Six Best Kettlebell Exercises for BJJ and MMA

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Kettlebells for BJJ, BJJ Workout
/ Jun 13, 2024
Anna Moore

Art Belarde is a retired Navy veteran, owner of Art of War Jiu Jitsu and is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt. He believes everybody needs a stressor in life. In Jiu Jitsu you’re presented with a bunch of problems and the problems are physical in nature. So everything that you’re thinking about in the outside world doesn’t even matter anymore. You’re just concentrating on your task at hand.

BJJ and fitness go hand in hand, and Belarde advises his students to really think about a strength and conditioning program to coincide with their jiu jitsu training. Having a strong body to be able to perform the martial arts techniques is so important. Your strength and natural abilities matter when you go against somebody else who has just as good of technique as you.

Belarde says kettlebell workouts are unmatched for building core strength, power, and explosiveness required for BJJ.


"As somebody who’s had a serious shoulder injury in the past. I can’t tell you how important it is that you fortify your joints and the kettlebells are a great way to do that. So when I use the kettlebells, I’m using it for a lot of stability-style stuff. There’s no clear path for a kettlebell. It can be any range of motion that you’re able to kind of place it."


I like to use goblet squats for when I’m warming up before I get on the mat. Anything that has a big compound movement that moves all my major joints gets me ready for my rolls and hard training.


Farmers carry is my favorite exercise for core strengthening. You just pick up a weight on one side and just walk.


The Turkish get-ups translates directly into Jiu Jitsu. We use the tactical standup all the time from a guard position to get to a dominant position. Let’s say the X guard will extend them out. We use our tactical standup from our Turkish Get-Up to get to that top position, create the control, make the take down and make our passes.


I love using heavy kettlebell swings. Your feet are planted. So you kind of generate a whole lot of power and it translates into jiu jitsu. A lot of times you’ll need that bit of explosive power. Sometimes when I’m doing a double underpass, I grab a hold of that belt, with a big, huge thrust up, send my opponent to the turtle position and I’m able to start moving from there.


Russian twist. That’s a great motion. We use that twisting motion all the time. Like when we go to arm drag a person or we use it for a collar drag or any kind of twisting pulling motion, and most of grappling is pulling it’s not pushing. But if you have that twisting, that pulling, that good, strong, core strength, you’re gonna be able to dominate your roles.


I use kettlebell sit-ups to strengthen my core. So when I use my favorite guard, which is the butterfly guard to hit my cross collar chokes, I can get there more explosively and my technique is more flawless because of it and I’m able to do it longer.

Interested in supplementing your training with Kettlebells? Give one of these workouts a try.

7 Rounds :
50 Meter KB Carry
20 Standing KB Row (10 each side)
10 KB Squats
10 Burpees

5 Rounds :
10 TGUs (5 each side)
10 Back rolls to standing
10 KB Strict Press (5 each side)
10 Burpees

5 Rounds * without putting the KB down during a round
16 Goblet Squats
20 Russian Swings
16 Alternating Reverse Lunges

10 Rounds :
20 Alternating twists
15 V Ups
10 Superman Hold
1 minute elbow plank

5 Rounds :
20 KB Sit Ups
10 Alternating Turkish Get Ups
20 Leg Raises
10 Push Ups

20 sec work/ 10sec rest / 8 Rds