Getting in Shape for a BJJ Tournament, FAST!

How to get in shape fast for a BJJ tournament

So I got this letter from a reader asking about how to get into shape for a BJJ tournament as fast as possible…

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Hi Stephan,
 
I’ve just read your article on Tapering and Peaking for MMA and BJJ Competition and found it to be very informative and I have a question that relates to the topic.
 
I have a grappling competition in 5 weeks time.  There will be a minimum of 6 fights, and each fight has the potential to last 10 minutes. My training has not been as regular as I would like and I normally roll for 50-60 minutes at medium intensity twice a week.
 
Looking at the time period mentioned in your article, I have about 3-4 weeks left of training, correct? Now do I continue with twice a week rolling sessions or is there anything else I can/should do to supplement?
 
Looking forward to your response.
 
Kind regards,
C.

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Hi there,

First of all, when you’re dealing with a tight timeline like what you’ve got you shouldn’t focus on getting stronger – there just isn’t enough time for your body to have a major adaptation response.

So in your case you want to focus on increasing your endurance, because you can move the needle on that attribute fairly fast!

And when it comes to cardiovascular conditioning in an ideal world, I believe in building an foundation first.

Crawl before you walk.  Walk before you jog.  Jog before you sprint…

In practice, that means that you should probably start with longer, easier cardio sessions. A 30 minute jog, three times a week, say.

Then as your joints, lungs and heart become accustomed to the strain of jogging you move on to more intense exercises like track intervals, stair sprints, tabata protocols, etc.

Now not everyone agrees with me about this.

In fact here’s a lengthy interview I did with Jon Chaimberg, one of the top MMA conditioning coaches, who doesn’t let his athletes do traditional aerobic roadwork and ONLY uses sprintwork.

But if you’re impatient and willing to accept a slightly higher chance of injury, going straight to sprint work might allow you to pick the low-hanging fruit, and get some significant conditioning improvements before your tournament.

(IF you manage to avoid injury then you DO tend to get results pretty quick with anaerobic training…)

So ultimately it’s up to you to judge your initial fitness level, your familiarity with anaerobic training, and your resistance to injury.  Then make a risk vs reward decision about what kind of conditioning you’re going to do.

So if you do decide to go with sprintwork you’ll probably do very hard and very intense workouts, 2 to 3 times per week.

Here are some ideas and sample sprint workouts you could play with:

So look through these exercise routines, pick a few that you like, and try them.

Make sure to stop these workouts at least 4 days before the tournament to allow your body time to recover.

It may just be psychological (i.e. you teach your body that it’s OK to be tired and that you’re not going to die if you’re breathing hard) but even just one or two short hard workouts a week between now and the tournament can have a significant effect.

Ultimately conditioning is so individual that you’ve just got to try out different things and see how your body responds..

But whatever you do, it’s hard to see how any exercise – aerobic or anaerobic – that leaves you bent over and gasping for breath wouldn’t help you with your tournament performance.

Finally, I’ll leave you with two of my exercise maxims…

  1. Doing anything is better than doing nothing, and
  2. The not-so-perfect exercise routine that you enjoy and actually do is 1000 times better than the perfect exercise routine that you hate and never actually get around to doing.

So get your butt out there: lifting, skiing, running, cross-fitting, yoga, swimming, gymnastics, rock-climing… it’s all good!

Good luck, have fun, and learn lots at your tournament!

Stephan Kesting
Grapplearts.com

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