Stop Running!!! That’s right if you want to get better at Brazilian Jiujitsu stop running. Many of us right now missing BJJ and rolling for all its great benefits are now looking for an easy alternative to get our endorphin and dopamine hit that we are seriously craving.
“ Why don’t I just go running? Its simple and will keep me fit – Right?”
Time Out! As deceptively simple and easy as this sounds as a solution there are some finer points that require clarification.
The physical act of running requires a certain level of mobility and leg strength that not all of us currently posses. This can result in a fast track to injury which will then require time and effort in corrective work.
The specific adaptions the body makes to accommodate the progressive pounding of your limbs on concrete in padded sneakers is actually terrible for your bodies ability to do jiu-jitsu. You will tighten your hip flexors to a very running specific range of motion-which isn’t much. Your Achilles tendon will stiffen to create a great spring for running but this will limit your ability to access deeper ranges in squat depth required for BJJ and wrestling. Calves and hamstrings accordingly will stiffen and shorten which is going to set you up for a very hard time when you are back on the mats trying to play guard.
The main energy system you are training when you are running/ jogging is your Oxidative/Aerobic system. There are many benefits to developing your base level Aerobic endurance but in terms of actual improvements in energy production for Jiu-jitsu Rolling the transferability is minimal. The physical demands of BJJ are many and varied. They require the use very specific strength, mobility qualities as well as the ATP/ PC & Glycotic energy systems. Most of these efforts require a form of external resistance involving gripping and dynamic force production using compound movements much unlike running.
“ So running is bad? What am I supposed to do to get fitter without Jiujitsu?”
Running is a really good form of exercise but there are better options that will save you time and give you more bang for your buck. If you want to hit the mats feeling stronger and fitter than ever lets look at your options.
SQUATTING: We are going to focus on an A2G Goblet Squat (Ass to Grass) This is a full range of motion squat holding a weight at chest height maintaining an upright posture. This particular squat variation will improve many aspects of your athleticism including your core, leg and upper back strength. It also doubles as a loaded mobility exercise as the anterior loading allows you a counter balance, which often gives you access to a greater range of motion in your squat position. Once you have built up to the full range of motion you build the load for strength or up your reps for endurance.
(Note: Tight Achilles and ankles will limit the depth of your squat- see earlier post of how to correct this. Conversely elevating your heel 10-20mm with a chock can serve as a stop gap measure in the mean time.)
KETTLEBELL SWINGS: The Hip Hinge variation on the Swing is possibly the most beneficial movement you can practice. Sounds like a big claim but not when you examine the movement more closely. This particular variation puts an awesome demand on your posterior chain musculature- Hamstrings, Glutes and Lumbar erector muscles. That said you also have to strongly brace your anterior core muscles to perform it correctly and your grip is also taxed.
It functions as a plyometric activity for all those muscle behind you, making your hip extension more powerful and enduring.
Once you have mastered this technique it can then serve as a no impact, endurance builder and can be done for longer sets, which is great if you have had knee injuries and still want to get fitter.
(Note: For those of you with super tight hip flexors this will limit your ability to full contract your glutes, use our Kneeling wall stretch or “Couch Stretch” to help disengage those bad boys. Follow this up with some Activation using Glute bridges and you will be ready to Swing!)
Now if we had to choose between the Goblet Squat or the Swing?
I would do both! The combined benefit of doing these 2 movements in the same workout is an absolute dynamite combo for explosive, athletic development. Thought it will require some technique practice and it is more challenging than just going for a run both movements will help improve your Jiu-jitsu and your life in general. Whether they are completed on separate days of the week and at varying intensities- Heavier load for few reps and more sets OR Lighter loads for more reps of fewer sets. Both Goblet Squats and Kettlebell swings have more transfer to your specific athletic development for BJJ than simply going for a run.
Choosing to do something because it is easy or convenient is not going to give you a huge return on investment. That said just because something is challenging, does necessarily make it worthy of your time.
The combined benefit of Swings and Squats on your Strength, Endurance and Mobility significantly out shines Running. You can also conveniently do both movements from inside the confines of your home. At a time when you could do anything I encourage don’t ask “What would be good to do? “ Rather
“What would be best to do?” If you would like to include both of these movements in your daily Isolation life so you can improve your athleticism for BJJ and want to find out how to best perform those techniques go to-