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Resistance Training for Judo: Functional Strength Training Concepts and Principles

Thomas Henry, MS, CSCS Department of Athletics, Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton, California




J udo is a dynamic, high-intensity

intermittent sport that requires

complex skills and tactical excel-

lence for success (15). During a single

judo match, athletes may be required to perform a great number of highly

technical and energy-demanding ath- letic movements, subjecting the body to high levels of stress over prolonged periods, resulting in physical and men- tal fatigue (51). A typical high-level judo match lasts between 3 and 4 minutes, with averages of 20- to 30- second periods of activity displaced by an average of 5–10 seconds of inter- ruption (9). Judo medalists of major tournament competitions are typically involved in 5–7 matches in a single day (21). Given the physical and mental rigors associated with the sport of competitive judo, it would appear to be extremely beneficial for a judo athlete to possess optimal neuromus- cular control and efficiency of function, as well as decreased injury potential.

Functional training is often defined as training that is aimed at bringing the situational needs and constraints of real- life activities into the training environ- ment to enhance training effectiveness (28). Applying this concept to resistance training for judo requires understan- ding the physiological demands of the sport and selecting resistance exercises that improve the abilities of the athlete necessary to properly execute sport- specific techniques. Sport-specific exer- cises, however, do not lend themselves well to the weight room because they are exercises conducted in such a way that the amplitude and direction of a particular movement, as well as the dynamics of the strength release and the

contraction of the muscles involved in that movement, correspond to the actual movement of a competitive situation (4). It is recommended that judo sport– specific exercises, such as throwing, pinning, and submission techniques, are restrained to technique drills or actual fighting scenarios on the mat where the desired competitive movement, both in relation to structure and time sequence, can be properly practiced.

The purpose of this article is to provide the reader with an introduction to key functional resistance training concepts and principles that when understood and applied appropriately can aid in developing an effective and well- balanced strength training program for judo athletes. The topics that follow have been specifically chosen for their relevance to the introduction of a func- tional approach to resistance training for judo.



An Australian strength coach, King, was the first person to make popular a series


core training; exercise progression; lower extremity training; movement preparation; periodization; program prescription

40 VOLUME 33 |


Copyright National Strength and Conditioning Association

program prescription 40 VOLUME 33 | NUMBER 6 | DECEMBER 2011 Copyright National Strength and Conditioning

of elements necessary to increase ath- letic performance and maintain proper muscular balance. King stresses that any omission in ‘‘the essentials’’ will lead to imbalances contributing to an increased risk for injury. It is recommended that the essentials be covered at least once, if not twice a week in any strength program for optimal results. The essen- tials include: core strength, power training, knee dominant double- and single-leg exercises, hip dominant bent knee and straight leg exercises, hori- zontal presses, vertical presses, horizon- tal pulls, and vertical pulls. Also important to exercise selection is the ratio of exercises. To promote shoulder health, vertical pulls should be trained in similar proportion to horizontal presses. This will ensure balance in the shoulder girdle and reduce the risk of rotator cuff injury. Similarly, balancing hip domi- nant exercises with knee dominant exercises will promote proper hip balance and may reduce the risk of hamstring injury (14,17,55). Equally important is balancing bent knee hip dominant exercises with straight-leg hip-dominant exercises for proper glu- teal and hamstring development. Exer- cise examples of the essentials are depicted in Table 1.


The execution of judo techniques requires the coordination of multiple joints, and experienced judo players develop specific biomechanical ten- dencies according to their individual body types. The judo player must adapt to a moving center of mass introduced by the addition of the opponent’s resisting body mass and force. As such, specific attention on the mobility and stability of joints are an important component of strength training for judo (27).

