Technique is all You Need
There is a bit of truth to this. Yes. Technique is what ought to come first and foremost in your Jiu-Jitsu training. No doubt about it. I will never argue against that because without technique, there is no Jiu-Jitsu.
With that said, if you can add weightlifting in and you want to be serious about competitions, you ought to do it.
Its a logical fallacy to pretend a person can only do one or the other, weightlifting or Jiu-Jitsu. A person can easily do both. Personally, I had a period of time in which I worked three jobs, my wife worked part-time and was in school, we had two kids in school, and we only had one car. I still made the time to do both.
Yes, I get that a persons life circumstances may be different from my own and that they legitimately may not be able to do both. Thats fine. Theres no judgment there. If you only have time for one and want to do BJJ, do BJJ.
Weightlifting Ruins Cardio
This is one of those pervasive myths that just wont seem to die. Its tied to the idea of getting bulky as you lift weights (more on that below). For some reason, Jiu-Jitsu practitioners seem to believe that if a person steps foot into a weightlifting gym, they will immediately start to gain muscle mass.
The fear is over-hyped. No, if you start lifting weights you will not start getting huge, tearing the sleeves off of your shirts, and begin craving creatine like some sort of were-bro. Youll just get stronger if you do it right. The best way to actually begin lifting weights for BJJ is to do strength training and to start with someone who knows what theyre doing.
Weightlifting Equals Bodybuilding
Yeah, thats just not how it works. Body builders put years and years of work into sculpting themselves. They work very specific muscles as opposed to overall strength like many grapplers do. Also, as Steve Tuttle said, bodybuilding really comes down to diet.
Lifting coaches for wrestling teams dont have their athletes doing weird variations of curls or a ton of side lateral raises. They have them doing compound lifts like the deadlift and squat, or power movements like cleans and snatches.
If you do Jiu-Jitsu and want to start lifting, you arent going to follow a bodybuilders program. That would just be stupid and yes, harmful to your conditioning. Youll want to contact a professional or follow a program thats already laid out for beginners.
Youll Get Injured if You Lift Weights
Ok. This one is just crazy. Yeah, if you show up to the gym with no idea of what youre doing and severely over-estimate how much you can squat, yes, youll hurt yourself.
But if youre not an idiot, you will study how to properly lift and you wont over-pack the bar. Weve already written about this one too. When we originally wrote about it, we cited a peer-reviewed, scientific study that shows weightlifters, both professional and amateur, have the lowest injury rates of any sport. So please, let this myth die already.
Kettlebells are the Best Exercise for BJJ
No. Just no.
Dont get me wrong; theyve got their place. I dont think they should be neglected either. However, they wont get you stronger. Let me correct myself; they wont get you strong quickly or efficiently.
They will build stamina, and they will wear your muscles out, but tired muscles dont always equate to getting stronger. Sometimes it just means you exhausted your muscles. While kettlebells might provide you with some initial strength gains, anything else will come slowly and ineffectively.
For conditioning though? Yeah, use them and use them wisely.
Cover Photo from Renett Stowe
If you think kettle bells won’t get you strong in the long term then you are just mindlessly tiring yourself out with no idea how to structure a program. You can do the same thing with any strength training routine that you go until tired instead of having planned out goals with clear and feasible objectives inbetween goals.