WS4SB for BJJ (Westside - Jiu Jitsu)

After not lifting for 10 years, I have returned to the gym to do Joe D’s program. I had great success with this program from age 15 to 19 (now age 31). I’ve modified the program slightly to fit my jiu jitsu training schedule. I am a BJJ blackbelt and have taken time off competing to focus on my strength goals. My goals are to bench 95 kg (210 lbs), back squat 110 kg (242 lbs), front squat 95kg and complete 15 pull ups by the end of the year. I have competed in the lightweight division for the past 5 years at a BW of 74kg (163 lbs). I since put on 6 kg in 6 months from going off night shift but have been training bjj 2-4 times per week during that time. Bodyfat is about ~12-13%. I’m 6ft 2 (188cm) in height and quite skinny - a natural ectomorph.

My bjj/lifting schedule is modified slightly in a biweekly routine. So I’m alternating Repetition Upper Body and Dynamic Lower Body Days on a weekly basis. 4 days lifting is not feasible.

Week 1
Mon - Max Upper Body
Tuesday - BJJ No gi
Wednesday - BJJ gi
Thursday - Max Lower Body
Friday - Repetition Upper Body
Sa - BJJ Gi
Sun - Rest

Week 2
Mon - BJJ Gi
Tues - Max Lower Body
Wednesday - Max Upper Body
Thursday - BJJ No GI
Friday - BJJ GI
Saturday - Dynamic Lower Body
Sunday - Rest

I’m currently starting week 5 of the program. I’ve noticed increased muscle mass in my quads, biceps, upper back and glutes in particular. Haven’t noticed much difference in my strength levels in bjj sparring but have reduced my training intensity a bit. I started supplementing with creatine in week 4. I’ve put 10 kg on my front squat and bench so far but pullups have become harder.

Will post my planned 18 week exercise template below.

1 Like

Max upper and max lower days

1 Like

Biweekly Repetition Upper Body & Dynamic Lower Body Days

Week 4 - Dynamic Effort Lower session (Sat 27th May)

Felt very weak and tired before starting this one.
Did 8 sets of 3 vertical jumps. Did seem to be jumping higher than week 2 and no notible drop off in performance throughtout sets.

Front Squats
20 kg (45lbs) x 10
40 kg (90lbs) x 6
50 kg
60 kg (135lbs) x 1 (gave up as rep felt horrible, completed 5 reps with this weight the previous Tuesday)

Gonna reduce the weight on my dynamic days for front squats especially since they’re not included in the WS4SB3 template. I included them because I feel I need to squat more than once weekly even if the weight isn’t heavy and front squats are less taxing on the CNS than back squats.

Elevated Bulgarian Split Squats
Front foot elevated on two 15kg plates
2 x 15kg DB’s
1 x 7, 1 x 8, 1 x10
First set felt horrible on these, knee was caving inwards and losing balance on my left leg. Recovered well the second set and third set and performance improved.

Barbell Hip thrusts
65 kg x 12
80 kg x 12
85 kg x 12
85 kg x 12
These felt great, easy and big pump in my glutes. Looking forward to adding them as an accessory on my next exercise changeover on ME Lower day. Very functional movement for BJJ too. Nice change from RDL’s.

Hanging Knee Raises
2 x 10 reps

Needed yday’s recovery day, as I felt a bit out of sorts Saturday. Feeling strong today and looking forward to my ME Upper body session this evening.

Week 5 Max Effort Upper Body
Pull ups 1 x 6 reps
BB Bench Press
20kg x 10
42.5kg x 7
52.5kg x 6
62.5kg (138 lbs) x 6
Could have used more weight, next week I’ll put on 67.5kg on the bar

Flat DB Bench Bench Press
22.5 kg DB’s 1 x 15, 1 x 12
Was expecting some more reps

Seated Cable rows supersetted with DB rear flies
45 kg x 12, 11, 8, 11
DB rear Flies 12.5kg 4 sets x 10
My least favourite combination, really bored with the cable rows. Thinking about changing exercises every 4 weeks rather than 6 weeks for next two cycles.

DB Shrugs
27.5kg DB’s 1 x 16, 3 x 20
Left hand grip starts slipping after 14 reps but can still complete the reps

EZ bar curls
22.5 kg on 8kg EZ bar 3 x 10
These are challenging and have made progress. Hope will translate to my RNC squeeze.

2 days jiu jitsu and then on to ME Lower body.

Tuesday - No gi training
Noticing that I’m able to break posture a little easier and my defense is a little better (defending armbars easier) but my overall performance hasn’t improved much. Felt a tweak in my hamstring during warm up shooting a double but nothing serious just a reminder to warm up correctly. Little bit of pain in my left hip.

