Stabilize Your Neck & Position Shoulders Correctly With This Warm-Up For BJJ

Image Source: Scott Webb via Pexels

Grappling tends to break our heads down into a forward-stooped or “kyphotic” posture. This is seen in a twofold sense. The nature of the sport requires a lot of forward flexion to protect our bodies from attack, and battling for collar ties also creates flexion dominant positioning.

The exercise I share today directly builds our stability and strength AGAINST these forces, which allows us to have a more resilient and sound structure to rely upon when training and competing. This is one of the more effective “primers” I’ve found at helping the body reposition or re-educate a motor pattern quite quickly.

Important Tips for This Exercise

  • Squeeze elbows together and feel pec engagement
  • Simultaneously push hands up into chin as you push down into hands with chin Keep your chin tucked so as to keep a long neck
  • We don’t want to inflate the chest so be sure to keep breath situated in lower belly

    A good cue to FEEL if you’re performing this correctly:
  • Pec engagement
  • If your chest engages like it would on a butterfly exercise then you’re helping to create the wide upper back we seek.
  • Tightness on one half creates an opening on the opposite side.

When To Use This Exercise

I love using this as a “primer” before grappling. It helps me create that motor drive to keep strong head positioning. A couple of 20-second contractions using this and you should feel activated and ready to go.

Use of Isometric Exercises

I love isometric exercises because they help us build stability and strength in a SAFE fashion. They give us tremendous “neural drive” which makes them an effective warmup. Little time is needed to feel the positive effects and activation of such forms of exercise.

If you found good success with this movement, you may like some other movements such as this.

Final Considerations

If you’re like me and found good success with this isometric activator for the neck and shoulders, you may find using isometrics at your different joints may help you round out an entire full-body warmup.

You can get a lot of “neural drive” in a short amount of time — something that is necessary to act and react effectively and timely on the mats.

I cover more performance training tidbits with my ebook “The Foundations of Movement Autonomy, Vitality, and Performance” that will help you prepare, recover, and perform better on the mats!


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