The joint-by-joint approach is a concept discussed by Cook and Boyle attempt- ing to explain the demands of different joints and how the functions of these joints relate to training. Although each joint is responsible for demonstrating various degrees of both mobility and stability, for the purpose of this discus- sion, joint complexes exhibiting greater


Table 1

Essential components of a sound strength program

Core strength exercises

Power training exercises

Prone/supine/lateral planks

Hang clean

Ab rollouts

Modified hang snatch

Body saw

1-arm DB hang snatch

Pallof press variations

MB throws

Landmine variations (Figure 1)

Slide board speed skating

Turkish get-up



Stir the pot

Depth drops

Chop/lift variations

Kettle bell swings



Hip dominant exercises

Horizontal press exercises

Bent knee

Straight leg

Bench press

Single-leg hip lift variations

SSLRDL variations reverse slide lunge

DB chest press variations

Double-leg hip thrusts (Figure 2)

Leg curl variations

Push-up variations

Horizontal pull

Vertical pull

Single arm/leg row

Pull-up progressions

Rotational row

Single arm band/cable pull-downs

Inverted row


Cable single-leg row


Knee dominant exercises

Vertical press



DB shoulder press variations

Front squat

Single-leg squat

DB incline press variations

(Figure 4)

Lateral squat

Walking lunge

Neider press variations

Split squat



RFESS (Figure 3)


DB = dumbbell; MB = medicine ball; RFESS = rear foot–elevated split squat; SSLRDL = single straight leg Romanian deadlift.

relative mobility roles under normal function will be termed as mobility joints, and joint complexes exhibiting greater relative stability roles under the same set of conditions will be termed as stability joints. The body can be explained as a stack of joints where

each joint complex has a specific func- tion and is prone to predictable levels of dysfunction (6). Beginning with the foot and moving proximally, the joint-by- joint concept identifies joint complexes as alternating between stability and mobility roles.

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complexes as alternating between stability and mobility roles. Strength and Conditioning Journal | 4 1

Resistance Training for Judo

Resistance Training for Judo Figure 1. Hurdle-step landmine lift. Trauma and or prolonged inactivity are usually

Figure 1.

Hurdle-step landmine lift.

Trauma and or prolonged inactivity are usually the main culprits for the breakdown of the functional interac- tion between joints, giving rise to dysfunctional moment patterns that can lead to injury (6,13). Because joints are linked together in a kinetic chain, if

Because joints are linked together in a kinetic chain, if Figure 2. (a) Barbell double-leg hip

Figure 2.

Figure 2.

(a) Barbell double-leg hip thrust starting position. (b) Barbell double-leg hip thrust finish position.

(b) Barbell double-leg hip thrust finish position. Figure 3. Barbell front rear foot–elevated split squat. a

Figure 3.

Figure 3.

Barbell front rear foot–elevated split squat.

a single joint becomes impacted, joints

above and below the original affected site must now compensate for either

a lack of mobility or a lack of stability in the chain and will begin to experience

dysfunction. In fact, it only takes 1 component of the kinetic chain not working properly to negatively impact all other components and ultimately affects movement (11).

When the kinetic chain becomes bro- ken, mobility joints have a tendency to behave like stability joints and experi- ence reduced capacities for motion. Stability joints are just the opposite, in the same set of circumstances; they begin to act more like mobility joints

circumstances; they begin to act more like mobility joints Figure 4. Weighted vest single-leg squat. and

Figure 4.

Figure 4.

Weighted vest single-leg squat.

and become hypermobile with de- creased neuromuscular control. When this happens, it is essential to treat the injured site and assess each joint in the chain to begin clearing dysfunction (13). Hypermobile stability joints with de- creased neuromuscular control should be made to demonstrate greater stability and control, whereas mobility joints that have undergone reduced capacities for motion should be made to move more efficiently and exhibit improved ranges of motion (13). It is important to note that if a training program works to increase mobility somewhere, it must also work to increase stability some- where else, otherwise the body may theoretically return to a dysfunctional state and all efforts to increase function- ality will have been in vain. A list of the


Table 2

List of joint-by-joint kinetic chain, including their specific functions and predictable levels of dysfunction


Primary specific function

Predictable dysfunction






Reduced movement capacity






Reduced movement capacity

Lumbar spine



Thoracic spine


Reduced movement capacity






Reduced movement capacity


Hypermobility Glenohumeral Mobility Reduced movement capacity 42 VOLUME 33 | NUMBER 6 | DECEMBER 2011

joint-by-joint kinetic chain beginning with the foot, including their specific functions and predictable levels of dysfunction, are summarized in Table 2.


