Being lean is not just a physique goal. For grapplers, leanness translates to better performance, better weight management, and improved overall health. It affects how you work on the mats and how you feel about them. So, fat loss is an important thing for BJJ athletes due to multiple reasons. As such, the key factor in shedding some fat is predominantly nutrition. That said, exercise does play a key part of its own in a grappler’s fat loss quest. In terms of physical activity, not all exercises are right for both fat loss and BJJ performance.
Additional conditioning is something people that train and compete in grappling take for granted nowadays. A good conditioning plan should be a part of any grapple’s lifestyle. However, there’s a correct way to set it up and then there are all other ways. When you set up a training program you want to get the maximum benefits out of it. That means becoming stronger and better conditioned for BJJ and achieving the optimal bodyweight for your division. Furthermore, you need to have short sessions that give you the most bang for your buck. SO, how do you factor in fat loss, conditioning improvements and minimal training time into a single workout?
The answer to this question involves a few steps. First, you need to understand how fat loss works. Then, you need to know what a realistic goal for you is. Furthermore, you need to know which exercises work for fat loss and how to program them. Furthermore, the exercises you choose should also help you improve your performance on the mats. And, finally, you need to find a way to fit them into a compact workout format.
The Mechanism Behind Fat Loss
So, let’s start at the beginning. What is fat loss and how can we achieve it optimally? Let’\s clear up a common misunderstanding first. Fat loss and weight loss are not the same things. The point with fat loss is to keep as much of your muscle mass as possible and drop a few pounds of only fat.
That said, the basic mechanism behind fat loss is fairly simple. Expand more energy that you put in and you’ll start losing weight. You notice I said losing weight, not fat. A negative energy balance means your body is going to lose weight in order to adapt and find balance. As a result, excess fat is going to be among the first things to go, but so is some muscle. This is not what grapplers are after.
Now, achieving an energy balance can be done in two main ways. One is through nutrition when you eat fewer calories than those you need on a daily basis. For athletes, this is very rarely a good idea. The other method is to use exercise in order to raise metabolic demands. This is a much better idea as it allows you to have a richer nutrition plan. On another crucial note, correct exercise helps you preserve muscle while allowing almost all of the weight loss to come from fat stores. This is the “silver bullet” combat athletes are looking for.
The Best Fat Loss Exercises For Grappling Conditioning
As we said earlier, the point of a conditioning system for BJ is not just dropping the pounds. You could achieve fat loss with good nutrition and only a running program. However, this doesn’t translate best to Jiu-Jitsu. What works here is choosing exercises that’ll help your body perform better under the stress of grappling.
There is one more variable we need to factor in here – time. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training requires a lot of hours on the mat. Factor in daily chores and you’ll be pressed for time. In order to avoid fatigue and overtraining, you need to keep conditioning sessions short and maximally effective. This is where exercise selection and programming come in.
The following exercises should be performed as a circuit. that means doing one and going straight to the other without any rest. The goal is to hit 30-60 seconds of work on each exercise and move on to the next. Only after you finish the circuit can you rest for up to 2 minutes. Then get back in and do it again for a total of three times.
The first exercise on our list is a BJJ classic move. Technical stand-ups are a key BJJ movement that helps with transitions, sweeps, and counters. It is pretty much a part of everything you do while rolling. Doing this moving solo is a great way to get improve muscle memory. It is also the perfect conditioning exercise as it involves level change and whole-body involvement.
For a technical stand up lying on the ground and use one elbow and then the palm to sit upright. From there extended the same side leg forward and place all your weight on your other foot. The goal is to lift yourself up on your palm and opposite side foot and slide out the extended leg. Return and repeat on the other side.
Animal drills are a huge part of Jiu-Jitsu training. They’ve been involved n some form in every BJJ warm-up routine across the world. IN terms of BJJ mechanics they provide a challenge for the whole body. The benefits are in the form of coordination, agility, and improved overall strength endurance. Along with, of course, some very effective fat loss.
For the alligator crawl, you need to start in a pushup position. Raise your body like for a pushup but stop halfway up. Then extended one arm as far as possible in front of you. Touch the elbow of your other arm with the knee of the same side leg. This is your starting position. To crawl forward switch the positions of your extremities by extending the bent arm and leg. Crawl for the prescribed time.
Rolling Chair Sits
The chair sit is another of those BJJ moves you find everywhere. From sweep execution, through bad position escapes all the way to speedy back takes, the chair sit is a multi-purpose movement.
To train it you need to start lying on your back. Use your legs to swing forward, bending one leg as your doing so. The shin of the bent leg should go to the mat, providing a base for you to slide on. Your other leg steps in front, in a lunge-like position as you extend your hips forward. From there, roll back as in a break-fall and repeat to the other side.
The bridge, or as Brazilians call it, the “Upa” is as fundamental a BJJ move as it can get. Literally, everything you do in Jiu-Jitsu feeds of your bridge. More importantly, this movement pattern works your hip and glute power which are the main source of power for grappling.
No need to explain this move too much. Lie on the ground and extend your hips upwards, lifting yourself on your feet and shoulders. Add in a twist to each side to mimic BJJ movements even better.
The Shoot & Sprawl Drill
This is where fat loss is really going to kick in. This drill is a mainstay in wrestling gyms around the globe. It improves explosiveness, reaction time, it’s a hell of a cardio exercise and is crucial for your standing game. With it, you train both takedown offense and defense at the same time.
The name says it all really, For this drill you start standing and then step forward with one leg, immediately lowering that knee forward on the mat. Instead of allowing your weight ot hit the mats, throw your other foot in a forward lunge and stand up immediately. The moment you up explode back into sprawl and return to the starting position. This one is really going to push you to the limit.
After the exertion of the previous drill, the Granby roll comes in as a welcome rest. The grappling application is immense, as this movement is the base of a successful guard game. Once you master the Grandy hardly anyone is going to be able to pass your guard.
For the drill, start seated and bend forward, putting one shoulder all the way to the ground. Rollover your shoulder all the way to the other side, extending your legs over your head. remember that your feet are supposed to touch the floor at all times.
One final screamer exercise to leave you exhausted and a pound or two lighter. Deck squats are a basic gymnastic strength exercise and one very useful to BJJ. They are perfect to get out of scrambles r finish certain sweeps. They also tax the whole body and involve a level change and a roll.
Execution is easy but requires coordination and flexibility. You start standing and then bend your knees aiming to touch your butt to your heels. Once as low as possible rollback so that your legs go over your head. Use your legs to get straight back into a low squatting position and stand up. Remember to keep your core tight and not swing your arms for momentum.