Cardio for BJJ – Importance & How to improve it

Cardio training is very important because it will ensure a greater consumption of fat as a source of energy. This results from the relationship between the intensity of the training and the use of a certain energy extract. In general, the higher the intensity, the higher the sugar expenditure (glucose) as the main energy source. If the intensity is lower, the fat will be used as the main energy source. Many athletes also think of cardio as a way to improve their physical appearance and condition, and your health in general.

To ensure the best results, the ideal is to combine both strength training and cardio training. Strength training will ensure the maintenance of muscle mass which, because it is metabolically more active than the fat mass, will ensure more rapid metabolism. Consequently, the caloric expenditure will be higher, whether during training or while resting.

If you want to find out if you should up your cardio training and what’s the best way to do so, then continue reading.

Cardio for BJJ

Why is cardio important for a BJJ practitioner?

Cardiovascular endurance is one of the key aspects to have a good performance. If you get out of breath after a few rolls, even if you have the best technique and you trained super hard, you’ll eventually end up tapping. This happens to many athletes. And it’s not because they didn’t train enough. Sometimes you just didn’t pay enough attention to your cardio training. You’ll end up realizing how important it is. Especially if you’re a beginner at training BJJ, cardio training should be a part of your training routine.

Cardio tap is one of those moments everyone wants to skip. Tapping out is overall bad and you try to avoid it as much as possible. But cardio tap is one of the saddest ones. That’s because you’re not tapping out due to a submission, but because of your lack of cardio. This is why you should invest and give some of your time to cardiovascular training.

Types of cardiovascular training

Since we’re talking about cardio, it is essential to mention the two main types of cardiovascular training.

Low-Intensity Steady State aka LISS

This is the most common type of cardio workout. Low-intensity at a constant pace that corresponds to a cardio workout that, as the name implies, considers a constant and moderate rhythm.

High-Intensity Interval Training aka HIIT

HIIT has been growing in popularity over the years. It is a high-intensity interval training that corresponds to a cardio workout with two specific regimens, one of high intensity and one of low intensity. These two regimes are interleaved to guarantee a full training in a high-intensity regime since it is divided into short stretches of shorter duration.

Which is the one that best suits your needs and goals, LISS or HIIT?

The fact is that there’s no single answer to this question. Different people react better or worse to these two regimes. Therefore, the best thing to do is to try out each one of them and see which one gets you the best results.

Regardless, LISS training is more appropriate for athletes with less training experience as it is a safer form of cardiovascular training. While HIIT training is best suited for more experienced athletes because it requires a higher intensity and a better understanding of the body’s response to these constant changes of intensity.

Cardio for Jiu Jitsu

In order for you to improve your cardio for BJJ, you should first look at your training schedule. A good way to improve your cardio strength is by doing more BJJ. If you only go to BJJ practice once or twice a week, then you won’t be able to grow your endurance and cardio performance. Your training schedule should be consistent, and you should put your best efforts to keep it that way.

Another way is to do more BJJ cardio related exercises during your trainings. And when you’re learning a new technique, try to increase the number of reps. You’ll practice this new technique more, which is always beneficial when you’re learning something new. At the same time, you’ll be improving your cardio a bit more. Repeat and repeat and repeat again.

Also, sparing with an athlete that’s bigger than you, someone that has more weight than you, can be a good cardio workout. Why? Because, in comparison with sparing with someone that’s your size, you’ll need more gas and more power to spar.

If your BJJ trainings are mostly long and low-intensity, then you should start to mix things up. Instead of keeping with that LISS type of workout, do a bit of HIIT (or the other way around, depending on your case). By adding higher-intensity trainings, your body will have to adjust and go that extra mile. This is a great way to improve your muscular endurance.

Improving cardio outside the BJJ training

If you’re really serious about improving your cardio, then you can do specific trainings to ensure the best results. One day you can have BJJ practice and the other a cardio workout. This can be especially beneficial to someone that wants to lose weight and body fat. You have to evaluate your condition and goals and do what’s best for you.

Don’t fall into the error of eating a big meal right before practice. After a big meal, especially when you ate a little too much, you’ll feel super full and tired. So, it won’t be a surprise if you cardio tap during your BJJ practice. These big meals should be eaten at least 2 hours before your training.

Of course, if you’re a smoker, you’ll have more difficulties keeping up with your cardio. If you want to up your BJJ game, you might want to consider leaving this habit aside. It can even be a 2019 resolution. Smoking is overall bad, especially if you’re an athlete that’s trying to achieve the best results possible.


In conclusion, a good BJJ practitioner must have endurance. Otherwise, you’d be tapping out constantly and not winning any fights. Having consistent training schedules and putting your best efforts into your BJJ trainings is the best way for you to reach your goals. If your trainings are always the same, long a low-intensity, try to change that. You’ll give your body something new, a new challenge, and you’ll improve and gain muscular endurance. Do more reps of the new techniques you learn and practice the ones you know. Especially if you are a beginner in BJJ, repetition is key, and you’ll feel the need to improve your cardio in order to keep going. Cardio might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but no one is telling you to go run the marathon. Just adapt your trainings and practice more, and you’ll be able to get better.

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