Cardio for Jiu Jitsu: Developing Unstoppable BJJ Cardio

Cardio for BJJ

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu requires extreme cardio when fighting with high intensity for an extended time. Therefore, strength and conditioning for Jiu Jitsu is essential for all high level BJJ athletes. In this article you will find out how to improve your Cardio for Jiu Jitsu and how increase your chances of winning fights. Therefore, you must identify the weak links and learn to improve efficiently. Let’s get to it.

Jiu Jitsu Cardio and Conditioning Options: Quick Comparison

All cardiovascular training will increase your endurance. But remember, you want to get the most out of your time. Therefore, not every form of cardio training is equally efficient for Jiu Jitsu athletes. To become the best BJJ athlete you can be, focus on cardio training that crosses over to Jiu Jitsu as much as possible to reap additional benefits. Check out this quick comparison:

 BJJ related

Cardio increase

BJJ related

Strength increase

BJJ Technique increase







Circle Training/Crossfit







BJJ Rolling




Competition Drilling




Don’t get this wrong, conventional cardio training like running, cycling, and swimming is certainly not a bad option and you should incorporate it from time to time. But when it comes to efficiency those are not the best option as they do not cross over to Jiu Jitsu at all. The next section will explain what you should do instead and why it works.

Best Cardio for BJJ

Bjj competition cardio

Intense and Prolonged Rolling Sessions

This should be obvious. If you want to increase your endurance for Jiu Jitsu, do Jiu Jitsu, and do it a lot! Try to roll a lot while managing your risk of injury. Check out his article, to find out how many rounds most BJJ athletes roll per training session. There are many ways to increase your workload:

  • Increase number of rounds of rolling
  • Increase round duration
  • Shark Tanks: After each round of rolling you will get a fresh opponent

Jiu Jitsu Competition Drilling

This is what we mean by the term “Competition Drilling”: Drilling a technique many consecutive times for a set amount of time without taking a break. Important: Try not to compromise technique.

Example: Grab a partner and put 3 minutes on clock. Do your favorite takedown for 3 minutes straight. Do it as fast you can without compromising technique.

It doesn’t sound like much, but it is extremely exhausting. You will gain enormous amounts of cardio and BJJ related strength. On top of that, these movements become second nature. You will learn to perform them flawlessly even when you are tired. This is a game changer. Give it a try.

Jiu Jitsu Circle Training

Upon extensive rolling and competition drilling, we usually recommend Circle Training Calisthenics Workouts for most athletes since you will gain strength, endurance and you don’t even need a gym to get started.

These circles usually train the whole body, and the strength translates very well to Jiu Jitsu. Additionally, calisthenics exercises usually require a lot of core tension and joint stability, which is why this kind of training can go a long way in preventing injuries. We like to do workouts like the following workout and maybe you should try it too.

BJJ Cardio Circle Training
Example Calisthenics Training Circle for BJJ athletes: Savage Workout

We provide tons of workouts for Jiu Jitsu athletes of varying difficulties on this website. They usually don’t require a lot of equipment and aim at full body strength and conditioning.

Don’t worry if you are not able to do all the exercises yet, the workout above is just one example of what you could do and is a fairly advanced workout. Feel free to alter it to your needs. There are tons of circles on our website and the rest of the internet. Work your way up slowly and steadily.

Boxing, MMA and other Martial Arts as BJJ Cardio Training

Other martial arts can be good cardio training. Grappling arts will obviously translate to BJJ very well. Especially MMA is very cardio demanding and features grappling techniques.

On top of that, many modern grappling gyms offer MMA classes anyway. This is the perfect chance to jump in and get in some high intensity training and training variety.

Striking arts might make for good cardio training but they will not translate as well to your Jiu Jitsu performance. Additionally, they generally pose a higher risk of injury, as the injury statistics for different combat sports suppose.

Cardio for Jiu Jitsu Competitions

Most athletes have a tough time with stamina in competitive grappling. It is very demanding since it is an all-out 1-vs-1 fighting situation. Adrenaline and other stress-related hormones play an important role, especially before the first fight of the day.

Best advice for BJJ Competitions Endurance

  • Stay calm but alert: Try to be less tensed and use less power than your opponent, while not making critical mistakes.
  • Warm Up: We recommend a few strength and cardio exercises to get the blood flowing and warm up the muscles. This will also have a very calming effect before the fight.
  • Drill and Flow roll: This is the most important step to do right before an upcoming fight. You have prepared yourself well for the upcoming match over the last weeks, but you also have to be ready to deliver. This is only possible through preparing the mind and getting your muscles ready to perform certain movements. Activate your Jiu Jitsu senses ahead of time. If you wait for the fight to start for this to happen, it might be too late and might already have fallen behind in points or moved to an inferior position.

Why Jiu Jitsu requires a lot of Endurance and Cardio

Anyone that has trained Jiu Jitsu before knows that it uses almost every muscle in the body. Therefore, your body must provide adequate blood flow and supply all the muscles with sufficient oxygen.

On top of that, you can’t just take a break whenever you feel like doing so, often times your opponent dictates the pace and keeps pushing you.

Additionally, mental stress plays a big role in competitive fights. Most people cannot perform optimally when under pressure. This is problem caused by the stress related flooding of the body with hormones like adrenaline.


Jiu Jitsu is tough, like any other competitive combat sport. Keep working hard and the physical- as well as mental toughness gained through hard training will translate to all aspects of your life. Hopefully you gained some practical knowledge from reading this article. With the advice from above you should be ready to climb the mountain of strength and conditioning to become an unstoppable force.

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