There’s a common argument of whether or not world-class jiu jitsu practitioners should add strength training on top of their Jiu Jitsu training in order to improve their game. In some ways, I can see both sides to this argument. However, it depends on the way you define “strength training.” From the personal experience of myself and my clients, I can confidently say that HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training, is one of the most beneficial ways to improve your jiu jitsu, without risking the degrading of your joints or serious injuries.
Why HIIT? Like Jiu Jitsu, HIIT training requires explosive bursts of energy with less intense recovery periods. As a Jiu Jitsu athlete, learning to have explosive energy on command is crucial in order to be able to compete at the highest levels. Being able to escape a submission or finish a pass requires an intense amount of discipline and the knowledge of how to go from a relaxed state to using a large amount of the energy you have preserved. All of these techniques are something that can be learned and developed through HIIT training.
One of the main concerns as an athlete when adding other styles of training into your regimen is the risk for injury. With HIIT training, there are ways to meet your goals without having to use intense amounts of weight that might stray some athletes away from regular strength training. HIIT training can be accomplished with even just your body weight. It’s all about how effective you makes each exercise and how hard you push yourself. Using exercise bands, cable towers, medicine balls, and even performing sprints are great ways to improve your cardiovascular endurance while using explosive energy.
Cutting weight is another huge responsibility as a Jiu Jitsu athlete. HIIT training allows you to burn more fat in a smaller time frame by keeping your heart rate up throughout your workout. For example, an athlete could set up sprint intervals, where you sprint for 40 seconds and then walk for 20 seconds, which is equal to 1 minute. Doing so for 10-20 minutes is much more effective than jogging for the same amount of time because you’re pushing your body harder and allowing your heart rate to get higher. HIIT training is a beneficial way to cut weight throughout your competition prep by allowing you to improve your cardiovascular endurance, all while losing the last couple of pounds before competition day.
Although there are not many training styles that can mimic what is required of us like in Jiu Jitsu, HIIT training is one of the most similar and beneficial training styles when it comes to strength training— without the worry or risks of injuries. There are many ways to incorporate Jiu Jitsu style movements while creating fun exercises. Next time you’re looking for a new workout regimen to help you get to the top of the podium, give HIIT training a try.