A proper movement preparation or ‘‘warm-up’’ is an essential component in any strength training program, and if designed correctly, may even be the most important aspect of the workout. Before an athlete undergoes perfor- mance training, attempts should be made to clear the body of dysfunction, activate stabilizers of the hip and core, and stimulate the central nervous system. This will help ensure that the athlete receives the best training effect from their workout, and if predisposed, may decrease their potential for future injury. There are 4 parts to the mov- ement preparation: foam rolling, static stretching, mobility drills, and a plyo- metric circuit (Table 3).

Foam rolling is concentrated mostly on the large muscle groups of the hips and legs and is used to decrease muscle density and break up adhesions in the muscle belly (11). This process will help restore the body back to its optimal level of function by resetting the proprioceptive mechanisms of the soft tissue (1). An added bonus to foam rolling is that stabilizers of the hip and core become activated as the athlete attempts to maintain proper body position on the foam roll. Theoreti- cally, static stretching becomes more effective now that muscles are less dense and there are fewer adhesions present. Only when muscle tissue is cold, can muscle fibers undergo some plastic deformation and realize an increase in length (6). When muscle tissue is warm, it is more elastic, and when stretched, although fibers become elongated, they inevitably re- coil and return back to their original length (6). Research findings have indicated static stretching to be corre- lated to injury prevention by helping to increase range of motion and correct- ing postural distortions (23). Although static stretching has traditionally been

Table 3

Movement prep/warm-up

Foam roll

Calf, hamstring, glute, IT band, TFL, quadriceps adductor, lat

10 rolls each

Static stretch

Quadriceps/hip flexor, lateral hamstring, hip internal/external rotation

10–15 s each


T-spine peanut crunches (Figure 5)



Ankle wall mobility



Lateral leg swings



Squat press and reach



Split squats



Lateral squats



Rotational squats



Shoulder wall slides



Shoulder wall mobility



Big band X lateral walk




Deep squats



Long arm jacks



Cross-country skier



Cross jacks



Fast squat drops



Deep squat hold


5 s

Medium squat drops



Low pogos



High pogos with a pike






DTBA = dynamic total body activation; IT = iliotibial; TFL = tensor fasciae latae.


a component of exercise preparation protocol, many strength coaches have begun to shy away from static stretch- ing because of the publication of recent studies showing static stretching before exercise can decrease power outputs (43,44,47,54). This hypothesis has gen- erally been accepted as true by the majority of the strength training com- munity. However, new findings suggest that some, if not all, of the decrease in

findings suggest that some, if not all, of the decrease in Figure 5. T-Spine peanut placement.

Figure 5.

T-Spine peanut placement.

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all, of the decrease in Figure 5. T-Spine peanut placement. Strength and Conditioning Journal |

Resistance Training for Judo

muscular power output potential caused by static stretching may be removed if the duration of static

stretching is less than 30 seconds, the muscles are stretched below the point

of discomfort, and a dynamic warm-up

is conducted immediately afterward before physical activity (10,18).

A series of mobility drills adapted from

a mobility routine originally developed

by Boyle directly follows static stretch- ing targeting the increased range of motion in joints prone to reduced capacities for motion. The mobility drill series also acts as a dynamic warm-up that may return any muscular force potential lost from static stretching as previously mentioned. The warm-up concludes with a dynamic total body activation circuit that involves a series of plyometric exercises targeting the acti- vation of the central nervous system and training the stretch-shortening cycle of muscle tissue responsible for elastic energy potential. Equally important to including all of the essential compo- nents in a movement preparation is not to over burden it with too many exercises. It must be condensed to only what is absolutely necessary to properly

prepare the athlete for physical activity.

