Benefits of Unilateral Training – Part 2

In Part 1 of the article I highlighted a handful of the many benefits of unilateral training, and why it can be beneficial to include it in your training program.  In this second part I will discuss a few exercises including technique pointers and which ones to try first if you are new to unilateral training.

First, a general piece of advice that is applicable to all of these exercises.  I encourage you to use a tempo and load that allows you to perform all the drills with excellent control.  Do not prioritize speed or weight lifted over control – that defeats the purpose!  Additionally, I always encourage these to be performed in either bare feet or minimalist footwear to help develop the muscles in your feet and ankles, along with improving their proprioception.

Secondly, the following exercises are listed in order of where to start if you are new to unilateral training.  If you have ample experience you may be able to move right to some of the more challenging ones.

1) Split squat

The basic split squat, performed with both feet on a level surface, is a great starting point for your unilateral training.  If you lack experience with this, I would suggest starting here.  The primary reason I suggest starting with this is because both feet are on the floor at all times, minimizing the balance and stability demands – in other words, it lets you ease into it.

To perform the exercise, use a hip width stance with one leg in front of the other (a “split” stance).  You want to use a stance that when you squat down you can touch your back knee to the floor while keeping your front foot completely flat on the floor, and your back straight and mostly upright.  To clarify, you will be on the toes of the back leg, but the entire front foot needs to be flat on the floor.  Additionally, you want your front knee positioned in line with and above your foot – if you stand with your feet too far apart, your knee will be behind your ankle, which is not as desirable.

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2) Step up onto a box or bench

This is a great introduction to truly single leg training because it requires less balance than some of the more advanced drills, and it is also scalable both as far as range of motion and weight lifted.  It is a great “next step” after getting proficient at the basic split squat above.

To perform the drill you’ll need a sturdy box or bench.  Start with a height that allows you to perform the drill with confidence and good balance, and as you get better increase the height.  Eventually a good goal is to have your knee joint be higher than your hip joint in the starting position.

When stepping up onto the bench, try to use the front leg (the one on the bench) as much as possible, and let the rear leg contribute as little as possible to the effort.  This will probably be hard at first, and you’ll want to “spring” off the toes of your back foot to help propel you up.  While this is normal at first, do not let yourself get into a habit of doing this!  Stay disciplined and remember you are trying to train the front leg – make it do the work!  Just like in the spilt squat drill the front foot needs to be flat on the bench and the knee needs to track the toes.  Do your best to keep a strong core and tall posture – try to minimize “sway” in your torso as you move up and down, and be sure to not let your chest drop and shoulders cave in.

As a progression, first select a height you can do with good form but is somewhat challenging.  As you get better at it, you can choose to either increase the height or add more weight.  I generally prefer increasing range of motion over adding weight, since the priority is to get better at controlling your body.  However, if you think adding two extra inches of height may be more than you can handle, try doing some extra weight at the same height for a couple weeks before then moving to a higher box.  Eventually you want to use a box tall enough that your knee is at or above hip height in the starting position.

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3) Traveling lunges

There are many different types of lunges, all of which have their time and place in training.  From time to time we’ll do step-back lunges, step-forward lunges, sliding lunges on a furniture slider, and also do our lunges laterally.  To keep things simple, let’s just go over traveling lunges, which is the version where you start at one end of the room and do your lunges across the floor towards the other side of the room.

There are a lot of similarities here to the basic split squat, but now we have the increased difficulty of balancing and stabilizing through both a gait pattern and landing.  While the two exercises may look similar, make no mistake that these are significantly more demanding than the basic split squat, and should not be taken for granted.

Start by assuming tall posture and a hip width stance.  Take a stride similar in length to where you do your split squats, and as you land take care to keep your knees tracking your toes, your front foot flat on the floor, and your posture tall.  Dip down to allow your back knee to touch the floor without slouching or swaying your torso in any direction – your back should be nearly vertical at all times, and should be straight with a tight core throughout.  Once your knee has gently touched the floor, stride right into your next lunge on the other side.  For added difficulty, you can elect to pause and balance on one leg between each lunge, and bring the airborne knee up high to your chest.  This version forces you to really own the movement and display solid control.

