Kettlebell Training for BJJ

Kettlebells are the most versatile training tools which can be used to improve your overall strength and conditioning for BJJ. Dumbbells and barbells still have their place in strength training for BJJ but kettlebells offer a unique variation in combination with bodyweight exercises. 

Now before we get to the workouts, let's go over the benefits of kettlebell training for BJJ. 


BJJ calls for physicality. 

The great fighter Frank Shamrock called it callusing - which was his way of preparing the body for contact. Kettlebells give you the ability to perform a combination of bodyweight exercises with resistance such as get-ups, snake moves, and sprawls. Doing exercises like cleans works your body to absorb the weight and loaded carries strengthens the whole body. 


Aside from having the ability to train unilaterally to improve the imbalances between left and right, kettlebells can have an impact on improving your posture to minimize injury. 

Majority of BJJ practitioners have exaggerated roundness of the shoulders and anterior tilt of the hips. This is caused by hours of training and the body adapting to this posture to protect itself. This posture and stance impose high demands and shorten the pectorals, hip flexors, and lats. When people have this sort of posture that carries over into their daily life, this can often lead to injury with the most common being; lower back, shoulders, and hips. 

Performing exercises like swings, snatches, rows, and other exercises can help offset the demands placed on the body during BJJ training. 


Grip strength is everything. EVERYTHING.

Your grip is constantly working during kettlebell training. Kettlebells challenge the grip from different angles and forces through swinging, pulling, pressing, rotating, and even carrying. A stronger grip on the kettlebell leads to a stronger grip on your opponent and better control. 


BJJ consists of various body movements. You must be able to jump, push, pull, rotate, twist, get up from the mat, roll, etc. Because of the kettlebell's versatility, you are not fixed in a specific plane of movement, you can work through various movement patterns and train in multiple planes of motion. 

BJJ taxes all of the body's energy systems. You need strength, muscular endurance, and conditioning which kettlebells can help you with. The ability to perform complexes and flows in high rep ranges or for timed intervals can effectively develop the aerobic and anaerobic lactic energy systems. This means you improve your stamina and horsepower. 


Now that we got through the benefits of kettlebell training for BJJ, here are two full body kettlebell workouts you can add to your routing to reap the benefit of kettlebell training. The first workout utilizes a single kettlebell which can be useful for many out there who don't have access to a lot of kettlebells. 


Perform the full body kettlebell workout in a complex manner by performing reps all on one side before doing the opposite side. 

6 x Sprawl to Clean/Press

6 x Glute Bridge Single Arm Floor Press

6 x Staggered Single Arm Row

6 x Snake Move and Press

6 x Single Arm Kettlebell Swing 

Note: After you do all exercises on one side, go right into the next side. When you have completed the complex on both sides, take 2-3 minutes of rest between rounds. Do 3-4 rounds. 


Adding two kettlebells to the workout gives another layer of complexity and ability to go heavier. There are three ways you can used this Double KB Workout"

Option 1: Complex

8/side x X-Knee Drive Push-Up

8/side x Gorilla Row

8 x Double KB Swing

8 x Double Front Rack Squat

1 x Front Rack Loaded Carry (30 yds.)

How to: Do each exercise for prescribed reps in a circuit fashion. Rest 2 minutes. Do 3-4 rounds. 

Option 2: 8 Ladder

8/side x X-Knee Drive Push-UP

8/side x Gorilla Row

8 x Double KB Swing

8 x Double Front Rack Squat

1 x Front Rack Loaded Carry (30 yds.)

How to: Mark out 30 yards. Start at one end of the set distance. As a ladder, perform each exercise for 8 reps as noted above. After you do the Front Rack Loaded Carry, turn around and do 7 reps for each exercise, walk back to the starting line, and continue in this fashion until you go down to 1 rep of each exercise. That's 8 total rounds. Rest as necessary to keep proper form. DO NOT sacrifice form for time. 

Option 3: Strength Workout 

A1. Double Front Rack Squat: 4 x 8

A2. X-Knee Drive Push-Up: 4 x 8/side

B1. Gorilla Row: 3 x 8/side

B2. Double KB Swing: 3 x 10

C. Front Rack Loaded Carry: 4-6 x 30 yds. 

How to: If you have access to enough kettlebells of different weights, you can use these exercises as a full strength session. Do paired exercises as alternating sets with 30 seconds between exercises, and 1-2 minutes between sets. This will allow you to recover and go heavier if necessary. 

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