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Doing Jiujitsu Will NOT Improve Your Cardio Fitness


The BJJ Performance Tip of the Week | #005

Mobility🧘🏽‍♂️ •Strength 💪🏽 •Nutrition 🥑 •Interesting🧐

Edition: Friday, December 16th, 2022


Doing Jiujitsu will NOT improve your cardio fitness

In this week's newsletter, I want to narrow in on the topic of cardio for BJJ.

I recently published a video called “BJJ will NOT make you Fit” and it’s not clickbait, it turns out to be true.

I took a deep dive into the research to discover that training BJJ will only improve your VO2 max (the key indicator of cardiovascular fitness) to a certain threshold, anything above that and you run into the BJJ “ceiling” effect. This ceiling basically means that your VO2 max will not increase above the age-adjusted population average.

A study published in 2018 in the International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport titled Acute Physiological and perceptual responses to Brazilian jiu-jitsu sparring: the role of maximal oxygen uptake showed that although BJJ training likely induces improvements in some aspects of aerobic endurance, it might have limited effect on others, such as VO2max, and through this research, the author Karsten Øvretveit recommends alternative approaches to aerobic conditioning for BJJ athletes to improve their VO2max.

If you’ve ever asked a black belt or your coach “How do I improve my cardio for BJJ?” and they respond with “just roll more” then you can confidently know that this method has been scientifically disproven.

There is a growing body of scientific literature surrounding the optimal strength & conditioning strategies and tools for BJJ performance. I used to get comments on my videos often that went something like “There is no sport-specific strength & conditioning, only marketing”… Oh how naive and so very wrong they are and finally we’re getting the research to back it up.

Further to this point I’ve been in contact with Karsten Øvretveit, a leading BJJ S&C researcher and have gained access to some research that’s awaiting publication. Talk about being on the cutting edge! I’ll be taking a deep dive into this new research and bringing it to you in the coming weeks and months, so stay tuned!

Just like with many things in the world of BJJ, jiujitsu-specific strength & conditioning has been dominated by outdated, old-school sometimes impractical approaches, my mission is to shine a light on the BS and back it up with science.

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