If the warm-up becomes too involved,

not only will it take a long time to

complete essentially cutting into work- out time, but the athlete will begin to lose focus, become sloppy in technique, and not receive the intended training effect. A well-designed warm-up should take no more than 12–15 minutes to complete. See Table 3 for an example of

a movement preparation.


Laterality, or the dominance of one side of the body over the other, has been identified as playing a major role


Understanding body structure and how muscles normally interact during func- tional movement is imperative to creat- ing effective strength training programs. One particular point of interest is how the body is linked anteriorly and posteriorly in a diagonal pattern. It is now understood that anatomic struc- tures normally described as hip, pelvis, and leg muscles are contralaterally linked with so-called arm and spinal muscles via the thoracolumbar fascia, allowing for an effective load transfer among spine, pelvis, legs, and arms (25,52). The lumbar-pelvic-hip complex has been called the ‘‘hub’’ for both weight-bearing and functional kinetic chain movement. The role of the myofascial and skeletal tissues in this region is to absorb forces, to initiate and control movement, and to transfer forces to the surrounding tissues from either ground reaction forces transmit- ted superiorly at heel strike or upper- extremity trunk forces transmitted inferiorly. Muscles, such as the middle trapezius and latissimus dorsi, act over the shoulder girdle to influence lumbo- pelvic hip mechanics (25). The same can also be said of leg and hip muscles, such as the biceps femoris and gluteus maximus because they influence shoul- der girdle mechanics (25). The value to understanding this system of cross- linkage is to use this knowledge to prescribe exercises that train hip stabi- lization and engage back and hip muscles in their proper motor patterns. For this reason, all standing upper-body pulls and posterior chain exercises should be conducted on one leg with the load in the opposite hand (Figure 6). This will train proper load transfer between the lower and upper extrem- ities through a stable hip and back.

lower and upper extrem- ities through a stable hip and back. Figure 6. Dumbbell single-leg/arm row.

Figure 6.

Dumbbell single-leg/arm row.

contralaterally linked to the lower body through the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex,

it is now known that the core extends

well beyond the lower back and abdomen to include muscles of the pelvis, legs, and arms, such as biceps femoris, gluteus maximus, middle tra- pezius, and latissimus dorsi. Core mus-

culature is very different than muscles of the periphery or limbs in the sense that

its primary function is to prevent motion

rather than initiating it (37).

When the body is involved in athletic movements, such as running, throwing, or changing direction, the entire mus- culature of the core undergoes various

degrees of isometric contraction, cre- ating a stiffening effect that restricts superfluous movements of the trunk (36). Power generated from the hips can now be absorbed and transmitted

to the upper body through a stiffened

core (52). Muscles of the core act more like springs that function as elastic storage and recovery devices rather than independent muscles that flex the spine, and they should be trained this way. Exercises that stress stabilization and load transfer, such as planks and

rotational lifts, should be the focus of

a core training program rather than

exercises that require repeated spine flexion, such as sit-ups and crunches.


the technical and tactical approach


Studies have shown that exercises


judo players, including the develop-

To properly train the core, it is impor-

targeting core muscles as flexors rather

ment of gripping patterns and angles of

tant to understand its composition and

than stabilizers not only decrease core

attack. Upper- and lower-body sym- metry, as well as integrated trunk strength as an intermediary between these muscle groups, can be impacted by the design and implementation of

its primary function. Core musculature predominantly includes muscles of the lumbar spine, abdominal wall, back extensors, and quadratus lumborum (37). However, as was discussed earlier

stability, but the repeated flexion and extension of the spine can also cause the degeneration of intervertebral discs (8,29,50). In addition, a common mis- conception is that closed kinetic chain


well-designed strength program (48).

about the upper body being

exercises involving large muscle groups


(48). about the upper body being exercises involving large muscle groups 44 VOLUME 33 | NUMBER

of the lower body, such as the squat

and deadlift, encompass all necessary stimulus required for adequate core training. Although performing these exercises does require the activation of core muscles, EMG studies have shown that they do not significantly activate the quadratus lumborum or abdominal obliques (38). An effective core program is at the heart of a good strength program. Prescribing exercises

that require the core to function

properly is the key to core training and will increase effectiveness as

a strength coach or trainer.



