10 Ways to Improve Your Grip For Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Whether you’re a white belt who’s just got on the mat, or a seasoned black belt, it all comes down to winning those micro battles in the game of human chess that is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Here are some helpful tips and exercises that can keep you from losing your grip, and your advantage.
Holding weights for time. You can use dumbbells, barbells, weight plates. Grab something heavy and hold on for as long as you can. When it gets easier, grab something heavier. Do farmer carries for distance for expert level grip gains.
Hanging. Start with a pull up bar. Hang for as long as you can. Go one handed for as long as possible. Use a towel or a gi for a different texture and for a thicker grip. Fold them over for an even greater challenge.
Rope and rock climbing. Nothing improves your motivation to hold on and not let go quite like leaving the ground! Grab onto the rope and take your grip game to its highest level. Rock climbing is also great for forearm strengthening and hand grip tightness.
Sandbags/Bulgarian Bags. Now we are getting into some more specific tools to improve the your grip and overall strength. The different handles and pliability of the bags make them a very useful tool. The different weights and sizes also help with variety.
Origin BJJ OrangaHang . The OrangaHang is designed to replicate commonly gripped areas on your opponent’s gi. Their versatility make them a real game changing training implement. Rather than list all the functions here, let’s watch Kombat’s own Joey De Los Reyes show you some grip and footwork drills using it.
Kettlebells. These could technically fall under the “Holding weights” category but the benefits of kettlebell training go far beyond holding onto them until you can’t anymore. Static Holds, dynamic movements, different push and pull exercises. All of these will not only improve your grip but it will improve your strength and conditioning as a happy side effect.
Wrist mobility and strengthening . So far this article has been promoting things to make your hands stronger and thereby making your grip stronger. But a weak wrist can make you fail just as fast as frail fingers. Do some plate wrist curls. Grab the plate with your fingers on the back, thumb facing you. Sit on a bench or chair, rest your arm on your leg with the plate hanging over your knee. Curl the plate towards your face. Repeat. Slow and steady. This not only works the wrist and forearms, but your fingers and thumbs get a nice burn as well.
Mobility and balance. This is not so much a grip strengthening exercise, but a reminder that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Spending all this time getting your hands, fingers, thumbs, wrists, and forearms jacked to dragon claw proportions is awesome, but we must remember to keep a balance. The extensors need some love too. We want mobility and to prevent injuries. So next time you’re about to prepare some delicious broccoli, don’t toss out that fancy rubber band! Slap that bad boy around your fingers and do some flexing. Open and close your hand and get those extensors activating. You can also do fingertip pushups, start slowly, standing against a wall, then on a bench, then kneeling, moving progressively up to doing full push-ups using the pads of straight fingers up to a couple times a week.
Towel or Gi Top Pull ups. These are the go to, bread and butter of grip training. The gold standard. Every BJJ player should make some variation of this exercise a staple of their training regimen. If you are just starting out, maybe use a thick towel, and just hold on. Progress to thicker towels and do your best version of a pull up. Get a sturdy gi/kimono top and sling it over the pull up bar. Grab the lapels, and hoist yourself. Grab the cuffs, and hang on. For next level players, triangle the pull up bar while you hang from the lapels. Bonus points for not landing on your head.
Lastly, but most importantly, is Technique Drills. Time on the mat. Put in the work. If you want to be good at free throws, you have to stand at the foul line day in and day out and shoot. If you want to have great grips and grip strength for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, get on the mat, grab a partner (literally) and train the techniques.
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