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Periodization: Understanding Strength Programs

TL BJJ Naples and BJJ Engineer: Understanding Strength Programs

Hopefully if you are serious about BJJ, you have added a supplemental strength training or conditioning program to your Jiu-Jitsu schedule. We will refer to your conditioning program as your strength training program (we will explain why shortly). Here are some very common strength training programs.
Bodybuilding: Stop doing this!!!! Bodybuilding programs are mainly concerned with muscle size and in BJJ muscle size will only get you in the wrong division and possibly affect your range of motion. For BJJ, we need to develop explosiveness in our movements. Bodybuilding exercises are slow in nature (slow speed of contraction) and have very little application to BJJ.
High Intensity Training (HIT) or Crossfit Style Workouts: HIT programs are much better than Body building, but not the most effective method for enhancing your BJJ performance. While recommended for beginners, it might not be the best choice for a professional jiu jitsu athlete.
Pros: Mental toughness, quick gains in strength
Cons: Not properly planed, athlete does not peak on important dates, athletes tend to lose strength and endurance as season progresses.
I personally believe that because of the fun nature of HIT programs they a good way to get BJJ beginners involved in extra-curricular training. Mental Toughness is a very important aspect of the sport and this training system helps develop it in some areas. As the beginner wants more training to win higher level competitions, the HIT program should be replaced with a Periodization of strength program.
Here is where the BJJ student needs to decide whether they are interested in competitive goals. If they are not, HIT training will keep you in great shape.
Olympic Weightlifting: Ok now we are getting somewhere. Olympic weight lifting does develop overall body strength and power, but, unfortunately, it is based upon moves that may not necessarily strengthen the muscles primarily used in BJJ. Nevertheless, Olympic Weightlifting its a much better alternative for serious competitors than Bodybuilding and HIT programs.
Note: Some Olympic Weight Lifting exercises are great for BJJ, but not all of them.
Power Training throughout the year: Usually consisting of explosive bounding exercises and strength training exercises throughout the year. This is also a step up from HIT, and Body building and possibly better than Olympic Weightlifting programs. This training program allows for athletic fitness to improve throughout the year, but it is likely that the athlete’s rate of improvement will not to be ideal for big competitions (rate at the highest). Also, Power is a function of strength. Power= Force (strength) * Velocity(speed) over time, so in order to improve Power one must focus on strength and speed at one point.
Periodization of Strength: Absolute best, also the hardest to execute correctly because it’s cumbersome. There is a lot to be understood and applied. It is based on the specific physiological requirements of the sport and must result in the development of power and muscle endurance. Periodization of Strength its also concerned with planning a season that allows the athlete to reach peaks at the major competitions.
Now that we understand how Periodization of Strength is different and better than other Strength Training Programs lets begin to devise a successful system.

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  1. […] An introduction to Periodization can be found on and The practice gameplan should incorporate training objectives, a very important aspect of your […]