In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or other grappling sports, your core has to be the most important to muscle group to strengthen. You use your core muscles in every movement you do. Think about it. You use your core in just about every roll. Every shrimp hip escape, every toreando guard pass, maintaining dominant position, or even when you look for a submission, you have to utilize your core. This is why it is extremely important for every BJJ practitioner to have a solid foundation in their core muscles. We take a look at the importance of your core and some BJJ core workout to improve your game.
The Importance of Your Core in BJJ
Just like in many other high impact sports, having a solid core is crucial to improve your performance. Having a good core displays a high level of athleticism. The same goes for BJJ. If you have a great core, you can perform at a much higher level on the mats.
A good core workout needs to focus on training all the muscles groups that encompasses the core. Many misconstrue the core to be simply your abs. But that’s only a part of the equation. Your core is actually made up of several major muscle groups. Here are the main ones.
When you usually think of “core” the automatic thought is the rectus abdominis muscles or your six-pack abs. But it’s much more than that! It’s more than just your beach body.Your core is made up of the several muscle groups listed to include some minor ones like your lats and traps. They all are intertwined that work together to assist in your daily activities.
The core assists in bodily functions like breathing, balance, and stability. This is why it is so crucial to have a very well-developed core. BJJ core workouts are necessary if you want to maximize your performance on the mats.
As a grappler, you must be able to change movements in a moment’s notice. If you are passing your opponent’s guard for instance, you should be able to move from side to side while maintaining good posture and balance to prevent being swept. If you shoot for a triangle or an armbar from your closed guard, you should be able to get there quickly.
A very strong core transfers power from your mid-section to your other muscle groups to lock in your submissions and finish your opponents!
Core Movements You Should Incorporate
There are a ton of workouts out there that can improve your core strength and flexibility. But since you are doing to allow you to improve you Jiu Jitsu, it’s probably best if you focus on BJJ movement patterns. This way, you will be able to incorporate these movements in your matches.
Contraction Movements. These are the types of exercises that requires you to contract your mid-section. This is probably the most well-known type of core exercise. You typically can do this by doing regular crunches to contract your abdominal muscles.
Isometric Movements. This is the type of movement you would need to be able to hold a position for a long period of time. You must be able to hold your muscles contracted for a long period of time. Some examples would be holding a plank position or a boat position in yoga.
Fast-twitch Movements. These are explosive movements. This allows you to push your muscle fibers abruptly. It isn’t slow and controlled. These movements are fast and explosive. Some examples include burpees and power cleans.
It’s important when you focus on BJJ core workouts that you target all types of muscle movements. In grappling, you use these movements quite frequently. To maintain or recover your guard, you use a lot of contracting muscles in the core. As you pin your opponent down in side control, you utilize your isometric core muscles like you would do in a plank. Lastly, when you are passing your opponent’s guard, you move side to side explosively to activate your fast-twitch muscle fibers in your core. As such, it is equally important to incorporate all three movements for your BJJ core workout.
5 Top BJJ Core Workout Exercises
A good BJJ core workout needs to include all your muscles that make up your core. As mentioned previously, your core is not just your abs. It’s a unit. It’s a group of several muscle groups that have to work together in unison.
If there is weakness in some of your core muscles, your body won’t be able to perform at its best. Your body will be imbalanced! Therefore, it’s important to focus on all areas in your core.
Some muscles have the function of contracting your abs and some are there for stabilization. In your core workouts, it’s important to include various movements that strengthen these areas. Here are 5 exercises that you could add to your BJJ core workout.
This one is a classic. The plank (or its side plank variation) is an isometric movement that allows you to work the stabilizing muscles that surround your core. This includes your abs, obliques, and your lower back. If you don’t have this one in your workouts already, this one is a good one. You should be able to hold yourself up for at least 60 to 90 seconds in a plank position.
This one is especially good because you can use it in your rolls. When you have someone pinned down in side control or north-south, you are basically doing a plank! As you drive your weight down, driving with your toes, you are simply doing a mild variation of the plank. This makes it crucial to add to improve your stabilizing muscles and your top control!
Leg Lift Hip Raises
The leg lift hip raise is a great addition to improve core strength. With your body straightened out, lifting your straight up and thrusting your hip upwards, you are able to work several core muscle groups. You work your contracting muscle fibers in your abdomen as well as some in your hip flexors and lower back.
This one is a great addition because its very much like breaking someone’s posture from your closed guard when you do a leg lift. It’s also just like shooting for a triangle from the closed guard when you reach the top of your hip raise!
When you plan on strengthening your core, you can’t go wrong with some burpees! These are very important to your overall core strength and explosiveness. Burpees activate your fast twitch muscles. These workouts are very explosive in nature and can help your endurance and dexterity.
Burpees are considered a full body exercise – it works your arms, chest, quads, hams, abs, and lower back. It basically hits everything in your core muscles! Plus, it very much like a sprawl take down defense in Jiu Jitsu. This one’s definitely a great addition to improve your overall BJJ core strength and endurance.
The boat pose is a popular yoga pose that you could add to your routine. From a seated position, you basically extend your legs outwards so that your torso and your legs form a V-shape of a small boat. The boat pose activates your abdomen, hip flexors, and lower back. This pose is isometric in nature but it works your overall core really nicely.
In BJJ, you should be able to hold several poses frequently. This one is great especially if you like to play the open guard. You must be able to switch from position to position from both your back and seated position. This uses a lot of your stabilizing muscles in your core. The boat pose is a great way to start strengthening it.
Ab Rollers are excellent to improve your overall core strength. It uses a simple wheel that has handles on opposite ends that you can grab onto. You can start either on your knees or your feet. Holding both ends, roll the wheel upwards until your body is full extended outwards and return back to the original position.
This one burns! If you haven’t tried it before, try it starting on your knees first. Starting out from your feet is challenging – you might face plant if you aren’t careful!
The ab roller is extremely helpful to increase overall core strength. It works both contracting and isometric movements. It works your arms, shoulders, abs, obliques, and your lower back. These are a great addition to improve core strength and stability.
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Your core strength should be solid if you want to be at your peak performance. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is physically demanding. There simply is no way you can maximize your performance if your core is weak. If you have a weak core, you won’t be able to withstand the rigors of training.
When you are rolling with your partner, you must be able to adapt to sudden changes in directional movements. You must be able to change directions at a moment’s notice while maintaining your balance. If you want to be able to withstand high levels of pressure and momentum shifts, you must have a solid core foundation.
Having a strong core shows a great level of athleticism. It will simply make your performance on the mats that much better. You will be much stronger and that much more explosive! Adding a good BJJ core workout will make your rolls much easier on your body. Train Hard! Roll Safe!