“What did you just say? Are you mad?!”
No ladies and gentlemen you heard right, improving your mobility may be the key to taking the hand break off so you can accelerate your strength gains.
Reducing your internal resistance will enable you to access range of motion previously unexpressed. This will increase muscle fibre recruitment through the movement patterns you are trying to strengthen.
Let me break it down for you.
Tight Hip Flexors- Whether you are a hard core Guardeiro guy/gal or you are a Takedown and smash type Jiu-jiteiro you most certainly will have tight hip flexors. Though this has some benefits for guard retention (keeping knees tight to chest) or staying tight whilst pressure passing having tight hip flexors will truly inhibit your ability to squat deeply and perform any kind of Hip extension; deadlift, kettlebell swing or snatch.
The primary Dysfunction of having tight hip flexors is that it denies you the ability to fully access your GLUTES!! Gluteus Maximus, this glorious pair of muscles are meant to be the biggest muscles in your body. If you cannot fully extend your hips then you are missing a massive part of the athletic booty, sorry bounty that is hip extension.
Take the hand break off your athletic development as a grappler, open the anterior portion of your hips to better access the posterior which is actually superior for performance!
Tight Pecs and Lats- Everyone wants to look athletic but that does not necessarily mean that they have the range to perform well as an athlete. Strong Pectorals and Latissimus Dorsi can go a long way but that may mean that your hands will not go along way above your head…. Though flexion (and flexing in general) is a strong part of the BJJ game being too strong and stiff in one direction will make you brittle and weak in the counter direction. In order to have total body strength and health you need to have a good overhead position.
Due to having a Kyphotic posture (think Hunch back) you are blocking external rotation at the shoulder inhibiting recruitment of your rotator cuff muscles. (Essential for doing anything involving your arms.)
This rounded posture limits Thoracic extension and Scapular retraction both essential ingredients for Upper body Strength. By opening up Pecs and Lats through a combination of self Myo-Fascial release using rollers of varying severity and Lacrosse balls or even going as far as recruiting a professional Myo-therapist to help you to achieve a good over head position which you can then start to progressively load.
Tight Ankles and calves- This condition is generally associated with phrases such as
“I never tap to foot Locks” and. “ I love to go jogging”. Tight Achilles and damaged ankles limit your ability to move your knees over your toes as you squat, jump or shoot when wrestling. It also results in greater shearing forces in the knee joint as your heels lifts off the ground so that you can get some decent depth on your squat. If you are only squatting to 90 degrees or parallel in the words of the immortal Charles Polliquin “You are only half Squatting” and subsequently denying your self a huge amount range that needs strengthening. We are not power lifters and though we may need to be able to create a certain amount of trunk stiffness, an
Ass to grass squat with a barbell, kettlebell, dumbbell or sandbag is essential to improving your overall athleticism. This will require opening the tissues of the foot, stretching your Achilles and increasing range through your lower calf muscles
(Soleus and Tibialis posterior) through specific mobility work.
This will give your wheels an extra gear or 2 for lifting and improve your base for Jiu-jitsu immensely.
For many of you out there living without access to much equipment and truly unsure of the best way to move forward on your physical improvement path there are many projects that you can work on but if I could make a recommendation it would be improve your mobility specifically
1) Hip extension
2) Shoulder External rotation & Scapular Retraction
3) Dorsi Flexion
If you would like to unlock your strength potential for BJJ by accessing a greater range of motion and want to know the moves and drills that will improve these 3 specific movement qualities go to