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Strength Training for Judo

Judo is one of the best sports to write a gym program for and this is due to the fact that Judo has many different physical components to it. Strength, power, speed, agility and joint stability are all included in gym programs written specifically or elite Judokas.

To be elite you need to be:

– Aerobically fit: You must be able to complete a 2.5 hour randori session in Japan
– Anaerobically fit: You must be able to fight a 5 minute fight
– Explosive; have the ability to explode at any second for a throw
– Agility; to defend your opponents attacks and escape throws
– Technically sound; have good competition execution of throws, submissions and pins
– Full body strength-endurance; to be able to last a 5 minute fight using all your muscle let alone lungs
– Maximal strength; have the strength to execute a pick up
– Flexible; be flexible enough to bend your way in and out of throws and escape pins
– Mentally strong; be able to put up with sessions in Japan as well as training day in day out everyday
– Tactical mind; must be able to analyse your opponents and competition tactics on and off the mat

In this report I am going to talk about the type of strength training a judo player should be doing in order to become a more powerful, explosive judoka.

Many modern judo players don’t really know how to weight train properly. I believe this is due to 2 reasons. The first reason is that there are many schools out there that give strength and conditioning qualifications and the instructors holding them don’t even know how to teach a basic strength and conditioning techniques. These are the coaches who are meant to be writing a strength program for a judo player tapering for a competition.

The other reason why Judokas do not complete a proper strength program is because there are many older Judo players that competed in a world without the physically strong countries that dominate the world today. A lot of our older generations started weight training at the end of their careers and like many recreational people stick to what they were taught. These older Judo players then go on to coach junior Judo players and teach them the same weight training techniques they did 20 years ago.

The problem with this is science has now tried and tested a lot of the ‘Old school” methods and have found them more harm than good.

For example: it used to be common practice to train athletes until they vomit. Studies show that by training that hard you are filling your body with a poison and the only way to rid the body of poison is to vomit. This then results in your body taking 30% longer to recover. This is a very important find and many coaches need to take this into account when running judo sessions.

What exercises should judo players do?

Judo players need to complete full body exercises (preferably in a standing position.) they also need grip strength, pulling strength, power and explosiveness. Along with this they need strong core muscles focusing on rotation above all others.

There are many fundamental exercises that are good for all levels of judo players. Some exercises are just too hard to learn so don’t bother, e.g. Snatch, High pulls, etc.

Below is a list of all the exercises I believe should be done by all competitive judo players. Most of these exercise I would prescribe 5 sets of 5 one week and 3 sets of 5 on the 2nd week. With a maximal lift once every 2 weeks.

I have chosen these exercises and perform them myself due to the power and explosive component of them all.

The best exercises Judokas should be completing Strength Training for Everyday Athletes are power cleans, deadlifts, dips, rope climb, bench press, push press, farmers walk, thrusters, squats and complexes.

I believe that when training your abdominals you must use your upper body as well. This is because when doing judo you don’t do a crunch or leg raise on the floor. When doing Judo your abs rotating and activating simultaneously with your upper body. Therefore when doing core exercises you should be using your arms at the same time.

Below is a list of exercise which simulate this type of simultaneous action.

Please note that i believe crunches are a waste of time for Judo because you are never on the ground crunching up when doing Judo you are always standing and rotating. Therefore when performing abdominal exercises you must be in a standing position and doing rotational movements such as windscreen wipers, l sits, spartan bench press, wrestler twists and barbell twists.

The following exercises are just good for Judo. They require full body co-ordination and can be used as part of a training session (especially circuits.) Shot putting (or db throw), sledgehammer slams, kettlebells, sandbag, Turkish get ups, car pushing/pulling, sled pulling, box jumps, mb slams/throws and clapping pushups.

If you cannot find a partner or get your hands on some gym equipment these are plenty of good cardio circuits you can do using a bike, elliptical, stair climber or rowing machine. You may also like to perform short bursts of burpees, skipping, hill sprints, turkish get ups or boxing.

If you are at the dojo and want to do some Judo specific exercises perform techniques such as bear crawls, uchikomi rubbers, rope climbing, wheelbarrows, shadow uchikomi, cartwheels, handstands and forward rolls.

I hope this article has helped you understand a bit more about the exercises I recommend when training for Judo that you find a trainer that knows what Judo is. Too many personal trainers in gyms and coaches don’t quite understand what strength training is all about and prescribe exercises that are a waste of time.

For competitive Judo you need full body power and strength and you cannot get that by doing a set of bicep curls or seated rows. You must be doing compound movements with heavy weight and low reps. This is the only way to build strength.

As for core strength, remember that we want abdominal exercises that incorporate the upper body not just the abdominals. Good luck with your training I hope I have opened your mind to more specific training for Judo utilizing proper strength exercises instead of the usual program that so many players do on a regular basis.

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