Strength and Conditioning for BJJ Over 40

This article is going to into training outside of your normal Jiu-Jitsu training.  I will use this to cover how you should go about your strength workouts and how to perform conditioning to compliment your Jiu Jitsu.

 Let me first say the most important training will be your technical and sparring during BJJ mat time. But, as we get older we must take certain approaches towards the training outside of that to assist us on the mat.  Becoming stronger, increase our aerobic and anaerobic capacity, and spend time working on becoming more flexible. Here 5 things that need to be addressed.

Staying Injury Free

BJJ is a physically demanding sport. While injuries are common, there are things you can do to prevent them.  A few tips for staying injury free so we can train for years to come are:

  • Combinations of machines, free weights, and bodyweight exercises
  • Strength training can effectively reduce the risk of injury by adding a dynamic load on the various joints, therefore inducing physiological alterations in the muscle, bone, and connective tissues that include ligaments and tendons.
  • Grapplers should make stretching a part of the regular training regime. Excellent flexibility improves your chance of preventing an injury.

Focus on Quality When Strength Training

We are not trying to become bodybuilders or powerlifters.  We are working on becoming stronger. For this, I train myself or other athletes on movements, not body parts.  

Don’t just go through the motions when doing strength work. Identify weaknesses and focus on them. Recreational and competitive BJJ athletes must have a base level of training to build everything from.  

Of course, your primary goal is skill training but your secondary goal still must be to improve muscle output and endurance along with exercise specific to performance in BJJ.

Warm-ups and Stretching

I cannot stress enough the importance of warm-ups.  When stretching to increase flexibility and range of motion it is important to be consistent and do it often in order to really receive benefit from it. Even before you start class, which will have some sort of warm up, try these 20-30 mins before class to prepare you.

  • Lateral lunge /stretch 
  • Shrimping
  • Knee grabs
  • Hip rotators
  • Light rolling                      

Have a Plan

Put together small phases to work towards a bigger goal.  Work on becoming stronger, faster, and last longer. Athletes don’t understand sometimes that there are different ways to train cardio for specific goals. And as an older BJJ athlete, you need to pay close attention to this as well.

You will need to get the most from your training and not hurt your recovery but at the same time increase your output.

Grappling is small burst of endurance so one of your sessions needs to be trained this way. Tabata sprints work great for this. Your other cardio session should be a light jog or road work. This can be done on a Tuesday and Thursday.  

Your next order of importance should be to become stronger. I would use Monday as a day for upper body, Wednesday I would use for leg strength, Friday is upper body, and Saturday is grip work. You don’t want to make every workout a circuit.  

I like to use Tuesday as a conditioning session where I use weights, bodyweight, and odd objects do for a certain amount of reps nonstop for rounds. Thursday I do more anaerobic work which is 8 rounds of 30-second movements for 30 sec each movement.  This is repeated 3 times.


This is one of the most important I have learned from years of training in multiple sports.  You have to learn to rest. It’s harder than it sounds but we fall into the habit of wanting to train more and more but not listening to our bodies.  Learn to take a break now and then.


Here is an example of how I would set this up for the average athlete over 40 that trains a few times per week.

MONDAY – one arm D/B snatch from the floor and press overhead, d/b floor press, weighted dips, and TRX suspension triceps press

TUESDAY – 3 rounds, no rest 15 rep each, landmine, d/b curl, sandbag get-ups, tire flip, seal rows, punching bag lift and slam, 45lb plate push

WEDNESDAY – squat, barbell lunge, grip work, standing ab

THURSDAY – 3 rounds of 30 seconds each, no rest, 5 total sets, plank knee ins, pull up, inchworm walk out, hanging leg raises, push up, bear crawls, band pull apart

FRIDAY – bench press, one arm rotating kettlebell swings, overhead press,

SATURDAY – wrist rollers, grip work, core (standing ab), deadlift

SUNDAY – rest

Anyone with any questions feel free to contact me

Coach Rich Daniels