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4) Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats (RFESS)

This exercise, more than just about anything else in my repertoire, is one that my trainees love to hate.  The balance demands are fairly high, the range of motion is fairly big, and yet you can also lift heavy enough weights to make it all around miserable … in all the right ways.

For this one you’ll need a weight bench or something similar.  Begin by standing with the backs of your legs touching the bench.  Take a large step out (bigger than your normal stride) and get your front foot set in place.  Next, put the foot of your rear leg up onto the bench in such a way that the TOP of the foot is on the bench, NOT the ball of your foot.  From there, with one foot on the floor and one on the bench, perform the same split squat technique as in #1 above.  The range of motion will be bigger than with the basic split squat, so expect a big stretch in the back leg.  One technique point on this exercise is that there should always be a straight line from the knee of the rear leg, through the hips and through the shoulders.  If the knee does not line up with the hip and shoulder, you probably need to adjust your distance from the bench.

Once you get the hang of these, they can be loaded very heavy and build amazing strength.  An ambitious, but achievable, goal is to perform 3-5 reps per leg with half your bodyweight in each hand (or use a barbell equaling your bodyweight).  Needless to say, you’ll need to take lots of time to build up to this, so don’t be in a rush and do something silly.

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5) Single Leg Deadlift (SLDL)

The SLDL is a wonderful exercise to train the hip hinging motion while also including balance, stability and proprioception into the movement.  The balance demands are greater on this exercise than any of the preceding ones, yet if you have enough experience and skill you can lift heavy weights with it.  In fact, there are people out there who can SLDL over 300 lbs with textbook technique!

The exercise is usually initiated by starting fully upright with your feet together.  The leg you are going to balance on should have a slight bend to the knee, and the other leg should be as straight as possible.  While maintaining a neutral spine, you will hinge at the hip of the plant leg and reach your airborne leg behind you, trying to touch your heel to the wall.  Continue to descend down until a) you lose your balance, b) you cannot maintain a neutral spine, or c) you reach a horizontal position with your airborne leg and torso.  From there, drive through the plant leg, in particular by squeezing the glut, and return to the starting position.

A couple important points to consider on this are: 1) You should never let your spine move into flexion.  This is a common problem when people are overly concerned about reaching down to a certain height, rather than the quality of the movement.  2) Your hips should be level at all times.  When you are hinging, do not let the hip of the airborne leg twist up towards the sky.  One good cue is to have the toe of the airborne leg point directly down to the floor at all times – if it starts pointing to the side you are probably twisting your hips.

This exercise can be performed with no weights at all, or you can load it up heavy as long as your have proper experience and good technique.  If you choose to use weights, you can load it contralaterally (this is my favorite way, meaning if your left leg is your plant leg, then the weight will be in your right hand), you can load it ipsilaterally (I don’t use this often, but would be with your left leg being the plant leg and the weight being in your left hand), or you can use a pair of weights or barbell held in both hands.

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OK, so there is a starting point for your unilateral training!  There are many other exercises not discussed here, such as pistol squats, airborne lunges and others that many people use with great success.  Based on your experience level, select an exercise to start with – either off this list, or choose a different one – and try to make some progress.  As you gain experience, either keep progressing the exercise or add complexity/challenge by moving to a more advanced one.  As with all of your training, take your time and don’t rush it – you should really feel like you “own” one movement before moving onto the next one.  Enjoy!

The Benefits of Unilateral Training – Part 1

Unilateral training, or essentially training on one leg at a time, is a great way to complement the bilateral (two legged) training you already do.  It offers an array of benefits across the spectrum of health to performance.  Regardless of whether your goals are general health, sports performance, or competitive strength training, just about everyone can benefit from including some unilateral work into their training plan.

