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Rich Mejias -- Strength and Conditioning Coach
Next Generation Fit Pro
Rich is a strength and conditioning coach. Not only does he specialize in training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu/MMA athletes, but he also is a Blue Belt under Nova Uniao/Robson Maura Black Belt, Josef Manuel at Cutting Edge Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Rich’s certifications are numerous, but it is his focus, commitment, leadership, and experience that allows him to get the most out of people. Whether it is getting an athlete ready for a local BJJ Tournament or MMA fight, our goal is always the same…Get the athlete ready for the battle of their life.
First of all, lets talk about what typically is described as endurance training for BJJ athletes:
2. Running some more
3. Running even more
This is definitely an appropriate approach if our athletes are going to compete in a cross-country event, but that is not what Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitors have signed up for. BJJ competitors are expected to be powerful and explosive at the same time; running is just not going to prepare them for that.
Now if I told you that I have a way to train that requires you to never run again...Would that interest you? No. Liar!!! I have never met a person, besides a runner, that has told me that they love to run. If your answer is yes, thank you for being honest and lets get to work.
A method that I find beneficial for BJJ competitors is called complexes. After studying from some of the top fitness professionals in the industry, like Alywn Cosgrove and Robert Dos Remedious, I have come with this definition for complexes:
Complexes are performing two or more exercises in a sequence with the same load. You complete all of the reps from the first chosen movement and than head to the next one.
Here is a sample of a complex done with Josh Henkin’s Ultimate Sandbag:
USB BJJ Complex:
1. Rotational Lunge-6 reps each side
2. Clean-6 reps
3. Rotational High Pull-6 reps
4. Good Morning-6 reps
5. Rotational Overhead Presses-6 reps each side
6. Front Loaded Squat-6 reps
Now take 2 minutes off and repeat for 3-4 times.
DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE DIFFICULTY OF THIS COMPLEX. This will be a true test of your fitness and will force you to dig down deep and really push your training sessions. Don’t just take my word on it…give it a try during your next workout.
Time To Take Action is NOW
No time is better than now. Take action now and start your journey of developing the strength and conditioning that you need in order to train or compete at the level that you desire.
When deciding on which piece of equipment that I choose to use with my clients, there are a couple of things that I take into account:
What is my initial investment? Do I have to keep buying additional equipment?
Can I use it with my athletes that are dropping body fat, increasing lean muscle, conditioning, rehab, etc.
How big is it? Can it be stored away? Can it be moved from training facility to BJJ Academy.
How long will it last you? Or will you be buying a new piece of equipment every couple of months and throwing money down the drain.
Now that we understand some of the reasons that I picked these pieces of equipment…Here is my list of the “Top 3 Conditioning Tools For BJJ”:
1. Ultimate Sandbag
PLEASE STAY AWAY…CHAMPIONS AT WORK!!!
The Prowler is one of those tools that my athletes hate to see me bringing over, but love the results that come from training with it. Here are my top 3 exercises that I use with all my BJJ athletes with the Prowler:
1. Prowler Push
I have my BJJ athletes do a Prowler Push in order to develop their work capacity and to help build muscle with very little stress on the body. During BJJ training or matches, we are forced to be explosive in very short periods of time…If we do not train like that, how do we expect to perform like that when it counts.
Try starting off with 2-3 sets with each set consisting of 6-8 reps. Remember that here the reps should be kept low because we are working on being powerful and explosive every time we push the sled.
2. Prowler Pull
The Prowler Pull offers the same types of benefits as the push: work capacity and help build muscle with very little stress on the body. To perform this exercise you are going to have to strap either a TRX Suspension Trainer or a set of ropes to hold on to. The key to this exercise is to remember that we do not want to use our legs. Just focus on keep your arms straight and pulling in an explosive manner towards you.
Number of sets and rep ranges are the same as the Prowler Push.
3. Prowler Sprints
This is definitely an all time favorite with all my athletes. This exercise is not only great for building up work capacity, but also increasing speed, power, and recovery.
I normally set up two cones 20 yards apart and the distance that they athlete covers will depend on where the athlete is in their training program. Remember to always keep the time that your athletes complete the sprint in…this will allow them to compete against their own time.
Now turn off your computer…Head to the gym...And take the necessary steps with the Prowler to win your next tournament.
About a decade ago, Foam Rollers were like this weird foam piece of equipment that most athletes had no clue how to use. Today the Foam Roller is more readily available, but there is still one problem…Most athletes do not know how to use one.
Here is a brief explanation of not only what a Foam Roller is, but how, when, and why you should use it:
What is Foam Rolling?
Foam Rolling is a self-myofascial release (SMR) technique that is used by athletes to inhibit overactive muscles. This form of stretching improves soft tissue extensibility, but also relaxes the muscle to allow activation of the antagonist muscle
How do I use a Foam Roller?
To apply the techniques are very simple. Foam Rolling uses pressure on a specific surface of the body. You should always apply pressure to sensitive areas in their muscles that are called Trigger Points, or knots.
