A lot of BJJ practitioners are into the idea of cross-training, because they want to do things outside of normal training to up their game. The issue is that those same people will debate about whether to do weights, yoga, TRX, or cross-fit and about which is the best, but most people are forgetting about the best type of cross-training is just plain running. Most people want to push it to the side saying it does not work you out properly for BJJ, because it does not help imitate training like other forms of exercise. You know what I call those people? Lazy! Running is the single best workout for many reasons.
First, is that it works out the whole body. Unlike other forms of exercise, where you strengthen key points, running will help strengthen the whole body. Whether it is core, legs, thighs, butt, arms(for longer runs), hips, breathing, and your cardio which all play a factor into your game. Running is going to help strengthen your legs in a ways that squats, box jumps, and other leg exercises can’t. That is going to help you lock up triangles all that much tighter. The increase in cardio is obvious, but with extended runs you learn about the type of breathing where you can slow down your heart rate, let you mind go blank, but still continue to move which is important when under attack in Jiu Jitsu.
Outside of the benefits for your body is the way you can manipulate running to benefit you for competition. As a long time avid runner, I have used running as a way to help increase my ability to move in a match. You can do five minute interval sessions where you sprint as fast as you can for 45 seconds and then jog for another 30 seconds. You do that four times and you have five minutes which is less than most matches, but just add on continuous sessions of five minute until you get to 30 to make it harder. Another way to make this exercise more difficult is to go do it in the hills where you sprint up slopes and jog back down, or if you do not have hills go trail running and as you jog hop over streams, roots, and other things to help with your explosion. The only other exercise that does nearly this much work is swimming, but running is something everyone has access to.
So, when thinking of cross-training, just like Jiu Jitsu, do not forget about your basics like running. Check back next week when we go over other types of cross-training, but do not try running just because you just do not want to do it.