If you are unfamiliar with the terms, “bilateral” refers to exercises where both legs are being used and are both performing the same task.  Exercises like squats, deadlifts, cleans, snatches, front squats and two-handed kettlebell swings are examples of bilateral movements.  When we use the term “unilateral” it refers to exercises where one leg is doing all of (or the majority of) the work, or that the legs are doing different tasks within the drill.  Some examples of unilateral exercises would be lunges, step ups, rear foot elevated split squats (RFESS for short), single leg deadlifts (SLDL) and pistol squats.  Every now and then you hear these terms used for upper body exercises as well, but without a qualifier it is pretty safe to assume they are referring to lower body.

Bilateral exercises, when used wisely, are great for building muscle and developing strength and power.  At Industrial Strength we include them in almost all of our training programs in one fashion or another.  However, we also see the value in training unilaterally, and using those drills to fill the gaps left by their two-legged counterparts.  Here are a few reasons why we like unilateral training:

  • Balance

Whether you are training for general health or sports performance, balance is an important consideration.  This could range from minimizing the risk of an injury due to a slip-and-fall, all the way to having the balance to counter an opponent’s throw in a grappling match and reversing it with a throw of your own.

  • Alignment and stability

Unilateral training is more “self limiting” than bilateral due to the balance and stability demands.  For example, a common problem in a squat is to have the knees collapse inwards (aka “valgus collapse”).  When this happens, the lifter can usually still finish the lift, just with less than optimal technique that may take its toll on the knees.  If you tried to do most unilateral exercises (such as a lunge) with that same valgus collapse, you probably couldn’t complete the rep and might even fall over.  So, in order to actually perform a unilateral exercise, your joint alignment and stability needs to be reasonably good.  If you develop this well enough, it will likely carry over into better positioning in your bilateral lifts too.

  • Back sparing

Your lower back can only take so much volume of squats and deadlifts before it starts to get irritated.  How much it can take depends on the individual based on training experience, strength levels, functional mobility, exercise technique, core stability and some other things.  One way to keep training the hips and legs without asking too much from the lower back is with unilateral training.   In exercises like RFESS, lunges and step ups the legs can be trained hard while keeping the back more upright compared to deadlifts or bilateral squats.  Additionally, you can use ample weight to challenge your legs, but it will be only a fraction of what your back can tolerate.  If you normally squat 200×5, you could work up to single leg squatting 100×5, which would effectively be about the same weight on your leg, but now your back is only supporting half the load.  If you have a touchy lower back but still want to strength train, this benefit is something that should not be overlooked.

  • Functional strength and power

Most athletic movements are performed off one leg at a time – sprinting, cutting, many types of jumps and bounds – they are all performed from a unilateral stance.  By including some unilateral strength & power training in your program, you can help to bridge the gap between the bilateral strength built with squats and deadlifts with the specific movements of your sport or activity.

  • Increased range of motion

Many people are not mobile enough to squat below parallel with good technique (parallel meaning the crease of the hip is lower than the top of the knee).  However, many of these people can achieve parallel depth or even lower in exercises like step ups, lunges and RFESS.  When trained on a regular basis, this should result in improved mobility, strength and joint function at new-found ranges of motion.

  • Reducing asymmetries

This one may sound obvious, but most people are more proficient moving on their dominant leg than their non-dominant one.  By including unilateral training, it can help reduce the gap between the two legs, thus offering more balanced movement.  This is also crucial if you’ve ever experienced a notable injury on one side, since that will often impact movement even after it is healed.  Training each leg individually will help get things straightened out and get you moving in a good direction.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article, where I will share a few of my favorite unilateral exercises and explain where to start with them.

And as always, thanks for your time!

