This is the most comprehensive guide to best BJJ solo drills I could find…
You’ll see lots of solo drill ideas.
But most importantly?
I’m going to show which solo drills give you the most bang for your buck.
Oh, and HOW to fit them into your training.
In short: if you want to improve your jiu jitsu but can’t get to training as much as you’d like (like me), you’ll love this guide.
Let’s get started.
The 9 Best BJJ Solo Drills that Will Improve Your Jiu Jitsu
You can chase your tail and try a billion different solo drills. And not get good at any of them.
Or you can start by focusing on a few:
The ones that will help your jiu jitsu the most.
But… don’t just take my word for it.
I watched every YouTube video I could find. I read the top 20 articles on the internet about BJJ solo drills.
The good ones all have a lot in common:
They all cover the same drills. Over and over.
To bring them all together, THESE are 9 best BJJ solo drills to improve your jiu jitsu:
Without a doubt, the most fundamental escape movement in BJJ is the hip escape, also called shrimping. It applies to every single escape from the bottom and is something you should be able to do effortlessly and in every situation.
The hip escape can be done in multiple ways, like from one foot or both feet. The forward shrimp is harder to do but is still something you should become proficient at to improve guard retention.
What’s great about the hip escape is that it makes a great solo drill and one that requires very little space, meaning you can do it everywhere.
Bridging is the second most fundamental escaping movement in jiu-jitsu, and it often goes hand in hand with a hip escape. The bridge uses the power of the hips to create space and escape from bottom positions. While the bridge on the shoulders is a good exercise, in jiu-jitsu, you will most likely need to bridge to one shoulder and not straight up.
The key is to get your feet as close to your hips as possible and to use the hamstrings when you push. Keeping the feet on the toes rather than flat-footed also provides full extension and more power in the bridge.
The idea of the bridge is to create space, which is why the most natural continuation after bridging is to hip escape, extending the distance from the opponent even further. Combining the two is powerful and can get you out of most situations.
Technical Stand Up
The good old technical stand-up is fundamental for MMA and self-defense situations because it lets you reset the situation and come back on your feet. But it is also useful in BJJ competitions for someone who relies more on takedowns and feels confident in standing.
The technical stand-up is done by posting on the palm of one hand and extending the same side leg toward the opponent. Then step on the opposite leg and stand up with your other arm extended to prevent him from punching or trying to take you down.
Granby rolls, also called lateral rolls, are a great movement to get used to being inverted. It is also a powerful move to use for guard retention. It looks fancy at first, but it’s not that hard to do once you get the hang of it.
The lateral roll is done by directly rolling on your side from a seated position. The rolling is done across the upper traps and back of the head. Always tuck your chin to prevent neck injuries.
The double-leg takedown is fundamental in BJJ, MMA, and street fighting, and the good thing is you can drill a significant portion of it on your own by doing the penetration step.
The penetration step starts with dropping your level below the hips of the opponent, then stepping forward, dropping the knee of the leading leg to the mat, stepping up on the back leg, and driving forward as if you are taking an opponent down. This makes for a great warm-up exercise, but it can also be intense if you choose to make it so.
Another one from the wrestler’s book is the defense for the double leg takedown known as sprawling. Doing fast sprawls is a great way to instantly raise your heartbeat and the intensity of the workout.
Sprawls may look a lot like burpees, but they serve another purpose, so don’t do any pushups and drop your hips to the floor with your chest staying upright as if you are pushing a person who shot at you for a takedown with your hips.
These are the movement patterns that you use every time you roll.
So get good at them.
And guess what?
Watch your favorite grappler. You’ll still see:
Hip escapes. Bridges. And rolling.
The only thing that changes is the context that they use them.
I know what you’re thinking…
…”you’ve given me a list of BJJ solo drills. Can’t I see a demo?”
This one shows you nearly the whole list. Awesome descriptions of the drills too.
Solo Drills With a Dummy
BJJ dummies are a wonderful invention that helps you cover the drilling part of BJJ alone. Drilling usually means going through the motions, memorizing the correct sequence, and going over the little details without resistance from the training partner. Dummies are really good at not offering resistance.
They do not replace the solo drills we’ve covered above because they teach and reinforce core movements, but with a dummy, you have a whole body to work on.
