Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is a sport that relies heavily on both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. Having population-specific data in terms of athletic performance variables can aid in designing and implementing sports performance programs. 

12 BJJ athletes (including national and international level competitors) were assessed using: 

  • Squat jump, countermovement jump, plyometric push up
  • Lower (running) and upper (cycle ergometer) body graded aerobic test
  • Lower and upper body wingate anaerobic test 

Average results from the tests were as follows:

  • Squat jump 37.8cm
  • Countermovement jump 41.5cm
  • Plyometric push up 15.7cm
  • Lower body anaerobic peak power 11.9 W/kg
  • Upper body anaerobic peak power 10.5 W/kg
  • Lower limb VO2 peak 45.6 mL/kg/min
  • Upper limb VO2 peak 36.6 mL/kg/min

Lower body aerobic fitness in these athletes was lower than recorded in other grapplers, and considerably lower than elite athletes in other sports, however upper body aerobic fitness was high. This may reflect the physiological demands of BJJ, which incorporate a significant degree of physiological loading. It is also important to note that VO2 max measurement is dependant on the modality being used for assessment, with grapplers who perform more of their supplementary conditioning in the form of running likely to perform better on a running-based test. 

Anaerobic peak and mean power was comparable to previous studies on grapplers, and power scores were in line with those of other athletes.

The authors acknowledge the relatively small and homogeneous sample size. Nonetheless, this study helps contribute to the database of physiological performance markers in combat sports athletes. 

#thescienceofstriking #brazilianjiujitsu #bjj #grappling #sportperformance #strengthandconditioning

  1. Vidal Andreato, A.E. Leite, G.F. Ladeia et al., Aerobic and anaerobic performance of lower-and upper-body in Brazilian jiu-jitsu athletes, Sci sports, (in press)

About the author

Sam Gilbert

Sam Gilbert is a registered physiotherapist with the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) and certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). He holds a bachelor’s degree in Physiotherapy from Latrobe university (Melbourne, Australia) and a master’s degree in Exercise Science (Strength and Conditioning) from Edith Cowan University (Perth, Australia).

A 3rd Dan black belt in Shinkyokushinkai Karate under the World Karate Organisation (WKO), Sam participated for over 20 years in full contact competition, winning multiple state and national titles, and culminating in a 4th place in the heavyweight division of the Shinkyokushinkai World Cup in 2009.

As the co-founder and clinical director of Club 360, the premier multi-disciplinary health and fitness center in Tokyo, Japan, Sam has combined his practical experience with an in-depth study of sports performance in relation to combat sports, and strives to help other combat athletes reach their full competitive potential, whilst at the same time decreasing injury risk and increasing competition and training potential.

Add comment

By Sam Gilbert