Physical preparation for grapplers


With this article, I would like to introduce you to the author- my long time friend, Rudolf Sikorski, who has a lot of experience, regarding strength and conditioning theory and practice, coaching top level athletes in a few different sport disciplines and providing advices for anyone who would like to improve his performance or get a few training and nutritioning tips.


Main role in all grappling styles, plays the good physical conditioning, allowing one to use his full potential in a match.

In general, the grapplers (wrestlers, judokas, sambists, BJJers) are one of the best athletes in all martial arts, because of the biomechanical approach of the art, requiring, but also giving plenty of qualities to the practicing athletes- maximum force, maximum strength, explosiveness, strength endurance and etc.

Watching a grappling match, we can easily identify the moments, when those qualities are taking effect- maximum force and explosiveness during takedowns an throws, maximum power used in the attacks and strength endurance, later in the match or when trying to finish the opponent.

Different clubs around the world are using different methodology, when it comes to the physical preparation of their athletes, but the best, or the most successful competitors, either are naturally talanted, either very well prepared technically and physically.

Following a few simple and rules and principles in the preparation period, everyone could reach his best form and achieve his optimum in the sport he practices, spending enough time on building the foundations of his routine. Of course, it will take different amount of time for everyone, but that depends on their genetics, the time required for recovery, the intensity of each session and if they are engaged with other physical activities.

In order to prepare adequate physical routine for grapplers, would be to combine two or three work out protocols, prioritizing different aspects and combining them, not forgeting their respective part in a fight.

Protocol A:

This routine will be focused first on the maximum strength and then on the strength endurance. The core of this protocol is build by heavy, basic, compound lifts, using the whole body, with high percentage max repetitions, minimum rests, putting pressure on the body through various exercises, completing each other.

Protocol B:

Dedicated on strength endurance, this routine requires a bit of calculations. The duration of it, should be between three to five times the time, required for the longestcompetition  match or training sparring, exceeding twenty five minutes. This session have to include lots of different exercises, executed in a cirquit, with very high intencity. The heart rate of the athlete should be close to his top limit. The weights should be relatively heavy.

Protocol C:

Targeting improvement of maximum force and explosiveness, this routine is actually very simple, with just a few protocol variations and could be done together with Protocol B or could be integrated in each of the previous two protocols.

Common mistake is to confuse maximum force with maximum strength: 

Maximum strength is when we have to repeatedly lift maximum weight, for minimum time, while maximum force is the force we need for long or amplitude jump, or sprinting in a very short distance (20- 30- 40 m).

Depending on the grappling art (wrestling, judo, sambo or BJJ), could have mild differences, regarding te specifics of the sport or the status of an athlete at certain moment. Although, the routine core in every one of those sports is universal.

In the next installment, I would focus on detailed explanation of all the protocols, including type of exercises, rest periods and etc.

To be continued…


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