight training more often and become familiar with the repetitive movements for the exercises, your body will be able to instinctively go through the motions without having to stop and think constantly. 

Another benefit of weight training is that it improves your cognitive functions, including your ability to remember. When you master BJJ techniques, you may be able to instantly recognize what your opponent is attempting to do and immediately know the best counter. Or if you are grappling on the ground, you will be able to quickly search your memories of known BJJ moves and switch to the one best suited to escape or subdue.

a man doing his Fitness Routine
 BJJ Fighters Should Incorporate Weight Training 

While there are many approaches for physically and mentally strengthening yourself in preparation for joining BJJ, weight training is one of the most accessible, reliable, and healthy methods. 

If you are a novice still trying to understand the basics of BJJ, the areas weight training will help you improve will ensure you gain skills that will have a place on the mat. 

The benefit of weight training in BJJ valued the most is the additional muscular strength you gain that lets you knock down even giants. However, you also cannot discount the other physical and mental benefits that help you become more well-rounded as a BJJ practitioner. Less excess fat, reduced risk of injury, and improved cardio, mobility, flexibility, and bone density ensure your body can handle and dish out punishment. 

Even if you do not spend as much time improving your BJJ skills, you can still enjoy the applicable skills, enhanced coordination, and healthier physical, mental, and emotional states you are in because of weight training.  

Author: Joshua Syn is a content writer at Elite Sports. He has written blog posts with descriptions of martial arts training gear and workout plans for MMA, Muay Thai, kickboxing, and BJJ training. These blog posts help martial arts enthusiasts get into shape and find appropriate accessories for men, women, and children.

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