Grapplers AB Routine




Words by: Nick Routhier

ab workout

How many times have you heard this “Hip Control” or “find the angle” I’m betting if you have ever been to a tournament, you have heard numerous coaches calling out these instructions? Hip movement is imperative for all Jiu Jitsu practitioners, it is how you attack submissions from any sort of guard, and it is how you defend the guard pass in many different situations. Many people understand that hip movement is necessary to have any success when playing on the bottom, but most people don’t even know which muscle group is responsible for this key movement.

I have two words for you, Lower Abdominals.  This specific section of the core is responsible for lifting the hips, but not many people know how to work their lower abdominals. I have another two words for you, Leg Raises, or more specifically hanging leg raises.

Here is a quick 20-30 min ab routine that I typically do at the end of my weight lifting routine. Equipment required includes, a 20 and a 40 lb dumbbell, ab straps are suggested:


·        3 sets hanging leg raises: 10 reps


   3 sets Russian twists(with dumbbell): 40 reps


·        3 sets of crunches: 30 crunches


–  3 sets of hanging twists: 15 reps


·        3 sets hanging straight leg raises: 10 reps

– 3 sets dumbbell oblique leans(with dumbbell): 30 each side


Tips on technique:


·        Hanging leg raises: keep knees bent and make sure to use full range of motion. When bringing legs up concentrate on lifting your hips not just your legs this will ensure good lower abdominal activation.

ab workout


·        Russian Twists: grab the 20 lb dumbbell, position legs off ground and lift torso up. Start by holding the dumbbell out in front of you then twist your torso to one side until the weight is a couple inches from the ground, explosively twist your torso bringing the dumbbell up and to the other side. You should feel your oblique’s activating with every twist.   

ab workout


·        Crunches: keep your feet planted and concentrate on making an explosive movement with your upper abdominals to a sit up position. Start off explosive until muscle fatigue sets in then slow it down and really try to squeeze the abs at the top of the sit up.

ab workout


·        Hanging Twists: This in my opinion is probably the most beneficial exercise movement for a guard player that I know of. Start by putting your knees together and twisting your pelvis so your knees are pointing to your side (either one) then concentrate on lifting your hips using your oblique muscles. Then switch sides. This really targets the lower oblique’s.

ab workout


·        Hanging straight leg raises: I look at this as more of a complete core exercise compared to the bent knee hanging leg raise which is more of an isolative exercise. Keep your legs straight and raise your hips up along with your legs until your shins reach whatever bar you are hanging from. Try to control your legs on the way down (or the negative portion of the exercise).

ab workout


·         Dumbbell oblique leans: all you need for this one is a 40 lb dumbbell. What you’re going to do is lean to the side that you are holding the dumbbell, use your oblique’s on the opposite side to raise the weight by leaning to the side with no dumbbell. Use your free hand to feel your oblique’s activating, this will increase mind muscle connection and overall muscle activation/ growth. 

ab workout




Believe it or not I saw an amazing improvement in my Jiu Jitsu game (especially on the bottom) once I began exercising core every day. It is such a durable important muscle group I suggest that everyone work their abs at least every two days, you will notice a great improvement in just your overall ability to control your hip movement and ultimately your opponent.   

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