Is Kettlebell Cross Training Right For Me? – BJJ Fanatics

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Exploring the benefits of kettlebells for the Jiu Jitsu practitioner…

We are all looking for an extra edge in Jiu Jitsu. Maybe it is strength and conditioning routine to augment our time on the mat. For many, a popular choice for strength and conditioning has been the kettlebell.

A kettlebell is an iron or steel ball with a handle on the top. The kettlebell originated in Russia. While it originated in the 18th century for farming purposes, by the 19th century kettlebells were used in strength athletics.

While there are many benefits of the kettlebell, there are some obvious advantages to the Jiu Jitsu athlete.

First, it increases grip strength. Gripping is certainly important for MMA and wrestling but it is paramount for training in the gi. With a kettlebell, you are almost always required to hold it by the handle. Many Jiu Jitsu practitioners claim increased grip strength as a result of the kettlebell.

 

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A second key benefit of the kettlebell is it trains whole body movement. Jiu Jitsu is a sport that requires the whole body to move in precision; It does not matter if you are passing or defending a submission.  Kettlebell exercises are the same way.  While some exercises, like a bicep curl, only require part of the body to move, kettlebell movements typically require the whole body.  These exercises would naturally increases coordination in the whole body.

A third benefit, that is applicable to Jiu Jitsu, is functional strength and exceptional cardio. Many of the movements build strength that is directly applicable to grappling. These strength gains are done simultaneously to improving cardio.

The last benefit for kettlebells is with time.  A lot of kettlebell workouts can be done quickly. For many of us, Jiu Jitsu takes up a vast majority of time. The idea of augmenting our Jiu Jitsu with additional strength and conditioning does not seem possible given time constraints. If a lot of time does become available the question becomes, “Why not train more Jiu Jitsu?” However, since a lot of kettlebell workouts can be accomplished without a huge time investment it makes it ideal for the avid grappler.

Kettlebells have been around for a long time. While they are hugely popular form of exercise, they are particularly popular for the grappler. They address many key benefits necessary for the Jiu Jitsu athlete: grip strength, whole body movement, functional strength and cardio without demanding a lot of time.

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