T Nation

Effect of Conditioning on Training/Competing


I'm curious what experiences people have had with adding conditioning work to their grappling training. If you want to discuss other martial arts that's fine too.

I've competed in two Jiu-Jitsu tournaments and trained BJJ on and off for 5 years. While I can tell the effect weights has on my performance, I've messed with running and intense circuit training (the circuit training was in place of weights) and noticed only a negligible benefit, at best.

The only time I really had exceptional gas on the mat was when I was rolling at least 4 days a week.

I know it's popular to flip tires and drag sleds, etc. That was what I used for my circuit training, but I'd like to know what others experiences were.


At this point, I think you get better at conditioning for what you want to do by actually doing the shit.

I could tell you right now that I can’t run 2 miles, would suck at pushing a prowler, and wouldn’t be able to flip a 400 lb. tire once.

Bu- I guaran-fucking-tee I could fight five rounds at a moderate workrate (and keep my power). I can hit the pads for ten or fifteen minutes before I start slowing, I can shadowbox for six three minute rounds at a high pace, and I can hit the bag all damn day.

I think a lot of it is knowing your sport. I can jab lightly and use footwork to let me catch my breath- stay active but not exerting too much force. It won’t look like much, but it’s a lifesaver for me. I’ll catch a break when I need it, or when I punched myself out.

Hence why if I trained a fighter, I would have him sparring, sparring, and sparring some more. In between that, we’d do some sparring. Just my way of thinking about it.


I haven’t done any of the fighting arts so you may not care for my opinion, but I can tell you from sports in general that conditioning helps if you do it ON TOP of your training, not in place of. It’s usually what seperates the elite from the rest. It also needs to be properly planned, so that your rested and ready for competition. The body doesn’t handle conditioning in a steady progressive state, it cycles improvement and performance. Unless your conditioning sucks you really shouldn’t be going for some crazy workout program that isn’t designed around you having peak performance at the time of competition.


Coming from an extensive wrestling backround, then Judo then BJJ I can tell you what worked for me.
this is old hat for allot you , then just skip through this post.

First I played Judo as a kid, and through HS I am in the Us by the way.
Got into HS wrestling , D3 college program,D1 college program, post season greco, post college greco
minor and not so minor international club and regional team meets again greco.
got bck in to Judo club stuff, nothing to heavy but a good club circuit local and some international
BJJ is just for fun being not able to healthily compete in judo or wrestling.
All of that and I still was average- but exposed to some cool shit that worked and some that did not.

I will assume anyone contributing can agree that
skill work, conditioning,iron in that order without impacting your recovery for skill work.

Nuber one the best thing you can do is get a training partner to do track work weight room and other conditioning stuff working like that with somone very motivated themselves is far better then doing “cooler” stuff lots of other people here have said the same thing.

the next thing I am going to say is wrestling and conditioning are synomonous
and its very hard to separate them out of any wrestling program.

  1. its built into the educational system in the US two to three hours of trainig 5 to 6 days a week in HS
    some start earlier like middle shcool or as smaller kids

2.higher frequency and higher volume of training

  1. arguably more intense training- unlesss you are very high in the grappling world
    you are going to be hard pressed to find better training partners then in very good US college or club if you are elswhere and that hard grappling that frequent , with good partners is plenty good.

In this order is what I think helps the most
outside of your actual grappling

sprint intervals/sprints
hill sprints

barbell complexes

spinning or airdyne bike sprint intervals
rowing machine intervals
I would rank this over rowing/biking is the versa climber but they are kind of hard to come by

here is one thing I felt [i]immediately[i] hurdles and or broad jumps
really felt stronger faster and more powerful after much of those.

not big on jumping on boxes those work too but banged up my feet and ankles pretty quick

fast short roadwork
longer roadwork

jumprope fits in there somewhere

now that I am older swimming takes up most of the conditing work
sprints and barbell complexes take up the rest.

I dont put much faith into the cave man style crap I think its just to get away from what is boring
however some really good circuits are out there some of the stuff Ross emanait
and or john chaimburg do are fantastic and simple.

Tabata’s is great. I would assume you are doing that with any of the exercise machines

there are million other things that are too specific to list…

notice I kind of glossed over strength training- that is almost another topic unto itself.
and always causes people to get excited.

And really this site is not a good place to discuss that.
I will say if you are not lifting much - or have never lifted there sould be some strength periods
put into your programming.

some other shit that jumpstarted my conditioning level

learning better form on lots of lifting- I had the opportunity to work with some really hardworking S&C types
and learning proper cleans snatches etc helped put them in the bago of tricks too.

and something that helped me more then anythng else

getting fed up with being the worst guy in the room
not only being the worst guy in the room but one of the weaker, and slower as well.
if your the top dog or the hardest worker in your room.
join a new club. finde better training partners.

obviously I left out allot , like allot
I did not talk about any kind of periodized training blocks or phases or peaking and what you should do at different times
i did not talk about recovery/mobility that is a must.

sorry this turned into a book