Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Six Week Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Conditioning Plan

My friend Travis is entering a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament in six weeks, and asked me to come up with a hardcore fitness plan.
Travis in action.

His main goals are conditioning and fat loss. He is already plenty strong. However, I've noticed he has some slight physical imbalances when it comes to pulling motions, which are important to a grappler. Six weeks before a tournament is not the time to seriously work on correcting this, so instead I incorporated a couple of simple moves to practice, not to "work out."

Most of the workouts are on the short side, as the main focus of someone preparing for a Jiu-Jitsu tournament should be Jiu-Jitsu.

For diet, my recommendations remain the same as what I posted here.

The Plan

Bodyweight Conditioning

At least four or five times a week, do Ross Enamait’s Boxing/Burpee routine:

These intervals consist of Burpees and shadowboxing. For example, you will perform...Burpees x 30 secondsShadowbox x 30 secondsContinue for 2 - 3 minutesYou will begin with 30 seconds of Burpees, and immediately follow with 30 seconds of shadow boxing. Continue this pattern for a full 2 or 3-minute round. You will then rest 1 minute (or 30 seconds) between each round.
More info:

This really helped get me prepared for my JKD instructor test. I recommend jumping rope for a few minutes (no more than five) at a moderate pace beforehand to get warmed-up.

Kettlebell Work

Me, doing a Turkish Get Up.
While you can do the Boxing/Burpee workout practically every day, rest a day in between kettlebell training. There are two main workouts you should alternate between: 

25 Swings/ 20 Swings/ 15 Swings
3 Get Ups/ 2 Get Ups/ 1 Get Up 
You’ll repeat each Swing rep set twice, like this: 25 Swings, 3 Get Ups on the right side, 25 Swings,  3 Get Ups on the left, 20 Swings, 2 Get Ups right, etc.

Travis and I working the Swing.
#2. Swings, 30/30 for anywhere from 10 up to 20 minutes.

Warm-up with either jumping rope or Hindu exercises.

Also, practice the following two exercises for your pulling muscles:

The kettlebell high-pull:

The kettlebell row:

(Demonstrations by Lauren Brooks.)

For these two, don’t actually use them to “work out.” Practice, just doing a few reps of each to help train your body. Go nowhere near failure or fatigue. Just concentrate on technique.

It’s fine to do two kettlebell workouts a day as long as you make sure there’s a good six hours space (or more) in between.

Rest and Recuperation

Make some time to do some basic yoga, tai chi, and/or qi gong.

One day a week do NOTHING strenuous. A walk, jog, or leisurely swim (not sprints) is fine, but no more.


This is optional, but it does wonders for improving both long term and short-term cardio conditioning. It can take the place of a kettlebell or Burpee workout.

It’s based on perceived exertion.

  • Level 4: Purposeful walking. Your heart rate is starting to rise and you're feeling warmer. You begin to glow rather than sweat.
  • Level 5: Activity should feel more moderate. You’re starting to sweat but can still carry out a full conversation.
  • Level 6: Breathing gets heavier and carrying on a conversation requires effort. This is the maximum level of exertion you should aim to be at, if you find your level is higher, slow down and reduce your effort level.
  • Levels 7-8: Conversation is reduced to words rather than sentences. You are sweating and hot.
  • Levels 9-10:You can no longer talk. After a short period at this level you will feel like your lungs are bursting. It's not a comfortable place to be - your brain will tell your body to slow down - and you will.
Warm-up at Level 4 for 5 minutes. Then you pyramid up and down in exertion for 2.5 minutes per level like so:

  • Level 5—2.5 minutes
  • Level 6—2.5 minutes
  • Level 7—2.5 minutes
  • Level 8—2.5 minutes
  • Level 9—2.5 minutes
  • Level 8—2.5 minutes
  • Level 7—2.5 minutes
  • Level 6—2.5 minutes
Cool-down at Level 4 for another 5 minutes.

This workout is best done someplace flat like a track field or a park. It isn’t absolutely necessary to include it in your training, but it does work pretty well.

Also, to give proper credit, this cardio workout comes from Simon Waterson, Daniel Craig’s personal trainer.