Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Strength & Cardio Conditioning for Grappling

There is a lot of debate as to the type and amount of strength conditioning one should focus on while prepping for a tournament.  I'm not a strength/conditioning coach but I will share what has worked for me.  I have trained at a CrossFit gym and have experienced the positives and negatives of incorporating such training into a grappling schedule. When I did CrossFit I found that it was too randomized and left me super sore.  So sore that sometimes it was hurting my Jiu-Jitsu training.  I'm not an anti-CF advocate but feel it can be VERY useful if tailored for your needs.  I think that the most important thing is that whatever program you choose doesn't hamper what you're doing on the mats.  Don't train to the point that you can't move the next day.  You have to find the happy medium so that you don't run into diminishing returns.  I like to utilize a CrossFit approach but choose movements that are compound.  Here is a sample workout I used recently for the IBJJF Open in Houston.

15 minutes for time
10 kettle bell power cleans per arm
10 swings per arm sledgehammer tire
10 tire flips
10 burpees

I like workouts like this that push your body and lungs.  I strive to do a couple workouts like this per week while prepping for a tournament.  You might be capable of more but to me the idea is to push yourself hard but not to failure.

A couple more workouts I used recently for the IBJJF Dallas Open:

For time
50 burpees
50 sit-ups
40 burpees
40 sit-ups
30 burpees
30 sit-ups
20 burpees
20 sit-ups
10 burpees
10 sit-ups

15 minutes for time
bear crawl or gorilla walk down the length of the mat and back
20 sit-ups
20 burpees

Rolling vs Drilling
I think it is vital that a good percentage of training should be dedicated towards rolling.  I also think it's important to vary your rolling partners.  Everyone knows that once you figure out someones game things change a lot.  If you are regularly beating up the same one or two guys it's probably not going to help a lot once you go up against someone better in competition and they inevitably put you in a bad position you cannot escape from.  That being said it's a good idea to push yourself against a variety of opponents with varying levels of skill.

Another important thing is to push your cardio during rolls.  If you are constantly tapping out due to fatigue what is going to happen when you are tired during a tournament?  Regularly quitting on yourself is not likely to yield positive results.  There is a large degree of mental fortitude that must be gained in training.  Some call it heart but it's priceless when you have to find an additional gear to gut out a win.

I believe that there is a delicate balance between rolling versus drilling.  If you do not allow enough time to learn and develop a technique it's going to be difficult to pull off during a live roll.  I spend countless hours drilling.  Truth be told I drill far more than I roll.  I drill a technique until I'm blue in the face and make sure that I fully understand how it works.  Once I have a grasp of the technique I will experiment with it and ask my training partner to defend 50% and play more with the positions.  The idea is to slowly ramp up the resistance.  Once I feel as though a technique is well understood I will set a timer and drill that move or sequence of moves for 5 minutes straight.  I  believe it is vital to build muscle memory when the body is tired.  I read a great article over on "Drill to Win" and it has changed my perspective on drilling.  How can you expect your body to react and pull off techniques that you primarily drill when you are fresh?  Building muscle memory and the sensitivity to execute a technique while tired is vital to translate well for competition.  It may not sound like a lot of work to work a De La Riva guard pass to back mount repeatedly for 5 minutes but it can be exhausting.  This is another way that I work on my cardio.

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