As competitive BJJ is typically categorised by bodyweight (excluding the open classes), it’s important for us to focus primarily on increasing strength:weight ratio. Driving up maximal strength alone will inevitably plateau over time based on the amount of muscle tissue available, so maximising lean muscle mass vs carrying excess adipose tissue (fat) is preferable.
You'll note that these strength standards fall into some simplified overarching categories:
It’s important to note that these six categories are branches at the bottom of the tree, we can also look to incorporate different planes of motion (sagittal, frontal, transverse) variance in stance, load, velocity and duration as well as perhaps most importantly, body position.
Most of the strength numbers below are limited to the sagittal plane - however, as we know in grappling sports such as BJJ much of your movement will fall outside of this range of motion, which is why dogmatically adhering to a given training methodology almost always limits progression and leaves performance gains on the table - CrossFit anyone?
In the table below you’ll see example relative strength standards for the Male and Female adult IBJJF categories (all in kilograms).
Whilst these strength ratios and standards are generalised there are undeniable sport-specific benefits that come from being stronger
increased bone density
ability to recover faster from bouts of intense training
When your sport is build around exploiting the inherent weaknesses in the body of your opponent - it makes sense to capitalise on your body’s ability to get stronger and more resilient.
“Stronger people are harder to kill, and more useful in general” - Mark Rippetoe
Interested in seeing where you sit? As part of our BJJ Performance Program we run all athletes through this baseline testing, then seek to systematically drive up relative strength (among other performance metics) across the board. In additional giving feedback, connection to your coach, guidance on nutrition, making weight, peaking & tapering.
These standards aren’t the be all end all, and I use them as a compass to direct training, help identify priorities, development opportunities and develop balance in my athletes.