The Diamond Protocol
After your first week of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you will quickly realize the areas you are lacking strength and conditioning in.
You can try to address these problem areas by site specific training, but adding in that many workouts to your already taxing grappling schedule is a sure fire recipe for burnout. There are many coaches that have developed wonderful programs to help you get stronger in general, to lose weight or become more flexible. However; most of these programs are not designed for grapplers, let alone by a grappler himself! Ethan Benda has been a force in the fitness coaching world for many years and is known for his ability to train clients for combat sports. One of his most popular programs is a 12-week training protocol that enables clients to become faster, stronger and more efficient.
The Diamond Protocol takes into account the limited time most people have that are training to improve in a combative sport, as well as the fact that they are already training multiple times a week in other areas. The method is simple enough in theory, but carrying out an entire diamond one time will show you the incredible benefits you will receive from working through this program. There are three main ways Benda recommends to develop your diamond; whole body, legs, or arms. These are all made with antagonistic exercises than rotate to target one specific muscle group per exercise, such as alternating biceps and triceps or including push and pull sets for a whole body protocol. The Diamond itself it named for the shape it makes when written out:
Your diamond can consist of either 6 or 9 exercises, and start from a base of exercise one, adding one exercise at a time until you complete a set of all the exercises. At that point you begin to peel off, starting from the first exercise until you finish with a single set of the last one added. If you chose a 6 exercise diamond this will be 6 sets of 6 exercises, if you chose 9 it will be 9 sets of 9. Picking your exercises isn’t completely up to you though, so you can’t make it too easy!
Here are the guidelines: Your weighted exercises should be done with a weight that is challenging to do 20 reps with, but it is recommended you also work in body weight exercises like push-ups, jump rope, jump squats etc. The number of reps ranges from 8-15, with the wide range due to the fact that you’re going to fail within that gap; for example you might do 15 pushups at the beginning before you stop, but towards the end might only be able to get up to 8. You can also start with a set time of each exercise if you prefer, going for 30-60 sec per set. Depending on which diamond you choose (the 6 or 9) the entire program should take you 20-60 minutes, with the 6 diamond averaging 25-30min and the 9 closer to 60min. Ethan Benda does not recommend doing this program more than once weekly if it is supplementing other training.
If this piqued your curiosity, here is Ethan Benda going through an example of what a set would look like.
Besides pushing through those tough training sessions, another way you can improve your gas tank is through additional strength and conditioning exercises outside of class. Check out Ethan Benda's "Diamond Protocol" here at BJJ Fanatics. As an older guy, Ethan's conditioning would put the vast majority of 20-something grapplers to shame. You can get it here at BJJ Fanatics!
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