Better Mobility for BJJ - Strong As Hec

Better Mobility for BJJ

After 12 weeks of inactivity–I have some "disconnection" in my abdominals (nerves are still regenerating) along with some thoracic and hip stiffness. So I thought I'd share with you my exact process of restoring my mobility for BJJ and getting back to the iron.

As I write this, I'm currently wrapping up week 3 of my rehab after a "living liver donor" transplant surgery on 31 Oct 2018.

My goal is to get back to rolling and drilling 4-5 days per week and return back to my favorite strength exercises which IMHO -- have the most carry over to BJJ:

  • Barbell deadlift
  • Double clean & press (and it's variation: push-press and jerk)
  • Kettlebell snatch

But before I do, I need to make sure my overhead mobility is on point.

But before I get into the meat and potatoes of todays post.

I remember talking with one of my previous students about 5 years ago and him telling me after one of our sparring sessions

"... every time I get armbared, it feels like someone is tearing my arm off."

I knew more or less what is problem was.

For one, he had severe "forward head posture" and two, was restricted thoracically.

It actually seems to be a common theme among men who start Jiu-Jitsu and stems from sitting for too long.

In fact...

Sitting is one of the worst things we can do.

It literally has an effect on the entire "chain".

Sitting leads to:

  • Forward head posture and can lean to migraines.
  • Weakening of the upper back muscles.
  • Tightening of the pecs and shoulders.
  • Completely locks up your hips which leads to
  • Chronic lower back pain.

This has a HUGE impact on not only your strength but also your BJJ game.

It will make it harder to defend submissions because you can't get in optimal positions to escape.

Strength and mobility go hand-in-hand

... you can't access your true strength if you're restricted and you can't access the full range of motion of your joints without strength.

Make sense?

As I said above, in today's post I'll show you exactly how I plan to improve (and maintain) my mobility for BJJ using this

Proven 5 Step Formula to Better Mobility for BJJ

Step 1: Breath

"Learn to control your breath or your breath will control you."

Breathing is the number one thing you must learn to control.

I remember when I was in a Yoga teacher's course in '09 (yep, my entry into the "fitness world was through Hatha Yoga)

... the first 4 weeks was focused on nothing but breathing

The diaphragm has two important roles:

  1. As you breath the diaphragm rises and expands the rib cage, mobilizing the thoracic region of your spine (crucial for over-head mobility).
  2. Stabilizes and supports your lower back as it originates the L1-L5 vertebrae.
Mobility for BJJ

I'm not sure about you but...

I'd say the diaphragm is pretty dang important for both shoulders and back health, wouldn't you?

The Protocol: Crocodile Breath

I learned this technique as I was studying to become a Yoga teacher.

Ste​p 1: 

  • Lie on your stomach and place your hands under your forehead.
  • Keep your mouth closed, your tongue on the roof of your mouth, and breathe in and out through your nose.
  • The first thing you should feel move is, your belly (the floor will give you direct feedback if you're doing this correctly).

 "Breathe Laterally"

The last part is to "breathe laterally".

This part really helps with a partner.

Imagine someone is poking you on the sides of your stomach, your goal is to push their fingers away as you inhale using your diaphragm.

Literally breathing like a crocodile, hence the name.

Compete a minimum 5 minutes of crocodile breathing before moving to...

Step 2: Mobility

By now your t-spine should be moving better—next  it's time to increase the range of motion with...

"Thread the needle" from half kneeling w/ Rib Grab

This is a great "thoracic opener"—especially if you've been sitting all day!

Start from half kneeling windmill.

As you thread the needle, grab the lower ribs. Exhale, "pulling on your ribs" and rotate the t-spine.

Repeat for 5-10 reps. Each rotation aim to increase your range of motion. Switch sides and repeat.

Better Mobility for BJJ
Better Mobility for BJJ
Better Mobility for BJJ

Step 3: Static Control 

By now we should have increase mobility significantly and it's time to lock it in.

My favorite drill to do that is (I really don't have a name for it, I learned it from Grey Cook and Brett Jones a long time ago) so, lets call it the "kettlebell windshield wiper drill".

Perform 1-2 total sets of 3 rotations per side. The kettlebell helps you keep your shoulders on the floor which is "easier" to statically control your t-spine and shoulders.

To progress this, simply take the kettlebell away. This is a lot harder!

Goal: do not allow the shoulder to come up as you rotate your knees.

Step 4: Dynamic Control 

Next step is to control your t-spine and shoulder "dynamically" and there's really no better exercise to accomplish this than with the 1/2 Getup.

Complete 1-2 sets of 5-10 rolls to the elbow (1/2 Getup) per side.

Step 5: Strength

Now, for the fun part, STRENGTH!!!

This is where we cement all of this together. For today's strength exercises, we'll be using the seated press or the "Z-Press".

Complete 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps with a "light kettlebell" per side.

I recommend 12-16kg for men and 8-12kg for ladies.

That's a WRAP!

Would you like a downloadable guide of what I covered in this post?

If so

>>> Click HERE and tell me where to send it!

Until next time...



  • […] many men (and women) I speak with on a daily basis for whatever reason — avoid recovery, mobility, and flexibility like the […]

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