Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is extremely taxing physically and mentally. This article covers why you should warm up before every BJJ class and explains how to do it most efficiently. We will discuss the benefits of warming up and provide the best BJJ warm up drills and exercises. Read until the end to see our optimized BJJ warm up routine.
The Benefits of BJJ Warm Ups
Don’t be the purple belt that always skips warm ups or you will become a walking BJJ meme. But seriously, warming up before training or competing in Jiu Jitsu is extremely important for the following reasons:
Increased Blood Blow
Warming up helps to increase blood flow to the muscles, which can improve flexibility and range of motion and ensures sufficient nutrient supply. As BJJ requires a high level of mobility and agility, sufficient blood flow should not be underrated.
Activation of the Central Nervous System (CNS)
Warm ups get the central nervous system ready for action, which greatly improves performance. Since the central nervous system controls every muscle in the body, activating it will greatly improve reaction time, coordination, and strength. This is crucial in BJJ, where split-second decisions can make the difference between success and failure. Muscles and learned movement patterns can only be utilized through the central nervous system performing at its best.
As a result of the benefits listed above, warm ups will improve overall BJJ performance significantly. The muscles and joints joint will be ready to go, and the CNS will be alert. Additionally, warm ups help to prepare the mind for the demands of BJJ training and competition. Nothing is worse than a cold start in BJJ, you should already be “in the zone” when the fight begins and only warming up can get you there.
Injury Prevention & Longevity
We wrote a complete article about injury statistics in BJJ which may motivate you to start taking Jiu Jitsu warm ups seriously.
Warm ups help to loosen up the muscles and joints by getting the blood flowing and breaking up residues that built up during phases of inactivity. As a result, warm ups reduce the risk of strains, sprains, and other common BJJ injuries. Therefore, BJJ progress and quality of life are again increased in the long run.
Best BJJ Warm Up Drills and Exercises
There are different categories of drills and exercises that can make up a good Jiu Jitsu warm up:
Joint rotations involve moving a joint through its full range of motion. These exercises can help to loosen up the muscles and improve mobility. Some of the most common exercises you can use to warm up are:
- arm circles
- leg swings
- neck rotations …
Moving through the full range of motion of a joint without statically holding the stretch is called dynamic stretching. You should always keep it light when warming up. Therefore, you should never use a lot of momentum to get into an extended joint position. Always move your body into the stretched position in a controlled way. These exercises are great for warming up as they help to increase flexibility and improve body control. Example exercises include:
- leg kicks
- high knees …
Static stretches definitely have their place in warm up and cooldown routines, although they are more prominent in the latter. If you incorporate static stretching into you personal warm up routine, make sure not to go to hard. You should always be pain free as you are trying to warm up the muscle instead of breaking it down and burning it out. Examples are:
- Bend Over Stretches
- Pancake Stretches …
Cardio exercises will increase heart rate and oxygen delivery to the muscles. Don’t be afraid of getting tired through a cardio based warm up. Cardiovascular exercises that get the whole body moving are especially helpful when warming up for a full body sport like Jiu Jitsu. Check out our in-depth guide on how to optimally increase BJJ Cardio. Examples include:
- jumping jacks
- jumping rope
- running …
As bodyweight resistance exercises involve using your own body weight, they are mostly compound exercises using many muscles at once. Therefore, they are ideal for warming up for BJJ since Jiu Jitsu moves are also compound movements. Examples include:
- push ups
- plank variations …
Specific Warm Up Drills
In addition to these exercises, there are specific drills that can be used to warm up for BJJ. These drills consist of movement patterns or techniques that are very specific to BJJ, and can help to prepare the body and mind for training or competition. You will often find yourself using exactly these movements when fighting. Examples of BJJ specific warm up drills include:
- forward and backward rolls
- break falls
- shrimping (a movement used to escape from the guard position) …
Warm Up Rolling
This is a no-brainer. Nothing will prepare you better for a specific movement than doing the exact movement. When warming up for rolling you should always do some lighter rolling first. Light rolling should follow your initial warm up routine.
Tips for Effective Warm Ups
Here are some general guidelines for warming up optimally:
Length of Warm Up
Keep the warm up short while making sure you are sufficiently warmed up. This is important not because it will burn you out physically but because it may burn you out mentally. Having to do an extended warm up before every class can be really annoying and take away motivation and concentration for the actual training.
Intensity of Warm Ups
Keep your warm ups easy but don’t be afraid of getting tired through warming up. Find the right intensity that makes you feel ready to go.
Individualized and Specialized Warm Up Routines
Have a personal warm up routine for Jiu Jitsu. This is crucial. Everyone has specific needs and areas to pay special attention to. Additionally, automating your BJJ warm up process will make it much easier to stick to it.
The Optimal BJJ Warm Up Routine
We are always on the quest of refining our warm up routine. The following routine will optimally warm up the whole body for BJJ classes and competitions as well as strength training. It aims for maximum efficiency, being as short as possible without compromising effectiveness.
We suggest making it a habit to do exactly this routine before every class. This way you will reap the benefits of automation and making it a habit. You will be ready to go every single time.
Warm ups are essential to any BJJ training or competition. By mostly sticking to the basics and adding some more specific BJJ warm up drills as explained above you will be able to reap all the benefits warming up has to offer.
Go ahead and try out our warm up routine and feel free to modify it to make it fit your personal needs.