You might have heard the advice, "just roll more." Doing more jujitsu will certainly make you more efficient at the movements. It will reduce the energy needed when rolling. However it won't necessarily improve your overall cardio fitness.
So, what should you do instead? There are two strategies you need: aerobic base training and VO2 max training.
Improving Your Cardio for Jujitsu: Two Strategies You Need to Know
Aerobic base training
Aerobic base training is specifically meant to increase your aerobic threshold. This is your ability to perform steady state work for long periods of time. The workouts are low and slow.
Your aerobic threshold is a limit to which your blood lactate begins to increase. The exercise intensity is quite low. This enables you to maintain this effort for longer periods of time. If you can raise the floor of your aerobic base, you can operate at a higher output.
You'll also be able to recover faster in between rounds. There is a direct correlation between improving your aerobic base and improving your cardio.
Cardio output can be categorized into the five different cardio zones. Each zone is associated with a different energy system.
But why is zone two so special? Well, at zone two, you are operating just below your aerobic threshold. You are stimulating your cells mitochondrial function. Your body can make its own ATP by only using fat and oxygen.
Zone 2 cardio is the most beneficial type of cardio. Zone 2 includes both strength training and of course jujitsu as well.
In zone two, your heart rate should be approximately 60 to 70% of your maximum heart rate.
The best way I've seen this described is: You should be able to maintain a conversation with a friend on the phone, but the other person should be able to tell that you're exercising.
What I recommend is doing 45 to 90 minutes of low-intensity cardio bouts. Stay in your zone 2 heart rate zone or at a conversational pace. The exact type of cardio that you choose is completely up to you. You can do something like jogging, hiking, even fast-paced walking.
Cardiovascular fitness is the maximum amount of oxygen you can utilize defined by your VO2 Max. This is simply your maximum rate of oxygen consumption during intense exercise.
It's also highly correlated to overall fitness, health, and longevity. The most efficient way to to train you VO2 max iswith interval training. You've probably heard of HIIT training before. It stands for High-intensity interval training. The reason why HIIT is so effective is because you can get a lot of work done in a very short amount of time.
It has been shown in studies to be one of the most effective methods of increasing your VO2 Max.
There are two methods I recommend for improving your VO2 Max as a grappler.
Four by four method:
The first 4 four-minute rounds of 85 to 90% of your maximum efforts with four minutes of rest in between.
The second method is Tabata sets, which are 20 seconds of absolute all-out maximum effort cardio output.
This is followed by 10 seconds of rest. Perform this eight times for a total of four minutes. I recommend performing two Tabata sets back to back.
If you're crunched for time, you can simply do outdoor sprints.
So, how often should you be doing cardio for jujitsu?
You can get a huge benefit out of doing just one to two cardio sessions per week. I recommend doing a longer zone 2 cardio session once per week.
Do one to two high-intensity interval sessions throughout the week. You can add these high-intensity sessions at the end of your strength and conditioning workouts.
A sample week could be something like two to three jujitsu sessions, two strength and conditioning sessions with two rounds of Tabata finishes at the end of each session.
Also, one long and slow aerobic base session. You can do this once per week. Once every other week if you don't have much time.
Improving your cardio for jujitsu is crucial for success. While doing more jujitsu is important, it won't necessarily improve your cardio.
The two strategies of aerobic base training and VO2 Max training, can increase your aerobic threshold.
You can also target the anaerobic system with interval training and increase your VO2 Max. Incorporating one to two cardio sessions per week into your training routine, can improve your endurance cardiovascular health.
Cardio Hacks For Jujitsu
Never Gas Out
Master the Art of Breathing
First things first, you need to learn how to breathe properly. It's the quickest and simplest way to improve your jiu jitsu conditioning. Follow these two easy steps:
- Stop holding your breath: You might not even be aware, but during drills and live sparring, you could be tensing up and holding your breath. This will only make you gas out faster. Slow down, focus on maintaining a manageable breath rate, and see the difference it makes on the mat.
- Don't be a mouth breather: Constantly breathing through your mouth can actually hinder your conditioning. Focus on nasal breathing during your jiu jitsu training. Nasal breathing helps you improve efficiency, increase your carbon dioxide tolerance, and reduce your recovery time. As you get used to nasal breathing, try to maintain it during live sparring.
Improve Your Jiu Jitsu Skills
I know this sounds obvious, but bear with me. As your jiu jitsu skills and knowledge grow, I you will notice your breathing will improve dramatically. It's because your movements on the mat will become more efficient.
Instead of wasting energy on poorly executed submissions, You will be able to conserve your energy by hand fighting better and getting proper positioning easier. You will be able to finish chokes and armbars with minimal energy.
At the end of the day, minimizing wasted energy is one of the best ways to supercharge your jiu jitsu conditioning.