Four Movements for Stronger Grappling

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Once people start training Brazilian jiu-jitsu, submission wrestling, or any time type of grappling, they start looking for ways to improve and to get better faster. This can lead to alkaline rich diets, endless hours of YouTube technique videos, and even sporting the newest version of compression shorts. In the midst of these many options for grappling improvement, one starts wondering about sport specific workouts.

The search for functional training can lead any number of places. As a means to steer you away from the musclehead mirror monkey mindlessly curling dumbbells and from the local fitness instructor battling his way through a bootcamp booty blast, these four exercises provide an approachable starting point for increasing grappling strength and conditioning.

Upper Body

Pull-ups provide one of the most applicable upper body movements for increasing grappling strength. Pull-ups are valuable because they mimic the common movements of grabbing, pulling, and squeezing. Pull-ups have two additional benefits. First, they require you to move your own bodyweight, a functional component to any combat sport, be it grappling, boxing, or MMA. Second, they can be performed with a wide variety of grips to replicate different positions in grappling. You can even throw an old gi over a bar for pull-ups that strengthen your grip for chokes and throws.

Lower Body

Lunges have direct transference to grappling because they are similar to the movement of shooting a range of takedowns (from double legs to fireman carries). Moreover, the nature of lunges is such that they require you to practice good takedown form by changing elevations with your legs, not your back.

Total Body

The deadlift is one of the best all around power movements. Perhaps it is the best. The value of the deadlift for grappling includes a more powerful hip extension for finishing submission and sweep attempts and a stronger lower back for takedown completion and defense.


The rowing machine continues to decorate many home gyms without its owner realizing its incredible benefits. For grappling, the rowing machine is great because it offers hip explosion, dynamic pulling, and strong extension. For a conditioning workout, mimic the grappling pace of extended moderate output followed by short explosive bursts. One can do this is a fifteen minute workout by alternating between ten moderate pulls and five hard pulls.


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