In the world of BJJ, there are a ton of opinions on whether or not lifting weights is beneficial for your jiu-jitsu game. Some people say it is what separates champions from everyone else, whereas others say it will slow you down. So let’s tackle the question: Does lifting weights improve your jiu-jitsu?
Lifting weights does improve your jiu-jitsu game. Though learning technique might be more important, getting stronger and more athletic is only going to make you a better BJJ athlete.
So don’t let someone tell you that lifting weights is going to slow you down. Just make sure that focusing on technique does not take a back seat to your strength and conditioning program.
Should BJJ Athletes Lift Weights
No matter what sport you play lifting weights is only going to make you more athletic and improve your performance.
Once upon a time, many coaches were afraid that lifting weights was going to slow down their athletes. Though some may still hold this position, this old theory is nothing more than a misunderstanding from the past.
Funny enough the science seems to conclude just about the complete opposite of what they thought. If you look at the fastest athletes in the world they are all very muscular.
Why The Best BJJ Athletes In The World Lift Weights
Though there are a few high-level BJJ athletes in the past that did not lift weights, today you would be hard-pressed to find a high-level grappler that does not incorporate a strength and conditioning program.
If you look at the best BJJ grapplers in the world today you can tell that they obviously lift weights. This is because they know that if they are if two jiu-jitsu players are of equal skill, the stronger of the two will have a great advantage.
This is not unique to BJJ but will all sports really. Part of becoming better at any sport or martial art is first working on the skills of the sport and secondly becoming physically conditioned for the sport.
The best athletes in the world are both the most skilled at their sport and as well as being the most conditioned athletes in their sport. Lifting weights or strength training is just one aspect of a good strength and conditioning program from Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
You will also need to work on your endurance, flexibility, and all of the other aspects of physical training. That said, as far as focusing on getting stronger, lifting weights is the best option for BJJ players.
Why Everyone Who Competes In BJJ Should Lift Weights
Whether for self-defense or competition, everyone who does BJJ should lift weights. If you compete in BJJ then being strong and athletic will give you an edge over your opponent.
Since you will be competing in a weight class you will want to be as muscular and lean as you can naturally get. Carrying around an extra 20 lbs of fat is not going to help you in a BJJ competition with a weight class.
To get a physical edge over your opponent you would want to maintain as much of your muscle as possible while losing that extra 20 lbs of fat. This way you can compete in a lower-weight class.
If you do this then it is more likely that you will be the more physically athletic competitor. If you then choose to go up in weight, I would suggest trying to stay pretty lean while adding some muscle to your frame.
How Much Muscle Should You Gain For BJJ
Of course, if you are a natural athlete, there is going to be a point where it is difficult to add a significant amount of extra muscle to your body. This would indicate that you are now probably at the best ideal weight class for your frame.
To maintain or gain muscle for a BJJ, you are going to want to focus on getting stronger at the key compound exercises such as bench, rows, weighted pull-ups, squats ( back and front squats), deadlifts, and overhead presses.
Those are just some examples but you can choose other exercises as well that mimic these movements such as machine exercises. Of course, developing a whole strength and conditioning plan for BJJ training is a bit more complicated than this or anything I could go deep enough into with this post.
However, I would suggest starting out by watching a free youtube series from Juggernaut training systems called Strength and Conditioning for BJJ.
This will give you a great base understanding of how to develop a strength and conditioning program for BJJ.
Strength Matters In BJJ
If size and strength didn’t matter in jiu-jitsu then there would be no need for weight classes. However, athletic performance and strength are some of the most important factors for BJJ competitors.
You have probably heard it said many times that BJJ is a martial art that allows a smaller weaker person to defeat a larger and stronger unskilled person.
Well, this is certainly true to a very large degree just as it is with many martial arts. However, the hidden word is that they can defeat a stronger unskilled person.
However, what then would happen if the stronger and bigger person was more skilled, equally skilled, or perhaps even slightly less skilled.
Well, the truth is that size and strength go a long way in combat sports and martial arts and you would likely be in a losing battle.
In addition, there is a point where someone might be so much stronger and bigger than a jiu-jitsu fighter that their skills can’t overcome the sheer size and strength of a person.
BJJ and Weight Lifting Complement Each Other
As opposed to seeing BJJ and weight lifting separately, think about them as complementary to each other. That is at least if you are focused on BJJ.
BJJ does not complement bodybuilding or powerlifting on the other hand. The risks of injury are too high if you are serious about these sports.
But If BJJ is your focus, then lifting weights is only going to improve your BJJ. Just don’t think you need to be in the weight room 7 days a week.
Balancing Weight Lifting and BJJ
Here is a great ( but long ) video on how to balance weight lifting and BJJ.