Strength Training for Judo: Part 3 – The Charger

In part two of this five-part judo series we look at the Charger – a specific type of judo player – and give them a template on how to get stronger for their game. Workouts and schedule included.

Welcome to part three of my strength training for judo series. In part one I talked about how to train cardio and grip. In part two, we covered the workouts and details of one of the classic types of judo player, the Turner. In part three, let’s talk about how to train if you are another classic type, the Charger.

Every judo player has not only seen, but also played against Chargers. It’s like fighting a bull in a china shop. Chargers will try to run you over. Often they will attack, and will go straight ahead as they do so. While perhaps not as “pretty” as a classic Turner, a Charger is still successful. In fact, many of the most successful players of all time have been Chargers.

Needs of the Charger

  • Balanced pushing and pulling strength. A Charger must, at some point, drive into their opponent in order to perform the majority of their throws. In fact, the two most classic Charger throws, the o-soto gari and o-uchi gari, depend on the thrower establishing hard contact with their opponent at the point of the throw, usually chest to chest or chest to shoulder. As such, strong pushes must be as much of their move set as strong pulls.
  • Hip and leg strength. In addition to making a strong push, the completion of most Charger throws depends on a strong sweep of the opponent by one of the Charger’s legs. While in a perfect throw the force needed to complete the sweep is small to even non-existent, in a competition environment every bit of force an athlete can generate can be used, and can make the difference between a failed throw and a successful one, or a minor point and a full ippon win.
  • Anti-rotational core strength. Watching a Turner against a Charger is often an exercise in watching who can impose their will first. The Turner will constantly be trying to get the Charger to overcommit and be turned, while the Charger is constantly fighting to keep the Turner squared up and open to sweeps. In both instances, the ability of the Charger to resist rotation is key.

Main Exercises for the Charger

  • Squats – As opposed to the Turner who uses mostly variations of the front squat, the Charger’s greater use of hip strength calls for the use of classic back squats. Not only will the Charger assume the slightly forward tilted posture of the back squat more than a Turner, their throwing positions are nowhere near as quad dominant as a Turner’s.
  • Vertical Pulls – Variations of the pullup or lat pulldown, as well as the horizontal pulls employed by the Turner, are necessary for a Charger. The common tactic of pulling an opponent down before pushing back into the attack requires a strong vertical downward as well as horizontal pulling ability.
  • Incline/Vertical Presses – The pushing angles used by a Charger will normally be at a slight incline. As such, most pushing movements will be done at a 15-degree incline or greater. While there are some dips and other decline style movements used, the greater percentage will still be inclined.

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Example Exercise Templates for a Charger: 3-Day Template

You will notice the splits for a Charger and a Turner are the same. This is for the assistance of a team coach, who will at least know what areas the athletes are working, and can put them on a similar weekly training schedule. However, the exercises themselves will differ somewhat. Also, many of the exercise notes are not repeated here, unless they differ greatly from those covered in part two of this series.

Day 1: Pull Focus/Push Speed/Leg Hypertrophy

Exercise Sets Reps Notes
Meadows Row Warm ups, then work up to 5RM 5 Still love the Rows. This time, we use a Meadows Row instead to allow for a differing plane of motion.
Pullups/Lat Pulldowns 4 8 When doing the exercise, try to pull the bar all the way to the collarbones or sternum. Another alternative is to do straight arm pulldowns, which really simulate the style of downward pull a Charger will do.
Rotational Medicine Ball Throws 10 4 This can be done with a partner or against a wall. Either way, throw are as hard as possible. Try to use a left/right/left/right sequence.
Dips 3 Max
Split Squats 4 8
Cable or Band Chops 3 12-20 Medium pace
Glute Bridges 3 10-15 Try using a barbell, but at this point, your backside may be fried. That’s okay.

Day 2: Leg Focus/Push Hypertrophy/Pull Speed

Exercise Sets Reps Notes
Squats 5RM 5
Step Ups 3 10 Alternate legs during set.
Hamstring Curls 3 10
Incline DB Press 4 8-12
Overhead Press 3 12 Use a lighter bar than you would normally for this.
Back Extensions 3 10
Band Rows 3 10 Can be superset with the back extensions.
Roman Chair Situps 3 15

Day 3: Push Focus/Leg Speed/Pull Hypertrophy

Exercise Sets Reps Notes
Bench Press 5RM 5
Incline DB Press 3 10
Dips 3 Max
Box Hops 3 5 Weighted if possible.
Romanian Deadlifts 3 12 Push your hips into the bar at the end to really get glute activation.
Seated Cable Rows 4 12
Hanging Leg Raises 4 15

4-Day Template

Day 1: Push Max/Hypertrophy, Pull Speed/Power

Exercise Sets Reps Notes
Flat Bench Variation 5RM 5
Incline Bench Variation 3 8
Dips 3 Max
Lat Pulldowns 4 5 Speed/Power
Cable Rows 3 10 Medium/Low Intensity
Lateral DB Raises 2 15
Wheeled Roll-outs 3 10-15

Day 2: Legs Max/Hypertrophy

Exercise Sets Reps Notes
Squats 5RM 5
Bulgarian Split Squats 3 10
Hamstring Curls 3 8
Glute Bridges 2 10
Rotational Hanging Leg Raises 3 15

Day 3: Pull Max/Hypertrophy, Push Speed/Power

Exercise Sets Reps Notes
Yates Rows 5RM 5
Pullups 3 Max
Shrugs 3 10 Can use same bar as Yates rows, just add some weight.
Shoulder Press 3 6-10 Depending on shoulder health/feeling, you can go heavy or light.
Pushups 3 Max If max is over 25, try using either additional weight or suspension straps for added challenge.
Incline Crunches 3 25

Day 4: Legs Speed/Power, Other Assistance Training

Exercise Sets Reps Notes
Romanian Deadlifts 5RM 5
Squat Jumps 3 8 Use a light barbell, alternate weeks with box or hurdle jumps.
Calf Raises 3 15
Hanging Ankles to Bar 3 Max-10
Arm Curls 3 12 Any variation you enjoy. These aren’t really important, but can just be used for fun.
Band Pull-aparts 3 20 Great for shoulder health.

So, that’s it for now. Next up, perhaps the most difficult to plan for, the Grappler.

Strength Training for Judo:

Part 1 – Training Grip and Cardio

Part 2 – Workouts for the Turner

Part 4 – Workouts for the Grappler

Part 5 – FAQ About the Program

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