A recent change in the competition

rules of the International Judo Feder- ation has lead to resurgence in the use and effectiveness of leg-dominant

throws as opposed to hand-dominant throws. Some of the most common techniques at the 2010 World Cham- pionships were those throws that re- quire execution with balance and explosion off of a single leg that is

planted on the mat surface, including uchimata and osotogari (34). This observation suggests the importance

of lower-body training, with particular

focus on single-leg exercise when

training judo athletes.

Almost every athletic movement in judo requires acceleration, decelera- tion, or balance and stabilization of

a single leg. Even if both feet are on the ground, the load and demand experi- enced by each leg differs and the feet are rarely parallel to one another. Extreme right or left stances (wide foot placement in the sagittal plane with either the right foot or left foot forward) are commonplace in judo, and one leg is often being used to attack or defend, whereas the other is tasked with maintaining balance. Em- phasis on training the lower body in

a stable environment, such as with the

traditional double leg squat, will target prime movers of the hip and knee

(gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and quadriceps) without adequately

training muscles responsible for stabi- lizing the hip and knee that can lead to muscular imbalances, increasing the potential for injury (35). Single-leg exercises are 3 dimensional, whereas double-leg exercises tend to be only 2 dimensional. The lateral subsystem (gluteus medius, adductors, and quad- ratus lumborum) becomes engaged and trained during the single-leg squat (Figure 4) acting in their normal roles

as stabilizers. These muscles become

relatively less active when conducting lower-body stable bilateral exercises, such as a traditional double-leg squat (6). Another advantage of incorporat- ing single-leg exercises into program prescription is that relative to double- leg exercises, greater demands are placed on muscles of the lower ex- tremity without placing heavy loads on the spine, so that the athlete’s legs experience greater training effects at a reduced potential for back injury (6).

Although a sound program will empha- size single-leg exercises over double-leg exercises, it is still important to period- ically train under conditions stable enough, allowing for maximum activa- tion of prime movers. With highly

unstable exercises, the ability to maintain proper technique with added resistance reduces the ability of the primary muscle groups to produce tension during the exercise, thus limiting the potential for conditioning the lower body for high- intensity activities that occur in sport and daily living. A recent study (3) comparing muscle force and activation

of the quadriceps muscles in stable and

unstable environments found that the ability to exert force under stable conditions significantly exceeded force output under unstable conditions and

that a very unstable environment would not provide sufficient overload resistance

to promote quadriceps strength adapta-

tions. It is accepted that overload tension on the muscle is essential for fostering strength training adaptations (2).

A possible solution to being able to

train safely at high intensities and still receive some of the benefits of single-

leg training is to take a double-leg squat

and modify it, so that a greater demand

is placed upon a single leg with

a reduced base of support, increasing

the activity of the lateral subsystem as

in the rear foot–elevated split squat (RFESS) (Figure 3). A recent study (35) recorded the EMG activity of selected hip and knee muscle groups when conducting a RFESS and that of

a traditional double leg squat. It was

found that the RFESS produced greater activity in hamstring and glu- teus medius muscles relative to the double-leg squat because of a reduced mediolateral base of support that may have demanded higher neuromuscular activity to support the body in the frontal plane. Although quadriceps activity was greater in the double-leg squat relative to the RFESS, quadri- ceps activity during the RFESS remained relatively high, demonstrat- ing a sustained ability to generate force

in the quadriceps. Although it may seem that the reduction of quadriceps activity during a RFESS relative to

a double-leg squat is a negative aspect,

a more even quadriceps to hamstring

activation ratio reduces shear forces at the knee, suggesting it to be a safer

exercise (35,46).


