3 Powerful BJJ Dumbbell Workouts For Strength, Size & Power

August 29, 2022

With a busy training and work schedule, many BJJ practitioners cannot find the time to hit the gym and lift weights. But having some dumbbells at home can make performing a strength training session accessible!

So, here are examples of BJJ dumbbell workouts you can use to develop strength, size, and power.

Dumbbell Workout For BJJ

These are example full body dumbbell workouts that you could use for BJJ physical preparation. Full body workouts are ideal for BJJ since you typically will only lift weights 2-3 times per week, depending on how often you're training BJJ.

BJJ Dumbbell Workout For Size

As BJJ slowly becomes more professionalized each year, physical strength and presence become more important. Especially as the trend increases of strength sports athletes transitioning to BJJ. Here’s a sample dumbbell workout for size:

Exercise

Set/Rep

Load

A1) Bulgarian Split Squat

3 x 8-10/leg

8 RPE

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B1) 1-Arm DB Press

4 x 10-12/side

9 RPE

C1) DB Romanian Deadlift

3 x 10-12

8 RPE

D1) 1-Arm DB Row

4 x 12-15/side

9 RPE

E1) DB Lateral Raise

3 x 10-15

9 RPE

E2) DB Bent Over Reverse Fly

3 x 15-20

9 RPE

BJJ Dumbbell Workout For Strength

Exercise

Set/Rep

Load

A1) DB Push Press

3 x 5

8 RPE

B1) DB Romanian Deadlift

3 x 6-8

8 RPE

C1) DB Bench Press

3 x 6-8

8 RPE

D1) 1-Arm DB Row

3 x 8-10/side

8 RPE

E1) Bulgarian Split Squat

3 x 6-8/leg

8 RPE

BJJ Dumbbell Workout For Power

Exercise

Set/Rep

Load

A1) DB Jump Squat

4 x 3

5 RPE

B1) DB Push Press

3 x 4

6 RPE

C1) DB Power Clean

3 x 5

7 RPE

Should You Lift Weights For BJJ?

There's a train of thought that lifting weights isn't necessary for BJJ performance. That it will make you stiff, slow and won't give you an advantage on the mats. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

The muscular actions when grappling greatly benefit from being stronger such as finishing double legs, manipulating an opponent’s balance, maintaining positions, and finishing submissions. Especially when strength is layered on technical proficiency.

Drilling, positional sparring, live rolling, and BJJ strength training 2-3 times per week. You have a recipe for dominating your competition. You’re putting yourself at a serious disadvantage by not hitting the gym regularly.

While research needs to be updated in this area, BJJ practitioners typically have much stronger upper than lower bodies when comparing the bench press and squat [1]. This makes sense, and if you've had any grappling experience, you'll understand the demands placed on your upper body.

However, that doesn’t discount the importance of leg strength and power. Especially if you have a wrestling-based game. As you can’t load bilateral lower body exercises like the squat heavy enough with dumbbells, using single leg variations like the Bulgarian split squat allows you to use heavier loading.

Can You Build Muscle With Just Dumbbells?

Dumbbells are an excellent tool for building muscle. There’s a reason bodybuilders have been using them for decades to build incredible physiques. The advantage of dumbbells over barbells is the increased range of motion.

For example, when bench pressing, the barbell stops when it touches the chest. However, with dumbbells, you can get a bigger chest stretch enhancing the muscle-building response. If you want to build muscle with only dumbbells, you'll need heavy ones as you progress in strength.

Summary

I’ve presented you with three example BJJ dumbbell workouts that you can do for building strength, size, and power. The only difference between these workouts is the number of reps performed. Generally, you need more volume when building size, heavier loads and fewer reps when developing strength, and lighter loads moved rapidly to build power.

References

1. Andreato, L. V., Lara, F. J. D., Andrade, A., & Branco, B. H. M. (2017). Physical and physiological profiles of Brazilian jiu-jitsu athletes: a systematic review. Sports medicine-open, 3(1), 9.

About the author 

James de Lacey

I am a professional strength & conditioning coach that works with professional and international level teams and athletes. I am a published scientific researcher and have completed my Masters in Sport & Exercise Science. I've combined my knowledge of research and experience to bring you the most practical bites to be applied to your combat training.


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