4 Wrestling Conditioning Exercises for Your BJJ Training

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BJJ practitioners are always looking for better ways to get into shape in order to dominate on the mats. It is not uncommon to see a Jiujiteiro (someone who does BJJ) spending extra time in the gym on physical conditioning for BJJ.

BJJ Conditioning Resistance Bands
BJJ Conditioning Resistance Bands

There are so many different types of extracurricular workouts for BJJ that are quite common to see BJJ athletes doing when away from the mats including Crossfit, Running, Swimming, Yoga, Kettlebell training and regular good old weightlifting at the gym. All of these are great workouts and have their place when it comes to getting into the best shape for BJJ competition but there are some great exercises that have a great crossover into BJJ that come from Wrestling that serious BJJ athletes should add to their training regimen if they want to be a monster on the mats.

The benefit of adding some wrestling conditioning exercises to your BJJ conditioning program is that they are very efficient at getting into shape, the movements have a lot of use in developing technical proficiency in your movement and they can pretty much be done everywhere (especially after practice on the mats).

So here are 4 wrestling exercises for BJJ you should consider adding to your Jiu-jitsu conditioning program.


Shadow Wrestling for BJJ

Shadow wrestling is an amazing conditioning exercise for BJJ, especially in regards to bettering overall conditioning for standup, takedowns and scrambling….if it is done properly.

In order to properly shadow wrestle you must remember to always change angles of attack and movement, work on footwork, hip movement, changing directions, shoot for the double, run on the spot, sprawling, sprawling and spinning and moving legs and arms in unison.

A good shadow wrestling session is going to get your heartrate going as well as if done correctly will improve all elements of stamina in your actual movement. As a BJJ practitioner this will really help you get used to constant movement when standing as it is very common for BJJ athletes to not move too much when standing up as well as not create angles of attack in their takedown game.

A good tip for BJJ athletes is when on the ground, quickly do a few ginastica natural movements and spring back up to a standing position to continue your shadow wrestling.

Start by shadow wrestling for 1 minute and try to build up to 20 minutes, you will really see the benefits within a few weeks especially in overall conditioning and ease of movement.

Sprawl and Spin

The Sprawl and spin is an absolutely amazing drill to get used to scrambling off defending the takedown. It will increase the heart rate, improve overall conditioning and is an excellent fat burning exercise.

Most BJJ schools teach the sprawl completely incorrectly in the fact that they simply teach it as a one stop shop of moves, fighter A shoots, fighter B sprawls and then either goes for a guillotine afterwards or Fighter A recovers into guard or stands up. 

This is good for basic level BJJ competition but it is horrible for anyone wanting to get into higher level BJJ, Grappling and Nogi competitions as there just are better options.

The Sprawl and Spin teaches you how to truly scramble to get the person’s back which is a much much better option for higher level BJJ as you are in a very advantageous top position whereas without the spin you may end up in top position but generally in your opponent’s guard.

The second reason the Sprawl and Spin Drill is great is that you will get used to sideways movement and not the usual forward and backward movement we see in BJJ takedown training. The truth is that if a well trained BJJ practitioner is shooting on you, they are either going to try to cut the corner to continue the takedown or immediately go to guard upon contact with your hip (when you sprawl of course). This is where the spin comes into play, as you will immediately start to scramble by spinning to one of the directions.

We see ADCC competitors who are successful at takedown defense use more of a sprawl and spin motion when countering any type of shot and surely the Sprawl and Spin motion will help you develop the attributes as well.

Always remember that as in BJJ and Grappling competitions it is always your primary objective to get a submission which in this case would be a guillotine. That said, as you go better overall and start competing at higher levels you will notice that opponents will be shooting for takedowns with less exposure to their neck and thus being harder to guillotine. This is why you need the Sprawl and Shoot as it helps you better develop your positional takedown and scramble game for BJJ and MMA.

A set of 10 Sprawl and Spins is great to start with, making sure you don’t always spin to the same side. You will want to switch it up to develop even muscle building and muscle movement memory.

DopamineO Resistance Bands, Dopa Resistance Bands

An absolutely amazing way to get your overall grappling and BJJ conditioning to the next level, these BJJ resistance bands have been used by Russian wrestlers for over half a century in order to train wrestling movements while getting an amazing workout.

Pronounced “Dopa-Meen-O”, DopamineO was developed by 2 wrestlers, The actual resistance band they make are called “Dopa bands” and are great for developing hulk-like clinch, grip and hand fighting stamina in your arms and upper body as well as can be used for a multitude of BJJ exercises on the ground such as power shrimps, bear crawls and more. The best part is you can use the DopamineO bands anywhere and they can be thrown in your gym bag to take on the go.

There are many bands on the market but Dopa bands are without a doubt the best quality BJJ resistance bands on the market as they are developed by grapplers for grapplers.

A good Dopa session can be done in 5 minutes after workout and will get you into incredible shape.

Wrestling Stand Ups, Wrestling Get Ups

Such a simple yet often overlooked wrestling conditioning drill that can really benefit BJJ athletes is the Wrestling Stand Up (also known as the Wrestling Get Up).

Often in BJJ we see athletes get used to laying on the ground when they could get up or only trying to win a match on the ground when they can get up in order to re-throw the opponent or defend an opponent’s lack of efficient takedowns for the win.

This is due to the fact that in BJJ, athletes generally stay on the ground when they get on the ground, a lot due to the fact that there BJJ is a ground fighting art first and foremost. Now in no way are we condoning not fighting on the ground when practicing BJJ but what we are condoning is to increase your mobility on the ground including developing all options of movement in order to do so.

A great example would be if you are leading in points and need to get up from the ground in an efficient and strong manner, another example is you cannot get your opponent to forgo top position when on the ground so you get up to enforce a takedown to attain top position and points, another example would be increasing speed and confidence of your standing up front he ground action in order to stop trying to pass on the knees and lastly in a BJJ self defense scenario it is always good to have the ability to stand up when you want to and should you need to.

The wrestling stand up can burn a ton of calories and has a ton of tactical application for grappling. It is a bit different than the Gracie get up and in reality both should be practiced as both are great and offer outstanding attribute development benefits.

A good way to train wrestling stand ups is simply to do sets over and over again after BJJ practice. Start with a set of 5 in a row, then get up to 10 and even 20 in a row. It is a total body exercise and will get you into outstanding physical shape

In Conclusion

Adding these specific exercises is going to really help you get your BJJ conditioning to the next level, they can be done anywhere and really get a maximum amount of benefits for the time put in.

Try adding one or more of these exercises to your BJJ conditioning program and you will start seeing great results on and off the mat within a few weeks.


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