Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How many Calories do we burn in BJJ?

How many Calories do we burn in BJJ?
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Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an endurance sport when it comes to training, much like the marathon runner or a cyclist. A BJJ tournament will tax an athlete as they will need to have the ability to fight several times and each individual match will have periods of high intensity sprinting. So fighters need to train their body to handle both areas of energy output and thus need to consume calories to fuel such activity. A serious BJJ fighter will train as much as any runner. A two hour long class can burn a tremendous amount of calories. The fact is that an athlete who is putting in long sessions at the gym may burn several thousand kcals a day. Look at U.S. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and his training diet as an example. To meet the potential needs of an athlete will require huge amounts of nutritional planning to meet their dietary goals. This may not always fit into an athletes schedule, but will be necessary to ensure adequate stores of energy for the next day’s training. Sometimes eating can be one of the more difficult aspects of an athletes trainng regime and certainly one of the more confusing undertakings. The key to fitting in calories on a tight schedule is to have many small nutrient dense snacks that are high in calories spaced throughout the day. To determine the best amount of calories to consume, you need to get an idea of how many calories you burn. Below is a table with estimates on calories burned per hour per pound of body weight for various activities common in BJJ training. Considering the importance that Jiu Jitsu fighters place on maintaining weight for competition this is an area that fighters need to research heavily.  Keep in mind that each individual is unique and burns varying amounts based on age, metabolism, goals, time of day training, weight, training partners etc...etc... This is simply a guide to give you a general idea. 

Type of Activity
Calories burned per hour
per pound of body weight
Basketball (shooting around)
Boxing (Bag Work)
Boxing  (Sparring)
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (light)
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (Intense)
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (competition)
Close to 300-500 calories/hr in 5 mins Pace cannot be maintained for an entire hour
Calisthenics (push ups, sit ups etc)
Circuit training
Cycling ( med pace)
Jump rope (medium)
Jump rope (fast)
Kick Boxing
Rowing machine (light)
Running (fast mile)
Running (Jog)
Running Stairs
Stairmaster machine
Stretching (Yoga) light
Swimming (med pace)
Weight lifting (light)
Weight lifting (intense)
Wrestling (light practice)
Wrestling (competition)
Close to 300-500/hr calories in 5 mins Pace cannot be maintained for an entire hour

To determine your approximate calories burned, you need to multiply the number of calories burned per hour by your body weight. If you go to a typical BJJ class, you may undergo a training routine similar to this.

5 minutes of stretching 

10 minutes of calisthenics

15 minutes of techniques

30 minutes of rolling

At 175 pounds the following equations would work for me.

Take the Calories burned per hour per pound of body weight value. Multiply that by your body weight in pounds. Divide that by 60 minutes and you are left with how many calories you burn each minute at your given weight. Multiply that by the number of minutes you engage in that activity. That will give you your calories burned.

Stretching                         (1.81 x 175lbs) ÷ 60 mins x 5 mins = 26 calories for 5 minutes

Calisthenics                      (2.43 x 175lbs) ÷ 60 mins x 10 mins= 79 calories for 10 minutes

BJJ technique                  (3.25 x 175lbs) ÷ 60 mins x 15 mins= 142 calories for 15 minutes

Rolling                              (4.87 x 175lbs) ÷ 60 mins x 30 mins= 426 calories for 30 minutes


26 + 79 + 142 + 426 = 706 total calories

Add another ½ hour for training/sparring and that number is up to 1132 calories.

How much extra work done in a day varies based on lifestyle. But when you adjust this formula to meet the individual needs and goals of Jiu Jitsu students, there is a great variation among all levels of athlete concerning their diets and required caloric intake. You will obviously not burn as many calories if you are not working very hard and simply watching a class. Perhaps you are going really hard the entire time, doing lots of take downs and drills and will burn more calories. It is up to the coach and athlete to stay motivated and maintain a good workout effort and pace designed to meet the training goals for the best results in their practices to make progress in BJJ.

NovaGenix wner and BJJ blackbelt in the world championships for the IBJJF
Tim Buce IBJJF Black Belt middleWeight World Championships 2012

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Monday, July 16, 2012

What It Means To Be a Black Belt in BJJ

What It Means To Be A Black Belt....

     I recently finished an article that I wrote for BJJWEEKLY.COM , on what it means to be a Black Belt. I asked several BJJ Black Belts to finish a sentence for me..."Being a Black Belt means...." The responses could have been from a Black Belt in almost ANY martial art as the message seems to transcend styles. I thought that it was interesting to see the responses that people gave and how similar some of them were. Here is a link to the article…

     I know the amount of work it took me to finally advance the ranks and I remember the sheer joy and relief when I actually received my Black Belt.  It turned out to be a new beginning…Martial arts and in particular Jiu Jitsu has been a blessing in my life and a source of pride and accomplishment. I feel it’s really important to strive for the highest ranks that one could achieve and to do so requires learning from those who have been there and taking their knowledge and wisdom to heart.

