What Is The Best Type Of Jiu-jitsu Warmup?

A jiu jitsu class warming up with wheelbarrow walks.

When it comes to the warmup in different jiu-jitsu classes, no two schools are exactly the same.

Some academies with have a solid 30 minutes of intense exercise and others will do a brief, easy warmup before getting down to techniques.
Which is better for the student?

I have trained at both types of schools

School #1 – The “warmups” (read conditioning sessions) involved usually 100+ pushups, squats and burpees per warmup.
A high tempo with the instructor counting repetitions military style.
Very tough!
Classes could stretch to 3 hours with technique and plenty of time to roll after.


It was a MMA / bjj competition oriented school and the owner wasn’t concerned with the recreational students.
He wanted to train competitive fighters.
I recall him saying as the room was filled with the sound of the students gasping for oxygen “I don’t want to see any of the students getting tired in the tournament!”
The membership rates were double most other bjj schools cost.

This made it intimidating for normal guys who just wanted to learn a little bjj and maybe had some other hobbies.


School #2 – Had a much larger and diverse student membership.
Much easier warmups more focused on drills (like shrimp movements) – sometimes just flow rolls.
Technique time about the same as School#1

Outside of the academy, the competitive oriented students were cross training in wrestling, running hills and training muay thai on their own time.
The instructor at School # 2 placed a much higher value on rolling (as his primary means of conditioning).
Less warmup and more rolling time.

Technique and rolling time were prioritized above hard conditioning.

BOTH schools were highly successful in competition and had a high technical level.

So what is the better approach?

My opinion is that for competition, conditioning is UBER important!
However, for the majority of students training BJJ – most just want to get an adequate sweat going before learning some technique and have some rolls before heading off home.
A ton of pushups and jumping jacks might be seen as a waste of precious training time for the students who came to the academy to learn JIU-JITSU!

I was bjj coach at an MMA gym and quickly understood that my class was one of many different training sessions in the week for the fighters.
They also had muay thai, wrestling and their separate conditioning sessions with the strength coach.
The last thing they needed was for more pushups and crunches when they could be more productively learning bjj techniques.

Perhaps the best approach is to warmup for bjj class by performing bjj movements as calisthenics.
Reps of hip escapes, bridges, hip mobility movements which BOTH warmup the body and teach the body how to move in a bjj sports specific movement.

Trying to acquire complex, new skills while fatigued is an “old school” methodology that doesn’t really standup to modern sports science.
Rolling while tired has value (as much for the psychological training) as it forces the student to use technique rather than rely on explosive muscle power.

What is your philosophy for warmups in jiu-jitsu?


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