Guest post by James Duscio, a BJJ black belt under Walter cascao vital and runs cascao bjj hard knocks out of Las Vegas nv.
Almost every guy wants to have an athletically built body. Maybe not as big as Brock Lesnar, but something between Andrea Galvao and GSP. And there is nothing wrong with the idea of packing on some muscle, dropping a bit of body fat and getting stronger, because those changes often do help your BJJ game. But, so often to reach that goal, we do things that are counter productive to muscle growth, such as too much cardio. What? Does doing too much cardio inhibit muscle hypertrophy?
One old school mindset is to combine cardio and weight lifting in a single training session. This strategy is called concurrent training and has been the fitness prescription for years. The problem however is that all of the studies are now indicating that this old regimen, which is good for weight management, is actually counter productive for building muscle. Pooled data form Wilson and colleagues showed that with concurrent training, the higher the aerobic frequency was, the lower the muscle hypertrophy adaptation became. Kraemer and colleagues did a 12 week study, which compared resistance training only vs. concurrent training. After 12 weeks, the resistance only group increased muscle fiber diameters in type 1, type IIa, and type IIc, compared to the concurrent group which only showed growth in type IIa. Studies are now confirming that aerobic training does have the ability to inhibit muscle growth. The reasons for this outcome vary from residual fatigue for the body, substrate depletion, glycogen depletion, negative calorie balance and just plain overtraining.
Knowing that cardio in general does limit muscle growth, we need find a way to still build muscle while living our BJJ lifestyle. Option number one, do weight lifting on non BJJ days. Separating the two different training session days has shown to help the body recover so that on weight days, the volume and load of the training sessions are not compromised. Option two, minimize your cardio volume. Translated for BJJ training, maybe cut a few rolling rounds out and swap them for more technical work. Or option three, eliminate all cardio outside of BJJ for a while. That means no more 3 mile jogs or rowing intervals, only leave in the essential BJJ classes.
There are pros and cons with any type of training. Whenever we work on one area, another gets neglected. So knowing that, it’s important to be well rounded in your training and be goal focused. If your about to do a BJJ tournament, then cardio will take precedent over muscle growth. But if it’s the off season and you want to build muscle, the aerobic volume has to come down. Make sure your calories are sufficient, muscle growth does need a bit of a surplus. Ensure that you get plenty of sleep, because that’s when the body repairs the muscle tissue, and consume enough quality protein so that your body has the ability to build. There is nothing wrong with packing some quality mass on. Now go lift.
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