Being someone who learned how to lift in the 90’s, bodybuilding really dominated the
conversation for the early part of my lifting life. That tends to turn some people outside the sport
off the concept entirely, but it shouldn’t.
One thing you can learn from bodybuilders that can be taken into grappling is the concept of
mindfulness and intention. Bodybuilders are obsessed with the idea of the “mind-muscle
connection.” This is the concept that when you are training a muscle, you must be thinking
actively of contracting and relaxing it in your head and doing so with great intention. They’re
masters of regulating tension, and understanding how much or how little contraction is needed
in the movement they’re performing.
If we take that concept to the mats, we can see there’s a heavy correlation to jiu jitsu. What
technique do you ever pull off idly without intention. Moreover, much of jiu jitsu is regulating
tension and mobility in order to move and execute techniques.
There must be intention behind what you do to actually execute properly. This is why
bodybuilding is so valuable to lifting and strength training in the most basic sense. You must
understand what contracting a muscle feels like.
For three weeks, perform the following workouts, increasing in load each week as you’re able.
On the fourth week, deload by performing half the amount of sets listed for every exercise. In
the case of the Lower Body Day, perform 3×10 as your A-series exercises, and half the sets of
Month 2, Upper Body Day
For the A Series, perform each exercise as a circuit. Rest only after the A4 exercise is complete.
A1) DB Hammer Curls, 3×15, Tempo 2010, No Rest, immediately start A2
A2) Supinated Grip Preacher Curls, 3×15, Tempo 2010, No Rest, immediately start A2
A3) Choose a Triceps Exercise from the following: Skull Crushers, Close Grip Bench Press,
DB Floor Press – 3×15, Tempo 2010, No Rest, immediately start A2
A4) Choose a 2nd Triceps Exercise (different from first) 3×15, Tempo 2010, No Rest,
immediately start A2
For the B Series: follow the instructions for each exercise as listed below
B1) Dips – 4×10, Tempo 2112. Rest 1 minute before B2.
Notes: Add weight via a weight/dip belt if the 10 reps are easy. Work in increments of 5# or less.
B2) Lat Pulldown – 4×15, Tempo 4011. Rest 1:30 before repeating B1.
C1) Rear Delt Flies or Chest Supported Rear Delt Flies, 3×20, Tempo 2222, Rest 1min
C2) KB/DB Shrugs, 3×20, Tempo 2222, Rest 1 min before repeating circuit
Month 2, Lower Body Day
For the A & B Series Exercises: Perform “Reverse” Drop Sets. This means you will increase the
weight on each set.
Perform the Reverse Drop set as followed: 10 reps, 8 reps, 6 reps, 6 reps, 15 reps (1st set 10,
2nd set 8, etc)
Increase the weight on each set, with the 15-rep set being similar weight to the 8 rep set.
Perform all of the Seated Leg Extension (A) exercise first. Do not rest between drop sets, only
rest the time it takes you to alter the weight or equipment. Finish all sets and rest 60-120
Move onto the Seated Or Prone Leg Curl (B) Exercise, performing it exactly as stated above.
NOTE: If you do not have a Seated Leg Extension, Leg Press, Prone or Seated Hamstring Curl
machine available to you— attach 2 or 3 different bands to a stable post and perform banded
versions, increasing the band tension/size on each seat till you reach your heaviest/thickest
A) Seated Leg Extension* or Leg Press
B) Seated or Prone Leg Curl Machine
Perform the C-Series exercises as a circuit (perform C1, followed by C2, and repeat).
C1) Choice of Squat* – 3×8-10, Tempo 4010, Rest 1 minute before C2.
Notes: High Bar Back Squat, Front Squat, Leg Press or Hack Squat Machine can be used; no
Back Squats in the fashion of the previous month should be used (ie: Low Bar, etc).
C2) Trap Bar Deadlift – 3×12, Tempo 4010. Rest 1 minute before repeating C1.
Notes: High reps here mean the weight should be light! Do not go for 12 of the hardest reps of
your life. If a Trap Bar is unavailable, use two of the heaviest Kettlebells you have on either side
of you and perform KB Deadlifts.
*A Note Regarding Leg Extensions:
Traditionally, these machines are best for bodybuilding and not necessarily strength
building. However, guard players will regularly load their shins in the fashion of a leg
extension machine and will bear weight with their feet NOT on the ground. Therefore, this
exercise can work wonders for the guard player who have concerns about their knees. If
you find that the weight you can handle on this exercise is very low, you should prioritize
use of this rather than the Leg Press.