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How To Balance Lifting and BJJ

bjj mindset mobility recovery s&c
balance your training for bjj

Grappling training is like doing a full-body workout, sprint training, and endurance, all while getting smashed into the mat. 


No wonder your muscles ache, you have a weird kink in your neck that wasn't there before, and you're dead tired. 


You know that:

  • lifting weights
  • mobility work
  • conditioning training
  • recovery strategies


...will all help to reduce your risk of injury, have you moving and feeling better, and improve your performance on the mats.


But how can you add even more training sessions when you can't keep up with what you're already doing?


Balance Is Not Enough

If you do a quick Google search of this problem, you may find answers like:

  • Balance your training schedule 
  • Dial back your grappling
  • Focus on recovery 
  • Improve your nutrition 
  • Do shorter workouts a couple of times per week
  • You don't have to go 100% every roll


While these responses have merit, they are not a solution; they raise more questions.


Now you're wondering:

  • How do I balance my training?
  • How can I lift weights without the negative impact on my grappling?
  • How can I focus on recovery when I don't have time?
  • What workouts are short but effective and won't fatigue me?


The answers to these questions are much harder to Google; I have tried. 


The Solution

Here's my systematic approach to balancing your training:

  1. Determine how many sessions per week you can train.
  2. Add 2x strength sessions per week. 
  3. Include your mobility before/after BJJ and lifting sessions.
  4. The Big 3 Recovery Tactics.
  5. Add in any "nice to haves".
  6. Complete the Interactive Quiz


I could dedicate an entire article to each point (maybe I should?), but today, let's get the 10,000ft view. 


Determine Your Training Schedule - Work Backwards

Start with the maximum number of sessions you will dedicate to your weekly training. 


Don't worry about your recovery yet; this should be the maximum you're willing and able to do. 


Add your grappling training first (depending on your gym's class times).


It might look something like this:

Remember, grappling is always the priority.

Add 2x Strength Sessions Per Week.

A Jiujitsu-specific Strength & Conditioning program 2x per week will reduce your injury risk by 50%.


3x per week is optimal, but let's start with 2x and work out way up. 


Add them to the calendar:

​You probably need to follow the right program if you've already tried this and cannot maintain your lifting schedule.


Your training program should regulate intensity based on your weekly grappling demand. It should improve your grappling, not make it worse. 


You can check out my training programs designed for this purpose here. 


Include Your Mobility 

Ditch the yoga and focus on mobility instead.


There's a big difference between stretching and mobility for athletes. 


Static stretching is holding a stretch for 10s+ and hoping for the best. 


Whereas mobility training unlocks and strengthens. 


The best way to improve your mobility is by doing a 5-10-minute dedicated mobility warm-up/cool-down before/after grappling.


Or if mobility is a big problem for you, then a dedicated mobility + strength program is what you need. Check out BJJ Move here.


The Big 3 Recovery Tactics

There is a lot you can do to improve your recovery. 


But the big 3 are:

  1. Sleep
  2. Nutrition
  3. Training Intensity


As a rapid fire:

  • Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night
  • Eat more carbohydrates and protein 
  • Follow a training program that incorporates autoregulation for grapplers.


To take a deep dive into recovery, check out the BJJ Strong Podcast Episode on recovery here.


The Nice To Haves

At this point, you should have:

  • Your grappling training included in your schedule
  • A 2x per week training program with autoregulation 
  • Your mobility before/after grappling and lifting
  • The Big 3 of recovery 


If you're overwhelmed working on these points, skip to the end of this article; if not, keep reading. 


Now it's time to add in your "nice to haves". 


You don't have to do everything. Pick what is most important to you based on your goals, recovery status, and if you're an active competitor.

  • Increase your lifting program to 3x per week
  • Add in 1-2 conditioning sessions per week 
  • Add dedicated mobility sessions (10-15 minute mobility follow-along)



Putting It All Together | The Interactive Quiz

I've developed a free interactive quiz to help you determine the best training program to suit your needs. Check it out here.


Now that you have your training schedule, it's time to test and adjust. 


Follow your protocols and assess your recovery, performance, and improvement on the mat. 


If you've bitten off more than you can chew, then dial things back, starting from the bottom of the list and working your way back up. 


(Remove conditioning and the extra mobility; reduce back down to 2x lifting sessions per week; then lower your grappling). 


You don't need to do everything, but you need to do something.

Get StrongerFaster and more Powerful on the mats, while reducing your risk of injury. Take my FREE Fitness Quiz here.

Take The Quiz