sally arsenault, bjj circuit, bjj training, exercises for bjj, bjjI’ve been training Brazilian jiu jitsu for almost five years now so I forget how intimidating it can be for someone just starting out. I teach a beginner women’s jiu jitsu class at Titans Fitness Academy in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and many women tell me they don’t feel as though they are in good enough shape for jiu jitsu. They want to know what they can do outside of class to improve their fitness level. Teaching technique is my number one priority during class, but I also know that doing exercises at home to improve strength and conditioning can improve a student’s confidence and endurance during those first few months of rolling.


I have developed the following bodyweight circuit for use in class during a warm-up or for students to do at home. It is made up of seven exercises with repetitions done for one minute each. The purpose is to get students used to working for seven minutes straight for rolling. Rest periods are for one minute and the circuit can be repeated as many times as desired.


Quality of movement is more important than quantity in this circuit. Follow the directions carefully and watch the video below for a demonstration of each exercise. (I’m getting over a back issue so please excuse my stiffness!) Make sure you have the movements down before attempting speed.


28 Day Meditation Challenge


Armbar Situp: Keep both hands at your chest. Post with one foot on the floor as though you are posting on your opponent’s hip, crunch your opposite elbow to the hip as though you are moving your body parallel to your opponent as you slide your calf up your opponent’s imaginary back. Repeat on the other side. A great display of this movement is Hanette Staack’s instructional of the armbar.


Hindu Push Up: Start in downward dog (arms straight in front, hips in the air, heels pressing into the floor) and move your hips down and your body forward through your arms until your arms are straight, your chest is up and you are facing directly in front of you. Push back into downward dog and repeat. I use a movement similar to this when I am passing the open guard.


Low Speed Skaters: Begin in plank (balance on toes and hands in the push up position with a strong core) and step one foot forward between your hands. Slide your left leg sideways to your right so you are based on your right foot and left hand with your right shin keeping balance. Your left leg should be perpendicular to the rest of your body and your left hip should be hovering over the floor. Your right hand comes to the left side of your face, palm out. Slide back and forth between sides. (You can watch Braulio Estima do them in his training here.)


V-Up: While lying flat on your back, stretch your arms over your head and point your toes. Explode up so you touch your toes with your hands. Go back to flat back and repeat.


Sprawl to Tuck Jump: From standing, drop your hips to the floor with your legs out wide behind you and your arms in the push up position. Explode back up, jump and bring your knees up as high as you can into a tuck jump. Sprawls are great for squashing takedown attempts.


Push Up to Side Plank: Begin in plank position, lower yourself downward and push up, twist your torso so your right arm comes up straight and your body is in a side plank. Lower your hand back to the floor and repeat on the other side.


Lateral Lunge to Knee to Back Lunge: From standing, step to the right side and lower your hips downward until you are seated directly behind your right ankle with your left leg out straight and balancing on your heel. Pivot your body clockwise and bring your knee up and forward as though you are kneeing your opponent in the stomach. Bring the left foot down and backward until you are resting on your left toes and your body is hovering behind your right ankle. Your right shin should be at a 90-degree angle to the floor with your knee directly over your ankle. The takedown game is full of lunges and the lateral lunge is a big part of knee-on-belly.


Enjoy your workout! And if you want a printable version of this to have on hand during your training session, click here to download.