Even More Breathing Tips & Exercises For BJJ

In my last post about breathing for BJJ, I covered some of the basics from the “Oxygen Advantage” by Patrick McKeown.

Today we are now going to keep much of these same principles, but add to them by adding movement to our breath holds. In this installment, we will be looking at walking, but in the future will look at running.

Importance of Breath Holds for BJJ Players

The protocol I share today is even more important for the BJJ athlete because it incorporates movement with the breath hold, which is an instrumental skill in the sport. Using today’s protocol will help you build your carbon dioxide tolerance, which is essential for increasing aerobic capabilities and the efficient usage of oxygen.

The breath holds while doing movement also helps make you more efficient as a whole with your output and movement! Less energy is given off, giving you more “return on your investment,” with the investment being your movement. This creates a synchronization between your breathing and movement that will help your brain process the complexity needed in a roll.

Some Basic Tips on Breathing Exercises


Whereas before we were seated comfortably, now we are moving on our feet! This may bring some panic to your physiology. We are holding our air and this will bring our blood oxygen levels down…. while on our feet. Embrace these effects! On the back end, they will create positive adaptations in your nervous system and body.

I find that focusing from the navel down into the legs helps to keep you more calm while performing this exercise. When attention comes more into the chest and above it brings about an anxious response.

More than anything, don’t push to an “edge”. You’re not competing against anyone. You’re training yourself to breath more efficiently and have better health and performance as a result. Always remember the WHY.

Walking While Breath Holding

This is identical to the exercise covered in this post, but instead of sitting we will be walking. Nothing else changes other than adding movement.

As before once every minute you’ll perform a breath hold, this time counting the numbers of steps in between breaths rather than a clock. Be sure to keep your walking pace the same throughout.

Refer to that article linked above if you need a refresher.

Final Considerations on Breathing Exercises

You’ll probably find you’re not too “natural” at these exercises. This is fine. Don’t beat yourself up. Keep a relaxed demeanor, follow the protocol, and you’ll find that fairly quickly your body will become more CO2 tolerant and process oxygen much more efficiently.

I recommend doing this practice early in your day in order to prime your breath for the remainder of the day.

I enjoy performing it after the psoas release I covered in one of my latest articles!

I cover more performance training tidbits at mobillitytraining.com that will help you prepare, recover, and perform better on the mats!

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