You have to be strong to fight the battles you face on and off the mats. Understanding how to develop and apply your strength determines your success. Strength used in the right way makes you unbreakable.
Strength is how you prepare your body for the challenges of moving in the dynamic and unpredictable circumstances of Jiu Jitsu. Strength is more than brute force. Real strength is intelligence in movement. It’s not the load; it’s how you carry it.
The Zenyo exercises build strength and endurance around your spine and keep it in its most protected alignment. These exercises directly challenge your core to maintain good alignment and stability that are critical to successful training.
“The Jiu Jitsu athlete generally does better training back muscle endurance, as opposed to strength. For many it is better to train spine stability rather than stretching to increase range of motion — keep the mobility training for the hips and shoulders.”
— Spine expert Stuart Mcgill
Jiu Jitsu is all about moving your body. Understanding how to create the best conditions for movement is vital to developing your Jiu Jitsu. And one skill above all others is critical—learning to move while maintaining a neutral spine. A neutral spine protects you from injury and creates a stable base for Jiu Jitsu’s athletic movements. Every aspect of your Jiu Jitsu improves when you learn to maintain a neutral spine. Your takedowns get better; your passing is quicker and more balanced; your base is stronger; everything you do is better.
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“The spine bends much like a bending rod,” Stuart McGill writes in an email to Zenyo. “The discs deform to allow the bending motion. Imagine taking a wire coat hanger and bending it back and forth over and over. Eventually the material will fatigue and break. The spine experiences the same cumulative effect with repeat bending when combined with high load. Instead lock the back when high loads are created to leverage your opponent or to create a pry motion from a leg-foot or arm-hand contact.”
“Our spines must do it all — a beautiful structure that is flexible and allows flowing movement, but requires a three-dimensional guy wire system to stiffen and stabilize it when it is required to bear loads. The muscular system … creates balanced stiffness eliminating the possibility of buckling and injury.” Ultimate Back Fitness By Stuart McGill
There are three basic patterns in the Zenyo Exercise Program: plank, hinge, and step. All the drills can be grouped into one of these three categories. These exercises will teach you how to move with balance. They will also teach you how to stop movement that could take your balance. Knowing how to stop motion, and decelerate with skill, is vital to success in Jiu Jitsu. This type of training is commonly overlooked, but is a key for development.
EXERCISES: DAILY PROGRAM
Cat Camel is one exercise for spine mobility. Gently and slowly flex and extend the spine while on all fours, taking your back through a comfortable range of motion. Six to eight repetition is enough.
Slow lunges help to develop endurance and stability in the hips and knees. Stay attentive to maintaining an upright posture and neutral spine during this exercise. Six to eight repetitions per leg is good.
The curl up trains the front abdominal wall. This exercise is central to the exercise program. Our abdominal and back muscles are designed to stop motion, not create motion. Perform a curl-up instead of a standard sit-up to maintain a healthy back. Six to eight repetitions for eight seconds or less.
The plank is one of the best exercises for a stable spine as it works all the muscles in your core, including all the abdominal muscles, internal and external obliques, hips, and back. Hold for ten seconds.
Side plank trains the oblique muscles and the quadratus lumborum. These muscles are important in Jiu Jitsu for balance and strength under pressure. Six to eight repetitions for eight seconds or less. Work both sides.
The bird dog strengthens the muscles of the back. Start on all fours, extend the opposite arm and leg. Focus on holding your back still and strong during the exercise. Six to eight repetitions for eight seconds or less.
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