1.) Deadlift – you may hate this one, but the deadlift is one of the best full body exercises out there. The compound movement and the ability to perform a lot of weight in this lift enable you to build a tremendous amount of functional strength. In addition to the strength gains, you’ll also be taking on a lift that’s equally as technical as many subs/moves in jiu jitsu. Doing a correct deadlift is equally as technical and nuanced as setting up the perfect armbar. As such, make sure you do plenty of research or hire a trainer before you start racking up big weights.
2.) Razors – if you haven’t heard of this workout, think of it as a two legged hamstring curl with a Swiss fitness ball. While laying on your back have the swiss ball positioned below your upper heel/lower ankle and calves. Press down with your heels into the ball and thrust your hips to an upward facing plank position. This motion should be aided by strongly flexing your glutes. While still applying pressure downward with your heels, curl the Swiss ball with heels into your butt. Return to the starting position by performing the same motion in reverse.
3.) Kettlebell swings – While appearing simple at first glance, there are many nuances to this lift. Again, research this movement fully and/or hire a trainer before performing heavy weights. The general concept of this lift however, is to allow a kettlebell to swing between your legs and slightly behind the hamstrings as you make a hybrid seated/squatting motion. Next, and in one fluid motion, you athletically thrust your hips forward to return the kettlebell to roughly bellybutton height (with your arms maintaining full extension). Sounds fairly simple, but I see a lot of people performing this lift with extremely dangerous form. Definitely do your research before you start swinging around weights.
4.) Bent Over Rows – This workout is performed with a straight bar, and will help with maintaining a strong side-control. Use a bar with no weight to start to ensure good form before you go big on this lift — if you go heavy at all. You are essentially bending over during this lift which puts a lot of stress on the back, so I like to do high reps at low weight instead of going heavy. For this lift, you bend at the waist and drive your hips back over your heels (with slightly bent knees). With the straight bar hanging directly below your pec line, draw the weight up (with over or under hand grip) to your bellybutton or slightly above — whichever is more natural for your body type.
5.) Four Way Neck or Manual neck – If your gym has a four-way neck machine, then they’re one of the few…but it will make your life much easier — just remember to drape a towel over the machine. Something about putting your face/head in/on a machine where others have done the same doesn’t seem that sanitary to me. To do the manual version of this lift, however, simply generate the same resistance as the machine with your own hand. For example, to do the “lift” to the left, put your right ears towards your right shoulder. Reach over to the far side of your head with your right hand and pull lightly towards your right. While maintaining steady pressure with your hand, press your head towards the left until it returns just past center. Repeat for 10-15 reps in all directions.
These are five simple lifts that will certainly help your jiu jitsu game — generating functional strength from head to foot. Give them a chance by themselves, or try incorporating them into a pre-existing workout!