Squats should go to parallel to maxi- mize training effect, unless a partial range of motion squat is part of the program prescription as with a body weight single leg ½ squat used when the athlete’s stabilizers and neutralizers of the hip, knee, and torso are not yet strong enough for the femur to go parallel under sufficient control. Research conducted on squat depth through a full range of motion com- paring knee joint angle and quadriceps activity has shown that peak activity levels occur between 80 and 102 of knee flexion (20,53). Partial squats were found to elicit only 59% maximum volitional contraction (MVC) of the quadriceps and 63% MVC of the hamstrings in another electromyogram study (33). There have been numerous studies (16,19,32) cautioning against the regular practice of loaded deep squats (also known as full squats) where the femur goes below parallel.

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known as full squats) where the femur goes below parallel. Strength and Conditioning Journal |

Resistance Training for Judo

Patellofemoral compressive forces, ti- biofemoral compressive forces, and tibiofemoral shear forces all progres- sively increase as the knees flex and reach peak values near maximum knee flexion (16,26,40,49). Performing the parallel squat is recommended over the deep squat for athletes with healthy knees because injury potential to the menisci and cruciate and collateral ligaments may increase with the deep squat (16,45).


A functionally based strength training program will typically emphasize the use of front squats over back squats. Although an athlete may be able to lift more weight when conducting a back squat (22), a front squat is better for building functional strength because the load is more naturally distributed throughout the body (12) and exerts less compressive forces on the knees and spine, making it a better exercise choice. A recent study (22) comparing back and front squat biomechanics found that front squats produce signif- icantly lower maximal joint compres- sive forces at the knee and reduced lumbar stress without compromising muscle activity in the quadriceps and hamstrings relative to back squats. Front squats require the lifter to maintain a rigid upright body position emphasizing leg drive rather than back extension in the concentric phase of the lift. Becoming strong in the front squat position translates well into de- veloping important skills related to aspects of weightlifting, such as in the catch phase of the clean and the racked position of the push press and jerk. The front squat also helps develop shoulder flexibility, which is an important car- ryover to pressing exercises. If the athlete does not currently possess the required range of motion of the wrist to properly rack the bar when performing the front squat, wrist straps can be used to reduce tension and alleviate any wrist discomfort.


It is well documented that the body adapts quickly to stresses placed upon

it (5), and for this reason, training stimuli or stress should be periodically changed to avoid stagnation. It is this phenomenon that has given rise to periodization in strength training programs. Periodization is a term used to describe variation in training spec- ificity, intensity, and volume orga- nized in planned periods or cycles within an overall program, usually over the course of a year. One study determined that periodized strength training will lead to adequate incre- ases in muscular strength of first-class judo athletes, allowing the ability to perform movements and techniques faster and more efficiently during a match (7).

Two periodization models commonly discussed in today’s strength training programs are stepwise (or linear) periodization and undulating (or non- linear) periodization. In a stepwise periodization model, volume, mea- sured in total repetitions, incremen- tally decreases as training intensity, measured in total weight lifted, re- ciprocally increases for the major lifts over the course of a training cycle. Each training phase is generally 4 weeks long, consisting of 3 heavy weeks followed by a light or ‘‘un- loaded’’ week, to allow for recovery and decrease the potential of over- training. In an undulating periodiza- tion model, volume and intensity for the major lifts demonstrate greater variation over the course of a training cycle. Phases alternate between accu- mulation phases stressing volume and intensification phases that stress load intensity.

Studies comparing performance vari- ables from athletes who have undergone both periodization models tend to favor undulating periodization as the superior method (39,42). Peri- odically alternating volume and intensity may supply the neuromus- cular system with the stimulus needed for adaptation to occur and, at the same time, allows for the body to recover and regenerate (41). With stepwise periodization, the continu- ous increases in intensity over the


course of a training cycle subjects the body to ever-increasing levels of stress, requiring a light or unloading week for regeneration (41).

