Benefits of Crossfit for Jiu-Jitsu Part 1

I was listening to what Steve Maxwell had to say about Crossfit in this interview on BJJ Eastern Europe.
He was quite critical of Crossfit saying that doing high reps of Olympic lifts was potentially dangerous for amateur athletes/ non professional Olympic lifters as they were very traumatic for the body in the long run. During a seminar that he conducted in Serbia, we asked him what S&C program he would recommend for a BJJ athlete that trains everyday. He answered that we should stick to the basics and use S&C as a supplement to our everyday BJJ training, and not more than 3x a week and we had to be careful not to be overtraining.

My problem has very often been my gas tank/conditionning, and the fact that I’m just averagely athletic. The countless hours of BJJ training and drilling had me well covered on the technical side. I was looking at ways to work on my weaknesses and those were pure strength and conditioning. I was already going swimming and rock climbing once a week, but a friend of asked me if I wanted to try a Crossfit at a club that had opened about 9 months ago in Serbia, http://www.crossfitsrbija.com/cms/ . I was quite skeptical at first as I had already done my own type of Crossfit training in the past, timing myself and I thought to myself why would I do it now with a group? So I said why not, what do I have to lose?

The format was the following: there were about 25 of us at the group training. We were put in small groups of 4 people. There were five stations of different exercises. 5 minutes per station and 2 minutes rest in between. That’s 35 intense minutes all together.

The first station was running up a small ramp/hill while carrying 20 kilos sandbags for 5 minutes! I thought I was going to die by the fourth minute! It really mimicked a competition BJJ fight. The second station was flipping over a huge truck wheel and jumping in out of it after. The third was 5 minutes of kettlebell swings. The fourth was 5 minutes of sit ups alternated with hanging leg raises which is very difficult. The last one was trhoing a heavy medicine ball on a wall.

The whole time the instructor was pushing us, motivating us and also correcting our form. It was much more intense than any training that I had done by myself or with a friend as someone pushing is not the same as you pushing yourself! After 35 minutes of training I was completely spent and was on the border of exhaustion. Exactly the same feeling as a BJJ competition. This would for sure do wonders for my cardio. The great thing is that every session is different and they change the exercises! It was also a lot of fun and had much more camaraderie than lifing weights by yourself in a gym!

Regarding how Crossfit will benefit my Jiu-Jitsu training, this aricle from arcanumbjj had this to say:

“I had a long conversation with my CrossFit trainer this morning that shed some light on the relationship between CrossFit workouts (particularly the Olympic style lifts) and jiu-jitsu.
Brandon, who runs CrossFit Draper, explained to me that power in lifting comes from the hips. Lifting heavy weight in the power clean, thrusters and deadlift (to name a few) involves transferring explosive power from the hips through the body. By doing so, you can generate tiny windows of “weightlessness” that allow you to boost the weights through the air and complete the lift.
Sound familiar? If there’s one thing I’ve heard over and over about jiu-jitsu, it’s that power comes from the hips.”

At the moment it is still too early to tell if it will benefit my Jiu-Jitsu game or if it will overtrain me, but I’ll keep you posted as I’ve signed up for 2 sessions per week as well as continuing to train BJJ 4 x a week. At the end of day, personally I feel that just training BJJ everyday can get repetitive and boring and this cross training ads some spice in the training mix (Check out our artcile on the subject).
Crossfit will for sure put you in better shape, and experiencing such a cardio burn twice a week will make a BJJ fight feel like a piece of cake. Strength wise, I think that flipping tires and running with sandbags can only make you stronger and won’t make you put on useless mass that would slow you down like in regular bodybuilding training.  We’ll see see how it goes…

Here is part 2: http://www.bjjeasteurope.com/2012/07/benefits-of-crossfit-for-jiu-jitsu-part.html