-Tony Gracia, Head Coach

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Heavy Metal, Free Throws, Armbars and Barbells

One of the toughest parts of being a strength coach and gym owner is that when people join they expect to be able to learn “proper form” with a 45 second crash course on the exercise they are doing.  The truth is that “proper form” does not exist – not in the sense that it is cut and dry or pass/fail.  Think about it like this: what other activities or skills could someone learn “properly” (whatever that means) in the matter of a few minutes?  Probably none.  Let’s look at some examples:

Playing the guitar? Nope.  You definitely won’t be playing Metallica the first time you pick up a six string; it will take years of training to get there.  Even when you do eventually learn to play some of their songs, do you think you’ll be doing it as well as Kirk Hammett ever did?

Shooting a basketball?  Again, no.  Sure you might make a couple baskets your first time, but you can’t teach someone to do it “right” in 5 minutes if they have never done it before.  Nor can you in 10 minutes, 20 minutes, or 30 minutes.  Again, it will take years of dedicated practice to get good at it.

Let’s look at one more example.  In addition to coaching strength training, I also coach Jiu Jitsu.  Never once have I had a student come in to learn Jiu Jitsu that expected to “do it right” in their first class … or first week, or even first month.  That is because even the most basic techniques in Jiu Jitsu take lots and lots of practice to develop and refine.  People inherently understand the technical nature of Jiu Jitsu, and they come in with a mindset conducive to studying the art (which takes LOTS of time and focused practice), rather than a mindset of expecting to “get it right” within 5 minutes.  My students don’t get frustrated when the don’t “get it right” their first try, they embrace the grind of hard work and consistent practice to get better at it.

So, then, why do people come into a strength training program and expect to “get it right” immediately?  What makes strength training different than learning to play the guitar, to shoot a basketball, or learning Jiu Jitsu?  My answer: nothing!  In fact, really, it is all the same.  In all these cases you are learning a SKILL and any skill takes time to build and polish.    There is so much more to “proper form” than simply the alignment of your joints … you need to consider bracing, tension, tempo, breathing and a host of other things.  All these things take a lot of dedicated practice, often years of it, to get good at.

What is the point of all this?  The point is that if you are starting out on a new exercise program, or maybe even starting for the first time, I strongly encourage you to approach your endeavor the same way you would as if you were learning the guitar or learning Jiu Jitsu – treat it like a skill.  Skills take focus, dedication, and patience to learn.  If you go in expecting to “do it right” on your first day, then you are setting an unrealistic expectation for yourself, and ultimately setting yourself up for disappointment and failure.  You will see much better long-term progress, as well as enjoy the experience much more, if you embrace that strength training is a journey and enjoy the ride.  Rather than allowing yourself to get upset with where you aren’t yet, make sure to celebrate the little victories and milestones along the way to remind yourself of how far you have come.

Thanks for your time to read our blog, and if you find this valuable, please be sure to share it.

