While spending time on the mat drilling and rolling is the best way to improve you BJJ game, the routine can get monotonous over time. With the change of seasons upon us, the sun shining, and more hours of day light, there are opportunities to have fun in the sun while improving our bodies for BJJ. There are many benefits to cross training in other sports and activities including improved strength, endurance, balance, coordination, cardio, and mental toughness gained through problem solving and pushing through demanding exercises. Additionally, studies have shown, spending an hour or more outdoors each day will make you a happier and healthier person. Here are five outdoor activities that will improve your body for BJJ.
Rock Climbing: Rock climbing is a fun and challenging activity that can be done at either an indoor rock climbing gym or in a national park. For novices, I would recommend starting at an indoor gym and taking an intro class to learn safety, knot tying, and basic climbing techniques. Once you start climbing you will realize many of you BJJ skills apply and benefit from climbing including problem solving and the importance of efficiency in body movements while climbing. Climbing is a great total body workout as you are using your arms, core, and legs to maneuver up the wall or facade. The biggest strength and conditioning benefits are improved stamina, grip strength, core, and leg strength. Click here to find a local rock climbing gym and club by you!
Skate Boarding: Before I moved to the Venice Beach area, I never seen so many people riding skateboards as a form of transportation. Skateboarding is actually a great cross training exercise for BJJ practictioners. When ADCC champion Kron Gracie was growing up, he enjoyed skateboarding just as much as BJJ. Skateboarding will improve your balance and coordination since you are pushing and steering a board on wheels while maintaining your posture and balance. Additionally, creating and practicing tricks on the street, ramp, or pool requires the same mental focus, problem solving skills and discipline used to continually drill and refine techniques on the mat.
Hiking: Do you want stronger hips and legs? Try hiking uphill for several miles. Hiking is a great way to explore the outdoors and improve your strength and conditioning in your legs and hips that will help you with your wrestling take downs, bridges, hip escapes, and overall cardio. Plus, it is great to escape everyday life and return to the peace and quiet of nature. Walking uphill for a long period of time can be mentally and physically grueling as you look up and see that you still have 100 yards before the next plateau. A good test of physical and mental toughness is the ability to see if you can grind out hiking up a long and steep stretch without stopping. Additionally, you can always make hikes more challenging by adding a 25 lbs back pack or hiking at a faster pace.
Cycling: Like hiking, cycling can be as demanding as you want to make it. You can take your bike on grueling, uphill rides up the side of the mountain like a pro or you can get a light cardio workout in and ride along a flat bike path. Either way, cycling is a great outdoor activity that will boost your cardio and strengthen your legs while building your mental toughness. Riding up a long and steep hill is brutal and will help you understand why all those cyclists are using EPO. If you have already had four to five tough BJJ workouts and just want to get a light cardio workout in to break a sweat, getting on a bike path or safe road for biking is great way to get one to hours of cardio in without beating up your body. Like hiking, you can make cycling as light or challenging based on your needs. Click here for the 50 best bike paths in the United States.
Kayaking: As long as there aren’t sharks in the water, kayaking is a great water sport activity that will help with your strength and conditioning in BJJ. The natural movement of paddling a kayak resembles the same movements used in pummeling and clinching drills in BJJ and will help to improve the strength and endurance in your arms, shoulders, back and core. Also, holding onto the paddle tightly as you cut through the resistance of the water will improve your grip strength.
Whichever activity you choose to try, just get outdoors and have fun! Improving your body for BJJ is just a bonus!