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.


Hey Fatty, why don’t you have Some More Bacon? THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #126 VIEW NOW >

Hey Fatty, why don’t you have Some More Bacon?

Weekly Shakeup - Chocolate Coconut Shake THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #126 VIEW NOW >

Gaspari Trial: MyoFusion Probiotic Series (Chocolate). THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #098 VIEW NOW >

myofusionThis week, we are reviewing Gaspari Nutrition’s “MyoFusion Probiotic Series” protein powder.    I have to say, I have had a blast testing Gaspari’s products.  Having used a few different protein powders over about two years, I have some sort of vague reference to compare this product to.  Admittedly I have only used the low quality one or two brands that can be found in the vitamin isle at your unnamed one stop shopping center. 

Immediately you’ll notice that Myofusion has a unique offering in that it contains probiotics to support digestive health.  If you are not familiar with probiotics, they are live bacteria culture’s that upon consumption, set up shop in your digestive tract and aid with digestive health.  Probiotics can be acquired by eating various foods such as yogurt, cheese, sauerkraut, and even wine and beer.  There are also many supplemental sources of probiotics that can be found at your local pharmacy.

Another unique aspect to Myofusion is what they refer to as their “six stage protein blend.”  Nowhere on the label is this product referred to as a whey protein concentrate, or whey protein isolate.  Gaspari simply states that this is a protein powder, and with closer investigation on the label, it is obvious that this is not a whey protein supplement.  The “six stage protein blend,” is a combination of whey protein concentrate, brown rice protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, egg albumin, milk protein isolate, and whey protein hydrolysate.  These all combine for what is 24g protein per 39g scoop.   What this means is that you are receiving multiple sources of protein, all of which absorb at varying rates. 

The solution does contain 9g carbohydrates per scoop, accompanied by 2g of fat.  This is slightly higher in carbohydrates than other protein powders I have used prior, and is something to take into consideration for those who are super strict about their carbohydrates.  For the majority of people, especially those practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, this should not be an issue.  It is also gluten free, meaning it is acceptable to the growing populace that support a glutenfree lifestyle.  The product is sweetened primarily with sucralose, and is aspartame free.  I would have liked to have seen stevia as the primary sweetener in this product, simply because it is a natural source, and not an artificial sweetener.  However sucralose does not seem to be as heavily scrutinized as aspartame, and it is used in almost all protein powders, so this is only a minor criticism. 

So with all the technicalities out of the way...  How does it taste?  I can say that on taste alone, I am going to have to move on from the low quality powders I have used prior.  The sample Gaspari Nutrition provided BjjWeekly was chocolate flavor.  It did indeed taste like chocolate, but not like the generic chocolate protein powder I have had prior.  The closest comparison I can relate this to, is those little round chocolate candies by the name of “Whoppers,” which are quite delicious.  The powder mixes very easily with a spoon, and does not leave the clumps of protein pulp that is reminiscent of unfiltered orange juice.  With lower quality protein powders, I had almost exclusively mixed them with plain nonfat yogurt simply because I could not stomach the lumpy texture.  It tastes quite good mixed only with water, although it is significantly better with milk,  plain yogurt, or almond milk. 

I enjoyed this product so much, that I have started to use it as a daily meal replacement for the long commute from my workplace to the dojo.  By following the recipe below, you will get a healthy preworkout shake that will keep you satisfied for hours after consumption, and best of all, it tastes like  penutbutter cup icecream.  To try it simply throw the following into a blender:

I don't need supplements...or do I? THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #094 VIEW NOW >

This is a question I was asking about a month ago in my preparation for the Abu Dhabi World Pro Trials in Montreal. The short answer for me is YES, I do need to supplements to compete at the next level. I need to recover faster, feel stronger and keep my body firing on all cylinders. Gaspari Nutrition gets BJJ. In this interview we chat with Dan Pierce. Dan is in charge of product development for Gaspari Nutrition and he also does bjj. Dan explained to me that when formulating new products he always has bjj in the back of his mind. What this means for you and I is a guy who speaks our language on the mat is building products that work for us. The problem is most of us are uneducated when it comes to supplements. This is the beginning of a new section (yet to be named) we will be running in BJJW. It will include both articles and videos on nutrition and strength and conditioning. Lets first chat with Dan and get you all up to speed on a few things...

Master Your Breathing in Jiu Jitsu THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #040 VIEW NOW >

I’d like to discuss breathing and its importance to improving your game. Although you hear it mentioned from time to time on the mat, you may not fully understand the implications or benefits that are available to those who learn how to breathe correctly. Let me try and clear up some of the complexity and mystery that surrounds breathing.

Pineapple - A Super Sweet Snack That's Surprisingly Good for You! THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #073 VIEW NOW >

There aren’t a whole lot of foods that taste as good as a fresh pineapple. Succulent and juicy, with a complex flavor that alternates between sweet and tart this is a treat that’s as good for you as it tastes. Pineapple has loads of Vitamin C, as well as Thiamin, Manganese, and B6. It has a low glycemic load for something that tastes so sweet, and is mildly anti-inflammatory which can help with sore joints.

Fish Oil Supplements Help Muscle Soreness After Training THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #074 VIEW NOW >

The Journal of Sports Science and Medicine published a new study that shows fish oil supplementation can reduce the inflammation and muscle soreness associated with intense exercise.

10 Supplements Every Jiu-Jitsu Fighter Should be Taking THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #068 VIEW NOW >

Guest Contributor Nicolas Gregoriades is the founder of the Jiu-Jitsu Brotherhood. He was the first person to be awarded the black belt by the legendary Roger Gracie. He is widely regarded as one of the outstanding jiu-jitsu instructors contributing to the art today. By combining deep conceptual and technical knowledge with a methodical, patient teaching style, Nic ensures all his students learn quickly and enjoyably. Nic has been experimenting with supplementation for many years and shares some of his experience in this article.

Fight Soap - Who Needs It? THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #065 VIEW NOW >

The most important thing you can do as a good training partner is keep yourself clean. Come to class clean, and shower as soon as you can afterwards. Wash your gi and rashguard after every session. Trim your fingernails and toenails. Make sure you wash your hair. And if you have, or even suspect you have, a skin condition like ringworm or staph stay off the mats until it’s completely healed!