– Tony Gracia | Co-Founder / Head Coach @industrialstrengthgym

Slow Down Before You Speed Up | by T. Gracia

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In order to really move well you should be able to perform activities at a variety of speeds. Most sports are played at high speeds, so being able to go fast is obviously important. What I think gets overlooked is the value of really slowing down sometimes, and going “uncomfortably slow” during your practice. Going slow, really slow, painfully slow can really teach you a lot about the movement you are practicing and how proficient you really are at it. On top of that, being able to effectively decelerate is helpful in injury prevention, so you literally need to practice “slowing down” to get good at it.
One analogy I have been playing with is thinking about your muscles like gears. People who are really strong or good at a movement have their gears sync very well throughout the entire range of motion of their lift or movement. People who are more novice often have their gears “slip” throughout the motion. When I am practicing my slow speed training this is what I am visualizing: are my “gears syncing” correctly as my muscles lengthen and shorten, and are they able to do that smoothly and consistently throughout the full range of motion? Most of the time if I am struggling with something I end up finding spots in the motion where my gears start to slip, and I end up not being able to control my speed and have to catch myself. The “slip” may be the prime mover, or it may be a bracing/stabilizing muscle, but regardless, going slow allows me to really pay attention to that and feel it, which is the first step in getting better at it.
One movement we see this on a lot is a basic squat. We use barbell squats quite a bit in our Strength & Conditioning classes here at Industrial Strength, but we view that exercise as a privilege, not a right. If someone can’t safely and consistently hit parallel or greater depth (with all the other basic form markers as well), then we have them practice other variations of squatting until they can get there.
One thing we see a lot from the people that have trouble hitting parallel is that when they try to achieve depth they have to “dive bomb” their squat. They have no ability to go slow or display control at end range of motion, even with a bodyweight squat. For clarification, an experienced lifter who does have control/ownership over the full ROM may choose to dive bomb his/her squats as a personal choice – BUT, it needs to be a choice, NOT the only option! Back to the people who have trouble hitting depth – many of them have been trying it this way for years before coming to us. Our first thing we work on is to have them SLOW DOWN. If we go back to the analogy of gears, basically as they start their descent their gears are syncing well, but as they get closer to parallel the gears completely slip, resulting in them having no tension or control. It essentially turns into a free fall, which of course is not the goal. So, one of the projects we work on for this person is to slow them down and help them “keep their gears in sync.”
Another good example of this is when I first trained for a one arm one leg push up (OAOLPU). I had good success achieving this quickly because I really focused on control and linkage from the very beginning. I focused on keeping my muscles “on” the whole way down and up, rather than trying to drop fast then spring out of the bottom. This, more than anything else I have ever done, is what really taught me to contract my lats and use them during presses. Up until then I had always been thoroughly confused about how the lats were a pressing muscle, but once I got the hang of my OAOLPU it made all the sense in the world.
So, how then do you apply this type of training? There are, of course, many different ways. Generally I like to think of it as skill work. My strongest recommendation is to be able to “own” the full ROM of an exercise with control before you start doing it quickly. If you can’t get to a deep squat with good alignment with no additional weight, then trying to dive bomb a squat with a heavy barbell is probably going to catch up to you sooner rather than later. First, work on the skill of the deep squat, keeping your gears synced the whole time, then once you are good at that, then you can load it. Taking your arms overhead is another good example. If you can’t get your arms overhead with straight elbows and good alignment then why would you add speed and force to it with jerks? Make sure you can own the position slowly with control first, then once that is established you can train to add weight, speed, reps, etc. To come full circle, speed definitely is very important for athleticism, so once you have great ownership over a movement or position, then by all means add speed and power to it. Just make sure you’re not trying to shoot a canon out of a canoe.
As far as the specifics of sets, reps, tempo, etc that is a bit out of the scope of this article, but I will offer some general advice. When you are training a skill, which this is, make sure you avoid fatigue and practice frequently. When I was doing my OAOLPU training I practiced 1-3 reps at a time, 5-10 times per day. I also tried to go really slow, 10 seconds down and 10 seconds up. This style of training allowed my muscles to stay fresh, my mind to stay fresh (there is no room for zoning out with this kind of training) and for each rep to build off the one before it, rather than being hindered from fatigue from the preceding rep. Many people call this “greasing the groove” style training (many sets of low reps throughout the day), which I first heard from Pavel Tsatsouline. If you are interested in more in depth information about how this works I suggest looking up his body of work.
The other big thing to keep in mind with this is that your body can only get really good as so many skills at the same time. I think the “right” number is probably 1-3 of these types of skills at once so that you can really have good focus on a singular goal. If you try to do this with every exercise that you do I bet your focus will not be where you need it to be, and you will not get the progress you’re hoping for. Start with one exercise, try it for a week or two, then evaluate if you want to try it with something else too. You can try it to improve a movement you already do (squat), learn a new skill (OAOLPU) or pick one of each.
Thanks for reading and please share your feedback with how your training goes!

