Auxiliary Training and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu / Grappling

It's important to treat it as that: auxiliary. If the intensity, duration or frequency of there sessions has a negative effect on your performance in BJJ / grappling / MMA then you have gone too far. All types of exercise exert stress on your body and dig a proportionate hole into your recovery reserves and you need to weigh off that against the potential benefit that auxiliary training will bring you.

Keeping the above in mind, there is also a hierarchy in building the attributes that you need for grappling and BJJ:

1. Mobility.
2. Endurance.
3. Strength.

You simply need enough mobility to be able to perform all the fundamentals of your art Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Find a simple and reliable programme to increase your range of motion in your wrists, shoulders, neck, lower back, hips and ankles and stick to it. A Yoga vinyasa (chain) like the Sun Salutation is excellent. Notice I didn’t say flexibility! Flexibility is awesome and I stretch loads every single day, but I do it because I enjoy it. For a dynamic art like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (or any other martial art) you need to work on your joint mobility. Rotation work ala Pavel is the way forward.

Once happy with this basic level of flexibility it's time to work on your gas. Once again it's important to remember why you're doing this. This is nothing to do with your Lactic Acid Threshold. You're not aiming to become a long distance runner, or any kind of runner for that matter. Don't get overzealous and push past the lactic acid barrier. Keep the pace and intensity low and never allow these sessions to interfere with your ability to train your main sport and art. If anything, there sessions will help you move the blood around and flush any remaining lactic acid out of your grappling muscles, not generate some more!

Next on the agenda is strength. Once again, keep the goal in mind and don't train like a body builder or a power lifter. Focus instead on strengthening your back, core and legs and perhaps leave the holy bench press aside for a while. You want to be strong in the areas that end up carrying toe most tension and stress during grappling so you can stay healthy and grapple your whole life.

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SkinnyD said...

I think you're right on; focusing on how the auxiliary benefits your primary sport is the way to go. My "goals" coach sets specific expectations about how strong one needs to be before competing and works towards those specific, focused strength goals, rather than just lifting to get strong and ripped.

A.D. McClish said...

All great points and well put. Joint flexibility is something I know I need to work on. I have heard though, that it is difficult to train for the kind of endurance you need to do BJJ apart from actual grappling. Running doesn't seem to cut it. I've seen people who can run for miles and miles come in and get gassed in their first grapple. Why do you think that is? I'm guessing it has something to do with the fact that you're demanding a lot from your large muscle groups on top of having to keep moving.

The Part Time Grappler said...

Thanks SkinnyD. I'm currently focusing on Mobility and stability (core). I've always been strong and enjoyed strength training but I feel I should balance it out now to avoid injuries.

The Part Time Grappler said...

Many thanks Allie. That's a very clever observation. It has to do with different activities utilising different energy production systems.

Before anything else, let me explain why I think adding running, swimming, rowing, cycling o any other aerobic activity is worthwhile. It's not to get more gas while you are grappling. The best way for that is to grapple (because you get better technique and use less of your gas, and also because it enhances the very energy systems you use in grappling) The reason I think you should do these things is because they help you get better at RECOVERING BETWEEN SESSIONS and BETWEEN ROLLS. Running doesn't give you gas while you roll, it helps you recover after the roll and before the next one. It makes your system (heart, vessles, muscles) better at flushing lactic acid out and bringing in oxygenated blood in.

Thanks for all this feedback. I think I'm gonna write some posts on how to train the individual attributes (mobility, stability, cardio and strength) from our (Part Time Grappler) perspective! said...

I'm using my digging and manure moving at the allotment as my active recovery. I sometimes throw a sauna suit and timer into the mix to make it more interesting and sports specific (6min on 3min off round). Combing two hobbies into one :)