Conditioning for Competitive Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu provides a unique set of challenges when it comes to conditioning in preparation for a competition. While grappling, there are moments of explosive energy followed by prolonged periods of consistent, but less explosive, “static” movement (I don’t want to call it rest, but it can be).

So how does one condition for it? Well, I think it’s safe to say that traditional forms of conditioning such as jogging aren’t really ideal. Hopping on an elliptical or stationary bike for an hour aren’t really the best options either.

So what do we do? Some ideas are below, but know that if you plan to be seriously competitive, you need to find a program that is right for you and will actually keep you filled with energy.

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Hit the Mats

Seems obvious, right? Roll, roll, roll. When you use rolling as your main form of conditioning, you are imitating exactly what you need to in order to stay competitive with your conditioning. If you roll hard and start on your feet, you’re getting the perfect exercise.

The problem arises when we get complacent with our rolling. If we start to relax too much during these practices, we rob ourselves of much needed conditioning. Similarly, if our partner starts to slack, they rob us of our workout as well. Pick partners wisely before a competition and train hard.

Stair Sprints

This is one that I simultaneously love and hate. I don’t mean that you ought to go to the local gym and climb their stair machine. I mean you need to find a good set of stairs/bleachers and sprint up them. Stairs are most effective for BJJ when you sprint up, and then walk back down. By doing this, you imitate the explosive energy during a sprint, and the consistent movement during the walk down.

The downside comes when a person takes too much time in between sprints. Don’t stand there because you’re tired, run because you’re tired! Push your conditioning limits.

Another downside may come due to the fact that you’re not strengthening your Jiu-Jitsu muscle memory.

Spin Bike (standing, never seated)

The system I was shown that has been effective for me when it comes to spinning is as follows:

30 sec sprint, 30 sec rest x 5 minutes

15 sec sprint, 15 sec rest x 5 minutes

5 sec sprint, 5 sec rest x 5 minutes

(Immediately repeat the circuit, doing it a total of 2 times).

For me, this works because you’re still working that explosive energy during the sprints, and there is a static workout from holding your weight up on the handlebars.

Downsides: Works mostly explosive energy and not as much static energy.


Now, I don’t so crossfit. It doesn’t fit my personal fitness goals. However, I don’t think we can honestly say that it’s worthless (like so many athletes tend to do). There is no doubt that, when done properly, crossfit provides a wonderful cardio workout that combines explosion and static workouts.

Downside: People will post memes about it on your Facebook wall.




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