Thursday, December 30, 2010

Strength and Conditioning for BJJ - Wed. Workout

Here is my Wed. workout with some inserted commentary.

If you have been reading these strength and conditioning posts you know that I am going to tell you that if you want to get fundamentally stronger you need to be doing squats and deadlifts. I know it sucks but that is life. If you want to be able to "posture" out of a triangle, you can't beat deadlifts, if you want to power through takedowns or stand up to pass from your opponent's guard you need some squat muscle. In other posts I will talk about some alternative exercises like lunges and "good mornings" that can also work well but you still have to squat and deadlift every now and then.

The "heavy" portion of the workout consisted of:
  Deadlifts (3 minutes of rest between sets)
      135 x 5
      185 x 5
      225 x 5
      255 x 1
      135 x 10 Acceleration Deadlifts

The "light" portion of the workout consisted of:
  2 rounds with 2 minutes rest between rounds -
     95 x 5 Barbell Snatch
     105 x 3 Power Clean to Push Press
  immediately followed by -
     1 x 40 Seated Russian Twist (25 lbs)
     2 x 10 Single Leg Bridge with suspension trainer

You will get the impression in these posts that I like kettlebells and suspension trainers (like the TRX). I do. They are great for working under a load for both speed and strength at all sorts of odd angles both bilaterally and unilaterally (two arms/two legs and one arm/one leg) - just what we need for jiu jitsu.

And a final note - I'm not posting all my workouts (this blog is not my training log). I've been emphasizing squats and deadlifts a lot I know, mainly because nobody likes to do them and they have some of the highest "bang for your buck" returns. I will try and post some some stuff that has a bigger "fun factor" soon. 

Answers to some questions that have come up:
  1. My current bodyweight is 165 lbs. at 6 ft. tall.
  2. I'll turn 50 on my next birthday this summer.
  3. I try to hit two workouts a week that have a heavier strength component - preferably on non jiu jitsu days.
  4. Skill work is a priority, but life can complicate things - I am on the mat 3-4 times a week for 3 -4 hrs. at a time including an hour of rolling most nights. I would love to break up my skill, strength, and conditioning work over multiple sessions in a day but most of us don't have that luxury.
  5. You can check my results on the earlier assessment posts in the comments section here: Strength and Conditioning for BJJ - Training Plan - Overview (part 4 of ?)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Quote of the Moment - The Dark Side

"Anger, fear, aggression. The dark side are they. Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your jiu jitsu."  ~ Zen Yoda

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Strength and Conditioning for BJJ - Friday Workout (Christmas Eve)

Here is my Christmas Eve workout. I wanted to get something quick in dirty in knowing that I would be taking Christmas day completely off.

Note: Lately I've noticed some serious imbalances, basic problems, and weak points and will be adjusting my workouts accordingly.  Here is Friday's workout and the logic behind some of the specific exercise choices as an example of how to listen to your body and adjust accordingly:

Squat/Plyo Box Jump Complex
    Squat 135 x 8
      Plyo Box Jump bodyweight x 8 (jump down from a  12" box and then up to a 24" box)
    Squat 165 x 5
      Plyo Box Jump bodyweight x 8
    Squat 185 x 5
      Plyo Box Jump bodyweight x 8
    Squat 205 x 5
      Plyo Box Jump bodyweight x 8

This complex was the "heavy" portion of the workout. Approximately 2 minutes of rest between sets and no rest between squats and the box jumps.

For awhile I had been working on stretching and trying to squat as deep as possible - way below parallel butt to ground.   While I was getting the depth under decent, not maximal, load, I was noticing serious rounding of the lower back starting just under parallel (not just bad form but dangerous). Analysis with another trainer indicated that it was not a flexibility issue but rather an anatomical "impossibility" based on my personal body geometry (where the bar properly rests across my traps, length of spine, length of upper and lower leg) and keeping the weight balanced and centered. I could switch to high-bar squats, but that aggravates an old injury - so no more going super-deep, just strict form to parallel.

I am also working on lower body "power" - hence the combination of squats and plyo box jumps as a complex. I often do box jumps with additional weight (20-50 lbs) - I have noticed a lot of knee irritation when I do this, not from the jump up, but from the jump down. In response, I will not be doing "plyo" jumps off a low box up to a high box under additional weight and will be "stepping" off the high box rather than jumping back down. 

The "lighter" conditioning portion of the workout consisted of:
2 Rounds (no rest between exercises 1 minute between rounds)
   45lbs x 20(each arm) One-armed Kettlebell Swings
   bodyweight x 5 "rollouts" on suspension trainer
   45lbs x 20(each arm) One-armed Bent Over Rows
   bodyweight x 20 deep squats (assisted by suspension trainer)
   bodyweight x 5 Gymnastics "skin the cat" on suspension trainer
   30 seconds of "stir the pot" using suspension trainer

Approximately 5 minutes of continuous "wrestler's bridge" neck work

In the lighter portion of the workout I am using deep squats with the suspension trainer because it lets me go deep in an anatomically correct way. Also I will be adding neck work consistently as this is an essential area for grappler's that is currently lagging for me and gets almost no work unless specifically targeted.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Quote of the Moment - Smile

"I like a man who grins when he fights." ~ Winston Churchill

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Strength and Conditioning for BJJ - Training Plan - Overview (part 4 of ?)

