Ono, Riner & Iliadis doing weights.

Is weight lifting or other forms of strength training essential for judo? On social media and YouTube, you do see a lot of top judokas doing these kinds of training. It would only be natural to assume that strength training like this is necessary.

But not all top judokas do it. Manuel Lombardo of Italy, a top contender who has beaten Hifumi Abe before, says he doesn't do any weight training. He just does a lot of judo.

How is it possible that Lombardo can be strong enough to fight top contenders when he doesn't do weight training? Well, if you do serious judo training, you will be strong. Lifting people is like lifting weights, so naturally you will be strong if you lift people a lot.

So, should a judoka do weight training? Whenever someone asks me a question like this, my immediate response is to ask them: "How much judo are you currently doing?"

If you're someone who does two or three sessions of judo a week, and are planning to spend another two or three sessions doing weight training, my advice is to do more judo. Instead of going to the gym to do weights two or three days a week, use those two or three days to do judo. This will 100% help your judo more than weight training ever can.

When you do judo training in the dojo, you improve your skills and your strength. When you do weight training, you improve only your strength. It's also worth highlighting that being able to lift heavy weights has no direct bearing to your ability to impose a dominant grip or to throw a resisting uke. Only doing judo drills and randori will teach you to do that.

This is not to say being strong through weight training wouldn't help your judo at all. Of course it does. But at what price? If doing weight training three days a week means three days away from judo, it's not worth it. Use those three days for judo instead.

Now, let's say you are already doing judo five or six days a week. In such a case, you're already doing the maximum amount of judo training possible. If you were to tell me that on top of that, you also want to do weight/strength training, my response would be "by all means."

Just don't do weight training at the expense of judo training. The reality is that unless you are an Ono, a Riner or an Iliadis — all professional judokas — you probably don't have the time to do both regular judo training and regular weight training. So, if it comes to choosing just one, it's obvious which one you should choose.