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Strength Training For Grappling

Posted: March 26, 2018

People who compete in wrestling, bjj, or mma usually put there bodies through the grinder in terms of training. It is hard to recover from strength training workouts if you are grappling 4x-5x per week because grappling is like performing strength work. If you have to much volume or your intensity is to high it can be very difficult do recover and lead to joint pain or injuries. One program I really like for grapplers is Wendler’s 5/3/1. This program is low enough volume that you can recover, but produces good results. I am going to lay out the the basics of the program below. The website has a book by Wendler explaining his program in even more detail.

I would suggest following a 2 day per week template using two compound lifts each day.
Day 1:

  1. Squat
  2. Bench Press

Day 2:

  1. Deadlift
  2. Military Press

You can add assistance exercises to either of these days but usually no more than two assistance exercises in a day. For example you may choose a triceps push down to supplement your pushing exercise. Now find your 1 rep max for each of these exercise and subtract 10%. This will be the max you use to figure out the weights you are working with. So if you bench 200 for 1 you are going to do all calculations from 180.

Week 1

  • 3 sets of 5 reps for each exercise on day 1 and day 2.
    • Set 1 will use 65% of the 1 rep max you calculated (using above example it would be 117#)
    • Set 2 will use 75%
    • Set 3 will use 80% (also on this final set you can do more than 5 reps with the weight, just stop 1 or 2 reps before failure)

Week 2

  • 3 sets of 3 reps
    • Set 1 will use 70%
    • Set 2 will use 80%
    • Set 3 will use 90% (on this set you can do more than 3 reps but stop short of failure)

Week 3

  • Set 1 is 5 reps, Set 2 is 3 reps, Set 3 is 1 rep
    • Set 1 will use 75% of max
    • Set 2 will use 85%
    • Set 3 will use 95% (you can attempt to do more than 1 rep but stop short of failure)

Week 4
This is a deload week to help your body recover

  • 3 sets of 5 reps
    • Set 1 is 40%
    • Set 2 is 60%
    • Set 3 is 70% (you can perform more than 5 reps but stop short of failure)

After the fourth week you have finished 1 cycle. Now for the bench and military press add 5 pounds to that calculated max and start back at the week 1 prescription. If we take the 180# calculated max we were using before we would add 5 pounds to it (now 185#) and use that weight when we calculate the training percentages. For the squat and deadlift add 10# to the calculated max and start back at week 1. Work through the 4 weeks and continue to repeat the pattern adding the 5 or 10 pounds. This works very well and your strength will sky rocket.

Here is an excel sheet that will calculate all the weights for you. Choose the 2 day per week tab. Enter in your actual 1 rep max for each exercise. Now the spreadsheet will calculate everything else for you and you can just print it out and take it to the gym. No calculators needed. Wendler Calculator

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