Old-school wrestling dummies have only two arms and are not practical for BJJ, but decent grappling-oriented ones have both arms and legs. They can even be bent into a certain position, allowing you to train back mounts, turtles, and most other positions.
Some drills, like knee-on-belly passing and spinning transitions, can be done on a regular heavy bag lying on the floor. Still, the dummy is infinitely better and provides a much more realistic representation of a real person.
The quality of the dummy depends on what you can do with it. As expected, the ones perfect for BJJ are worth more than generic dummies, which are straight and have extended arms.
Two of the great ones I have found online are the Grappling Smarty and the Fairtex Maddox dummy, both of which give you realistic experience and the ability to drill transitions, escapes, and submissions.
7 BJJ drills you should do EVERYDAY w/Roberto Atalla
Want so see a demo of the sprawl?
Of course you do.
Then check out the first demo in this video by fightTIPS with a cameo by Stephan Kesting.
CAUTION! You’ll probably end up watching the whole video.
5 Solo Movement Drills for BJJ: No Partner Needed!
What about shooting for doubles? And singles?
It’s the first demo in this video.
This guy is smooth:
5 Solos Movement Drills for BJJ / MMA / Grappling – EXPLAINED!!
4 Ways to Incorporate BJJ Solo Drills into Your Training
So you know WHICH drills to start with. You know HOW to do them.
But WHEN should you do them?
Well, here’s the BIG 4:
1. Do BJJ solo drill training sessions.
Perfect if you’re travelling or just can’t get to jiu jitsu enough.
I’ll mix it up and do different sessions.
[some example workouts are included below]
2. Do them as part of your BJJ warm-up.
Maybe your school does most of these anyway? If not, squeeze in a few while you’re getting ready.
3. Include them in your non-BJJ warm-up.
If you’re doing strength or conditioning training you’ve got to warm up anyway.
So why not kill two birds with one stone.
What if you’re at a normal gym?
Don’t be a weirdo.
There’s some solo drills you can do that don’t look so, well, weird.
[You don’t want to practice inversions at Anytime Fitness… trust me]
See these below too.
4. You could use solo drills for your conditioning workouts.
Be VERY cautious about statements like this:
Here’s the thing:
You’re doing solo drills to get better at jiu jitsu related movements.
You’re trying to develop muscle-memory.
That doesn’t mean: flailing around on the mat, reinforcing poor movements.
It means: focus on doing each drill and doing them properly.
Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.
So go slow. To start with.
Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.
By practicing these 9 solo drills you will start to move more efficiently.
You will be more relaxed on the mat.
You will save energy.
NOW it’s time to move on…
The Complete Guide to Other BJJ Solo Drills [For AFTER You’ve Mastered the Top 9]
So you’ve mastered the core 9 BJJ solo drills?
Now it’s time to ADD to them.
But before you go crazy, ask yourself this…
Is the drill you’re doing related to jiu jitsu movement, or is it just calisthenics?
[sure handstands are cool, but their application to BJJ is questionable]
That’s one of the reasons a good place to start is Stephan Kesting’s Video:
10 Ways to Shrimp and Improve Hip Mobility on the Ground
Great explanations, and he relates them to different escapes:
1. Shrimp (hip escape)
2. Single leg shrimp (the bottom-mount elbow-knee escape)
3. Side shrimp (under side mount)
4. Forward (reverse) shrimp (escaping North-South)
5. Box shrimp (a cool drill to combine the above)
6. Bridge and shrimp (making space… more realistic against non-beginners!)
7. Side control wall shrimp (useful for escaping side mount and putting your opponent back into guard)
8. Shrimp and turn out (escaping and coming up into a single leg or standing)
9. Elbow shrimp (guard retention)
10. Hand shrimp (more space for guard retention)
You’ll want to make the shrimp your club mascot after watching that video.
For some more ideas check out this one from Jason Scully:
33 Solo Grappling BJJ Drills in Just 7 Minutes
Here is something to aim for…
BJJ Solo Drills with Professor Andrew Galvao
What if you have all the time in the world…
…but nowhere to train?