– Tony Gracia | Co-Founder / Head Coach @industrialstrengthgym

Kickboxing @ Industrial Strength

We are happy to announce an addition of Kickboxing to our martial arts program!

We will have three free trial classes, all Wednesday nights at 6:00 PM taught by lifelong experienced instructor and practitioner Andrew Wright.

Nov. 5th (completely full)
Nov. 12th
Nov. 19th

The free classes are already uploaded into MindBody, so you can sign up for them just like all other classes. These Kickboxing classes will be open to anyone age 13 and up. Sign up now before all the spots are filled!

*Note, no special equipment necessary.

Grip Training for Jiu Jitsu

The sport of Jiu Jitsu (often called BJJ) is growing rapidly, and this growth has sparked many articles on how to physically prepare for it.  Most authors suggest some combination of strength training, endurance training, and some “sport specific” training that may involve grip work, neck exercises etc.  One problem I have found is that many authors, while excellent strength coaches, do not train BJJ themselves, and thus there are some nuances they miss in these sport specific applications.  In particular I think the grip training component has not been addressed as well as it could be, especially with regards to the gi / kimono.

For the sake of gaining credibility on this topic, I should note that I am a black belt in Jiu Jitsu, and own a gym where I coach both BJJ as well as Strength & Conditioning.  It is also worth mentioning that the academy I am part of has over 20 black belts and over 400 members, and even with such a high level of talent I am frequently told I have some of the strongest grips in the academy.  Also, for clarity, this article will be targeted specifically to those who train in the gi, as opposed to no-gi grappling or MMA.  It is focused on the strength needed to keep a grip on the gi when your opponent is trying to break it.

Most of the grip training that I see involves things like heavy grippers (Captains of Crush), farmers carries, deadlifts, pull ups and towel or gi pull ups, kettlebell swings, and sometimes some fat bar work.  While all of these are great exercises and are good for “general” grip strength, none of them address the specific needs of keeping your grips during a Jiu Jitsu match or sparring session when your opponent is trying to break them.  In all the exercises listed above, the resistance on the grips is A) fairly consistent, and B) focused on opening the hand straight front to back (the same direction your fingers go).

This is where some in the trenches experience with Jiu Jitsu is critical for understanding the real demands of your grip.  When someone is trying to break your grip in BJJ, you would NEVER see an experienced athlete use a long, slow, steady force applied in the same direction as your fingers.  It is simply ineffective, and will never get the job done.  In general, there are two ways to effectively break someone’s grip in BJJ: 1) a very explosive, snappy effort – we often say “pop” the grip off, and 2) rotate the gi around their grip to turn their wrist to a weak position where they have to let go.  With that said, in order for grip training to be effective, we need to address both of those styles.  The exercises noted above, while all good exercises, do not address either of these two crucial components.

There are many different ways to go about this, but generally I try to be as efficient as possible and get the most bang for my buck out of my exercises.  Instead of doing a handful (pun intended) of grip isolation exercises, I choose compound movements that develop total body strength and endurance that also challenge my grips in the right ways.  My two favorite exercises for this are heavy Turkish Get Ups, and snatches, both performed with a kettlebell.

Most people don’t think of the TGU as a grip exercise, but it is actually my favorite exercise to strengthen my shoulder, elbow and wrist alignment.  Specifically for BJJ, this prevents my opponent from breaking my grip on his sleeve by turning his wrist around mine (grip break #2 mentioned above).  You see, your sleeve grip is the strongest when you hook their sleeve with your fingers on the back of their wrist and keep it on the back of their wrist.  They will try to break your grip by rotating 180 degrees so you are then on inside (palm side) of their wrist, a significantly weaker position.  With the TGU, one of the limiting factors is that you need to keep the spherical part of the kettlebell on the back of your wrist, without giving in to the rotational forces that try to spin it around your wrist to the palm side.  You need to have your shoulder packed, elbow strong, and wrist neutral (not extended or rotated) in order to do this successfully.  Assuming you are using cast iron kettlebells, the heavier you go, the bigger the dimensions of the bell, and the harder this is to do.  By the time you are doing 48 kg you will have developed good strength to resist this rotation, and will have a much stronger sleeve grip when you’re on the mats.  If you play a lot of De la Riva or spider guard, this is incredibly important because your opponent will probably break your grips using this style.

