Conjugate for Grappling: Max Effort Lower
The Conjugate Method is well known for its effectiveness when used to train powerlifters; however, athletes have as much to gain if not more when choosing to utilize a Conjugate-based training program to meet the strength and conditioning needs associated with their sport.
Many athletes worry that strength training can lead to decreased mobility while increasing fatigue and risk of injury. This assumption is false. When managed correctly, strength training is the most beneficial thing an athlete can do to give them the edge over their competition.
The idea is simple: the stronger and faster competitor wins when sports skills are equal. The strength training builds the attributes; the sports practice builds the skills.
If an athlete needs to address their absolute strength, speed, endurance, or durability, a Conjugate program can be designed to improve sports performance.
There is a need for high levels of all of the attributes mentioned above in grappling-based sports. Over the past three years, I have had the opportunity to write programming for one of the premier Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitors in the world today, Dante Leon. Dante is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and has used Conjugate-based strength training to take his abilities to the next level.
With Dante's feedback, I have put together effective programming that has led to increased strength, speed, endurance, and durability. With proper exercise selection and intensity management, the programming has been able to work synergistically with sports practice to raise all skills while avoiding injury.
Below, I will go over a few max effort lower special exercises that are beneficial to grapplers and discuss how to begin using these exercises in your training immediately.
Cambered Bar Goodmornings
This exercise is one of the most effective lower body exercises you can perform, and should be a staple in every athlete's training program. Cambered bar goodmornings build the hamstrings, glutes, back, trunk and will make you brutally strong. This exercise is intended to mimic the deadlift while avoiding the post-workout fatigue and recovery times associated with deadlifts.
For this reason, goodmornings are an excellent option for any athlete to avoid becoming overly fatigued while managing a strength training and sports practice schedule. For grapplers, goodmornings will lead to increased takedown power, takedown defense, and added posterior chain strength to help with reversals.
When implementing cambered bar goodmornings into your training program, it is recommended to work up to max effort triples or sets of five when used as a max effort exercise. When used as an accessory exercise, sets and reps can range between three to five sets of five to twelve reps per set.
It is suggested to use this exercise one to two times per month as a main exercise. When used as an accessory exercise, you can implement cambered bar goodmornings as often as needed. When used frequently as an accessory exercise, vary the set and rep schemes or exercise parameters (ex. Anderson style, or versus bands).
This exercise is similar to the cambered bar goodmorning considering its effectiveness in building the hips, hamstrings, back, and trunk muscles. The Zercher Squat is an excellent exercise to develop lower body absolute strength. The Zercher squat will lead to increased absolute strength, power, and stability for grapplers.
Whether you are attempting to pick an opponent up off of the ground Greco-Roman style, shoot a takedown, or keep your trunk braced to maintain balance when caught in a single leg takedown, Zerchers will help improve your abilities.
When implementing Zercher's into your training program, it is recommended to use them primarily as a main exercise, keeping the reps between one and three. You can either complete a full Zercher squat or pick the bar up off a low rack pin for an Anderson-style Zercher squat. For increased variation, you can choose to add bands or chains.
It is recommended to avoid higher rep accessory work because Zercher's place a great deal of pressure on the hinge of the elbow. This can lead to inflammation of the biceps tendon, which can cause issues for grapplers and potentially lead to further injury.
Box squats are a wise choice when developing posterior chain strength is the goal. For athletes, box squats provide static overcome by dynamic and relaxed overcome by dynamic stimulus that leads to an increased rate of force production. The addition of the box also allows an athlete to control their range of motion, avoiding unnecessary low squatting not needed when training for sport.
Like the two other exercises above, this exercise will develop the posterior chain strength and power needed to exert brute force during practice or competition violently. When used as a max effort exercise, it is recommended to work up to top sets of one to five reps.
The box squat is a highly adaptable exercise. You can change the box height, add accommodating resistance, rotate the specialty bar, or change the set and rep scheme. This allows the box squat to be constantly effective, making it an exercise that athletes should use regularly.
Additionally, box squats can be used as an accessory exercise. You can choose to perform many low rep sets, or a few high rep sets with different specialty bars to target various weaknesses and add in some muscle-building hypertrophy work.
When coupling max effort strength training with sports practice, it is critical to manage your schedule correctly. It is recommended that you keep as much time between strength training sessions and sports training sessions as possible to ensure optimal energy levels and performance each session.
Discipline is important. You cannot expect your body to respond correctly to the demands of training if you are not living the lifestyle necessary to facilitate success. This means maintaining a healthy sleep schedule while also meeting your nutrition and hydration requirements daily.
When competing against the best, everyone has the skills to play at a high level. However, strength, speed, and endurance levels vary. Proper strength training provides you with the attributes needed to give you an advantage in competition and allow you to display your sports skills at the highest level.