Just to refresh your memory on some of our opening assumptions:
  1. We are targeting the "average joe" athlete - jiu jitsu players who have a life and day job off the mats but still want to improve and be competitive. 
  2. If you are at the upper bounds of great on the previously posted assessments you should look into finding a strength and conditioning coach who can work with you 1-on-1 to continue to improve.
  3. The nature of our sport means that we are ALWAYS going to put skill/technique work at the top of the list and work it as much as we can year round and that low intensity flexibility work (such as light yoga) is recommended.
So how did you do? What should you do next? Whether you used my "benchmarks" or prefer to work with some other criteria we want to determine what should be emphasized in your training program based on your personal assessment and the following hierarchy:
Skill/Technique work >
     Basic Aerobic Capacity >
               Anaerobic Capacity >
                         Basic Strength >
                                   Power >       

A good training program will address all of these areas. What should change over time is the balance of work between the areas. Each step should be in the adequate to good range before the emphasis shifts to the next step. Your assessment should give you an indication of where you are (currently) and what type, and how much, of a particular type of training you should be including. Additionally, your training program over time needs to cycle through some sort of periodization (but that is a set of posts for another time).

I've included some (motivational) videos as examples of what training might look like within the different areas. You may be doing a lot of the same "exercises" at each level, but the volume (sets, reps) and intensity (weight, rest) change.

Skill/Technique Work
Skill and Technique work - hitting the mats - is job one. This should always constitute the lion's share of our training time. Find a good school and try to get there as often as you can. You may not be able to live at the gym, but if you want to be competitive you have to put in some mat time.

Basic Aerobic Capacity Emphasis
If you are not currently rating "adequate" on the cardio assessment, the priority of your training time off the mat should be spent on increasing your aerobic base. This is the foundation you need to hang everything else  off of. The emphasis here will be slightly longer, less intense workouts. Running, skipping rope, biking, rowing, and simple bodyweight exercises get the most time.

Anaerobic Capacity Emphasis
Once we have a decent aerobic base we want to maintain that base while increasing our anaerobic conditioning into the good range. We start including shorter more intense workouts. Sprints replace distance running, we use tabatas and other high intensity protocols on our activities, exercises become "heavier" and are put together into sets and rounds with only short rest intervals between. You will develop a love/hate relationship with the phrases "burpee," "kettlebell," "prowler," "next round," and "for time."


Basic Strength Emphasis
While maintaining our aerobic/anaerobic conditioning we start moving heavy things. There will be assistance exercises but an increasing proportion of our time should be spent doing basic multi-joint exercises: deadlifts, squats, presses, pullups, and rows. We are not talking about a bodybuilding routine here. It doesn't matter how you look (although as a byproduct of all the work you are doing you will be looking good). Exercises are targeted at overall functional strength AND sport specific strength with assistance exercises to keep you balanced and injury free. It should also be noted that if you are currently a big "weightlifter," your lift totals might actually go down as you bring up your aerobic and anaerobic conditioning - but you will be a better fighter.

Power Emphasis
Once we have a good strength base we can take moving heavy things and add moving heavy things quickly. Our strength exercises are combined with complimentary power movements in complexes - we might combine sets of squats and box jumps, presses and medicine ball throws, deadlifts and dumbell snatches. Olympic lifts might replace some of the basic strength lifts in our training plan and plyometric exercises increase.

In the next few posts in this series we will use some "case studies" to talk about tailoring a training program for individual needs.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Kata Garuma - Shoulder Wheel (Judo)/Fireman's Carry (Wrestling)

In honor of the Kata Garuma throw we worked on tonight, here is a little creamy Judo goodness:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Strength and Conditioning for BJJ - Assessment - Basic Strength (part 3 of ?)

Ok, I know you guys have all been waiting on this post in the series to answer the age old question - "am I strong enough." Now we all know "enough" is a relative term, but there is answer. The answer is - NO, you are never strong enough, but for our assessment we want to know if you have enough Basic Strength where it would be advantageous to include Explosive Power work in your training.

What do we mean by "basic strength" and "explosive power." In a very leave out all the details definition, basic strength is the ability to move heavy things while explosive power is the ability to move heavy things very quickly.

Leo Morton also has a good series on what we are talking about here over on Inside BJJ. Here are the pertinent links: Strength & Conditioning for Jiu-Jitsu Part II, and Strength & Conditioning for Jiu-Jitsu Part III. Go ahead, give them a read. I'll still be here when you get back.

Leo uses a chart which is a subset of a chart presented by Tim Henriques over on T-Nation (Are You Strong). I have no problem with either of these charts for determining if you are "gym strong," but for our assessment in BJJ (and to give us an indication of whether we should add Explosive Power work) they are a little high (and Leo also states this).

Remember, this series is for the Average Joe who has a day job who wants to improve his BJJ game. If you are in the Good/Great range for all these benchmarks, it is time to find a good S and C coach who can work with you one-on-one.

Here is the chart I like to use:

DEADLIFT    1.5 x BW          2 x BW          2.5 x BW

SQUAT         1.25 x BW        1.75 x BW     2.25 x BW

BENCH         1.00 x BW        1.25 x BW     1.75x BW

PRESS           .60 x BW         .80 x BW        1.25 x BW

If you are somewhere between Adequate and Good, it is time to start thinking about adding some Power work into your routine. If you are in the Good to Great range you should definitely be doing Power work.

So now we have a quick and dirty idea of where we stand on our cardio/conditioning and our basic strength. In the next post in this series we will use this information to determine some priorities and next steps.

And if you are just now joining us - the series so far:
Strength and Conditioning in BJJ (intro)
Strength and Conditioning for BJJ - Assessment (part 1 of ?)
Strength and Conditioning for BJJ - Assessment - Cardio (part 2 of ?)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Taking the Back From Halfguard

I have really been working on going for the back as a "first move" from a lot of positions and it has been paying significant dividends in finishing fights. I love this back-take from halfguard. This version also keeps your opponent from going into deep half and is often there after you have tried other passes. Once you get their hips "switched" it should all be over except for the closing credits.