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post #22 of (permalink) Old 12-27-2006, 09:35 AM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 577
Originally Posted by Spartan42
I'm pretty tall 6'2" but I am incredibly light 137 lbs, I'm currently training in BJJ but even as my technique starts to get better it is hard to pull off certain things without a necessary amount of strength. Any help in how I should train to gain more strength (especially upper body) in a way that is helpful in grappling and other aspects of BJJ would be very much appreciated.
Woo-hoo! Again, something I know a little something about...

Okay, here goes.

You are talking about both functional strength, and explosive strength. Functional means you can lift real weights in real situations, and explosive strength means being able to output a lot of power in a very short period of time.

For functional strength, it's critical to develop your small muscles (the stabilizer muscles) along with the large muscle groups. It's also critical to develop your core. For starters never ever do fixed weights- they usually do only the big muscles. For any exercize you might want to do, figure out the equivalent using free weights. Also, small bars are better than a long bar, because you use more stabilizer muscles. So, if you want to develop your power to push (chest and lats), do presses using a weight in each hand from a deeply reclined position. The motion is similar to a bench press, but you are using all the small muscles in your torse close to your arms to keep your arms still, as well as your pectorals and triceps.

It is also crucial to get maximum range of motion when doing strength exercises- start as extended as possible and finish as contracted as possible. You see so many people cheating, lifting really heavy weights but only in the middle of the motion. That's the easy bit. To be strong you have to be srong at the beginning and the end.

Don't rush... when executing a repetition, exhale and do it over a mental count of three or so.

Dumbells and bars are good, but special mention has to go to all exercises where you are lifting your own bodyweights, especially pullups and tricep dips. If you do pullups, concentrate especially on getting the full range of motion, and mix them up (i.e. gripping bar with palms inwards versus outwards, bringing bar behind head versus in front of head).

Resist the machismo urge... you can double your weight if you rush, don't get a full range of movement and use fixed weights. But you won't benefit so much. You do it right, chances are you are lifting less than everyone else. Ignore that fact.

As for the 'core' stuff, there are specific exercises you can find out about, but anything standing up with bars and dumbells will help. Just concentrate on making sure that your torso is immobile when you're throwing those bad boys around- those are the core muscles that keep your body still. That's my understanding anyway.

Anyway, that's how to build functional strength. Then the issue is how many reps/what weight. If you want to increase your strength then you need to lift very heavy weights, close to your maxium, 6-7 times, 3 repetitions. A more balanced workout, 10-12 times. For the intense strength-building stuff you are supposed to do it so that your muscles are burning and you can barely move afterwards. I don't know if that's a good idea for grapplers- I kind of doubt it.

If you do all of this you will get a lot of strength, but keep stretching a lot or you will lose some flexibility.

Oh, and take breaks. 2 days on, 2 days off. Your muscles need time to recover and build strength.
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