Then here’s an hour of solo drills by the 4x black belt world champion, Rikako Yuasa
Single Movement: An Hour of BJJ Solo Drills by Rikako Yuasa
Should You Even Be Doing BJJ Solo Drills?
Here’s the deal:
There is one real reason to do solo drills… and that is:
- Developing your technique.
- Improving quality of movement.
- Being smoother and faster.
But if your main goal is strength, conditioning, or flexibility for BJJ?
You’re better off doing a specific strength, conditioning, or flexibility program.
Stephan Kesting from Grapplearts get’s asked about it, here’s his response:
That’s pretty honest.
You can see the instructional he’s talking about here on Amazon: Grappling Drills for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Submission Grappling.
[Full disclosure: I haven’t seen it. I’ve reviewed his BJJ Back Attacks Formula though, and I rate his work highly]
That being said…
Solo drills that are based on jiu jitsu movements WILL also:
- Provide SOME sports-specific strength and endurance
- HELP improve your joint mobility and flexibility
- Improve your balance
Should You Train Solo Drills Even if You Get to Class Regularly?
If your sessions already involve doing movement drills… then it’s probably not needed.
If you turn up, rep a few techniques, then roll… yes.
Think about it:
Basketball players practice shooting.
Golfers practice their swing.
Tennis players practice their serve.
You get the picture.
They are a good supplement to your jiu jitsu training.
But… The Main Thing to Remember About Solo Drilling?
Don’t let solo drills replace your training.
Improvement comes from:
Working on timing. Discovering which techniques work for you. Your body shape. Your opponents’.
That’s what make BJJ effective.
If all you do is solo drilling?
It’s like only doing kata. Or practing kicking and punching air.
As if any martial art ever only trained like that…
What Are Some Ideas for Solo Drill Workouts?
These are some of the workouts I’m currently doing:
The BJJ Solo Drill Home Warm-Up
This is the warm-up I do when I’m about to train at home:
HINT: It’s the top 9 solo drills
My wife is used to me being weird, so it’s okay
I do 3x rounds of 5x repetitions (5x each side if it’s a one-sided exercise)
- Hip escapes (shrimps)
- Bridge and hip escape combo
- Bridge and mount escape combo
- Forwards and backwards rolls
- Inversions (side rolls)
- Technical stand-up
- Shooting for doubles and singles
The BJJ Solo Drill ‘Anytime Fitness’ Warm-Up
This is the warm-up I do when I’m in public.
I don’t mind being weird.
Inversion rolls are VERY weird when you think about it.
So for this one I do 3x rounds of 10x repetitions of:
- Shooting for doubles
The sprawls look like burpees with poor form… and I sort of disguise the shots for doubles as dynamic lunges.
The 36 Solo Grappling Drills Movement Workout
I credit Jason Scully for this one, and use his video from above.
Why 36 drills?
I counted 34 drills in his video…
…plus added in sprawls and technical stand-ups.
I usually go for 5x reps each side, aiming to go slow and smooth
[This means it doesn’t take 7 minutes, I allocate half an hour]
Tabata Intervals with Jiu Jitsu Solo Drills
Below is an example Tabata workout I use for conditioning.
I’ve specifically chosen drills that I find harder to stuff up when I’m fatigued…
… and I make the less technical exercises last.
AFTER I do the solo drill home warm-up:
- Technical Stand-Up (4 minutes of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest)
- One minute rest
- Shooting for Doubles (4 minutes of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest)
- One minute rest
- Sprawls (4 minutes of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest)
- One minute rest
- Bridges (4 minutes of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest)
Now you know how to practice BJJ on your own. Solo drills are not enough on their own, but they are essential in building up the physical attributes and coordination in all the fundamental positions you will find yourself in while rolling.
Even if you have a small space you can dedicate at home, in your garage, or basement, you can use the spare time you find here and there. I admit BJJ solo drills are not the most exciting way to train, but they’re the most convenient, so they serve their purpose.
To round things off, here is a good summary of the solo drills you can and should do:
Train them by doing solo drill sessions or include them in your warm-ups
If you use solo drills in conditioning sessions keep in mind:
- Movement skill is the first priority
- There may be better ways to achieve fitness goals
There’s lots of other drills you can also do to improve your jiu jitsu…