How Mobility Training Can Improve Your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) - Spar Soap | Natural Soap for Combat Athletes

How Mobility Training Can Improve Your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)

Find out what mobility training is, how it benefits Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ), and why you’re probably not doing enough of it. Don’t worry, we’ll help you get started TODAY on becoming bendy, strong, and harder to kill on the mats.

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There's a reason Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is fondly known as “folding clothes with people inside them." In BJJ, you need to be able to move your body with freedom and control your opponent in various positions. Of course, rolling and drilling techniques are important. But you might be missing out on one HUGE thing that will improve your BJJ: mobility training.

Mobility work has always been a staple for serious athletes, but its popularity has skyrocketed in recent years. UFC champions like Conor McGregor, Georges St-Pierre, and TJ Dillashaw rave about it. They credit mobility training for improving their game and share their routines on social media. Dr. Kelly Starrett’s book about mobility training, Becoming a Supple Leopard, was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. 

Watch any high-level BJJ practitioner in action and you’ll see high levels of mobility at play. Competitors, coaches, and researchers1 recognize the importance of mobility training for BJJ. They know it improves flexibility, balance, and range of motion. Because of this, mobility training can help BJJ practitioners perform better, avoid injury, and enjoy the sport for years to come. 

In this article, we'll explore the benefits of mobility training for BJJ practitioners. We'll also give you specific exercises for better mobility in guard, mount, and back control positions.

mobility bjj


Flexibility vs. Mobility: Which is More Important for BJJ?

You might have heard the words “flexibility” and “mobility” used interchangeably, but they are not the same. Flexibility is the ability of muscles to lengthen and stretch. Mobility is the ability to move joints through their full range of motion using strength.

We all know that guy who can put his legs behind his head when playing guard. Let’s call him Bendy Bob. Say that Bendy Bob can only get his legs behind his head passively, like when you are stacking all your weight on him. For that, he’s using flexibility. Now, say that Bendy Bob can get his legs behind his head on his own “handsfree”, using only strength with no external help. For that, he is also using mobility. 

You can have great flexibility without being mobile, and you can also be super mobile without being flexible. 

While flexibility is important for jiu-jitsu, mobility may be more important. BJJ is full of moments where you suddenly have to move in a weird direction or do something that you’re not used to doing. Good mobility gives you precision, control, stability, and balance in those moments. 

In fact, being flexible without the ability to control your range of motion using strength can actually increase your risk of injury. Adding mobility exercises into your BJJ training routine is key to avoiding injury and improving your performance on the mat.


What is Mobility Training?

Mobility training improves strength and control throughout the full range of motion. By creating more space in the joints, it can: 

  • increase your range of motion.
  • reduce pain and the risk of injury.
  • improve strength and body awareness.
  • enhance your jiu-jitsu performance. 

Mobility exercises often involve joint swings or rotations.2 They can target specific areas of the body, such as the hips, shoulders, spine, and ankles. Or, they can involve full-body movements that incorporate many joints.

To achieve the most effective mobility training, follow a few key principles:


Warm Up

Before mobility training, do 5-10 minutes of light cardiovascular exercise. Then do some dynamic stretching to prepare the muscles and joints for movement. You can also warm up for jiu-jitsu or other activities with a gentle mobility routine, such as this one:

Respect Pain

Choose exercises that are appropriate for your current level of mobility. If you feel pain when performing an exercise, don’t push it. Modify the exercise to make it easier, or decrease the range of motion so that you stop before you feel any pain.

Mix Static and Dynamic Movements

Static stretching is probably what you think of as stretching: getting into a position and holding it for a while. Lately it's fallen out of favor in many fitness circles, but it has a place in a well-rounded mobility routine. It can help you learn to relax in stretched positions. 

You’ll get the most bang for your buck if you combine static stretching with dynamic stretching.3 Dynamic stretching is stretching while being in motion. In the exercises below, you’ll be advised to first pulse in and out of the stretched position (dynamic). Then you'll hold the stretch (static). 

So mix dynamic stretching into your mobility routine for BJJ. You’ll notice that incorporating movement will help your body let go and allow more range of motion.

Stay Consistent

Work mobility exercises into your regular training routine. You can do mobility exercises as part of a warm-up or cool-down. Better yet, you can schedule dedicated mobility sessions throughout the week. 

Don’t expect instant and drastic results. Keep showing up and you’ll feel your mobility increase over time. Consistency is key!


How Much Mobility Do You Need?

The answer to this question is not “one size fits all.” We all have different mobility needs. But you don’t need advanced degrees or assessments to know whether limited mobility is an issue for you.

Just ask yourself some simple questions:

  • Are there positions in BJJ where you feel your body tightening up and holding you back?
  • Which area of the body is stopping you from being comfortable in these positions? (i.e. hips, shoulders, ankles)
  • What do I need to be able to do to be comfortable in these positions? (i.e. touch my toes, bend forward)

Once you’ve answered these questions, you know how much mobility you need and which parts of the body to work on.


Improving Mobility for Guard, Mount, and Back Control in BJJ

Improving Mobility for Closed Guard in BJJ

The closed guard position requires hip and ankle mobility. In closed guard, you need to be able to open your hips to control your opponent's movements. You also need strong ankles that can withstand the pressure of your opponent trying to open your guard.

Improve your hip mobility for closed guard with this routine: 


Improve your ankle mobility for closed guard with this routine:


Improving Mobility for Mount in BJJ

The mount position requires both hip and shoulder mobility. While in mount, you need to be able to move your hips freely to control your opponent. You also need to be able to move your shoulders to execute attacks. 

This routine will improve your shoulder mobility for mount and help you survive shoulder attacks:


Improve your hip mobility for mount with this routine: 


Improving Mobility for Back Control in BJJ

The back control position requires spine and ankle mobility. When you take the back, you need to be able to arch your back and twist your spine to control your opponent. You also need to be able to flex and extend your ankles to maintain a secure hold. 

Improve your spine mobility for back control with this routine:


Improve your ankle mobility for back control with this routine:


Other Benefits of Mobility Training for BJJ

The most obvious benefit of mobility training for BJJ is that it improves your mobility in specific BJJ positions. But it can also:

  • Improve overall flexibility
  • Increase range of motion
  • Improved strength from complex positions
  • Make you more agile
  • Reduce the risk of injury, including muscle strains and tears, in BJJ training and competition
  • Improving joint stability 
  • Increase body awareness and control

To put it simply, mobility training can make you more able to move your body in the ways that you want to move it during BJJ.


The Bottom Line

If you want to improve your jiu-jitsu performance, mobility training is a no-brainer.

A successful BJJ practitioner has both flexibility and mobility. Flexibility is the ability of muscles to lengthen passively. Mobility is the ability to move joints actively through their full range of motion. The BJJ mobility routines in this article will help you move freely, maintain control of your opponent, and reduce your risk of injury. 

You love to move, right? Don’t wait until you’re injured to start thinking about improving your mobility. Add these exercises into your BJJ training routine today! We’ve done the research for you – all you have to do is hit play and do one of these routines 2-3 times per week.

You’ll improve your mobility positions like guard, mount, and back control. You’ll also make yourself more resilient when it comes to defending attacks. But remember – still tap early and often! 


At Spar Soap, we’re all about keeping you on the mats doing what you love as long as possible. If you enjoyed this article, check out our article on ringworm. Here’s to staying mobile and infection-free! 


  1. An Evidenced-Based Training Plan for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
  2. Strength and Conditioning for Brazilian Jiu-jitsu
  3. Dynamic Stretching: 3 Movements for Flexibility