Cardio for BJJ
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has become one of the most popular combat sports across the globe. This martial art operates at a high intensity as it utilises a dynamic series of transitional movements. Students will also use tactical strategy in order to outwit their opponents. The combination of elements like strength, and technique will enable students to control their opponents, as they look to set up different variations of submissions. The art is well known for its BJJ core exercises, as the training regime of a grappler is highly demanding on the athlete's body.
What This Article Covers:
- Why Is Cardio Important for BJJ
- Is Jiu Jitsu Cardio?
- Cardio Exercises
- How to Balance Cardio, Strength Workouts and BJJ
- Explosive Cardio vs Endurance Cardio
- Is Cardio Good for Injury Rehabilitation
- Jiu Jitsu Cardio Routine
- How to Improve Cardio for Jiu Jitsu
It is extremely important to have some good cardio workouts on top of a student's BJJ training regime. Although BJJ is a good cardio workout, this is because of the nature of the sports makeup. Students will benefit from doing extra work outside of the gym, as not only will it help their BJJ but it will give the athlete overall functional fitness. There are many different ways that a student can train their cardio for BJJ, as these days there are popular programs that students can find online.
WHY IS CARDIO IMPORTANT FOR BJJ
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is known as a high-intensity grappling Martial Art, this means that students need to be extremely fit if they want to keep up with other high-level athletes in the academy. There is nothing worse than training for a BJJ competition, and feeling like you're going to tap out from exhaustion, this can also be the case during a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition. Students that don't have good cardio will often find themselves stuck in bad positions, which will lead to early submission losses. If a student trains extensively in BJJ conditioning, and cardio workouts, they are giving themselves the best chance at maximising their efficiency to win the match. Having a high capacity to train in cardio has a multitude of health benefits attached. Training in cardio will definitely improve a student's cardiovascular health, as it will also improve their fitness, stamina, and strength. This type of training will also give a student a better chance of avoiding heart disease, or a number of different viral illnesses. Adding cardio to a grappler's workout routines is a great way to stay in shape, and give their body the best chance at improving their flexibility for BJJ.
IS JIU JITSU CARDIO?
When questioning if Jiu Jitsu is cardio, the answer resoundingly leans towards yes. Jiu Jitsu, inherently, is a rigorous physical activity that elevates the heart rate, promotes endurance, and improves overall cardiovascular health. Each sparring session, drill, or competition immerses practitioners in intense physical engagement, effectively serving as a potent cardiovascular exercise. The constant movements, ranging from guards, escapes, and submissions, to positional controls, are intertwined with elements of strength, flexibility, and notably, cardio. As practitioners delve deeper into Jiu Jitsu, the enhanced cardio becomes palpable, not just on the mats but in overall health and wellness.
There are many different cardio exercises that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athletes can add to their workout routines. This is also apparent for students that get injured, and are going back to BJJ after a long break, as these students should start off with cardio exercises, which can be a great way to get back into the swing of things. Some BJJ athletes also train and fight in Mixed Martial Arts, so they know all about strenuous cardio workouts. Boxing is a great cardio workout, and students can use real-life sparring, or timed rounds hitting into the bag, to maximise their cardio strength. Doing 3-minute rounds of nonstop punching into a heavy bag is exhausting, and can prove extremely helpful to a BJJ athlete when they are in a high-pressure situation.
One of the best forms of cardio is good old-fashioned running, this could be going for a long distance marathon, or utilising short burst sprinting. Running exercises can consist of sprinting up hills, sprinting for 10 metres then jogging for 10 metres, or just simply running for an extended period of time. The best kind of running is interval training, which consists of sprinting intensely for 30 seconds, then recovering for shorter periods of 10 to 20 seconds, and then repeating this process numerous times. This is a great way to mimic the high intensity motion involved in a grappling match. Students will be smart to add different running exercises into their routines, as this is a good way to boost cardiovascular strength, as well as conditioning their muscles. Deepening their aerobic capacity is crucial for BJJ athletes, so they can have more oxygen inside their blood, which translates into lasting longer in fights. Running can also strengthen all the joints and ligaments, which makes running an extremely effective form of cardio workout for BJJ athletes.
Cycling is another form of great cardio, as long as the bicycle students use is the right size for their frame. Long distance riding can be a great way to improve cardiovascular fitness, while having fun in the sun at the same time. The best form of cycling for BJJ athletes is Aerodyne fan bikes, which are just like a normal exercise bike at the gym, with some differences. The Aerodyne bike is powered by a fan, and the best part about this is the harder you push, the more air is pushed through the fan, giving a greater resistance for the athlete. The handles of the bike also move up and down, which makes this cardio workout an upper, and lower body workout. Cycling is a great way to improve cardio, as the bike is a low form of impact on the body's joints.
Skipping is one of the best forms of cardio for BJJ, as not many exercises are as taxing as continuously jumping over a rope for an extended period of time. Skipping ropes are extremely cheap to buy and can be used in an area with minimal space. Although continuously jumping can put some pressure on the knee joints, it is relatively a low impact form of cardio. Skipping is one of the most traditional forms of cardio for all Martial Arts, as not only does it improve your cardiovascular strength, it helps an athlete become extremely proficient with their footwork. This can be extremely important for a BJJ athlete, as all fights start on the feet, where practitioners will need to use good footwork in order to achieve dominant control, and execute takedowns.
