Alternatives to the traditional BJJ warm-up


Is there a standard BJJ warm-up? From my experience of training at my own academy and training at other gyms, the standard warm-up usually goes something along the lines of this:

  • Light jogging
  • 2 sets forward rolls
  • 2 sets backwards rolls
  • 2 sets hip escapes
  • scooting armdraps
  • Over the shoulder rolls
  • Squats/Burpees/sit ups

If this looks familiar, you are not alone! It would seem that everyone is in agreement that warming up is essential to avoid injury. However, have you ever asked yourself why do so many people warm up in such a similar way? Is there evidence that these movements are the best way to avoid injury and practice the fundamental movements required for the sport. The standard warmup is not wrong but there there are alternative options available.


Flow rolling

Flow rolling is an excellent way of slowing loading the muscles while also practicing fundamental movements. Flow rolling should start off very light and slowly increase in pace and intensity as desired. It must be noted that the concept of flow rolling is understood differently by each person. If poorly understood there will not be much flow. It is the instructors job to ensure that this is not the case and that students work on key movements as opposed to just sparring.

Technique chains with no resistance

This is something that is popular at 10th Planet. They have 8 sets that chain together techniques  in a low impact sequence. This is an excellent way of drilling while also preparing your body for the intensity of some of the movements that will be taught at a later stage of the class. Check out the video below for a description of these warm ups.


Many kids classes feature team games and mini competitions in place of a warmup. Wheel barrow races, carrying, relays, and conditioned games work the key muscle groups of the body including the posterior chain. This allows students to get warm while also bringing some novelty and variety to the class.

Do your own warm up

This is apparently the norm at John Danahers classes at the Renzo Gracie academy in New York. Classes are scheduled for 12.00 but teaching does not commence until approx 12.20. In the 20 minutes or so in between students get warm and get moving before the class begins properly. The idea behind this seems to allow John to focus solely on the teaching of concepts.