Get Stronger Than Thor With Bottoms-Up Carries

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is the game of controlling your own body and ultimately that of your opponent. Consistent training means you’re always dealing with your own body and the weight of your opponent.

The sport itself can be quite taxing on the body because of this, so this makes supplementary training important. It’s pertinent to build and protect the body for what really matters: the training itself!

The General Importance of Lifting and Carrying Heavy Objects

Dan John, one of the most instrumental strength and conditioning coaches of ALL TIME, once said that weighted carries were at the top of his list for exercises for strength athletes. It’s an instrumental position in building foundational strength and muscular endurance for ANY athlete, especially BJJ players. It’s also a great therapeutic tool as it helps balance bodily asymmetries, plus low back and shoulder issues!

Find the breakdown below with some in-depth cues.

The Importance of Carries for BJJ Players

For BJJ practitioners specifically, carrying heavy objects and lifting them and orientating the kettlebell in this bottoms-up position really challenges the grip.

The correlation between grip strength and grappling is an obvious thing. But something great about grip strength is that it has a direct correlation with overall strength.

Holding the kettlebell in this fashion not only challenges the stability of the whole shoulder and arm complex, but also teaches us to anchor the core correctly so we can have this stability throughout the arm. This helps stabilize and strengthen this entire complex as a whole (not just an isolated muscle). This carries over into common scenarios in BJJ such as the following, but surely isn’t limited to these scenarios:

  • Battling for collar ties
  • Establishing and breaking grips at any point of a roll
  • The ability to create a basic strong structure (i.e. technical get-ups and establishing base) that will protect your body from submission attacks so that you can have your own attacks.


  • Grip the kettlebell in the bottoms-up position
  • This challenges stability throughout the arm and especially the wrist
  • Lift the weight up to about chest level
  • Keep shoulders down and away from ears
  • Have equal parts bicep and tricep engagement
  • Irradiate tension throughout the body by squeezing grip tightly
  • Walk with the load

Final Considerations on Carries

Regardless of your training needs, I’m confident you will find benefit from this version of the one-sided carry in your training regimen.

For top-end performance benefits to build your maximum strength or as a therapy tool for the hips, low back, and/or shoulders, this will enhance your movement capabilities.

I’ll cover some other variations of the one-sided carry in future articles. Until then let me know how this treats you guys and feel free to shoot me questions!

I also cover more performance training tidbits at Mobility Training that will help you prepare, recover, and perform better on the mats.


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