The other style of grip breaking, the “popping” off of the grip, is very common and is used with sleeve, collar, and pants grips.   You see it a lot from the standing position working for throws and takedowns, as well as with the collar grip from the guard.  To have the strength to defend your grip being broken in this manner, you need to be able to cycle between a loose grip and a very strong one quickly and efficiently.  If you hold a death grip the whole time, you will quickly burn out and your grips will be toast (plus your rigidness makes you susceptible to throws).  If you are loose the whole time, your grip will be easy to break.  What you want is a combination of loose most of the time to conserve energy and not telegraph your strategy, but strong as a vice when you know your opponent is going for an explosive break.  This is why I choose kettlebell snatches in my training.  In addition to getting great benefits of general endurance, shoulder strength and stability, and hip power, it also offers this sort of “contact” strength or resisting a ballistic force for your grip, all while cycling the tension and relaxation in a way that carries over well to the mats.  The hand position used for snatches is also quite similar to what is used in BJJ: a semi-open hand, with the fingers making a bit of a “hook shape.”  I cycle my training using light/medium weights at moderate speed for high reps, heavy weight for low reps, and light weights done with maximum explosiveness and an overspeed eccentric.  Please note that while the snatch is one of my favorite exercises, it is not a beginner exercise.  You need to posses adequate shoulder mobility and stability in order to be safe overhead (Turkish Get Ups are a great starting point for this).  You also need to have a strong foundation with your kettlebell swing to have a fluid, consistent hip hinge.  I encourage you to find a qualified instructor to teach you, as snatches can be tricky to learn on you own.

While there are many good exercises out there for the grip as it pertains to BJJ (and grappling in general), these two are “tried and true” for me and make up a major part of my training.  You could certainly make good arguments for other exercises like levering with a sledge hammer, mace work, Indian clubs, or two of my other favorites: 1) hitting a tire with a sledge hammer and 2) legless rope climbs.  But, in the interest of keeping things simple in an industry that loves to overcomplicate things, my two best “bang for your buck” grip exercises for BJJ are heavy TGU’s and kettlebell snatches.  The important take away is to realize how your opponent is actually trying to break your grips, take note of the angle, position, and speed at which this happens, and to train accordingly for that.  Experienced grapplers will never fight you where you are the strongest; they will try to put you in a weak position (ie an extended and rotated wrist) and go for the grip break from there.  Be aware of these positions, and train to 1) don’t get there in the first place, and 2) have strength to manage the situation should you find yourself there.

Thank you for reading this post. If you found it useful please do me a favor and share it.

– Tony Gracia | Co-Founder / Head Coach @industrialstrengthgym

Trial ladies BJJ night every Tuesday!

Every Tuesday ladies of I.S. roll!

Jiu Jitsu (also known as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, or BJJ) is a martial art, combat sport, and a self-defense system that focuses on grappling and especially ground fighting.  It is widely regarded as the world’s most effective grappling art.

Jiu Jitsu promotes the principle that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend himself or herself against a bigger, stronger assailant by using leverage and proper technique—most notably by applying joint-locks and chokeholds to defeat the other person.

Industrial Strength is proud to be Portland’s affiliate of Impact Jiu Jitsu, one of the largest and most respected Jiu Jitsu academies in the Pacific Northwest. Join us with for ladies only, beginner friendly classes every Tuesday night. All classes are taught by Brown Belt Hillary Wright VanOrnum an excellent coach and athlete with nearly a decade of experience.

*note these classes are for novice levels and are also interested in joining our BJJ program.

Please complete the form below to learn more! See you on the mat!