The amount of time spent in each training phase to maximize training effect without leading to stagnation seems to vary considerably through-

out the strength and conditioning community. One study indicated that strength training programs tend to lose their efficiency after only 2 weeks (31). Another study indicated strength gains can continue up to 6 weeks within a single phase (30). Regularly training elite judo athletes using the undulating periodization method has afforded the author with the observation that 3-week training phases allow for optimum adaptations

to occur without the onset of stagna-

tion or the risk of overtraining. An example of a 4-phase, 12-week, non-

linear periodization model for judo

before a major competition is shown

in Table 4.


As was stated earlier when discussing

periodization, the body adapts quickly

to stresses placed upon it and therefore

must be constantly challenged to avoid stagnation. When developing

a strength training program, there

are typically 2 ways to achieve this

goal. One is to increase the amount

of weight being lifted for a particular

exercise, whereas the other is to modify

an exercise so that it becomes less stable

(balance training). Usually, the later tends to work best in exercise prescrip- tions contained within accumulation phases because higher degrees of in- stability are associated with lower degrees of force production. Although strength gains are usually associated with exercises that cause significant muscle overload tension as previously mentioned, improvements in strength have also been documented in judo athletes participating in balance training attributed to enhanced intramuscular and intermuscular coordination (24). In any case, it is important that any progression in exercise prescription, whether it is an increase in weight or

(24). In any case, it is important that any progression in exercise prescription, whether it is

Table 4


Nonlinear periodization model for judo before a major competition



1 (accumulation)

2 (intensification)

3 (accumulation)

4 (intensification)

















1RM %










Repetitions are depicted in repetition maximums (RM) for all major lifts.


Reps = repetitions.


a decrease in stability, challenges the athlete but does not significantly exceed their abilities. Progressions should be logical and be in accordance with training objectives specific to each phase as defined by the periodization model. An example of each progression method is depicted in Table 5.


Possessing tactical excellence and hav- ing the ability to execute an array of

complex skills necessary for success in judo competition requires the ability to move well and efficiently; this means that the athlete must excel in basic movement patterns and be absent of postural distortions, faulty movement patterns, and muscular imbalances. Although the sport of judo has its own special considerations, it is im- portant that a program not become so overly sport specific in exercise pre- scription that it becomes deficient of

the fundamental resistance training concepts and principles discussed in this article. Incorporating a functional approach in a judo strength and conditioning program, one that incor- porates resistance training techniques that properly train the athlete’s specific situational needs and body function, will further enhance sporting perfor- mance capabilities and reduce their potential for noncontact and repetitive overuse injuries.


Table 5

Example of different exercise progressions based on phase objectives


Intensification phase

SSLRDL load progression




MB/DB reaching SSLRDL

Wt = light



Wt , 1 arm max grip strength



Each Wt , 1 arm max grip strength



Wt . 1 arm max grip strength


Accumulation phase

Front split squat instability progression

Instability implement progression


Even load F split squat



Foam roll flat side down


Asymmetric load F split squat


Airex pad


Even load F RFESS (Figure 3)



Foam roll flat side up


Asymmetric load F RFESS


Air disk, bosu ball


F RFESS with instability implement

BB = Barbell; DB = Dumbbell; MB = Medicine Ball; RFESS = rear foot–elevated split squat; F = Front; SSLRDL = Single Straight Leg Romanian DeadLift.

Strength and Conditioning Journal |


F = Front; SSLRDL = Single Straight Leg Romanian DeadLift. Strength and Conditioning Journal |

Resistance Training for Judo

Resistance Training for Judo Thomas Henry is the Strength and Conditioning Co- ordinator in the Department

Thomas Henry is the Strength and Conditioning Co- ordinator in the Department of Athletics at Sacred Heart Schools and the Strength and Conditioning Coordinator, instructor at East Bay Judo Institute in El Cerrito, California.


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Strength and Conditioning Journal |


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