Another great form of cardio for BJJ is swimming, as this form has no impact on any of the muscles, and joints in an athlete's body. Although swimming is a great form of cardio, athletes must learn how to use the correct swimming technique, in order to avoid any form of shoulder or neck injuries. Athletes that swim continuously will build up an exceptional aerobic capacity, all while maintaining great efficiency for all of their joints, and muscles. Being inside a swimming pool is also therapeutic for BJJ athletes, as their combat sport is extremely intense, and has a high impact on all of their body systems. Swimming is a great way to release all of those tensions, while still working out an athlete's cardiovascular ability.
HOW TO BALANCE CARDIO, STRENGTH WORKOUTS AND BJJ
One of the trickiest situations that a BJJ athlete will encounter is trying to adapt all of their training systems into one balanced schedule. To become the best BJJ fighter a student can be, they need to divide their time between doing Jiu Jitsu, cardio, and strength work. This means learning techniques, spending hours and hours rolling on the mats, spending time working on cardio, and doing the right amount of strength and conditioning. For the average person trying to design a program to incorporate all aspects is next to impossible, as many people are extremely busy in their day-to-day lives. Students need to be realistic about their limitations, and schedule an achievable workout program, to enhance their ability to excel in all three aspects of BJJ training. A good idea can be to set up cardio training as a morning program and limit their weight training programs to a lighter session just before they train their Jiu Jitsu for the evening. It's not easy for students balancing BJJ and weight training, and then trying to add cardio can seem to be unachievable. The trick is for students not to push too hard with their weight training and their cardio, as they should develop the right balance between them. This means students should know their limitations and know when they need rest days, as the great aspect of BJJ is a students can still practice grappling techniques on their rest days.
EXPLOSIVE CARDIO VS ENDURANCE CARDIO
There is a significant difference between explosive and endurance cardio. Explosive cardio can be trained by doing sprint based workouts, as this is an excellent form of cardio training. To develop more explosive power students need to burn more calories by enhancing their cardiovascular capacity. It is extremely important to warm up before doing any form of cardio training, and if a student is new to cardio then it is wise not to push their limitations too far. The more experienced athletes, can push extremely harder, and do a series of interval sprint training, this can also be acclimated to running up hills, or sand dunes. This kind of training will best represent the high intensity of a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fight. Endurance cardio is basically setting up for the long haul, as athletes will run long distance marathons as a way of building up resilience. This kind of cardio can be useful to a BJJ athlete after they have fought numerous times on the training, or competition mats. Training in long distance running, or cycling isn't the most important form of cardio, but nevertheless, it is still an important component of achieving a greater ability to last longer in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fights.
IS CARDIO GOOD FOR INJURY REHABILITATION
It can become quite common for a BJJ athlete to endure through injuries. Sometimes an injury can be debilitating enough that the athlete basically has to rest for an extended period of time. Most injuries however, will still allow an athlete to utilise different training regimes like light weight lifting, and cardio workouts. Sprinting or running long distances may not be the right program for an injured athlete, but that doesn't mean they have to stop improving on their cardio. Athletes can improvise by going on long walks, using resistance bands, jumping on a stationary bike, or participating in balancing exercises. The best cardio workout for an injured athlete is definitely swimming, as this is not only therapeutic, but has no impact on any of the joints or muscles of the injured athlete. It is important for athletes not to give up entirely while they are injured, or they will often find themselves far behind where they were when they got injured. The importance of keeping up an athlete's cardio during injury time is paramount, as no matter what injury an athlete has there is always some form of exercise they can do. Training in different cardio exercises is one of the most important tools in injury prevention, as strengthening the body and the cardiovascular systems will help athletes avoid many of the injuries they may face during their Martial Arts journey.
JIU JITSU CARDIO ROUTINE
There are many different Jiu Jitsu cardio routines that athletes can adhere to, as different academies, and different athletes utilise different training methods. It is extremely important to start off easy and build up your cardio over a period of weeks. The problem most athletes have is that they push too hard in the first week, which can cause the athlete significant injuries like calf, groin, or hamstring problems. The smart option is to start off with a low intensity session of jogging lasting roughly 20 minutes, this is a good way to warm up the body in preparation for increasing the regime. The second week should still be seen as a buildup, where the student should really only increase their low intensity cardio up to at least 30 minutes.
As the student hits their third week they should be lifting their intensity to more of medium cardio, as they can start to add interval training into their program. This can be 30 seconds of sprinting followed by 20 seconds of jogging and then allowing for 20 seconds of recovery before repeating the process as many times as per their limitations. Over the next few weeks, students will start to feel the increase in their cardiovascular abilities, which will allow them to increase their intervals by time, and by repetition. This means they can move up to 1 minute of sprinting, 30 seconds of jogging, and 30 seconds of recovery time. There is no real right or wrong when it comes to cardio training, all a student has to remember is what they are doing the cardio for. Students should adapt their cardio to meet the needs of their BJJ program, as the athlete needs to lift up their intensity time, but lower their recovery time. This is a great way to simulate what a competitor will go through in a BJJ competition.
HOW TO IMPROVE CARDIO FOR JIU JITSU
Improving cardio for Jiu Jitsu is essential for optimal performance, whether you're sparring in training or competing at the highest level. Enhancing your cardiovascular endurance revolves around a combination of consistent training, cross-training, and lifestyle adjustments. Integrating aerobic exercises like running, swimming, or cycling into your routine can significantly augment your stamina. Moreover, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) has proven effective in building both aerobic and anaerobic endurance, vital for the dynamic and intense nature of Jiu Jitsu. Nutrition also plays a pivotal role; a balanced diet fuels the body, supporting enhanced physical performance and faster recovery post-training.
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