I’ve been lifting weights for many many years and even used to run my own personal strength training business. Because of this, I often have people ask me whether it was better to do BJJ before or after weights.
If you are lifting weights and doing BJJ on the same day then you should lift weights before BJJ. However, if your schedule allows it then I would suggest getting a few hours of rest and some food in between lifting weights and Jiu Jitsu.
Doing BJJ before weights will more likely result in an injury than the other way around. If you only train BJJ 2-3 times per week then the best practice would be to workout on your days off from doing jiu-jitsu.
There are downsides to whatever order you choose. But I would rather be tired from lifting weights and have to focus more on proper BJJ technique than feel beat up and tired before weight training. You won’t get a full workout and that elbow you tweaked in class will only get more inflamed.
Ideal vs. Realistic Programming
Ideally, you should separate your weight training and BJJ on different days. That is of course if it does not limit your training frequency. Unfortunately, most people have limited time slots and need to get their weight training and BJJ practice in on the same day.
That said if you can separate your strength training by 4-5 hours or more that would be better than back-to-back. I would still recommend lifting first if you can for reasons we will cover later. Of course, I understand that you might have certain obstacles that would make this difficult.
If your schedule allows it then I would suggest lifting weights in the morning and doing BJJ at night. But you do need to balance what is ideal with what is realistic.
I used to lift weights before training because I got off work at 4:00 and had class at 6:00. It was more convenient to fill that time by lifting weights than to drive all the way home just to turn right around and go to my jiu-jitsu academy.
Scheduling BJJ and Weight Training
I wish there was a simple answer to this question. However, the best time to lift weights and train BJJ depends a lot on your schedule and how serious you are about BJJ.
Are you a full-time competitor or do you simply train BJJ for fun and exercise a few days a week? If you are not a serious competitor the answer gets a little more complicated.
If you only train BJJ a few days a week it would be best to do your weight training on the days you don’t do jiu-jitsu. For example, if you train BJJ twice a week say Tuesday and Thursday, then you should do weight training Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
If you want to train BJJ three times a week then I would suggest switching your weight training and BJJ days. So BJJ on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and weights on Tuesday and Thursday.
Or you could also do both three days per week by alternating BJJ and weight training Monday through Saturday and taking Sunday off.
Weight Training Schedule For Serious Grapplers
Of course, I understand that many of you want to train BJJ four to six times per week. If so then where does weight training fit into your program?
If this is you, then you will, of course, have to do weight training and BJJ on the same day. At least on some of those days anyway.
In this situation, I would suggest that you try and separate your BJJ training and weight training by at least a few hours when possible. This way you can get in one or two meals and some rest before you have to train again.
By doing this both training sessions are less compromised by the other. If you had to do them back to back then one of them would likely take the back seat to the other.
For example, if you were to get a good hard weight training session before BJJ, then you would not have all of your energy for BJJ. Or perhaps knowing that you still need to go to class you might not work out as hard because you are trying to save some energy for your jiu-jitsu training.
Weights In The Morning and BJJ At Night
If you can separate your training sessions then you probably should. I would suggest that you train weights in the morning and do BJJ at night. This is because you are more likely to tweak something or get a small injury from BJJ than you are from weight training.
That is, of course, assuming that you know how to properly lift weights. Another reason is that if you are still a bit tired from the workout then it will force you to focus more on technique than strength. This is especially true if you are naturally stronger than most of the people at your BJJ academy.
That said if you prefer or can only do BJJ in the morning then go ahead and do that. It really won’t make a huge difference at the end of the day. I’m just trying to separate the ideal from the realistic.
At the end of the day, personal preference will always need to be considered. Everything has its pros and cons. Nowadays, I do BJJ in the morning or afternoon ( during a lunch break ) and lift weights after work.
Why you ask? This is simply because I choose to reserve evening time for spending time with my family. Sure it’s not the “ideal” program but it is the most ideal for me during this time of my life.
Why You Should Lift Weights Before BJJ
Even though I suggested separating BJJ and weight training by as much time as possible, I often break this rule. There are a few reasons that I prefer to lift weights first.
The main reason I choose to lift weights first is for a reason I alluded to earlier. If you are tired from strength training then you will have to focus more on technique when rolling.
On the other hand, going all out rolling before weight training you are more likely to get to the gym with something tweaked or a pulled muscle. By lifting with a pulled muscle you are likely just going to make the situation worse.
If must do weight training and BJJ back-to-back I would at least suggest getting some quick digesting carbs in between weights and BJJ.
Adding 30-60 grams of dextrose power with an electrolyte drink is a good option. You want to use a carb source that is easily absorbed and utilized. Save the complex carbs for another time.
Avoiding Injuries That Keep You From Training
Most of the common injuries you get rolling are minor and will usually heal up simply by going home and getting a good night’s sleep.
The small injuries you get in class will likely be mostly gone by the next day just in time to get your workout in. But going into the gym with an inflamed knee from BJJ and doing squats is probably just going to make your knee more inflamed.
In the long term, you are simply going to make injuries last longer than they need to. This in turn may cause you to have to take time off from lifting and BJJ.
In addition, by going into the gym all beat up you will probably compromise your workout. If you pulled your bicep then you will likely not be able to safely do pull-ups on that day.
I still suggest doing it in this order even if BJJ is a bigger priority than strength training. This is simply because not having all of your strength for class forces you to focus on technique.
Of course, if you can get a few hours between training sessions that would be ideal. Perhaps you could even get a workout in during your lunch break and do BJJ in the evening. This way you are more recovered for both training sessions.
A Few Tips On Weight Training Before BJJ
If you decide to lift before BJJ then you should consider a few things. You need to have a workout program that focuses on getting stronger week by week. If you are not pushing yourself during your workout then you are not going to make any progress.
That said, I would not suggest that you lift with maximum intensity every workout. By intensity, I mean taking every single set to muscular failure. Don’t get me wrong this is good to do from time to time. However, training intensely and doing BJJ most days of the week will likely be too much.
This is less likely to be a problem if you are new to lifting weights. This is because as you get stronger in the gym you can do more damage to your body.
Doing a set of 400 lbs squats to failure is going to take some time to recover from. So if you are an advanced lifter you might want to cut back max intensity lifting days to once or twice per week at most.
On most days, however, I suggest stopping your sets 1-3 reps before failure. Of course, if you are new to lifting you will not know where failure is. If that is you do not worry about any of this. Simply work hard and focus on getting stronger.
It is better to lift weights before BJJ if you have to do it back to back. However, if you can manage to get some rest between weightlifting and BJJ that would be ideal.
However, this is not realistic for many of you. This is why if I had to do lifting and BJJ back to back I would do strength training before BJJ.