Use This BJJ Core Exercise To Stabilize Spine and Create Hip Pressure

This exercise is one of the options from the side plank that will be covered in a series of articles on BJJ core training. When done correctly, this BJJ core exercise will help you engage body as a whole to coordinate your movement and protect your spine. This is fundamental for creating grounded, tight, and pinning pressure with your hips, an integral part of the sport
This fundamental BJJ exercise will help you engage your body in a fashion from head to toe that will allow for you to capitalize on your weight distribution. This is everything in BJJ! By properly training how to recruit parts of your body (starting with your core), you will be able to enact that pressure into your game to break down the structure of your opponent.

Why Core Training Is Important for BJJ

Creating a stable core “container” is necessary to protect our spine and low back, allowing our bodies to exhibit motion in all three planes safely. This exercise will give you the necessary BJJ core strength to build optimal posture and structure of your own body on the mats, which besides technical skill is the necessary prerequisite to break down the posture of your opponent.


I’ve just recently come back from a low back pinched nerve. Part of my diagnosis was asymmetrical engagement and length of the quadrates lumborum. This is the muscle of your lower back that connects the bottom of your rib cage to your pelvis. It acts as a core stabilizer and is essential for movements in the frontal plane (like the cossack squat I covered here). It can be isolated by doing side oblique work such as this.

In my rehab and research, I found out there were asymmetries in my QL from side to side. It was pretty self-evident because of my injury. But for those who are unsure and would like to be confident in building their core container in a balanced fashion, follow this protocol:

  • Perform any side oblique variation on both sides for maximal time
  • Compare times
  • If there is a significant difference (say 30 sec) between the two holds then you know which side to focus on

By building your BJJ core strength on your weak side, you begin creating a more even and symmetrical engagement of your body. Once you get it more balanced you can begin to work both sides equally.

BJJ Core Cues

  • Prop up on elbow
  • Push down evenly through your forearm while making a strong first
  • Should feel an engagement where the triceps ties into the elbow
  • Both knees stacked on top of one another with roughly 90 degree knee bend
  • Pinch elbow towards side (but keep it planted on mat)
  • This will engage your side muscles (lat, oblique, QL)
  • Extend hips forward
  • Lift top leg
  • Hold it straight with boot on end of foot
  • Feel the glute medius on top of hip fire
  • Pinch glutes together


Perform sets of 10 seconds and less for maximal contraction. Endurance based core work doesn’t recruit maximal muscle contraction. Most movements in sport will need for you to exhibit maximal contractions on command frequently. Gain your endurance by doing multiple sets with enough rest in between sets to allow for an intense contraction. 30 seconds to a minute is a good starting point for your rest periods.

Final Considerations on BJJ Core Exercises

Sports such as BJJ are played at high force and high velocity. A stable core protects your spine and is the anchor point for all of your movement. Proper engagement keeps you in a solid position to not only protect yourself from injury but to move offensively with complete confidence and movement autonomy.

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


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