Tim Bruce taken at Photoshoot during 2012 Jiu Jitsu World Championships
Copyright © 2012 Wheaton A. B. Mahoney

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

How Do You Get Better In BJJ?

“How to get better in BJJ”

     A question that has been popping up again and again in multiple forms is “How can I get better in BJJ?” This is a simple question and can be answered in two ways. There is the simple answer and the long answer. I can say that before I present both to you that I feel qualified to answer this question due to my many years of training, competing, refereeing, judging  and coaching which has given me invaluable insight into many different fighters, instructors and competitors and their different approaches to improving their Jiu Jitsu. There are complex interactions at play and not every practitioner of the sport will respond the same way to the same training. With that in mind there are a few universal truths that I find to be common across the majority of athletes who train in this sport.

     The SIMPLE answer to how one can improve is fairly obvious to most people. It is MAT TIME. Spend as much time on the mat and in class as possible. This can include class, open mats, private lessons or drilling, either solo or with a partner. The more time you spend doing jiu jitsu the better you will become at jiu jitsu. It’s next to impossible to improve unless you practice, but there seems to be a large number of people searching for a short cut. Where there are some things you can do to help IMPROVE your jiu jitsu, without actually practicing and spending time on the mats, you will not really get good or make significant improvements. A plateau will be reached and progress from there will be slow and limited at best.
      As obvious as this seems, I cannot tell you how many search inquires I have seen from people around the globe looking for ways to “improve in BJJ” or “get better at BJJ.” The best fighters in the world are usually the hardest workers and the ones who have spent the most time most time on the mats. Marcelo Garcia one told me how they used to live in the gym and train 3-4 times a day in Brazil. The improvements will come at a faster rate than those of someone who trains only 3-4 times a week. This must be a fighters understanding from the onset of their journey in jiu jitsu. Is it reasonable to assume everyone who practices BJJ can quit their lives and start living in a gym? Of course not. But it can be assumed that there are days that we don't train and COULD be either in the gym or doing something supportive of our development in BJJ.

            The more complicated answer involves making sure that besides mat time; all other intangibles are in your favor.

Having the right motivation and drive to be successful is only part of the equation. If you are willing to put in the work, then you need to make sure that your goals are clear and you have the right support structure behind you.

If you don't love what you are doing, then you will most likely be unable to put the effort needed into maintaining a pace optimal for improvment and success.

Set clearly defined and realistic goals. Go over these goals and make sure that your instructor is aware of these goals so that he can help you reach them.

Make sure that you do everything in your power to help improve your lifestyle choices so that your BJJ can benefit from it. This involves proper nutrition and dietary supplementation.

Sleep and lifestyle choices to avoid things that are detremental to success like drugs and alcohol.
     Training and exercise is a must.  Cross training in other grappling sports like Judo and wrestling has helped some of the best BJJ competitors in the world. Look at the number of world champs that are also Judo black belts for example.

Additional conditioning from a qualified personal trainer preferably with grappling experience will be essential.

The right gym facilities and instructors is a key factor to truly develop the potential of a fighter. Without a good gym, a fighter can be limited based on space and availability of training times.

 Without the right coach, a fighter’s improvement will be slowed down considerably due to lack of experience or expertise.

The best team for the fighter is also of extreme importance. The right training partners will be of significant benefit to the overall group as well as the individual. Other practitioners who will not injure you and who will at the same time challenge you and whose goals align with yours and show up to work are the guys you want to surround yourself with.
     Support from home is another key element. Without support from family or friends who believe in you and support your goals, you will meet road blocks along the way. Someone who believes in you and what you do will help keep you motivated and driven.

 Even the financial support to pay for training, gis and gear, privates, tournaments and seminar fees is often overlooked and underrated in its importance. Without some financial backing we are limited in just how much we can do in jiu jitsu.

Supplementation of knowledge in the forms of instructional DVDs and books is another area in which people can take advantage of and get extra philosophy and techniques presented to them, but make sure that you are getting the right ones from reputable instructors.
     Complete a check list of how you train and what you do and if there are some areas that you are deficient, then you can make adjustments and thus help improve your BJJ. Where this is just a basic list, one can go into much further detail to examine these areas of training in the sport and how they can be applied to further their improvements within the sport. There are no short cuts to success in this sport and with the right environment and support a fighter can achieve great success if they follow some sound practices and show self discipline. I will go into greater detail in the future on this topic but hopefully these points will help people get a grasp on areas that they can improve on right now.

                                               2012 Jiu Jitsu World Championships

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