What Are The Best Kettlebell Exercises For BJJ?

Kettlebells are an amazing tool which can take your BJJ game to the next level. By doing a couple of kettlebell sessions a week you will experience significant strength and cardio gains which will turn you into a beast on the mats. In this article we will show you the best exercises you need to incorporate into your training if you want to fast track your BJJ progress.

What are the best kettlebell exercises for BJJ? The best kettlebell exercises for BJJ are kettlebell thrusters (great for legs and shoulders), Cossack squats (great for hips and legs), Turkish get ups (great for abs), kettlebell swings (great for back) and grappler’s rows (great for back). By doing these exercises you will increase your strength and cardio and rapidly improve your BJJ performance.

Kettlebell Thruster

The kettlebell thruster is a great all round movement which works the:

  • Hamstrings
  • Quads
  • Glutes
  • Lats
  • Tris
  • Traps

To Perform A Textbook Kettlebell Thruster:

  • Squat –  get your hips below parallel, go as low as you can while maintaining a straight back, this will activate your glutes, hips and quads
  • Drive – once you get to the bottom of your squat you want to drive hard out of the bottom, keep your weight on the center of your foot, try to catch the stretch reflex at the bottom of your squat to give you more momentum
  • Push – once you are coming out of the squat use the momentum of your legs with your arms to push the kettlebell above your head


  1. Do not arch and round your lower back at the top of the position
  2. Keep your abs tight and engaged
  3. Look up and keep your chest up throughout the entire movement


How To Perform Kettlebell Thruster

Cossack Squat

The Cossack squat is not an easy movement as it requires quite a bit of mobility. It is worth the effort as it is great at building the following muscles:

• Quads
• Glutes
• Hamstrings
• Adductors
• Obliques 

To Perform A Textbook Cossack Squat:

  • Take a wide stance – with toes slightly pointing outwards
  • Shift weight – onto leg you are going to squat down to
  • Squat – open hips and keep chest up
  • Go down – as far as possible
  • Drive – up from the center of your foot and stand to complete the movement

Don’t worry if you struggle to do these at first. After practicing for a couple of months you will be able to do heavy Cossack squats where you can get super low.

How To Perform Cossack Squat

Turkish Get Up

If you want an iron core then you need to be being Turkish get ups. This exercise is challenging but as abs are such an important part of BJJ with all techniques requiring a strong core the pain of performing Turkish get ups will be worth it.

To Perform A Textbook Turkish Get Up:

  • Place the kettlebell next to shoulder
  • Lay on side and grab kettlebell
  • Place the kettlebell on stomach
  • Press the kettlebell with one hand – fully lock out press
  • Bend knee – of leg opposite to kettlebell
  • Get up on one arm – arm should be at a 45 degree angle
  • Drive with your feet and hips – lift hips off ground
  • Sweep Leg – under your body, should end up next to your hand which is on the ground
  • Move body upright – take hand off the floor
  • Move Leg – that is grounded in a windshield wiper movement until both legs are parallel, ending up in lunge position
  • Drive – off your back foot, through your hips and finally stand up from lunge position

How To Perform Turkish Get Up

Kettlebell Swing

The kettlebell swing is one of the most popular kettlebell exercises as it is great for developing the legs, hips and shoulders. You can’t go wrong by adding this staple exercise to your routine.

To Perform A Textbook Kettlebell Swing:

  • Kettlebell in front of you – between your legs
  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart
  • Slightly bend knees with hips hinged
  • Drive – pick up kettlebell, swing it between your legs, as it is coming back between your legs snap and drive with your hips as your back straightens, let your hips drive the bar up to shoulder height
  • Relax – let kettlebell return to starting position, between your legs
  • Repeat – you should aim for 10-20 reps per set, focus on performing every swing with great form


  • Don’t use too much upper body – your arms are weak, this can also lead to back issues
  • Snap and drive the hips – this is where your power comes from
  • Put your entire weight into the movement – use those big powerful glutes, hamstrings and legs to drive the weight
  • Keep the kettlebell close to your body –  the further away it is the heavier it will feel and the less power you can generate

How To Perform Kettlebell Swing

Grappler’s Row

Rowing is a fundamental movement in BJJ. If you want to build a boulder like back then you need to be doing grappler’s rows.

To Perform A Textbook Grappler’s Row:

  • Staggered stance – get into a wrestling stance with legs bent, back straight, head up, one foot in front of the other
  • Kettlebell at your side – pick up kettlebell and hold by your side, slightly away from your hips
  • Hold kettlebell slightly off floor – only a couple of inches off the ground
  • Keep arms relaxed – it is not an arm exercise, you only want to use your back, if you feel your arms too much you are doing it wrong
  • Row – bring the kettlebell to your chest, focus on pulling the weight with your back

As you return the kettlebell to the ground really focus on engaging your back, abs and lats. To work on your grip strength you can perform static holds. These will burn your arms quickly, start off with 10 seconds and add time as your grip strength increases.

How To Perform Grappler’s Row

How Often Should I Do Kettlebells For BJJ?

To see the most improvement to your BJJ performance you should aim to train kettlebells minimum twice a week and maximum 4 times a week. If you combine your kettlebell training with 4-6 sessions of BJJ a week you will be on the fast track to becoming a nightmare on the mats.

If you stick with the aforementioned routine don’t be surprised if your teammates start asking you if you are on the juice because you are going to feel like you are made out of stone. Your strength levels will be through the roof and your training partner’s are going to struggle to even move you an inch.

How Long Should I Do Kettlebells For BJJ?

Your kettlebell training sessions should be for at least 45 minutes and last for a maximum of 90 minutes. If you are planning on working on strength and using heavy weights for low reps then your workout should be longer as you will need to incorporate longer rest periods. If you are focusing on cardio than your training sessions should be 45-60 minutes as you should reduce rest periods and focus on longer, lighter sets.

Will Kettlebells Make Me Strong For BJJ?

Kettlebells will make you very strong for BJJ. Kettlebells will increase your muscular endurance, the size of your muscles and the maximum force you can exert. Kettlebells are an all round workout which force all of the muscles in your body to work, making them a great tool to build size and get strong.

You can use kettlebells to isolate particular body parts and you can choose how much weight you want to lift. This allows you to build certain body parts and work on endurance, hypertrophy or strength.


Kettlebells are an amazing tool for BJJ. Kettlebells will help you increase your strength, cardio and help you build muscle. Kettlebells are an amazingly effective training modality and you will see amazing results from just three 45 minute sessions a week.

As BJJ requires a strong core, shoulders, back and legs you should incorporate Turkish getups, Cossack squats, grappler’s rows, kettlebell thrusters and swings into your training. If you are looking for an efficient and effective way to increase your strength and cardio so you can dominate the BJJ mats then you need to be training kettlebells.

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