What Are The Best Ab Exercises For BJJ?

BJJ athletes need to be strong everywhere. BJJ players can’t just rely on having strong legs or powerful arms they need to be complete athletes. The secret to building all over strength is having rock like abs. Your abs link your upper and lower body together, allowing you to move as one unit and generate maximum power. We will break down the best ab exercises which all BJJ competitors should be performing.

Why Do BJJ Athletes Need Strong Abs?

BJJ athletes need strong abs to shift the power from their legs to their upper body when shooting takedowns, bridging, establishing grips and manipulating their opponent’s body. A powerful core helps BJJ athletes exhibit ideal body mechanics (straight back, straight neck, bent legs, elbows in tight).

What are the best ab exercises for BJJ?

The best ab exercises for BJJ that will have your abs popping through your shirt are:

  • Walrus
  • Ab Wheel
  • Medicine Ball Slam
  • Front Squats With A Pause


The walrus is a great ab exercise for BJJ athletes. To perform the walrus stand with both of your feet on two furniture sliders. Get into a push up position, with your weight on the balls of your feet and your hands. Then walk forwards using your arms to drag your feet across the floor.

The walrus is ideal for BJJ athletes because it allows them to practice holding a strong position (back and neck straight, legs bent, core engaged) that they often find themselves in on the mats. BJJ athletes need to assume this position when shooting/finishing takedowns, passing guard or in the turtle position. BJJ athletes can reduce their risk of injury and increase power output by maintaining this position.

Ab Wheel

Ab wheels are an old school core exercise that BJJ athletes need to add to their regime. You pick these little wheels up for $10 or $15. They are definitely worth the investment

To perform the ab wheel exercise get on your knees and place the ab wheel in front of you. Grab the two handles with both hands and then roll the wheel out in front of you while keeping your knees in the same place. Roll until you are fully extended and then pull the wheel towards you until you return to the starting position.

The ab wheel is great for BJJ because during a match you will often find yourself in an extended overhead position. This position is particularly common when you are trying to finish a single leg and your opponent is defending by sprawling and putting their weight on you. 

By practicing the ab wheel you will notice a big difference when you are in a single leg and pull your opponent’s leg towards you and stand or come up to your knees to finish. 

Medicine Ball Slam

Medicine ball slams are great for BJJ because not only do they increase your core strength they also train power and speed.

To perform a medicine ball slam, pick up the heavy ball, extend your arms to full range of motion and then launch the ball as powerfully as you can into the ground. You need to maintain slightly bent knees and focus on squeezing your abs as you drive the medicine ball into the floor.

If you want to make the exercise more difficult you can rotate your torso before slamming the ball to develop different core muscles and hit them at other angles.

The medicine ball slam is great for BJJ athletes because it  is one of the few effective dynamic ab exercises. BJJ athletes need to be able to explosively and aggressively engage their core to generate power when shooting takedowns, scrambling or passing guard, the medicine ball slam effectively mimics the explosiveness.

Front Squats With A Pause

Why is front squats in a list of the best core movements for BJJ athletes?. The front squat is not only one of the best quad developers it will also build you a ridiculously strong core. The pause only further increases the ab engagement as to rest in the squat position places enormous stress on your core.

The front forces your core to be involved. You can not unrack, stand and squat with a weight out in front of you with a weak core. If your abs are weak you will have to start with a very light weight and build from there. The strain this exercises places on your core is immense and will force your body to adapt. If you regularly front squat you will emerge with a powerful god like core.

It is best to pause at or just below parallel, this is where tension is at its highest, resulting in maximal ab engagement. The secret is keeping your back super upright and your abs switch on. Pause for 1 to 4 seconds then explode out of the hole as fast as possible and exhale as you drive through the sticking point.

The front squat will give you great core stability, strength and explosiveness. If you only had the ability to choose one ab building exercise then paused front squat should be your choice.


BJJ is a full contact martial art that requires all around strength and power and athletes need a strong core to allow them to express their strength to their full potential. The top ab exercises for BJJ athletes are ab wheel, the walrus, medicine ball slams and paused front squats. 

These 4 ab exercises will help BJJ athletes significantly increase their power output on the mats. After incorporating them into your strength routine don’t be shocked if you start finishing takedowns with ease and your abs become visible through your rashguard.

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