Wednesday - Gi morning class
I hate working out in the morning. Never feel as sharp. Still a little bit of hip pain on top on the femur bone. 4 rounds of sparring, felt ok.
Went to the recovery plus. 5 minutes jacuzzi, cold plunge at 6.5 degrees Celsius for 5 minutes, 5 minutes Jacuzzi, 10 mins Infrared Sauna, 2 mins cold plunge, 15 mins compression pants and massage gun on the hip area. Hopefully, legs/hips will feel ok for Max Effort Lower body tomorrow evening.

1 Like

What sort of improvement are you looking for?

I’ve always been a technical grappler but since pushing on in age I’ve found it more difficult to match some of the stronger guys in training despite improving my skill level over time. My finishing rate amongst lower belts is quite low. So I want to increase my strength and maintain my new weight of 80-82 kg. Stronger grip, core and legs. I think getting my bench, pull ups, squat and deadlift up will help.

Max Effort leg day
Front Squats
20kg x 3
40kg x 3
50kg x 3
57.5kg x 3
65 kg x 3
Was hoping for 5 reps but struggled with keeping upright, legs felt weak coming out of the hole. Maybe my bracing wasn’t great for last 2 reps.

Reverse Lunges
20kg DB’s 1 x 10 reps
22.5kg DB’s x 2 x 12
These felt good, balanced well. Grip felt fatigued holding the DB’s on the last set.

Romanian Deadlifts
60kg 1 x 12
90kg x 3 x 12
Felt easy. Might bump up the weight to 97.5kg next week.

2 x ab circuit
Sprinter sit ups, V ups, toe touches and Hip ups 20reps each

Thinking I should maybe start lifting with a belt as I’m not bracing well.
Repetition upper body day tomorrow.

1 Like

Black belt in BJJ is super impressive man!

How long have you been training?

Thank you. I’ve been training 11 years. Started MMA in April 2013 and ended up focusing on BJJ mostly.

1 Like

Now following.

Looking forward to seeing how you do. I’m a BJJ Blue belt and I’m doing 5/3/1 for similar reasons.


Awesome, that’s the reason why I posted…to figure out is it a decent program while still training bjj 3-4 times per week. Have you a log? How often are you training?

Hey man

yep, my log is here

I’m training 5/3/1 3 days a week.

I’m getting back into BJJ after recovering from an injury, but i usualy train 3 days a week when i’m training full time.


How do you find recovering after weight training?

1 Like

Repetition Upper Body Day

  1. Wide grip Pull ups x 3
    Pull ups x 3
    Was annoyed I couldn’t do many wide grip pullups so did normal grip ones
  2. Incl DB Bench Press 20kg DB’s 3 x 12
    A bit uncomfortable at a higher incline.

3a. Lat Pull-down 45kg 4x10
3b.Face pulls 25kg 4 x12 reps
Face pulls always make my shoulders and posture feel good. Always disliked Lat Pull-downs.
4.Lateral Raises 10kg 4 x 12

5a. BB shrugs 3 x 8, 85kg
5b. Hammer curls 3 x 8 15kg
Probably should have used straps on the shrugs, grip could only last 8 reps.

6.Forearms Heavy DB hold 1 x 37 secs, 1 x 30 secs
Hang from thick pull up bar 35 seconds
Grip needs a lot of improvement.

Most frustrating thing is how slow my Pull ups are progressing. Used to be able to do 10 with a 10kg vest and struggling to do over 5 atm with only BW.

1 Like

So the biggest thing I’ve had to grapple with (pun intended) is understanding that the weight lifting is to support and enhance my BJJ. The 5/3/1 template I’m on right now is low volume, but I’m making good progress, but I’m not so blown out that I’m too sore/tired for BJJ. My instinct is to go as hard as i can on the weights, but when i do that I’m missing or not performing at BJJ.

I also find that nutrition and rest are even more important. If I’m not eating enough, both weights and BJJ are just too much and I’m drained every day.


1 Like

Assuming your warmups on the mat are fairly constant, measure your HR after completing them - if your heart rate starts noticeably increasing while you’re spending a lot of time in the gym and on the mat, it might mean you’re overtraining.


Following along. Enjoy seeing how others train BJJ and incorporate weights. I’m just a white belt gym affiliate nomad.


HRV is an interesting thing that I haven’t looked into enough. I remember from one season of The Ultimate Fighter the head coach of the BlackZillians used it extensively to guide their training.