I recently started competing in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments again. At my advanced age of 41, it has been no easy task! When I was fighting professionally, I didn’t have time to train with the gi (jiu-jitsu uniform) because, in MMA, you do not fight with one.
Gi training involves a lot of grabbing collars, lapels, and sleeves, so it’s a crazy forearm workout. My hands and forearms were constantly sore to the point where I would have to submerge my hands in ice water.
The Kettlebell Solution for Jiu-Jitsu
Enter the kettlebell, I was introduced to kettlebells, and I developed my Kettle-Jitsu training system. This reinvigorated my love for training (at least the conditioning aspects of it). Along with the gi, it is the best tool for increasing grip strength and conditioning. Below is sample template on how I incorporate the kettlebell into my class’s training week, using the kettle-jitsu technique.
Step 1: Warm Up for Kettlebell Training
My classes always start with a 10 to 15-minute joint mobility/light bodyweight warm up. The goal of this portion of the workout is to increase your core temperature by performing basic movement skills and calisthenics. Once you’ve broken a sweat and your muscles are warm, I suggest performing ground-based mobility drills. This will ensure no injury will occur during your kettlebell workout.
Step 2: Movement Practice for Kettlebell Workouts
Once you are nice and loose, it’s time to mimic the actions in the ring with 3 to 5, 1-minute rounds of Shadow-Jitsu (the bodyweight training variation of Kettle-Jitsu) combinations. Some combinations you could use for your Shadow-Jitsu workouts can be seen here:
Step 3. Kettlebell Workout Schedule for Jiu-Jitsu
We then do a light kettlebell warm up, followed by 3 to 5, 2-minute rounds of kettlebell circuits. Below is an example of how you could organize your training week:
Monday: dynamic warm-up/mobility; Shadow-Jitsu; double kettlebell training
Wednesday: dynamic warm-up/mobility; Shadow-Jitsu; a heavy single kettlebell routine
Friday: dynamic warm-up/mobility; Shadow-Jitsu; light kettlebell routine
If I’m feeling my oats, I will squeeze in another day of kettlebell and bodyweight. This is the general format I have been using at my gym for some time now, and everyone loves it! Both my women’s and men’s classes have been packed!
Step 4. Get Started Adding Kettlebell Workouts into Your Jiu-Jitsu Schedule
3-4 days of kettlebell training should not interfere with recovery for your grappling or fight training. If you want to improve your grip strength and take your MMA or BJJ game to the next level, it is essential you incorporate the kettlebell into your training week. Incorporating the kettlebell into your training will greatly benefit you, unfortunately not so much for your opponent! Give these two workouts a shot next time you have a chance: