BJJ and training for grappling tournaments requires endurance so athletes can compete several matches consecutively without losing steam or better known as ‘gassing’. Building endurance allows people to compete at a high intensity or for an extended amount of time. VO2 max, the highest rate of oxygen the body consumes during exercise and an athlete’s lactate threshold, the intensity of exercise that corresponds to an abrupt increase in lactate, are the most popular measurement of aerobic capacity. So how exactly can this be improved for competing athletes?
In the end the best way to increase endurance for grappling is to well…GRAPPLE! However the following are some key components to maximizing your performance.
Improve Stamina & Avoid Gassing
EAT RIGHT. Carbohydrates are key, since the body uses glycogen for fuel during high intensity training. Consuming complex carbs before competition can provide you with the energy you need to compete long hours. Glycogen depletion leads to fatigue, increased risk of injury, and reduced performance. You should eat approximately 10 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight in the final days leading up to your competition. The best sources are grain products—preferably whole grains—such as whole-wheat bread, brown rice, oats, cereal, and pasta, as well as fruits and vegetables. During competition, be sure to eat between 30 to 60grams of carbohydrates per hour. Sports gels and sports bars are good choices, as they are portable, easy to digest, and won’t overfill your stomach.
The optimal combination of carbohydrates, healthy fat and lean protein varies considerably amongst athletes. You have to compensate with the right foods to keep your performance at its peak. Be sure to include lean protein in your diet. While carbohydrates are important as a source of fuel, protein will help repair muscle tissue and prevent muscle breakdown.
ADD STRENGHTH. When it comes to endurance training, variation is important. Although increased muscle mass is not beneficial to grapplers as more muscle requires more oxygen to maintain, resistance training can strengthen our bones, tendons and ligaments helping improve overall fitness helping an athlete compete longer and harder. Mixing up kettle bell, dumbbell and body weight resistance exercises will improve stamina.
REST UP. To go long and hard, athletes need fresh, well-rested muscles. Train intensely when necessary but be aware that before competition your body needs to be fully recovered to work optimally. Sleeping well can remarkably improve physical performance, preventing overuse injuries, restoring glycogen stores and preventing mental burnout. Aim for 8 hours of uninterrupted solid rest each night.
HIIT. High intensity interval training can improve endurance if performed correctly. This is a training idea in which low to moderate intensity intervals are alternated with high intensity intervals. It is considered to be much more effective than normal cardio because the intensity is higher and you are able to increase both your aerobic and anaerobic endurance. A good starter workout to try is running as fast as you can for 1 minute and then walking for 1 minute. Repeat five to 10 times in two-minute intervals.
HYDRATE. Staying hydrated is one of the most important thing an athlete such as grappler can do. While water is good, beverages with a little sodium, potassium, chloride and other elements are absorbed quicker then simply water. But don’t over do it! Coconut Water may be better at replacing lost fluids than a sport drink or water alone as well although Coconut water is low in carbohydrates and sodium and rich in potassium, which is not exactly what athletes need when training rigorously so its best consumed after competition. Aim for a minimum of 3 liters of fresh water a day, avoiding caffeine as it acts as a diuretic.
5 Anti-Gassing Foods For Grapplers:
Oatmeal has a high soluble fiber content, is high in complex carbohydrates, is a good source of protein and has a low glycemic index, which provides a sustained release of energy into the bloodstream.
They help lower blood pressure and are a powerful food for athletes because of its high vitamin and mineral content.
Loaded with potassium and vitamin B6, bananas help maintain low blood sugar, regulate digestion and re-stock your body with lost electrolytes after any sort of physical exertion.
For grapplers, it’s a great fast recovery method because it helps prevent muscle breakdown and is the fastest digesting protein.
They also contain a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids and hydrophilic properties, which means that the seeds have the ability to absorb more than twelve times their weight in water, thus allowing prolonged hydration.
Words by: Cindy Bertinato
MMA Figher, NoGi Grappler and Ring Girl and Grapplersplanet.com Contributor.