Christopher Gagliardi by Christopher Gagliardi

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a martial art that focuses on throws, takedowns, grappling and groundwork. It emphasizes joint locks applied to the arms, shoulders, legs and ankles, as well as the use of chokeholds that can be applied from various positions and using different parts of the body. The following workout is comprised of several movements that are traditionally used during the warm-up prior to the instructional and live practice portions of a Jiu Jitsu class. The exercises and drills used during the warm-up are selected based on how they prepare the body for the techniques that will be taught and practiced during class.

Even if you’re not preparing for your next Jiu Jitsu class, these exercises can be used for a great workout or as a way to add some variety to an existing workout program.

Warm-up: Perform each exercise for 30 seconds followed by 30 seconds of rest.

High Knee Running

Running in place with an emphasis on hip flexion by bringing the knees up to hit palms of hands.

Butt Kickers

Running in place with an emphasis on knee flexion by bringing the heels to the glutes.



Jumping Jacks

Workout: Perform each exercise for 30 seconds at the highest intensity you feel comfortable with followed by a rest period of 30 seconds. You can start off by doing two rounds with a 1:1 work to rest interval and then change the intensity by adding rounds to future workouts. Or you can change the work/rest periods as you feel more comfortable with the movements.

Burpee/Single-leg Burpee


This exercise can be done as a standard burpee or you can do it on one leg at a time, alternating between legs with each repetition. Start from a standing position and then lower your hands to the ground while moving your feet back into a push-up position. Bend the elbows and lower down, and then hop back up to feet into a ready/athletic position. This completes one repetition. This exercise simulates sprawling to defend against a takedown attempt, so focus on trying to get to your feet as quickly as possible.

Technical Stand Up

Technical stand up

Start in a standing position with your hands in an athletic position. Squat all the way down by bringing your butt to the ground, then roll onto your back while bringing your arms out to your sides. From here, sit up while posting one hand back, to push off on; drive the leg on the same side forward while planting the foot of the opposite leg on the ground. From this position, you will drive off the foot planted on the ground and jump back to an athletic position. This exercise simulates being knocked to the ground and using your forward leg to maintain distance and getting to your feet again as fast as possible.

Mountain Climber

Mountain climber

Start on your hands and knees with hands slightly ahead of shoulders. Bring one foot forward and place it right beneath your chest. Lift the back knee off the ground, making it straight and strong. Keep your hands firmly on the ground and jump to switch leg positions. Both feet should leave the ground as you drive one leg forward and one leg back.



Begin in a seated position with one knee bent in front of the body and one knee bent to the side of the body. Without touching the hands to the ground, move the side leg to the front and the front leg to the side. Repeat this movement in both directions.

Sit Out

Sit Out

Start on your hands and knees in a quadruped position. Keep your hands planted on the floor as you step up with one leg and bring the opposite leg toward the foot on the ground. From this position transfer your weight from the straight leg back to the hands and sit out to the other side by pushing off the planted foot. This exercise simulates getting out from underneath an opponent, usually from an all-fours position.

Elbow Escape

Elbow escape

Elbow escape

Start in a supine position with your hands in an athletic position. Side bend at the hips, reaching your hands to your feet. Drive your weight into the toes of your top leg and slide your body back into the starting position; repeat on the other side. This exercise simulates replacing your guard if you are mounted.

Kimura Sit-up

Kimura Sit-up

Start in a traditional sit-up position, with hands clasped across the chest. Sit up and twist your torso to bring the hands to the ground on one side of the body. Rotate and lower yourself back to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

Knee on Stomach

knee on stomach

For this exercise, I recommend using a foam Airex pad or a pillow. Start in a side control position, with one knee planted on the foam pad and both hands planted on the ground just past the top of the pad. From here, jump from side to side across the pad, switching which knee you have on the pad; be sure to keep your hands on the ground. A key to this exercise is to try and stay as close to the pad as you can at all times and to minimize the amount of time spent without a knee on the pad.

Arm Bar From Guard

Arm bar from guard

Begin by lying on your back and lifting your hips off the ground while twisting to one side. Keep your arms on the ground for balance and make sure to keep your hips as high as you can while pinching your knees together. Next, open your legs as wide as you can and rotate your position to the other side, finishing with your hips as high as you can get them and knees pinched together. This exercise simulates performing an arm bar from the guard position.



Start in the lowered position of a push-up. Move one hand forward while moving the leg on the opposite side forward to rest on the elbow of the arm that was left in the original push-up position. You will end in a position that looks like Spiderman climbing up the side of a building. Perform this exercise on both sides.

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