Ever Had to Tap From Bad Cardio? THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #127 VIEW NOW >

We’ve all been there - a couple of rounds into training and suddenly you’re so tired you can’t even breathe. And if you’ve ever had to tap out before from bad cardio, you know it’s pretty embarrassing! (Not that I would know from personal experience, just something I heard from a friend.)

So why is it that 5 or 10 minutes after dragging your sorry carcass off the mat you can roll again? How much of that feeling of being utterly exhausted is physical, and how much is in your mind?

South African researcher Tim Noakes has a theory about fatigue that’s been gaining traction in the scientific community the last few years. He believes that your mind houses a ‘central governor’ that monitors a multitude of physiological signals like core temperature, blood oxygen levels, muscle activity, and other important factors. If the signals start to indicate you’re in danger of damaging your body, the governor limits the amount of muscle fiber you can recruit for your activity.

I first learned about muscle fiber recruitment when I had surgery to reconstruct my ACL. Even if you can squat hundreds of pounds with no trouble, after surgery you’ll have trouble doing a single body weight squat. You literally can’t lift the weight of your body using the damaged leg. After a few weeks of therapy though, you’ll be back to a significant percentage of your strength. It’s not that you got weaker and then stronger – the trauma from the surgery limits your ability to recruit a high percentage of your available muscle fibers. Your body does this as a protective measure after surgery, and it appears the same effect is in place when you are so exhausted you have trouble moving on the mat.

One of the signals the ‘central governor’ is looking for is how your levels of ATP are holding up. You recycle every piece of ATP in your body every six minutes when you are just resting. During intense activity that can skyrocket to every 3 minutes or even less as your body rushes to provide the energy you need to continue.

You might want to consider adding a few specific nutrients to your water before class, about half an hour before you train. (You are getting fully hydrated before training right?) I would suggest approximately 5 grams of D-Ribose, 500 mg of Acetyl-L-Carnitine, and 30 mg of CoQ10 as a good start. These nutrients can work synergistically to improve your body’s ability to quickly recycle your ATP stores, and you’ll be able to train longer before fatigue sets in.

And just because some of that fatigue might be in your mind, don’t think you can use willpower to defeat it. Try holding your breath till you pass out and you’ll experience the amazing ability of your primal brain to override your best conscious efforts. The same holds true for trying to defeat your central governor.

The good news is that getting your cardio in top shape for jiu-jitsu isn’t that difficult. The first thing to do is just train more! As your body becomes more efficient at the act of jiu-jitsu you’ll actually use less energy to perform a given technique. You’ll recruit a higher percentage of the available muscle fibers and they’ll use less energy on a given task.

You should also add in some high intensity training on your off days, 2 or 3 times per week. Warm up for 5-10 minutes and then perform 30 seconds of max effort full body exercise (sprints/stairs/burpees/etc.) followed by 2-4 minutes of active rest (walking/stretching). Repeat 10 times. This simple routine will massively improve your cardio in a very short time.

So get that cardio fixed and Stay Alpha!

Bill Thomas is the founder of Q5 Labs. He is a purple belt training with Aaron Blake in Boothbay Harbor Maine and has been grappling and coaching youth wrestling for over 30 years.


How I use Muscle Tape at my clinic Part I: Adam

I am an Licensed Acupuncturist in Minneapolis and mainly use acupuncture, herbs and dietary therapy as my primary therapy tools.  Recently, I have incorporated Muscle Tape into my practice for the athletes that I treat.  I find it to be a fantastic passive therapy that does a few things to make my work even more effective.  I want to show you a few case studies in how I use it and what I do that is a little different in the way I look at pain and injuries.

Gaspari Trials: Superpump Max Workout #1 THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #093 VIEW NOW >

We are quite excited, as the folks with Gaspari Nutrition sent us some sample product for review.    Having never used a preworkout supplement in the two or three years that I have been interested in health and fitness, I was especially excited to try out Gaspari’s newly improved pre-workout formula:  Superpump Max (Watermelon Flavor).  Being somewhat of a scientific mind, I decided I would wait to try the product until shoulder day.  Shoulder day is by far my favorite resistance session in the gym, and knowing this, I would best be able to gauge the impact of the product on my performance.  Before getting into the trial, lets first review the claims on the label.

Kettlebells for BJJ THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #087 VIEW NOW >

They say that strength doesn’t count, but it does. Maybe it wouldn’t make a difference if the opponent didn’t know anything. If the opponent knows something, then strength starts to count.” – Carlson Gracie 

This is becoming ever more prevalent in the competitive world of BJJ. Whilst in a self-defence situation you would most likely have the upper hand of your attacker not knowing how to defend a takedown attempt, armbar, or triangle. When competing, not only does your opponent know how to counter but more and more competitors are enlisting the help of Strength & Conditioning coaches especially at high level. Many academies now offer some sort of S&C training as part of their curriculum, because as the saying goes "when technique is equal - strength counts."

Stabilization Training on the Stability Ball THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #048 VIEW NOW >

Stabilization Training on the Stability Ball 

BJJ offers unique body movements that strengthen the core musculature such as the external obliques, rectus abdominis, and psoas. However, beneath the surface, there are muscles that stabilize and strengthen the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex ( the real core).

Using Strength and Conditioning to Facilitate Skill Learning in Jiu-Jitsu – Part 2 THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #038 VIEW NOW >

In part 1 of this article I discussed the goals of strength and conditioning for Jiu-Jitsu, and how it was vitally important to match the needs of any sport to its programming. In this article, I’d like to give you some practical applications of these concepts with example exercises that will develop the attributes required for effective skill learning. The exercises detailed here are by no means extensive but they will give you a great, albeit somewhat alternative, way to approach your strength and conditioning.

Using Strength and Conditioning to Facilitate Skill Learning in Jiu Jitsu - Part 1 of 2 THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #037 VIEW NOW >

This is part 1 of a 2 part article by guest contributor Mathew Palfrey, a strength and conditioning coach from the UK. In this first part Mathew lays out some of his ideas about how strenght and conditioning can be approached conceptually and in the second part he will provide some examples to illustrate the concepts.


Muscle Soreness - It's not Lactic Acid THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #031 VIEW NOW >

Ask any gym rat about muscle soreness after a hard workout and you might hear something about lactic acid. It's been a commonly accepted wives tale for years that the build up of lactic acid in muscles causes fatigue and soreness.

Managing Adrenaline Dumps THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #035 VIEW NOW >

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is an individual sport. Although there are teams, schools, and associations, at the end of the day your training partners can’t fight for you. At a competition, once you step onto the mat, it’s just you, alone in the spot light.

Anaerobic Conditioning for Jiu-Jitsu THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #017 VIEW NOW >

We've all gassed before. Things are going along fine and all of a sudden, you are completely out of energy and can't do anything but lie on the mat like a dead fish. Jiu-Jitsu requires great cardiovascular conditioning and many jiu-jitsu fighters run or bike as part of their training. This strengthens the heart and improves its ability to pump blood through the body. It also improves the capacity of your lungs, another critical part of the cardiovascular system. As the entire system becomes stronger, your heart beats slower and moves more blood per beat.