There are literally hundreds and hundreds of exercises out there. But which ones are will improve your performance on the mat. Here is a list of 10 fantastic body-weight exercises that will build strength, power and explosiveness for all Judokas.
Body-weight squats will develop strength and stability in the lower body. Strength in the legs is something the Japanese pride themselves on. That is one reason why they develop so much power when they execute a technique. Make sure when you are squatting that you get low enough so that your thighs are parallel to the floor. Drive through your heels, don’t fall backwards and maintain your balance.
One of the hardest and best body-weight exercises on the planet. Burpees develop leg power and upper body strength and when done as part of a circuit or in a Tabata interval will dramatically increase your fitness levels. Simply squat down, extend your legs out into a push up position, perform a push up, bring your legs back to a squatting position and proceed to explode upwards jumping as high as you can.
Whether it is traditional, close grip, wide grip, box, or scooping pushups the fact of the matter is that push-ups will give your upper body a strength boost. Having a strong upper body will result in you being able to create really good reactions when you fight which can assist in your throwing your opponent.
One of the hardest but most beneficial exercises in not just the bodyweight exercise category, but in strength training as well. The ability to pull your chin above a bar will greatly improve your strength and overall success on the mat. Whether it is close, wide or alternate grip chin ups, if you make chin ups a part of your regular gym programs you will not only get a stronger back but also have a greater strength when it comes to pulling your opponent off balance.
Similar to chin-ups, the rope climb is one of the most beneficial exercises for judokas. The rope climb is utilized by all top level judo players due to the fact that it not only increase your arm, back and core strength but also increase your lactic acid buffer in your forearms and arms. This is a great attribute to have in the last few minutes of a judo match. If you are constantly climbing the rope week in, week out you will see an increase in your ability to not only grip fight hard, but grip fight for longer.
Elastic band open shuts
Judokas are constantly gripping and flexing the forearm and wrist muscles and as a result most have a muscle imbalance in forearms. This imbalance can lead to injuries such as RSI and tendinitis. Elastic band open shuts will slowly strengthen the opposing muscles (wrist and forearm ex-tensors) creating a muscle balance in the wrists and forearms. Simply wrap an elastic band around your fingers and open and close them for 50 reps a day for the first week and slowly increase week after week.
Ab brace, prone hold, plank or bridge. This exercise has so many names and most the time it is performed incorrectly. To perform a Core holds properly assume a push-up position but rest on your elbows instead of your hands. Your hips should be parallel to the floor, do not drop your hips or raise them too high. Concentrate on your abdominal and lower back muscles and slowly bring your shoulder-blades together. Hold for desired time limit. If this becomes too easy slowly raise an arm and leg off the ground. This will make your core have to adjust slightly to compensate for the hips tilting.
Hanging leg raises
This seems like a simple exercise but is actually very difficult. Hang off a chin up bar and let your legs hang slightly off the floor. Contract your core muscles, slightly bend your knees and raise your feet as high as you can towards the bar. Try to avoid any excess swinging. If this is too difficult then raise your knees to your chest instead. Perform 4 sets of 15 repetitions.
Similar to a bodyweight squat but once you reach the bottom of the squat explode upwards and jump slightly off the ground. Be sure to land on your toes and repeat for desired number of repetitions.
Another exercise that seems easy but after two or three repetitions becomes quite difficult. Perform a push-up and instead of pushing your body back to the starting position explode upwards, getting some airtime long enough to clap your hands. Land and repeat for desired number of repetitions.
I recommend performing 11 seconds on and 9 seconds off for as many rounds as you can handle.
If you add any of these exercises to your strength and conditioning programs you will find that your Judo will improve. All of the above exercises are fantastic for Judo. Remember that Judo players should be training like Judo players so it is vital that the exercises you are performing in the gym are catering specifically for Judo.