BJJ Before Or After Weights? Why You Should Lift Weights Before BJJ

BJJ before or after weights?

I’ve been lifting weights for many many years. In fact, I even used to run my own personal strength training business. Because of this, I have had a few people ask me whether I thought it was better to do BJJ before or after weights? 

If you are lifting weights and doing BJJ on the same day then you should lift weights before BJJ. However, if your schedule allows it then I would suggest getting a few hours of rest and some food in between lifting weights and BJJ. Doing BJJ before weights will more likely result in an injury than the other way around. 

There are downsides to whatever order you choose. But I would rather be tired from lifting weights and have to focus more on proper BJJ technique than to feel beat up and tired before weight training. You won’t get a full workout and your tweaked elbow will only get more inflamed. 

Ideally, you should separate your weight training and BJJ on different days. That is of course if it does not limit your training frequency. Unfortunately, many people have limited time slots and need to get their weight training and BJJ practice in on the same day.

That said if you can separate your strength training by 4-5 hours or more that would be better than back-to-back. I would still recommend lifting first if you can for reasons we will go over later. Of course, I understand that you might have certain obstacles that would make this difficult.

If your schedule allows it then I would suggest lifting weights in the morning and doing BJJ at night. But you do need to balance what is ideal with what is realistic. I used to lift weights before training because I got off work at 4:00 and had class at 6:00. It was more convenient to fill that time by lifting weights than driving home just to chill for an hour. 

How To Schedule BJJ and Weight Training 

I wish there was a simple answer to this question. However, the best time to lift weights and train BJJ depends a lot on your schedule and how serious you are about BJJ. Are you a full-time competitor or do you simply train BJJ for fun and exercise a few days a week.

If you only train BJJ a few days a week it would probably be best to do your weight training on the days you don’t do jiu-jitsu. For example, if you train BJJ twice a week say Tuesday and Thursday, then you should do weight training Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

If you want to train BJJ three times a week then I would suggest switching your weight training and BJJ days. So BJJ Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and weights on Tuesday and Thursday.  Or you could also do both three days per week by alternating BJJ and weight training Monday through Saturday and taking Sunday off.

How To Schedule Weight Training When You Do BJJ 4-6 Times Per Week

Of course, I understand that many of you want to train BJJ four to six times per week. If so then where does weight training fit into your program? If this is you, then you will, of course, have to do weight training and BJJ on the same day. At least on some of those days anyway.

In this situation, I would suggest that you try and separate your BJJ training and weight training by at least a few hours. This way you can get in one or two meals and some rest before you have to train again. By doing this both training sessions are less compromised by the other. If you had to do them back to back then one of them would likely take the back seat to the other.

For example, if you were to get a good hard weight training session before BJJ, then you will not have all of your energy for BJJ. Or perhaps knowing that you still need to go to class you might not work out as hard because you are trying to save some energy for your jiu-jitsu training. 

So if you can separate your training sessions then you probably should. Personally, I would suggest that you train weights in the morning and do BJJ at night. This is because you are more likely to tweak something or get a small injury from BJJ than you are from weight training.

That is, of course, assuming that you know how to properly lift weights.  Another reason is that if you are still a bit tired from the workout then it will force you to focus more on technique than strength. This is especially true if you are naturally stronger than most of the people at your BJJ academy.

That said if you prefer or can only do BJJ in the morning then go ahead and do that. It really won’t make a huge difference at the end of the day. Of course, if you are like me and hate waking up in the morning for a workout, then you are likely going to have to work out and do BJJ back to back. If this is you then I would suggest that you lift weights first. Let me explain why. 

Why You Should Lift Weights Before BJJ

Even though I suggested separating BJJ and weight training by as much time as possible, I often break this rule. I’m not a morning person and I often choose to lift weights right before class. There are a few reasons that I prefer to lift weights first.

The main reason I choose to lift weights first is for a reason I alluded to earlier. If you are tired from strength training then you will have to focus more on technique when rolling. Of course, it’s best to have your energy for both but sometimes you have to compromise. 

On the other hand, going all out rolling before weight training you are more likely to get to the gym with something tweaked or a pulled muscle. By lifting with a pulled muscle you are likely just going to make the situation worse. Most of the common injuries you get rolling are minor and will usually heal up simply by going home and getting a good night’s sleep.

The small injures you get in class will likely be mostly gone by the next day just in time to get your workout in. But going into the gym with an inflamed knee from BJJ and doing squats is probably just going to make your knee more inflamed. In the long term, you are simply going to make injuries last longer than they need to.

In addition, by going into the gym all beat up you will probably compromise your workout. If you pulled your bicep then you will likely not be able to safely do pull-ups on that day. Of course, either way, something is going to be compromised if you have to do them back to back.

I still suggest doing it in this order even if BJJ is a bigger priority than strength training. This is simply because not having all of your strength for class forces you to focus on technique. Of course, if you can get a few hours between training sessions that would be more ideal. Perhaps you could even get a workout in during your lunch break and do BJJ in the evening. This way you are more recovered for both training sessions.

A Few Tips On Weight Training Before BJJ

If you decide to lift before BJJ then you should consider a few things. You need to have a workout program that focuses on getting stronger week by week. If you are not pushing yourself during your workout then you are not going to make any progress.

That said, I would not suggest that you lift with maximum intensity every workout. By intensity, I mean taking every single set to muscular failure. Don’t get me wrong this is good to do from time to time. However, training intensely and doing BJJ most days of the week will likely be too much.

This is less likely to be a problem if you are new to lifting weights. This is because as you get stronger in the gym you are able to do more damage to your body. Doing a set of 400 lbs squats to failure is going to take some time to recover from. So if you are an advanced lifter you might want to cut back max intensity lifting days to once or twice per week at most.

On most days, however, I suggest stoping your sets 1-3 reps before failure.  Of course, if you are new to lifting you will not know where failure is. If that is you do not worry about any of this. Simply workout hard and focus on getting stronger.

You might also want to consider getting in some quick digesting carbs on your drive from the gym to BJJ. I would suggest just adding 30-60 grams of dextrose power with an amino acid drink. You want to use a carb source that is easily absorbed and utilized. Save the complex carbs for another time. 

In Summary

It is better to lift weights before BJJ if you have to do it back to back. However, if you can manage to get some rest between weight lifting and BJJ that would be ideal. However, this is not realistic for many of you. This is why if I had to choose I would lift weights before BJJ. 

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