Swimming For BJJ And MMA

Have you ever felt that you can win the fight, but you ran out of strength or oxygen for breathing? I think that everyone at some point in their adventure with BJJ could experience this feeling. Then the question should appear: how to train so that you don’t have that feeling again during a fight? How to make sure that during my fights I don’t lose with myself because of lack of condition? The answer is simple, you need to improve your shape. However, the real question is how to do it. More about Swimming for BJJ and MMA

 BJJ And MMA Conditioning

You can try running. It is just worth remembering that running on a soft surface (like a path in the woods or the park) is more friendly for our joints and muscles because they are not as heavily loaded as when running on concrete. While running for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, it is worth doing interval training. Combining longer running with shorter and faster sections. If only we have the opportunity it is good to diversify such training by running on the sand. A soft and irregular surface while running increases the level of effort put into this activity. If you want to use the beach for training, e.g. during a preparatory camp, it is worth doing short running sections with a load. For example use a training elastic and your friend from the mat, who will resist holding the elastic on your belt. However, if you don’t have the option of jogging along the beach it is worth to add stairs to your “ordinary” running. “Climbing” the stairs is a very popular cardio exercise among Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners. It is very easy. Just try using stairs that are everywhere in the area, use them instead of an elevator, etc. This will only work in your favor.

Swimming For BJJ And MMA Conditioning

However, not everyone likes to run. Fortunately, swimming is also great for doing shape for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. There is nothing to wait for, put on your swimming suit and jump into the pool. Swimming is an extremely effective activity in building your body’s cardio. All muscles are involved when swimming, so there is no reason to worry that a lot will be neglected. Also, when you’re swimming, the water resists your motions. This forces your muscles to work harder and that’s the basic mechanic behind building strength. Maybe it is not as effective as working out with weights in the gym, but it will make you physically stronger. Swimming is also a great way of working on your breath control. Because it only allows you to breathe at specific intervals, the act of swimming helps you practice breath control.

This rhythmic practice and experience translate directly to breathe control during BJJ practice and competition. And why it is important? Controlling your breathing helps you relax, move quickly, analyze situations intelligently and maintain your wind under exertion.

Swimming Styles and Application to BJJ

In swimming, it is also great that individual swimming styles give us slightly different benefits. For example, the crawl is a great stroke to work on for Brazilian jiu-jitsu players, especially those who like to pass the guard. While swimming freestyle you strokes on your belly and the stroke works your entire upper body, utilizing back, shoulders, chest, and triceps.

All the time you are pulling water while rolling shoulders to create a good angle to glide through the water. This same concept applies to passing a guard: pulling an opponent into you while you roll your body’s angles to find openings to pass his legs and isolate his hips. But, let’s not forget about our lower body parts. In crawl, you also pivot hips in accordance with the way you roll shoulders while stroking.  The most beneficial aspect to BJJ here is the constant exercise a swimmer gets shifting his hips over and over. You can use this ability from swimming to shift the pressure in your hips while passing the guard.

What about other styles? For guard players, the backstroke is an excellent stroke. While swimming this way you continually rotates your hips and rolls your shoulders. Mimic this movement with a push to the face on the mat, and you create a zig-zag style hip escape that keeps your opponent always at your centerline.

When you want a little more power in your legs try the froggy style. Practicing it helps a lot to build up the muscles in your inner thighs and hip flexors. And why it is important? Having these muscles especially helps your “squeeze” when playing closed guard, shooting triangles chokes, or even getting good hooks in for a butterfly guard. Last but not least. Butterfly. The most powerful, impressive, and physically exhausting of the conventional swim strokes. The fact it is so physically demanding makes it a perfect stroke for Brazilian jiu-jitsu. It requires some explosiveness, correct body mechanics, and a good deal of core strength. The butterfly stroke works nearly all of the body, building enormous shoulders and lats muscles. It also helps build explosiveness, endurance, and lung capacity.


So there is nothing to wait for, it is time to go work on our condition. Grab comfortable shoes or swimming trunks and go to train your shape. If you do it, next time you won’t lose the fight because of a lack of strength or breath. You can still lose for other reasons, such as technical shortcomings, but that’s a topic for another article;)