WSBB Blog: Absolute Strength Development for Grappling

WSBB Blog: Absolute Strength Development for Grappling

Tags: Grappling, Absolute Strength, Athletes

Whether you are competing in Wrestling, Judo, or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, your absolute strength is one thing you can start working on immediately to give you a competitive advantage.

Absolute strength is the maximum amount of strength you’re able to exert once. Traditionally, heavy weight training has been considered to be a hindrance to a grappler's development. However, developing your absolute strength increases your overall capacity to display strength.

What this means is not only will you be able to increase your ability to lift maximal weights in the gym, you will also increase your ability to display strength repetitively on the mat.

"weight training for a grappler should be specifically focused on increasing strength"

As a grappler, you’re already taking care of your cardio and mobility training within your sport training. Therefore, the weight training for a grappler should be specifically focused on increasing strength.

The Westside Barbell method is the ideal methodology for a grappler to achieve this goal. Max effort training combined with dynamic effort training, along with properly programmed accessory training offers a grappler the optimal amount of absolute strength training while also including enough volume work to enhance strength endurance.

With absolute strength being the topic, below you will see a selection of max effort exercises for grapplers.

Sumo Deadlift

This exercise is one of the best exercises for both beginner and advanced level athletes. It is a simple movement that specifically targets the hips, glutes, hamstrings, and trunk of a lifter.

The sumo deadlift is great for athletes of any sport, including grapplers. This exercise can be done as a rack pull, block pull, or a deficit pull. The rack and block style pulls will focus on the hips, glutes, and low back more effectively, while the deficit pull will put a greater focus on the hamstrings and abductor/adductor muscles.

Front Squats

One of the best ways for athletes to train the squat. Front squats generally allow for greater ROM, and deliver a good balance of anterior and posterior chain training.

The front squat position also places specific strain on the neck/upper back muscle groups, which are muscles necessary to train as a grappler. Having strong legs and low back, along with a strong upper back and neck give you the ability to shoot stronger takedowns, and overcome greater resistance during a takedown.

grappling exercises

Overhead Press

Upper body strength is as important as lower body strength for a grappler, and the overhead press is a great max effort upper exercise. You can perform these as either a strict press, or a push press.

This exercise is crucial to developing a strong upper torso. Ideally overhead press would be done standing, however if you have an injury limiting your ability these can be done seated. Standing overhead press presents a greater challenge to the entire body, making it a preferred option for athletes.


Close Grip Bench Press

Continuing with upper body strength, the close grip bench press is the optimal way for an athlete to bench press. As we know, a close grip bench develops strength for the traditional grip. Close grip also reduces the chances of a pectoral or shoulder injury occurring.

You will also develop greater arm strength while benching close grip. By strengthening your biceps, triceps, and forearms you will increase your grip strength as well. This exercise can be done against bands, chains, or to a two or three board to increase the tricep focus.

Now that we’ve established why absolute strength is important, and what exercises you should be doing, it is time to explain how to include these into your training program.

Ideally, you want to follow the Westside Barbell 4 day per week training schedule. For max effort lifts, you want to warm up efficiently to achieve the best 1-2 rep set you possibly can for that training day.

Be sure to always practice optimal form, and be smart with your increases in barbell weight. Max effort training is your friend, increasing your absolute strength and your ability on the mat.

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