• SarahThackray


Updated: Mar 9, 2019

I've had a ton of questions from people about the workouts that I do, and what is the best way to lift weights to supplement jiu jitsu training. Just a disclaimer before I share my techniques...I am not a personal trainer, and what works best for me may not be right for you.

I started out by doing makeshift circuit workouts in my condo gym, piecing together exercises with the limited equipment I have there. This comprised of about an half hour high intensity workout with no rests. For these, I go through a circuit of about 10 exercises 3 times, working a variety of muscle groups. I still do these workouts about once a week or when I'm short for time.

Heres an example of my most common circuit:

- 25 pushups

- 2 minute plank

- 12 chinups

- 10 dips

- 20 roman chair straight leg raises

- 10 reps barbell raises

- 10 kettlebell squats

- 10 reps cable tricep pushdowns

- 10 dumbell bicep curls

- 10 seated cable row

Everything x3!

Over the past year weightlifting has blossomed into a second passion of mine, separate from jiu jitsu and I don't just do it solely to complement my training. The most satisfying thing for me is to see the little improvements that come from consistency in the gym- better form, heavier weights, discovering a great new exercise or piece of equipment to incorporate into my workouts etc. I love that it is a non-competitive athletic outlet for me.

Several times a week I drive out to my favourite gym in Port Coquitlam to do my major lifts (bench press, deadlifts, squats). It is primarily a hardcore bodybuilding gym, but I love the energy there. I knew as soon as I walked in the door that this was an environment I could set PRs in. I know it seems silly to drive half an hour each way out to lift weights when there are many other gyms near my house in Kits, but if life isn't spent doing what you enjoy, where you want to be enjoying it, then what is it for?

When I do my heavier workouts (about 5x a week) I rotate through the 3 major lifts. For example, if it is bench day I will start with that exercise and then build a full body workout around it- but I won't squat or deadlift on that day. I will do 6 sets of the major lift with 3 working sets. These workouts are an hour long in total and the major lift usually takes about 25 minutes of it to get through all my sets.

I enjoy doing supersets or alternating sets on as many exercises as I can, to get the most out of my time in the gym and to really push myself to failure. Nothing feels more satisfying than when you can't possibly do another rep because you've fatigued your muscles so much. That's where the magic happens. A superset back exercise combo I really like is deadlifts and chin-ups. As well- squats, leg extensions, and leg curls make a crazy triset that will leave your legs feeling like jello.

If I have completely exhausted a muscle group after a few exercises, I will switch to other random exercises for the remainder of the workout. To be honest, it's whatever exercises I feel inspired to do on that day. This helps keep it creative and gives me a chance to try all the unique equipment I'm so fortunate to have access to at West Coast Iron. I realize that this isn't the most conventional way to work out as most people have designated leg, arm, chest days etc. but I have found that this keeps things interesting and allows for more flexibility. Another challenge I like to give myself is to try one new thing every workout. It doesn't have to be anything drastic! For example, yesterday I tried lat pulldowns with the MAG grip attachment instead of the normal bar grip and discovered that I liked it a lot better.

Here's a few examples of the all-over-the-place 1 hour workouts I put together:

Bench Day:

- bench press

- overhead military barbell press & pushups superset

- shrugs

- preacher curls

- walking weighted lunges & leg press superset

- pec fly & rear delt superset

- lat pull downs

Squat Day:

- barbell squats

- leg extension (quads) & leg curl (hamstring) superset

- planks & situps superset

- dips & incline dumbbell press superset

- hip abductor & hip adductor machine superset

- tricep push downs & skull crushers superset

Deadlift Day:

- deadlifts & chin-ups superset

- rack pulls

- seated cable row & t-bar row superset

- back extensions

- lat dumbell raises

- sled push

- battle ropes

- chest press machine

- weighted calf raises

I also try to incorporate about 20 minutes of stretching in between sets as well, since I have really tight shoulders and hips. It's definitely a better use of time than sitting on your phone between sets!

As you can see, these workouts are pretty random. I usually lift weights 6 days a week for an hour on top of jiu jitsu training 6-7 days a week for 2-2.5 hours. It gets pretty exhausting, but is also very fun and satisfying for me. I truly believe that the human body can adapt to anything you set your mind to do! Let me know if you have any questions! :)

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