Cardio And Conditioning For Jiu-Jitsu… Are NOT The Same Thing

Cardio And Conditioning For Jiu-Jitsu… Are NOT The Same Thing

Do you often find yourself struggling for air when you roll? If so, then you might’ve thought to yourself: „Jeez, it’s about time that I start working on my cardio a bit more!“
But, what if we told you that it isn’t the cardio that’s the problem… But that it’s your conditioning?

Heck, what’s the difference between the two, anyway? And why does it matter for your Jiu-Jitsu?



If you’re looking to improve your overall cardiovascular endurance, then you truly should be working on your cardio. For, cardio basically represents your ability of getting used to aerobic exercise overall.
In other words: if you’re aiming to improve your cardio, then you’re essentially aiming to become better at endurance overall – be it in running, swimming, or whatever else. It’s not sport or task-specific; but it grants you an increased ability to endure in aerobic exercise in general.



Whereas working on cardio will provide for greater endurance in „all“ types of aerobic exercise, conditioning is something that will provide for greater endurance in executing a specific task. That is, in performing a specific sport.
Basically, conditioning work is done when you want to improve your performance in a specific sport. The movements in conditioning mimic the task you want to endure more in.



Now that you understand the difference between cardio and conditioning, you may be asking: „Okay, but why does this matter?“
The answer is simple enough. If you want to improve your endurance in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, you need to worry more about conditioning, and way less about your cardio!

This is where the issue lays for many Jiujiteiros. They think that running, swimming, and other forms of aerobic exercise will make them perform better in BJJ. That they will gas out less frequently, that they’ll be able to go with more speed and more consistency when they roll… As long as they put in the time to jog every morning.

But this simply isn’t the case. What those jogs will do for you is that they’ll improve your overall cardiovascular fitness.
You’ll feel (and be) healthier, you’ll be able to run longer and more easily, and your endurance will slightly improve in other forms of physical activity. But, when you roll, you’ll feel as gassed out as you’ve felt before.



Should you abolish jogging and other forms of cardiovascular exercise altogether? Probably not, because they’re making you healthier. But if you wish to stop gassing out in BJJ, then you need to begin focusing on your conditioning.
You need to do the things which will improve your endurance in Jiu-Jitsu itself, not in other things! For that, you’ll need to – as we’ve described previously – engage into movements which mimic the stuff you do in training.

And do you know what’s the absolute best stuff you could do in this case? Think about it, go on… What’s the advice everyone gives you when you want to improve in BJJ?
That’s right: spend more time on the mats.



Yes, it’s that simple! Like most things in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, you don’t need to make it complicated – just stick to what works, do more of it, and you’ll improve. Technique and conditioning alike!

Roll and drill more, with more focus and more intensity. When you think that you can’t do it with more speed or less rest, push yourself a bit further. This is how you’ll build your conditioning for training sessions to come… By simply training more, with more grit!
So, go do it. You’ve got no excuses.

Rolling Strong combines scientific exercises and routines specifically geared towards grappling.

Phil Daru is a performance coach for over 200 Elite Level Fighters in all aspects of combat sports.
Learn a comprehensive approach that covers everything from proper warmups to exercises designed to improve your guard!