The art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a Martial Art that involves a high aspect of movement, as athletes that train in the combat sport will train at a high intensity. When an athlete is dealing with high calibre techniques like judo throws, and wrestling takedowns, transitional movements like sweeps, and guard passes, and a broad range of submission finishes, there is a necessity to have some level of athleticism. Not all students are natural athletes, so they must rely on extensive conditioning, and jiu jitsu cardio workout programs, to help bolster their overall output.
What This Article Covers:
- Why Is Conditioning Important for BJJ
- What Is the Best Type of Conditioning for BJJ
- Conditioning Routines
- Can an Athlete Over Condition Their Body
There are many different types of conditioning programs for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athletes, as each individual will find which one suits them the most. It is extremely important for an athlete to work out their weaknesses, and then tailor a specific purpose with their conditioning programs. Adding specific conditioning to an athlete's training regime will only help establish a more systematic series of BJJ movements, which will be showcased at a more consistent, and powerful level.
WHY IS CONDITIONING IMPORTANT FOR BJJ
The art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has evolved over the years, and so has the thrill of competition for many BJJ athletes. These days just practising techniques and rolling in the gym is not enough, as athletes aspire to become successful in the competition arena. Many competitors are always using every tool in their trade to maximise their chances at winning their divisions at tournaments. This means that all students need to go above and beyond, if they want to succeed in this mainstream combat sport. Conditioning for BJJ is very important as it can specifically target certain areas that an athlete may not utilise during training. Training in BJJ conditioning will help the athlete improve on many of their energy systems during a fight. Athlete's can feel overwhelmed with rolling high level practitioners inside their jiu jitsu dojo, which can lead to the need for optimising their performance. Once a student begins breaking down their game into different sections, they will be able to identify which part of their game style they need to work on. This will make it easier for athletes to structure their conditioning program to better suit their game style.
WHAT IS THE BEST TYPE OF CONDITIONING FOR BJJ
There are many different Brazilian Jiu Jitsu strength programs that involve developing an athlete's maximum strength, with the added focus of evolving their explosive power. Combining strength, power, and speed, is extremely necessary for a BJJ athlete to be successful, especially when they are training for bjj competition matches. Most competition matches usually range from 5 minutes for beginners, and up to 10 minutes for black belts. During the course of these matches, athletes will endure fatigue, lactic acid build up, and energy depletion, this is why conditioning an athlete to become well rounded is crucial. For a BJJ competitor to be successful in competition they need to be explosive even when they are tired, this can only happen if they put in an extended amount of time into their training intervals. Athletes need to focus on conditioning programs like using a high intensity burst of energy, followed by rest intervals. The duration of their conditioning programs should match up with their potential competition matchups, so if their matches are 5 minutes long then they should be conditioning for 5 minutes with a rest period of one minute. This will help to simulate real match experience, as they also learn to recover in a shorter period of time.
DIFFERENT KINDS OF CONDITIONING FOR BJJ
Conditioning for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has become a science these days, as so many scientific minds have developed different training regimes off the back of the evolution of the combat sport. There are different types of conditioning, and each is designed to meet the specific parts of the Jiu Jitsu game style. An important form of conditioning is to work on an athlete's aerobic capacity, which means physical exercise starting with low, and then aiming for high intensity. The aerobic capacity is basically an energy generating process, which is defined by the amount of oxygen that an athlete can use to meet the energy demand during high intensity exercise. Prime examples of good aerobic exercises are running, dancing, cycling, and climbing stairs.
Other forms of conditioning will target the alactic capacity, which is a short period of anaerobic activity that does not produce lactic acid. Athletes will develop their alactic power by participating in full speed sprinting over short distances. The aim of these exercises is to give an athlete adequate rest in between high intensity rounds, so they don't build up any form of lactic acid. This will help an athlete develop full speed explosive power, and be able to repeat high intensity effort without losing form or function. The lactic capacity is another system that is usually trained by high level athletes. Lactic acid training is a great bjj workout and can be extremely high intensity, as it is a way of pushing an athlete's body to its limits. This is usually done through interval training, which is high repetition sets with little rest periods. This is predominantly done so that the athlete can build up a high level of lactic acid. Students will begin to develop how to recover in shorter periods, this is to replicate a similar situation they will encounter in the middle of a BJJ fight.
One of the most important systems that a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athlete needs to train is their grip endurance, as it is usually the first thing to go in a BJJ competition. Beginners are often seen sitting on the sidelines after their first competition match win, getting both of their arms massaged, this is due to the lactic acid build up in their forearms. Athletes will look to improve their grip strength at every opportunity, and even though Gi fighting in BJJ is great for grip endurance, an athlete can always do more. There are plenty of grip exercises like crushing, pinching, holding, and extending the hands.
