We are all looking at getting better at BJJ. Some of us (I’m the first to admit) sometimes will think about doing other sports to improve their BJJ game. In my opinion to get better at BJJ, you need to break down what exactly are your weaknesses and then work at solving them seperatly. For example, if my technique sucks, work a lot on drilling new techniques, and spar alot. If my BJJ cardio sucks, spar a lot, and also supplement this by running, swimming or crossfit, if your mental game is weak, compete a lot and see a sports psychologist etc…At the end of the day if you want to get better at BJJ, concentrate the most on BJJ and supplement this training with specific training for your weaknesses.
Graciemag wrote a nice little article a few years ago, about some training mistakes and fallacies that we need to avoid on our path of constant improvement.
BJJ Fitness Mistake #1- Kettlebells (or any other tool) are the “secret” you’ve been waiting for.
Don’t get me wrong. I really enjoy training with kettlebells. They’re fun and are effective in many full body lifts. Kettlebell exercises also help develop grip strength which is crucial for BJJ players.
The problem occurs when something that is simply a “tool” becomes the end-all be-all. If someone tells you that their way of training is the only way to train effectively, run, don’t walk the other way. Don’t buy into it. This is nothing more than slick marketing. After all, if their way is the only way then you have no choice but to buy their product, right?
BJJ Fitness Mistake #2- If you want to get better at BJJ, work more on your strength and conditioning
The principle of specificity says that in order to get better at a sport or skill, you must perform that sport or skill. For example, if your goal is to increase your number of max push ups then you need to work on push ups. Of course other exercises can supplement your training but much of your training would need to be focused around the push up.
The same goes for martial arts. I’ve been training BJJ for a long time and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the best guys are usually the ones who spend the most time on the mat. Not everyone’s primary goal is to be a better martial artist and that’s fine. But whatever your main goal is, that’s what you should be focusing on.
I once heard a yoga instructor tell someone who was interested in getting better at BJJ that they should do less BJJ and more yoga. I’m afraid if this person would’ve listened to this advice, the end result would’ve been someone who is better at yoga, not BJJ.
BJJ Fitness Mistake #3- “Avoid running because it’s not sport specific”
I’ve seen a few “experts” over the last year or so recommend that their combat athletes remove running from their training. They claim that it won’t help with combat sports and the impact on your joints isn’t worth it.
While most strength and conditioning coaches aren’t taking such an extreme stance, many are only having their athletes perform sprints and no middle or long distance runs. The main problem I have with this is that aerobic training can help improve recovery time. Creatine phosphate (a high energy reserve) can be synthesized better in aerobically trained individuals than their aerobically challenged counterparts. Therefore some aerobic training can be beneficial to even a football lineman.
I do all types of running myself…long distances, hills, sprints, stairs, you name it. I run different patterns including backwards and sideways. I try to mix it up and have fun with it. There are many benefits to different forms of running including the following:
• Circulation – Your heart and lungs will improve their efficiency and deliver nutrients throughout your body more easily.
• Endurance – Even if you are training for a shorter event, longer runs will help you to have the endurance to handle the shorter more intense workouts.
• Improved mental state – Running is a great way to organize your thoughts.
• Mental Toughness – Running is a great way to develop mental fortitude. Much of the time you’ll be by yourself when running so it’s up to you to push yourself to go the extra mile.
• Fat loss – Running is an ideal way to burn some extra fat.
Of course running should be a part of the overall picture and good form should be practiced. While there are some fighters that choose not to run for various reasons, there are many that do. For a great book about how humans are designed to run, read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.
These are just a few of the mistakes people make in their BJJ fitness program. Think logically and critically when implementing something into your training program. Do your homework and find out if the information is coming from a credible source. Doing a bit of extra work could help prevent you from making common BJJ fitness mistakes.