When it comes to Jiu-Jitsu one of the things that everyone values and wants to
improve stamina. When your stamina is low you tend to slow down and start
conceding positions because you feel tired, but when your stamina is high you
have the edge and you can seriously push the pace on your opponents.
But how do you actually increase your cardio for BJJ?
When most people think about increasing their cardio they often think about running, riding a bicycle, or jumping rope and though this can be helpful it’s not enough to help you increase your stamina for Jiu Jitsu.
I won’t get too technical here in order to keep it simple but there are basically two types of resistance that our body uses to participate in any kind of physical activity.
Anaerobic resistance, which involves the use of oxygen as a fuel source, and anaerobic resistance uses glycogen from the muscles as a fuel source. Some sports use mainly anaerobic activity such as soccer, sprinting, or running while others use mostly anaerobic resistance such as weightlifting. Birazilian Jiu Jitsu uses both of them pretty evenly, which is why just running or jumping rope is not enough to increase your stamina for BJJ.
So how to Increase your Stamina for Jiu-Jitsu?
While many high-level guys say “just roll” and for the most part that is very sound advice, if you are reading this it’s probably because you want to have an advantage over your training partners and your opponents. In order to do that you absolutely must roll and push yourself while doing so but you can also complement your training with other exercises to significantly increase your overall stamina and gain the edge, you need to dominate on the mats.
Before we go into this though I must say that this article is not intended as a cure-all or a strict set of rules because every person is different and you must adapt the advice contained on this page to whatever fits your needs. I don’t know how old you are, what your level of overall physical condition is, how well you sleep or your eating habits so I can’t tell you exactly what’s the best for you but I can give you a rough outline that you can customize and make your own.
Now that we got that out of the way… There are going to be 3 specific areas that we are going to be focusing on outside of your BJJ training, which should be constant in order to get the desired outcome:
One of the best ways to complement your BJJ training in order to increase your stamina is to include about three times a week a session of High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT for Jiu-Jitsu. These exercises include very explosive movements such as burpees or mountain climbers in order to push your aerobic and anaerobic capacities. As to the specific exercises, there are plenty of great resources available on YouTube for free, or get a personal trainer to give you a routine tailored to your needs. You should not do this every single day though because that will interfere with the next area we are going to be focusing on in order to increase your stamina.
Recovery is just as important as training itself yet most people don’t prioritize it and they end up paying the consequences. In order to recover there are many things, you can do such as regular massages, cryotherapy, ice tubs, yoga, etc. But few are better and more important than a good night’s sleep. In order for you to do that you need to prioritize getting enough hours of sleep which for most adults will be an average of seven and a half hours of sleep per night. For some, it may be more and for others less but it is not really about just the amount of hours you sleep but about the quality of said sleep.
The way you get quality sleep is through making sure that your body has everything it needs to get a good night’s sleep and nothing interferes with your sleep cycle. In order to do that you need to make sure you are setting up your room to the right temperature, making your room as dark as possible or wearing a mask, no alcohol at least two hours before bed, and no caffeine six hours before going to sleep. High-level athletes will need to take naps though to cope with the number of hours trained per day so if you’re training more than four hours a day you will need to also take naps to recover properly. And last but not least…
Experts can’t seem to agree on what good nutrition looks like but one thing is for certain and that is the one thing all experts agree on. You need to cut out processed foods and increase your consumption of fruits, vegetables, and legumes. When you eat a clean diet with lots of plant foods and cut out oils and processed sugars your blood flows faster and easier through the body, taking oxygen and nutrients to the muscles that need them when you’re on the mats. If you have the right fuel in your body you will have more energy, more strength, and more endurance.
Does that mean you need to become a monk and eat nothing but rice and veggies every day without ever enjoying food? Not at all! It just means you take care of your eating habits, you can still have a burger and some ice cream on the weekends or once every two weeks, just don’t make it a daily habit.
For this, though you will have to cook meals yourself as most take-out places
have dishes that will either contain too much fat, sugar, salt, or all three.
If you don’t have time to cook, prepare your meals for the week ahead of time
and stick them in the fridge.
Once again adapt this to your own needs and you will see a dramatic increase in
your Jiu-Jitsu stamina. Hope you found this helpful.