Conditioning For BJJ – Competition Tips And Workout Programming

Bear Crawl for BJJ
Bear crawl / Crab Walk

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a very physically demanding sport. People only looking to get in shape often choose BJJ as an alternative to boring fitness routines. The fact is that rolling around gets people into shape fast. However, for those looking to get more out of it in training or competition, it gets more complicated. When you start being serious about the sport and/or are looking to compete, every roll is tougher. Because you see, now you’re in an environment where everyone is in shape. Now, you need help in order to get performance to the best of your abilities. Now, you need to start training conditioning for BJJ.

It’s often said that when two top-level grapplers are evenly matched, the outcome is decided by their physical conditioning. We’ve seen it time and time again. Both on the mat and in an MMA cage, a huge gas tank goes a long way to ensuring victory. BJJ conditioning is a huge part of the competitive puzzle and should be taken very seriously. Even those just rolling for fun need to do some conditioning for BJJ in order to improve.

Is Conditioning For BJJ Necessary?

When you are tired everything seems harder. No matter how good you are at a leg lock or a choke when you’re tired all you can think about is how to breathe. Add in an opponent on top of you and it gets downright uncomfortable. A good gas tank makes all of the above bearable. A great gas tank makes you get through a tough roll ready for the next one.

A brown belt is going to need a different conditioning approach than a white belt. The duration of a BJJ match for white belts is 5 minutes, while for brown belts it is 8. That’s more than half the length of a white belt match with not accounting for greater quality of movement and technical prowess. While white belts mostly stay in their weight divisions, more advanced students often look to part take in the absolute division. A lightweight brown belt has at least a couple of 8-minute matches against experienced opponents, to start with. If he wins all (or most) of them, he’s up for the absolute division. That means further matches against experienced and potentially heavier opponents. A good conditioning program can lead to double medals. Gassing out won’t get our brown belt past his own weight division.

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Sports Specific BJJ Conditioning

It is clear that grapplers need to train to condition for BJJ. However, routines shouldn’t be just blindly selected and followed. The latest Fitness Blender 10-minute-at-home-workout-for-great-glutes is one example of wasting time. Doing workouts that are not intended to improve your performance in a specific area is only counterproductive for grapplers. BJJ is a weight division sport with precise round duration for each experience level. Specific BJJ conditioning means getting ready for a specific format of matches.

Conditioning training for BJJ should match the requirements of competition as close as possible. Duration, intensity, and volume of the conditioning workouts all play an essential part in a grappler’s performance. The hardest part of the conditioning puzzle is deciding what to do, for how long and how hard you should do it. In other word’s programming is the crucial part of a BJJ conditioning routine.

Someone looking to add conditioning to their schedule must have clear priorities. BJJ training comes first. Only after being able to go through a class without too much exertion should a student turn to extra conditioning. BJJ is the main priority and conditioning for BJJ is the homework. A great way to approach BJJ conditioning is the “First, Do No Harm” approach. It means that additional training shouldn’t take away from your time or ability to perform on the mats. Conditioning should make you better, not just tired.

Focus your conditioning efforts towards the time duration of your matches and work with the highest intensity that doesn’t take a negative toll on you.

Conditioning Tools For BJJ

There are hundreds of options out there when looking at methods that can help your gas tank. Not all of them are efficient, though. Even less are actually helpful in terms of BJJ performance. Some, however, are better than others and offer the most bang for your buck.

Body weight conditioning is on the top of the list. Moving around your own body weight is a great way to increase your gas tank without too much strain. Plenty of approaches are available and effective, from calisthenics, through suspension training to specialized gymnastics training. Not needing any equipment or facility makes this approach even better.

“Odd” objects are next on the list. Modern-day crazes in the form of kettlebells, medicine balls, ropes, and sandbags can actually do wonders for your BJJ game. Circuit training is the best approach and doesn’t require a gym or too much space. The only investment is buying the gear which is generally affordable and long-lasting.

Running is a time-tested and almost inevitable part of any conditioning plan. Marathons aside, all forms of running have an impact on BJJ conditioning. Running is highly effective in increasing the aerobic capacity of the lungs, thus improving general conditioning levels. Jogging, interval running, hill sprints, whichever is your choice you can hardly go wrong.

Rolling is considered by some to be an effective conditioning tool for BJJ. Marcelo Garcia is known to do no extra conditioning outside of aggressive rolling on the mats. While it is as specific as it gets, I personally tend to disagree. In my experience, going all out in a conditioning sense while rolling takes away from the technical proficiency of a grappler. To me, sacrificing technical prowess for the sake of a gas tank is an unfavorable trade.

A Sample BJJ Conditioning Workout

To cap things off I’m going to provide you with a couple of sample conditioning routines. The workouts below are customizable and everyone should look to match them to their needs. Give these circuits a try to skyrocket your conditioning for BJJ.

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