Guest post by James Duscio, a BJJ black belt under Walter Cascao Vital. He runs Cascao Evolution BJJ out of Las Vegas nv.
Listen, we all begin our BJJ journey for different reasons, and it’s those reasons and goals that determine if you need cross training and then we can go deeper into what kind and how much.
I do think that cross training can and does help most people, especially BJJ practionars. If somebody lifts weights and gets stronger, well stronger muscles, stronger bones, stronger joints help not only your BJJ game but also your ability to stay durable with a lot less injuries. If somebody swims, not only does it help with overall cardio, but also helps with breath control that is a much needed skill in our art. If somebody is doing sprints and plyometric’s, that explosion of body weight will drastically improve the intensity at which you can grapple. So yeah, I think it’s safe to say cross training does have some benefits.
In high school my old cross country running coach would always say, “If you want to get better at swimming you swim, if you want to get better at running you run”. And to a point he is right. So lets start with that as a good rule of thumb, the majority of your training time should be devoted to the actual sport or art that is your main focus.
So now the question is how much training time should be devoted to outside our sport focus? Percentage wise I like the 25% cross training, 75% core focus training rule. If you had to choose between rolling and drilling in BJJ or running 20 min on the side of the road, which one would benefit you the most? Obviously the BJJ training. Too many people actually spend more time focused on strength training or cardio training and neglect the tactics and technique work needed to get to a high level of jiu-jitsu. Should you lift weights five times a week and train BJJ once a week? If weight lifting is your focus then yes, but if BJJ is your focus, then you should train BJJ more often then the weights.
We need cross training not only for durability, not only to increase our athleticism, not only to increase our strength or flexibility, but also to keep us from burning out. We have to take the mental side into consideration as well. Too many times I have seen so many white belts or blue belts put 100% of their energy into BJJ 24/7 with no room for anything else. You would think that this would create world champions, and once in a blue moon it does. But far more often then not, those people burn out, get injured and leave the art and sport of BJJ all together. You need a balance in life. You need to do things that get you off of the mat and enjoy life in different ways. The good thing is that many of those things can help your BJJ game long term in more then one way. So my advice to you is go out there and play basketball, hike a mountain, yoga the hell out of your muscles, get stronger in the gym, balance your ass off surfing the oceans waves and trail run through mother natures landscape.
There are many reasons to cross train. Think about your short and long term goals with BJJ and tailor our cross training needs around those goals and don’t be afraid that doing anything that gets you off the mats will hurt your BJJ game because often times it actually helps it.