Misconceptions about specificity can happen in any sport. In jiu jitsu strength training, I think it’s even more prevalent. I don’t know why. Maybe because jiu jitsu involves so many complex movements, people feel they need to hit all these movement in their strength training.
The biggest misconception I see is; the more specific you make your strength training, the better it is for jiu jitsu
...the main movements used in jiu jitsu. The hip drive, leg extension, upper body horizontal push, upper body horizontal pull and core rotation...
Where specificity gets lost is trying to make the movements as specific to how they are used in jiu jitsu as possible.
Using the hip drive as an example. One way to work it is through deadlifts, or kettlebell swings. Another way would be to place a large punch on your hips while on the floor and drive your hips up. You could argue that using the punch bag on your hips more closely mimics escaping a position in jiu jitsu.
Here’s why it’s a problem.
Specificity has trade offs. While the punch bag may more closely mimic real life jiu jitsu, progression can be limited. How heavy can you continue to make the punch bag. At a certain point, it will be very difficult to add load. On the flip side, deadlifts or kettlebell swings can continually be made heavier. Adding more resistance forces progression. Progression means more strength. More strength means more power. More power means a more effective hip escape from the bottom. I would argue using a deadlift or kettlebell, will over time, develop a much stronger hip drive motion. In turn, this give you more benefit in your jiu jitsu. The same applies to any other movements. The more specific you make movements to jiu jitsu, the more you start to trade off the ability to develop absolute strength and power, as well as other attributes.
The more specific you make movements to jiu jitsu, the more you start to trade off the ability to develop absolute strength and power, as well as other attributes.
Yet, there is a line you don’t want to cross.
This line is not always clear. There are no set rules to follow. Although there are questions you can ask yourself to stay on the right track. Ask what your goals are, both long term and for that strength and conditioning session. Ask yourself am I practicing sport specific movements, or am I trying to develop strength, power, speed or fitness. By all means use tools like a gym ball to practice your movement flow and breathing. Although be aware what it is your using that exercise for. Know when you are doing sport specific practice and know when you are doing strength and conditioning. If using very specific movements, eg, then know your practicing movements, they can be good for cardio and mobility etc, though for power strength speed etc, use more generic movements
Specificity also goes further than the movements. It also means looking at the energy systems you're working, the intensity of the training and the volume of the training. For a more detailed explanation on how these fit into a program read 'Key concepts in jiu jitsu strength training' Is doing a 90 minute continuous cardio session specific to jiu jitsu? ....No.
It has its place. It will develop a good base of cardio vascular fitness. Although if you have a competition coming up, you may want to focus on more sparring to develop your fitness. Likewise, is doing 1000 bodyweight squats specific to jiu jitsu. Probably not. Jiu Jitsu tends to involve short bursts of high intensity activity, followed by low levels of activity. Long drawn out ‘strength’ exercises are not that applicable. Again I’d highly recommend reading Key concepts in jiu jitsu strength training' to learn how to develop the different energy systems in the body.
Specificity.... also means looking at the energy systems you're working, the intensity of the training and the volume of the training......Is doing a 90 minute continuous cardio session specific to jiu jitsu?....No.
Conclusions on jiu jitsu strength training and specificity
- Just because the strength exercise you use closely matches jiu jitsu movements, it doesn't make it better.
- The more specific you make an exercise to jiu jitsu, the more you start to trade off being able to develop strength, power and fitness effectively.
- Athletic performance is more universal than you think, learn the specific movements you need to strengthen for jiu jitsu.
- Specificity is also about training the right energy systems specific to jiu jitsu