When it comes to ground game, control over your opponent is, well, the name of the game.
As most of us know, when you have a strong ground, or grappling technique, you can improve your position, outmaneuver the other person, and even get them into a lock sooner rather than later.
It takes a lot of strength and skill in order to come out on top when you’re on the ground (the irony!), so let’s walk through the best exercises that you should be doing to improve your grappling game.
Your Grip Strength Is Crucial In Grappling
Having a strong grip is one of the most important aspects of mastering your grappling technique. You want to make sure that you’re able to grab on to a moving opponent who’s doing everything they can to get away from you – not an easy task to do if your hands give halfway through.
You’ll also want to make sure that you have excellent pull strength – this will ensure that you can literally pull your opponent in, putting you into an advantageous position where you can get them into a lock and seal the deal. To increase your pull strength, you’ll want to make sure that you have a strong upper body, including your arms, shoulders, and back muscles.
Don’t Forget Your Core and Stabilizer Muscles
Besides your grip and pull strength, you’ll also want to make sure that your core is strong and your movements are stable if you want to perfect your grapple.
Again, grappling is all about control. When you’re on the mat, both you and your opponent are constantly shifting around and trying to outmaneuver one another. This requires a high level of balance and stability, and any time you lose your center of gravity while changing directions, you’re putting yourself in a dangerous situation where you could get taken down.
Having strong core and stabilizer muscles will help you to stay on your feet, as well as give all of your movements more power.
Your core muscles include your abdominals and obliques, while your stabilizer muscles can be found in your hips and pelvis, where they all work together to support your skeletal system and large muscle groups, as well as helping you maintain balance.
The Best Exercises For Grappling
So we have a couple of different focal points to work on here when it comes to grappling: your grip, your pull, your core, and your stabilizer muscles. And luckily, there are few better ways to improve your grip and pull than with the trusty pull-up bar!
These are going to get more difficult as we go, so you’ll be able to progressively challenge your muscles to the extreme and see some big payoffs in your grappling.
This classic exercise is a great way to challenge both your grip strength and endurance, not to mention your shoulders, arms, back, and core muscles, so it’s a great all-in-one for what we need to be working on for our grappling.
Grab on to your pull-up bar and simply hang for as long as you can. Try to aim for hanging for at least one full minute so you can really maximize the effects it’ll have on your grip strength.
2. Towel Hangs
Now let’s take it to the next level. Once you’ve mastered the classic hang, move on to the towel variation. This move changes your grip from horizontal to vertical, which will definitely up the ante. You’ll also be challenging your forearms, which will help with your grappling.
To do the towel hang, simply find two towels and loop them around the pull-up bar. Then grab a hold of each of the towels in each hand and hang, again for as long as you can and ideally for at least one minute.
If you’d like, you can also buy grandfather clock grip pull-up bar attachments that have the same effect. The key difference with these is that they’ll be made of metal, rather than a textured fabric material, so they’ll have very little friction and will be even harder to grip. If you go this route, don’t worry about making it for a full minute – just hold on for as long as you possibly can.
3. Towel Pull-Ups
Once you’ve mastered the hang, it’s time to move on to the “pull” section with your pull-ups. Pretty simple here: still using the towel as your grip, pull your body up, the same way you would with a classic pull-up, then lower with control and repeat. This move is great for increasing your pull power, which will translate really well once you’re grappling with an opponent and need to pull them in to get them into a lock.
Your core is already getting a decent amount of work from the hangs and the pull-ups, but you can also add some knee raises in along with your pull-up movement so you can get those core muscles really fired up.
In addition, you can also consider doing non-traditional movements, like rope swings or lifting and setting down sandbags, or even rowing.
The Bottom Line
Being a good grappler means having great stability and knowing how to maintain control. These qualities require strong core muscles and strong hands, so make sure that you dedicate time in your workout routine to conditioning them. These simple exercises might make the difference between having someone in a lock and being locked yourself at your next fight.