Athletes are all different and choosing the right conditioning routine can be difficult. It takes some considerable experience from an athlete to understand perfect routines for complimenting their BJJ. Academies have extremely experienced practitioners that train there, as many of them are there to guide young athletes towards success. A good conditioning routine could go something a little like this;
Monday: powerlifting for bjj, drilling, and some light rolling.
Most exercises are to be performed with 3 sets of 6 to 10 reps. Athletes could choose from a range of weightlifting exercises like deadlifts, squats, bench press, seated row, pull ups, pull downs, overhead press, and various other exercises. Some athletes like to break up weightlifting days into muscle groups like back/bicep, chest/tricep, and legs/core. Day one should finish with practising technique and some light rolling.
Tuesday: conditioning, bjj drilling, and rolling.
Interval training is one of the best forms of conditioning, and athletes should attempt the rowing machine, or the assault bike. Which ever one an athlete chooses, they should do 3 x 3 minute sets with roughly a 2 minute rest. Athletes can start at 50% intensity before pushing up to 75%, and finishing with close to 100% intensity, during the 3 minute set. The day should be finished off with more BJJ technique and some harder rolling time.
Wednesday: light weight lifting, bjj core exercises, bjj drilling, and light rolling.
Athletes can use this day to mix up there weightlifting program by either changing the muscle groups their training, or picking a different bunch of exercises. They could even change it up by working in isometric, or traditional style workouts like push ups, sit ups, pull ups, dips etc. This is a good day to engage in some core workouts like various sit ups, Russian twists, hanging knee raises, planks, or mountain climbers. The day should also finish off with more BJJ drilling and some light rolling.
Thursday: conditioning, and bjj drilling.
On the fourth day athletes should continue with more conditioning by either rowing, or cycling, or mixing it up and doing some interval sprinting. If athletes choose to do some sprinting, they should be sprinting at full intensity for one hundred metres, and taking adequate rest periods, before repeating the process several times. The athlete should finish off the day with some BJJ drilling.
Friday: day recovery, and night time drilling, and rolling.
The last weekday should be spent recovering for most of the day, and it's always a good idea to keep up with stretching. By the evening, athletes should continue practising technique, as they can use this night to have some hard rolls at their academy.
Weekend: rest, recovery, stretching, rolling, and mobility.
Over the weekend period athletes should take this opportunity to rest up, and get some good recovery time. This is a great opportunity to enhance their flexibility by continuing to keep up with their structures. Doing mobility exercises is a great way to enhance the body in preparation for their next week of training. Athletes can do mobility techniques like spine rotations, and other exercises that incorporate the shoulder, back, and the legs. Rolling is always a green light, as athletes should be rolling as much as possible if they want to continue to strive for championship wins. Just remember this is a pure example of a routine workout for a BJJ athlete, as an athlete's exercises, or regimes can be altered to suit whatever is necessary for every individual athlete.
CAN AN ATHLETE OVER CONDITION THEIR BODY
It is extremely common for BJJ athletes to overtrain, as the rigorous grind of training in Jiu Jitsu can lead to athletes doing more than they need to. Too much conditioning can leave an athlete exposed to all kinds of injuries. Athletes must be smart and conservative, and they can do this by stretching before and after training, as well as knowing their limitations. There is usually warning signs that an athlete is overtraining, as they might show signs of prolonged general fatigue, an increase in tension, depression, anger or confusion, an inability to relax, poor quality sleeping, lack of energy, decreased motivation, moodiness, and not feeling happy from the things that used to fulfill them. Athletes should feel the warning signs, and take them seriously if they want to avoid any stressful situations. Learning the right balance of conditioning to complement an athlete's BJJ training takes time and practise, as each individual has a different threshold, strengths, and weaknesses.
EXECUTING THE RIGHT BALANCE
Most serious Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athletes have the same problem, they become too obsessed with the sport. And although some might mistake that for having passion, which is a great thing, it can prove detrimental to the growth of a combat athlete. Often when an athlete becomes obsessed with their sport, they will forget to have rest days, and will push their limitations well past the threshold. Athletes must find the perfect balance of training on the mats, lifting the right amount of weights, executing enough cardio workouts, and taking their rest days.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the most addictive forms of combat sport in the world, as it has been related to the strategic game of chess. It is understandable why athletes just can't get enough of BJJ, but what they need to realise is; life is all about balance, and we're not talking about toppling over, we are talking about scheduling the right programs throughout an athlete's week to get the most out of their training. This includes taking time away from BJJ, so an athlete can have the proper recovery, and enjoy other aspects of their lives. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a long journey, as most athletes would take a decade or more to achieve the pinnacle of becoming a black belt in the art. So make sure if you are an athlete that has aspirations of achieving this incredible feat, then think about long journey, and build yourself a proper schedule that will maximise your chances of becoming a premier athlete in the sport.
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