Kettlebell Training for Jiu Jitsu – Part 1

Andrew Raynor

This is the first of a 4-part series by Jason Brown, and intelligent and jiu jitsu coach known for his deep understanding of supplemental training methods.


I’ve been working in the fitness and performance field since 1999. And although I’ve worn many hats such a personal trainer and massage therapist, I’ve tried to devote most of my time to helping other BJJ players improve their fitness and performance, both recreational and competitive. In doing so, I took the time to investigate the popular training options being offered to BJJ players inside their academies and online.

Andrew Raynor Dover NH

Here are the four main categories that I found:

1. Bodybuilding (a.k.a. All show-no-go): This type of training has nothing to do with performance. I’m sure you’ve trained with this type of guy, he looks great with his shirt off, makes sure he walks around your academy bare-chested 97% of the time but once the rolling starts, his face turns beet red and he’s done before the timer hits the 2 minute mark.  Sound familiar?

2. 1000 reps per day club: I’m sure you’ve seen this program. Just pick obscure Indian exercises and perform them for upwards of 1000 repetitions per day….or until your shoulders and knees give out due to repetitive stress and monotony.

3. All-strength-all-the-time: This is a very close cousin, maybe even a brother to the bodybuilding method. At least in the bodybuilding method most people will actually perform some light cardio and throw in a quick stretch prior to getting on the treadmill.

Not so with the All-strength-all-the-time methodology. I’m sure you’ve had the pleasure of training with guys that belong to this school. You can tell who they are simply because they kick you in the head while working on triangles and arm bars from the guard. No mobility training, no conditioning and no movement…just muscle. If you can defend for more than 30 seconds you’ll be fine.

4. Just Roll Man: BJJ alone is a great way to stay in shape but eventually you’ll need to add some additional training to support your body and make continual progress in BJJ. If all you do is more rolling, overuse injuries are sure to happen and you’ll be on the sideline or very limited in your training. You need to do some other form of training to balance out your body and help reduce overuse injuries. Doing more BJJ only adds more stress onto stress.

Is there anything you could do to avoid some of these same mistakes? Get stronger, more mobile and have more endurance on the mat?

There has to be a better way right? There has to be a way that’s more enjoyable and have a direct impact on your BJJ performance.

I’ve worked with many BJJ players and what I’ve discovered from our conversations is that they want 3 things.  Maybe a few of these are true for you as well:

  • You want to get the most out of your training, on AND off the mat.
  • You want your training to compliment your BJJ and not take away from it or hinder it in anyway.
  • You want the greatest impact for your time and energy investment when you actually get to train.

I know why you got into BJJ, you love the action, you love the flow, you love the movement and the excitement. It’s this action, flow and grace of kettlebell training that seems to resonate so well with jiu-jitsu players also.

And it’s my sincere desire to honor these elements in this 4-week series on Kettlebell training for BJJ.

Week 1 will start out slowly but by the end of week 4 you’ll have all the tools you need to create your own kettlebell flow for BJJ. You’ll clearly see that the movements and rhythm directly carry-over onto the mat.

Week #1 consists of 1/2 Kneeling Kettlebell Swings and 1/2 Get-ups.

Swings are done for multiple sets of medium to high repetitions, 10 or more. 1/2 get-ups are done for multiple sets of low repetitions, under 5.

You can train as often as possible as long as you stay fresh for your actual BJJ training.  After a brief warm-up, you should be able to complete this short training session under 15-20 minutes.

The final flow in week 4 builds the combination of mobility and stability in all the right places and just where you need it, this is known as “Most-ability” by Gary Gray DPT.

And if we move too quickly, don’t stress. Please stay at the progression that’s best for your own unique situation and fitness. You could in fact stay at week 1 for several weeks and see improvement and gains.

I tried to keep the coaching tips video brief yet comprehensive but questions always pop up. If you need clarity on a details please let me now. Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for week 2 where we’ll add some complexity.

You can read part 2 here.


If you enjoyed this video you’ll love our Free BJJ Mobility Workout.

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Andrew Raynor
Andrew Raynor

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