Archive for August, 2013

Strength & Conditioning for Judo: Part 2

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

The Olympic Lifts 

 In part 1 of this series the physiological profile of a Judo athlete was broken down and it was clear what physical attributes a competitive judoka needs to be successful. As discussed, power is one physical characteristic that is essential for a competitive Judoka. Indeed, an ippon will only be awarded if there is ‘sufficient force’ coupled with technique (2). A successful Olympic lift is much like an ippon, not only in body mechanics, but in the fact that sufficient force is required to move a loaded barbell overhead. The ‘clean & jerk’ and the ‘snatch’ are velocity dependant and the inclusion of these movements and their variations are essential for long term power development (1); however, some coaches shy away from them due to the technical complexity. Fortunately for judoka’s the Olympic lifts aren’t dissimilar to some high-percentage judo throws. The table below summarises the different phases for both a judo throw and Olympic lift.

       Judo Throw Phase                  Olympic Lift Comparison
Stance and Grip (Kumi Kata): Deciding on a preferred grip and stance is essential before a throw can be successfully executed.  The Start Position: Requires a stance and grip that is specific to the person’s preferences and body type. The similarities are: straight back while the upper body remains relatively relaxed and tension is expressed in the legs.
Balance Breaking (Kuzushi): Bring the Uke into a position where their centre of mass is not directly between both feet. First Pull, Transition & Second Pull:Much like a  judo throw the barbell must be moving in the correct direction before dropping under. The mechanics of the initial phases of the lift mimic that of a judo throw: the shoulder rotates from an internal to external position while the trunk stays stiff and the hips, knees and ankles fully extend before they flex. 
Throwing Preparation (Tsukuri): Tori’sbody has moved into the correct position.  Third Pull: With the barbell moving, it is now essential that the athlete moves around the barbell much like moving around Uki.
Throw Execution (Kake): Toricompletes throw by using the generated momentum/ energy and powers through to a standing position.  The Catch & Recovery: The athlete receives the bar in a squat position much like a seoi nage position and uses the momentum of the barbell and the stretch reflex within the legs to power up to a standing position.
The Fall (Nage): Arguably the throw is over and Tori guides and controls Uki to the floor. Dropping the Bar: In the standing position the athlete has a responsibility to control the weight and bring it down whether they are in the clean, jerk or snatch position. Athlete relaxes the shoulder and keeps the hands on the barbell until it passes the shoulders and then releases. Much like the final phase in a judo throw where the Barbell/ Ukiis controlled in a relaxed manner to promote safety. 


The video below demonstrates an Olympic lift (clean and jerk). It is worth noting that this is a reasonably good clean and jerk technique; however, it is by no means a perfect model as I wasn’t using a ‘demo loading’ in this video.


There are a multitude of benefits to including the Olympic lifts into a strength and conditioning programme for judo athletes. The above table highlights that the body uses similar muscles, mechanics and speed during a typical judo throw and Olympic lift. Other accessory exercises are necessary to include a fully developed Judoka; however, if the Olympic lifts are being neglected then power development will suffer in the long term. Please feel free to use the contact section of the website if you have any queries regarding how to structure a session and be sure to stay tuned for instalment 3 of the series.



  1. Fleck, S., and W. Kraemer. 1997. Designing Resistance Training Programs. pp.88–91. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. P 88 – 91.
  2. Ohlenkamp, N. 2006. The Black Belt of Judo. London: New Holland Publishers Ltd. P 45-57.



Behind the Neck Push Press

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

This exercise is a fantastic ‘shoulder builder’ which can be used to promote hypertrophy, stability, strength and power. I would recommend this movement to most athletes and recreational lifters because it places the shoulder in an externally rotated position, with the pectorals somewhat stretched and essentially helps open-up the upper body. As it’s a push press exercise a decent load can be used (sufficiently more than the load of a press) and the ‘catch’ at the bottom of the movement teaches the body to absorb forces, which aids in the preparation for sport.

I still see a lot of gym-goers and even athletes get caught up in front raises and all sorts of specific deltoid and shoulder exercises. Unfortunately, these exercises aren’t going to yield the results that most people are looking for: healthy HULK shoulders. Remember the loading that can be used on lateral raise is dramatically less than the weight that can be shifted on a push press movement! Of course, scapula setting exercises have a place in a strength and conditioning programme; however, they should slot into more of an activation and pre-habilitation (or rehabilitation) role.

Provided you are injury free and aren’t related to Quasimodo in any way then add this exercise into your regime and watch your pressing power and shoulder size increase.

Coaching Cues 

“Chest Out”
Power Through The Legs – “BIG JUMP”