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How to Train for Grappling Power

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Power is your ability to exert maximal force in as little time or with as much speed as possible.

 

The ability to apply grappling techniques with maximal strength and speed is a game-changer for your grappling performance.

 

The Types of Exercises that Develop Explosive Power

Ballistic training is a proven, highly effective method to develop explosive power for grappling.

 

Ballistic exercises are "explosive" movements where you accelerate against resistance rapidly.

 

Some examples of ballistic exercises are:

  • Plyometrics
  • Olympic weightlifting
  • Olympic weightlifting derivatives
  • Modified conventional lifts (i.e. speed deadlifts)
  • Throws, slams and banded exercises

 

Olympic Weightlifting for Grappling

Olympic weightlifting is an entire sport that requires skill, time and effort to master.

 

Research has shown that Olympic weightlifting derivatives and exercises used to learn Olympic weightlifting produce the highest power output of any exercise modality.

 

As grapplers, we can take precursor exercises to help us develop power without actually learning Olympic weightlifting (e.g. the jump shrug).

 

The Two Phases of Power Development

Strength is a fundamental component of power.

 

Power = Force (strength) x Velocity (speed)

 

There is a high positive correlation between peak power and maximal strength.

 

There are two phases to developing power for grappling.

 

Phase One involves training strength to develop the recruitment of fast-twitch muscle fibres.

 

Phase Two involves training power to increase the firing frequency of your fast twitch muscle fibres (which should be at a greater volume due to the strength training in phase one).  

 

Research has shown that merging strength and power training outperforms power training alone.

 

If You're Not Strong... Get Strong First

Here's the kicker: Power training will only yield maximal benefit if you've already achieved a base level of strength.

 

Studies have shown that people who are "relatively weak" see more significant benefits to their power production when they train exclusively for strength.

 

This makes sense when we revisit our equation of:

 

Power = strength x speed

 

To maximise your power, you must first achieve a baseline of physical strength. Here are some guidelines to aim for:

  • Lower Body: Barbell Back Squat = 1.6x bodyweight
  • Upper Body: Barbell Bench Press = 1x bodyweight

 

Building a Power Program

My preferred method for programming power is using a full-body upper/lower approach.

  • Upper strength + lower power
  • Lower strength + upper power

 

The exercises selected in your program should range from speed-strength to strength-speed.

 

This means selecting exercises that focus on pure speed with an element of strength (medicine ball throw) and exercises that focus on strength with an element of speed (trapbar jump shrug).

 

If you're looking for a program tailored to building power for grappling, check out BJJ Power, my 12-week full-body power program for grapplers.

 

Here's a sample workout from BJJ Power: Phase 1 | Week 2 | Day 1:

🔥The Warm-Up

Opening the Gate / Close to Gate - 10 each side

Heel to Toe Straight Leg Walks - 10 reps each side

Inch Worm - 5 reps

Shoulder Dislocates - 20 reps

Kneeling T-Spine Rotations - 5 reps each side

Mountain Climbers - 20 reps

Knees to Feet Vertical Jump - 5 reps

Burpees - 5 reps

 

💪🏽The Work

1a. Weighted Jumping Squats (alt: Bodyweight Jumping Squats)

  • 6 sets x 10 reps
  • RPE 8
  • No rest

1b. Seated Row Wide Grip

  • 6 sets x 4 reps
  • RPE 8
  • 1.5 - 2 min rest.

 

2a. Overhead Push Press

  • 3 sets x 10 reps
  • No rest

2b. Sumo Deadlift (alt: Deficit Sumo Deadlift)

  • 3 sets x 4 reps
  • RPE 8
  • 1-2 mins rest

 

3a. Underhand Chin-Up

  • 3 sets x 10 reps
  • No rest

3b. Isometric Neck Holds

  • 3 sets x 30s hold
  • 1 min rest

Conditioning Finisher

  • 30s on sprint, 10 seconds rest x 4 rounds
  • Your cardio equipment of choice (sprint treadmill, Ski-Erg, assault bike, stationary bike).

❄️The Cool-Down

Select 1 *with optional Box Breathing

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