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Cross Training For Jiu-Jitsu
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Cross Training For Jiu-Jitsu

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Cross Training is a topic of conversation that’s always high on the list for anyone that wants to compete in any sport. Is it good? Is it bad? What are the best activities to cross train with? In general, if you are looking to round out your exercise routine and improve your performance in your main sport of focus, there are a few things to consider when picking your “side sports”. 

Learn the right way to add strength to your Jiu Jitsu arsenal.

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The first step in finding an activity to use for cross training is to find one that you like! The major aspects to branch out in are cardio and strength exercises. If you can find one activity that works both, then that’s great, but if you need two then that’s okay too. Swimming, cycling, running, rowing, skating, boxing...any can be a valuable addition to your grappling game (see also Thai Boxing Low Kicks by Manachai). Getting your body used to different types of fatigue is a great way to prepare yourself for jiu jitsu. Finding another activity you enjoy off the mats can also give you a mental and physical break from jiu jitsu, which is important in the long run. The amount of training that’s necessary to improve cardio and strength with one sport would make the hours of jiu jitsu to the point that you risk burning yourself out and amassing preventable injuries. 

In your sport of choice, work on interval training. There are two types of interval training to address; sprint and moderate. Improve your explosiveness by practicing sprints, which involves short bursts of speed (no longer than 30 seconds) at full throttle. Not only does this prepare your body to fully engage with a fast reflex, but it also helps it learn how to recover more quickly after you exert so much energy in a short period of time. Teaching your muscles to use their recovery time efficiently is key for grappling matches, and can make a huge difference in jiu jitsu. A moderate interval is less power and more sustainability. Give about seventy percent effort for a longer period of time ( a few minutes), then recover at a lighter, more relaxed pace. This method 

allows you to practice active recovery, which can be translated to using passive positions in jiu jitsu as a rest. 

A strength training regime outside of jiu jitsu can also be beneficial, as strength is often the tipping point for grappling matches. If two fighters go against one another with a similar baseline for technique and skill, the one that has a higher level of strength and body awareness will likely come out on top. This doesn’t have to be a complicated lifting program, and can usually be done mostly on your own. Try incorporating these six different exercises into a regular routine and you’ll notice an improvement during rolls; Squats, deadlifts, multi-directional push and pull, carries (farmer, overhead and rack are all options), and core training! 

In addition to finding a good balance between jiu jitsu and your other sports of choice, one of the most important cross training activities that is so often forgotten is to rest! Over-training is actually very hard to accomplish from a physical standpoint, but under recovering is something a lot of athletes are prone to. Pushing ourselves comes naturally in our world, and since we are all happiest when consistently active, taking time off isn’t appealing. Learn to listen to your body and understand the difference between soreness and fatigue and muscle breakdown. 

Good at setting goals? Get Swole with Gordon Ryan! Click Learn More!!

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Now, you’re probably thinking all of this training is impossible for most people to work in that have a full time job and try to keep some sort of social life going. It has been shown by a lot 

of high level jiu jitsu trainers that if you can incorporate two days (one hour each) of strength and conditioning into your routine you will see the benefits. For cardio, supplement in the same way, with one or two times per week on the days you aren’t grappling. Each person is different in what training routine works for them, so play around with your schedule and see what achieves the results you are looking for. If your weakness on the mat is cardio, then you know what you need to devote more training towards and vice versa if your downfall is strength. Enjoy yourself, rest, and train smart to see the biggest improvements! 

If you like Gordon Ryan, check out his instructional from BJJ Fanatics, "Getting Swole As a Grappler". It gives you his exact program, tips, diet advice and more on how to achieved jackedness and be a complete bad ass on the mats.  

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