The use of the Foam Roller has taken us from an acupressure approach to my reason from Foam Rolling which is self-massage. The roller is now usually used to apply longer more sweeping strokes to muscle groups like the calves, adductors, and quadriceps. You may also use it in a small directed force on areas like the TFL (Tensor Fasciae Latae), hip rotators, and glute medius.
Training a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitor is no easy task. You need to make sure that while you are increasing their strength, you are also working on their conditioning, mobility, flexibility, and explosiveness.
Here are 5 exercises that every BJJ World Champion should include in their programming:
1. USB Rotational Lunge
Lunging is a great way to develop flexibility in the hip while increasing strength and mobility at the same time. What makes the Rotational Lunge so special is that the load is offset, so as you are moving in one plane of motion, the Ultimate Sandbag is moving in another phase.
Want To Be A Jiu-Jitsu World Champion…Than You Must Eat Like One
Ever been on the mat and just not have that extra bit of energy that you needed? You may think that you are out of shape, but the truth probably lies in your nutrition. Food is the fuel of the body, when you eat like crap…you will perform like crap.
Here are 6 items that no Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion should be without: Oatmeal, Yogurt, Coconut Water, Walnuts, Blueberries and Spinach
Jiu-Jitsu Stregnth Conditioning
I have studied some of the top strength and conditioning coaches in the world, like Dan John, Mike Boyle, and Robert Dos Remedios, and although they may do some things different, one thing that they all do the same, is they believe that “Loaded Carry(s)” is a great way to improve your strength.
Now you may ask, “How will Loaded Carry(s) help my BJJ Game?”
Lets break down some of the benefits:
1. Performing this exercise will demand a tremendous amount of core strength
2. Another way to increase lean muscle because of time under tension
3. Enhanced proprioception
4. Great for conditioning
Now if you think that these four benefits cannot help your game, than I am sorry -I don’t know how much more I can help you. For the rest of the BJJ community that believes that these benefits will extremely help their game, here are my top 3 “Loaded Carry” exercises utilizing the Ultimate Sandbag (USB).
If anyone knows me, they know that I like to talk and meet new people. When I am training, I always like to find out more about the people that I am training with other than their favorite move to tap me out with. I like to find out things like how long they have been training, their family, and especially if they are strength training. I have asked some of the top competitors that I have taken privates with, like Claudio Calasans, Demian Maia, Andre Galvo, the Mendes Brothers, etc, this same questions and the answer is always the same…YES.
So why is it that most of the people that we find ourselves training with on an every day basis at the academy, are not strength training. Here are my top 2 answers that I am given:
1. Strength is not needed for BJJ
2. Don’t have the extra money for a gym membership
Both are fine answers, but unfortunately completely wrong. Let us address one issue at a time, the fact of the matter is BJJ is a physical sport that is full of grabbing, wrestling, and lets not forget mental toughness. Yes I agree that BJJ has always and will always be based on leverage, but lets not forget that without the ability to fight off the feeling of the lactic acid buildup in your muscles, you could possible lose a match in the final minutes…a match that should very well of been yours for the taking.
Lets first get this out in the open...A proper Warm-Up is just as important for any BJJ athlete as technical drilling and rolling. Most of the time, I look at some people when they are warming up and they look like they are going through the motions. They are talking about their crappy day at work, how the wife charged way too much on their credit cards, or just about football. These will most likely be the same people that now have to miss training because of injuries.
The primary purpose of a Warm-Up is to elevate the body temperature and prime the neuromuscular and cardiovascular systems for optimal performance, but also get your mind focused on the training session that you are about to be put through.
Does your Warm-Up do that for you? If not, continue reading...
60 seconds left in the match…
Your down by 2 points…
Where do you get that last push?
Some people think that the answer is by training countless hours on the mat. That answer is not wrong, but rather just incomplete. The other part that is normally overlooked is the hours of sweat that is lost during your strength training sessions.
Now if you think we are talking about just doing Chest and Tri’s on Monday and Back and Bi’s on Tuesday…you are DEAD WRONG. The end of each of your strength training sessions should look like the end of a training session at the academy…Dead bodies on the floor.
If I want my BJJ/MMA athletes to have that last burst of energy in the final minute, or round, of their match…I need to make sure that the final couple of minutes of every training session are the toughest moment of the lives.
This is where I like to bring in a concept that I learned from Martin Rooney and that is a “Finisher”. A “Finisher” is very easy to perform and can either be done at the gym, the academy, or even at the comfort of your own home. One reason why I like to include these in my athlete’s workouts is because it really forces them to push their training to the next level.
One thing to remember when inserting this into your programming is that we should be cautious to our overall volume during the workout. For example, if you have completed a number of circuits or a lot of weight training, even though you want to do more, your body may have had enough. One thing that I always remember when I am doing my programming for my athletes
Is that “more is not always better…better is better.” Too much training in the gym may start affecting your training on the mat and that is something that nobody wants to see.
Here is my top 3 “Finishers” that I like to use with my athletes: