Strength Training for BJJ: Boost Your Performance with Reverse Pyramid Training

Today, I want to talk about an essential aspect of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that often gets overlooked: strength training. Specifically, we’ll dive into “strength training for BJJ,” optimising this routine for you grapplers out there. Let’s make sure you’re getting stronger without compromising your recovery time on the mats.

What is Reverse Pyramid Training (RPT)?

Reverse Pyramid Training is a simple yet effective strength training method. Unlike traditional sets where you start light and go heavy, RPT starts with your heaviest set first when you’re fresh. After your first set, you reduce the weight and increase the reps slightly. This method is fantastic for building strength while keeping your total volume in check, which is crucial for BJJ practitioners who also need to recover for their rolling sessions.

Benefits of Low-Volume Training for BJJ

Keeping the number of sets low is key for BJJ athletes. Here’s why:

  1. Enhanced Recovery: Less volume means less muscle fatigue, allowing you to recover faster and perform better in your BJJ classes.
  2. Strength Gains: Focused, heavy sets ensure you’re building strength without unnecessary exhaustion.
  3. Efficiency: Short, intense workouts mean more time to dedicate to skill development in BJJ.

The Workout Routine

Below is one of my favourite strength training routines designed to build a balanced physique and improve your BJJ performance. This program will help you see significant strength gains, which translate to better performance on the mats.

Workout A: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps

  1. Incline Bench Press: 3 sets (RPT – 5, 6, 8 reps)
  2. Standing Press: 3 sets (RPT – 5, 6, 8 reps)
  3. Lateral Raises: 3 sets x 8-12 reps
  4. Skull Crushers: 3 sets x 6-10 reps

Workout B: Back, Biceps, Traps, Legs

  1. Weighted Chin-ups: 3 sets (RPT – 5, 6, 8 reps)
  2. Hang Cleans or Sumo Deadlifts: 3 sets (RPT – 5, 6, 8 reps)
  3. Bent Over Flyes: 3 sets x 8-12 reps
  4. Barbell Curls: 3 sets x 6-10 reps

Extra Pointers

For the key movements (first two exercises of each workout), focus on adding 2.5 lbs each session while keeping the reps consistent (5, 6, and 8 reps). Drop the weight by 10% after each set, rest for 3 minutes, and then hit the next set. This ensures you’re lifting heavy while maintaining proper form and avoiding burnout.

For the accessory exercises, keep the weight the same until you hit the top of the rep range, then increase the weight by 5 lbs. Rest for 2 minutes between these sets.

Alternate between Workout A and Workout B three times a week on non-consecutive days. Over four weeks, you’ll perform each workout six times.


Strength training for BJJ doesn’t have to be complicated. By incorporating Reverse Pyramid Training, you can make significant strength gains without compromising your recovery. Stick to this routine, and you’ll see improvements not only in your physique but also in your performance on the mats.

Remember, the key is consistency and progression. Keep pushing those weights up, stay disciplined, and watch your BJJ game improve dramatically.

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